“Book Review: Humanity’s Greatest Leap”
Reviewed by Robyn-Lee Samuels
A fascinating look at the possibilities of interstellar space travel
Humanity has made it to the moon and back again. Technology has allowed us to map the Milky Way galaxy and gaze deeper into the universe at large. What could possibly be next?
For Mark Pickrell, author of Humanity’s Greatest Leap, visiting nearby stars is the next big thing in space exploration. With accessible language and smart science, this book both makes its point known while being digestible for a wide & previously uninformed audience.
The book is based on Mark Pickrell’s article on the feasibility of matter/anti-matter propulsion, which was published in 2020 in the Journal of Science Exploration. In it, Pickrell argues that humanity may have found a way to travel through space in less than 100 years. Matter/anti-matter propulsion is the key, according to the author, and it’s feasible thanks to recent findings in theoretical physics that are being worked on by multiple labs around the world.
There’s quite a bit of science in this book, as you’d probably expect from the concept. However, the author does a brilliant job of making the science accessible and keeping chapters brief for ease of reading and to not create information overload. His use of images and graphics also adds levels of interest for general audiences by breaking up the definitions and physics to a paragraph or two per page.
Pickrell balances the science with discussions on the importance of interstellar travel in human history. In addition to the scientific possibilities, the author outlines the economic, educational, political, cultural, and strategic benefits that would come from traveling to nearby stars. Looking at historic events, such as the space race, and their impact on global innovation, he proposes that the research and development that is needed to send people to the stars would move humanity forward and potentially unite nations.
Humanity was created for this. Pickrell’s fundamental belief is that exploration is integral to human nature. He shows how humans throughout history constantly explore new lands, asserting that it’s only reasonable that as a species we’d want to explore our galaxy. As he puts it, “Science itself, therefore, is merely one expression of our innate human drive to wander and to wonder, to explore, and to understand.”
Humanity’s Greatest Leap is written for religious and non-religious readers. The author intentionally appeals to both groups and presents concepts that will challenge and intrigue readers on either side of the evolution/creation debate. I didn’t expect religion to play a part in this discussion, but it adds nuance to the conversation, showing us how we all differ in opinion and how space travel can still be universal.
This is an excellent book for anyone interested in space travel, science, or physics. Science fiction authors could also benefit from it as a helpful resource for their writing material. It’s an easy-to-understand explanation of the science behind space travel and will leave you thinking about all the intergalactic possibilities you’ve only ever dreamed of.
Genre: Science / Nonfiction
Print Length: 63 pages
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