Friday, May 30, 2008

Gaiome wins IPPY Award!

Placing among titles by Harvard and Yale University Press, Gaiome won the Bronze medal (Science category) in the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards.

The contest, now in its 12th year, showcases the leading books by small and independent publishers. Awards were presented Friday, May 30th, at the annual BookExpo America convention in Los Angeles. In its official announcement, contest sponsor Jenkins Group called special attention to the "important breakthroughs" in the new science category this year.

"I am really grateful to have this recognition," said author Kevin Scott Polk. "Gaiome really challenged the status quo. Not only did it challenge nearly a century of thought on space travel, it questioned humanity's ancient quest to dominate nature. For anyone who has wondered if space offers a viable escape from the world's problems, Gaiome provides both a jolting wake-up call and an uplifting alternative vision of our future on Earth and beyond."

Gaiome: Notes on Ecology Space Travel and Becoming Cosmic Species ( July, 2007; 296 pages, 19 illustrations; $15.95 soft-cover; $9.95 e-book) is available from

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Monday, October 8, 2007


Page 59 of Gaiome says that SpaceShipOne burned "solid rubber in liquid oxygen." Actually, it burned hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (a synthetic rubber) in nitrous oxide (N2O).

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Gaiome Cut-Away

Here's a screen shot from the book, just to give you an idea of what a gaiome might look like.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Gaiome Spreadsheet Available

Ever want to design your own rocket or space habitat? Now's your chance! I did all the calculations for Gaiome in Ruby, but to check them I also wrote a spreadsheet. It's in Open Office, a free alternative to MS-Office, and it includes:

  • Commercial passenger rocket designs
  • Asteroid and comet compositions
  • Space habitat designs—both spherical and ring-shaped
  • Population models

Warning! This is for serious nerds only! I'm offering it free, without warantee of any kind and I know of at least two minor undocumented errors that I may correct on my next slow day. For technical support and customization, please leave a comment with contact info and project details and I'll get back to you with a quote at my standard aerospace rate.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Review Copy to Slashdot

ATTENTION REVIEWERS: if you're with a publication or blog that has 10,000+ unique visitors per month, just leave a comment here with your contact url and I'll be happy to send you a copy of Gaiome (please specify soft cover or PDF). Here's a copy of the cover letter I sent to Slashdot. –KSP

Dear Slashdot,

Three decades have passed since Gerard K. O'Neill's The High Frontier, yet space travel remains as dangerous and expensive as ever. What will it take to achieve what Blue Origin calls "an enduring human presence in space?"

My new book Gaiome addresses this question directly. It updates O'Neill's work, names what his colonies were trying to be, and describes what our civilization must become in order to build them.

If you are looking for a shortcut to space—perhaps a clever invention or a business plan—you will not find it here. And brace yourself if you ever believed in the High Frontier: Gaiome reveals how space lacks every promise the frontier once had while posing challenges far deeper than technology. Yet the book still suggests that space habitation is worth the effort, albeit of a new and different kind.

I've noticed that many Slashdot participants have voiced frustration in recent years, not just with our lack of progress in space travel, but also the lack of anything new to say about it. I wrote Gaiome to pump as much fresh air into the discussion as possible. Please read, enjoy, and consider it for review.

Kevin Scott Polk

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Why species plural?

People have been asking if there's a typo in the title of my book Gaiome: Notes on Ecology, Space Travel and Becoming Cosmic Species. Nope, no typo here. I chose "cosmic species" (plural) not "a cosmic species" (singular) for two reasons:

First, if we become cosmic, we won't do it alone as a single species. Among Earth's biomes, only groups of species spanning multiple kindoms have mastered life support. So it will be in space.

Second, when people start living permanently in space, they won't remain one species for very long. In millions of isolated little worlds, each with new and unpredictable selection pressures, humans will evolve away from our current form. In time, our distant descendants will include an enormous range of beings, each as different from us and each other as bats and whales are today.

Humans cannot become cosmic species alone, nor can we avoid becoming many species as we come to live in the wider cosmos.

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Where's the wiki?

If you're looking for the wiki mentioned in my book, please accept my apologies for now. I posted a wiki a year ago and vandals got to it several times. The maintenance took more time than I have, so I took it down.

However, the administrative chores may not be so bad when shared by an active wiki community. If 10 or more people with regenerative living projects are willing to help maintain a gaiome wiki, I'll restore it. Just leave a comment that you're willing to help.

But before you hit the "comments" link, consider whether other media could do the job better. I find the interface at blogspot very easy and will be using it for my family's house journal. Over time, I'll be linking to other regenerative blogs and wikis from this blog. If you know of one, please leave a comment with a link.

Finally, consider contributing to an existing permaculture wiki such as

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