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OMNI Magazine May 1981


OMNI Magazine May 1981

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“If we survive these dangerous decades, the human race will be unkillable, because it will have begun to spread throughout the solar system,” writes Gerard K. O’Neill in his new book, 2081. Not since Alvin Toffler’s The Third Wave has a forthcoming book generated such excitement. A sneak preview of this landmark work, prepared exclusively for Omni readers, begins on page 52. Combining the scientific facts of today with his years of experience as an applied scientist and Princeton physics professor, O’Neill foresees a century of dynamic technological innovation. Interviewed in Omni’s July 1979 issue, the man who wrote the best-selling The High Frontier and invented the mass driver talked about his ideas on space colonization. In 2081 he predicts that space colonies, computers, automation, energy, and communications will determine the course of the next 100 years. A second excerpt will appear in next month’s issue.

Can the people we turn to for moral support, for example, our religious leaders, guide us through the labyrinthine ethical issues now being raised by science and technology on their ever-widening frontiers? This issue dominated the World Conference of Faith, Science, and the Future, held at MIT more than a year ago. Douglas Colligan, after reading about the conference; wanted to know more. “There is a greater need for experts in ethics because of the moral complexity of science issues. To fulfill that need, ethical think tanks have come of age.” In “Rent-a- Conscience” Colligan explores the new ethical revolution in science and tells of its influence in determining grant requests. A general science writer, Colligan has published such books as Creative Insomnia and The Science of Coincidences.

Ray Bradbury’s first original short story for Omni, “Colonel Stonesteel’s Genuine Homemade Truly Egyptian Mummy,” begins on page 76. Over the past four decades his stories have appeared in magazines as disparate as The New Yorker and Weird Tales. Bradbury’s remarkable novel Fahrenheit 451 and his books The Martian Chronicles and Dandelion Wine won him international acclaim. His most recent book, The Stories of Ray Bradbury, is a volume of his 100 best, published by Knopf. Accompanying Bradbury’s story this month is William Gibson’s “Johnny Mnemonic”. Gibson is a full-time writer living in Vancouver, British Columbia. His work appears in two anthologies, Universe 11 and Shadows 4, both published this year by Doubleday.

How can city schoolteachers keep their students interested in science? One way is to involve them in a special project nicknamed “Orbit 81,” an experiment to be conducted aboard the space shuttle. In “Tigers in Orbit” Fawn Vrazo writes about a group of disadvantaged Camden high-school students, who, with some help from RCA, won a NASA competition to put an ant experiment on the shuttle. While working as a reporter for the Philadelphia Bulletin, Vrazo covered the children’s experiment. “I’m excited about young people putting their energy into the space program, and I hope NASA will have the patience to continue this novel idea of bringing space exploration and city school students together,” Vrazo says. Recently Vrazo and two fellow reporters at the Bulletin received a public service award from the New Jersey Press Association for exposing job abuses in Camden’s city work force.

In this month’s UFO Update Paul Dong, the American editor of the Chinese Journal of UFO Research, gives us firsthand glimpses of China’s response to UFO sightings, which were previously unavailable to the public. In “Mainland Mysteries”, edited by Harry Lebelson, Dong discusses the reasons behind official Chinese sanctions of an academic UFO study group in Peking.