The Santa Fe Institute is launching an InterPlanetary Project — the first project of its kind to combine celebration with experimentation, and conversation with analysis. In collaboration with Creative Santa Fe and other partners, the Institute is planning a series of public events that invite participants to engage with the global challenge of becoming an InterPlanetary civilization.

The InterPlanetary Project will commence with a panel discussion July 18, 2017, in Santa Fe, NM. 

“One of the ambitions of this project is to unify," says David Krakauer, the president of the Santa Fe Institute. "A lot of scientific questions divide us, and we now as researchers need to reach out to a much broader base... posing an InterPlanetary challenge is one way to do that."


The first event — A panel discussion July 18, 2017

During the first InterPlanetary event, science fiction authors, scientists, explorers, and artists will meet for a conversation at the historic Lensic theater in downtown Santa Fe. Panelists will discuss issues around the core question: What will it take to become an InterPlanetary civilization?

Confirmed panelists include:

  • Planetary scientist Lindy Elkins-Tanton (Arizona State University), the principle investigator for a mission to explore the asteroid Psyche
  • Sandra Moore Faber (UC Santa Cruz), a professor of astronomy and astrophysics and the project investigator for the DEEP2 survey of 50,000 distant galaxies using the Keck Observatory telescopes in Hawaii
  • Science and technology journalist Kate Greene, who spent four months on a simulated Mars mission for NASA
  • Screenwriter, producer, director, and author Jonathan Nolan; who has collaborated on several films including "Interstellar," "Dark Knight," "Memento," and the "Westworld" TV series
  • Transdisciplinary artist, researcher, writer, teacher, and citizen scientist Dario Robleto (Artist-in-residence at the SETI Institute)
  • Digital media executive Scott Ross, who led George Lucas' companies in the1980s and is a co-founder, along with James Cameron and Stan Winston, of Digital Domain, Inc.
  • Neal Stephenson, author of Seveneves, Cryptonomicon, Snowcrash, and other works of speculative fiction who is is currently a Miller Scholar at the Santa Fe Institute
  • and Geoffrey West, a distinguished professor at the Santa Fe Institute whose 25+ years of research into mathematical scaling laws have recently been published in the widely-acclaimed book Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies.

The event will feature images and ambient sounds by Thomas Ashcraft.

Join us on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at 7:30 p.m. for this historic panel discussion at The Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe. Reserve your seat through The Lensic.


October 2017 events — Panel Part II, SITE presentation, and city-wide film festival 
  • A second InterPlanetary panel will convene October 13, 2017, to advance the discussion around InterPlanetary issues. 
  • Following the second panel, our event partners will host a city-wide InterPlanetary film festival Saturday, October 14. The Jean Cocteau Cinema, SITE Santa Fe, the Violet Crown, and The Screen will play new and classic sci-fi films. Film titles and show times will be published on the cinemas' websites.
  • October 15, distinguished professor Geoffrey West will present his "theory of enormous power" at SITE Santa Fe.
  • The event series will conclude October 17 with a community lecture at The Lensic Performing Arts Center. Manfred Laubichler, an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute, will discuss the Anthropocene era. 
2018 and beyond — Annual InterPlanetary Festival

In June of 2018, the first annual InterPlanetary Festival will draw space enthusiasts from around the world for a two-day celebration of human ingenuity. The festival will transform the Railyard District in downtown Santa Fe with an expo showcasing innovation and technology for space exploration. Concurrent with the expo, participants can enjoy open-air concerts, maker contests, and lectures and discussions around InterPlanetary topics.

The Jean Cocteau and Violet Crown cinemas will play sci-fi films on 12 wall-to-wall movie screens, while SITE Santa Fe and the Currents New Media festival will display artwork that ties into the InterPlanetary theme.

 “Santa Fe is the most natural home in the galaxy for this Festival," Krakauer notes, "as we have such an abundance of talent in this town, and such amazing partners from film and art through to music and science.”

"This is a festival where we’re asking people to come and have fun," Krakauer says. "It's critical that it be hedonistic. If you want to just come and watch movies, that's great, but people also want to play with drones and design lunar landers and photovoltaics." What sets InterPlanetary apart from other festivals, according to Krakauer, is "the invitation to contribute toward a global challenge. That challenge is becoming an InterPlanetary civilization."

The schedule for the 2018 InterPlanetary Festival will appear on this website.


InterPlanetary and complexity science

Complexity science is the study of living, evolving systems. As the world headquarters for complexity science, researchers at the Santa Fe Institute see the InterPlanetary Project as a way to publicly engage with some of the central themes of complexity science within a shared vision for InterPlanetary civilization.

"To search through outer space we shall need to rise above our inner spaces, and confront the gravest challenges of our time—from reducing disease and economic inequality to managing finite resources and surviving war," Krakauer says. "What we try to do with complexity science is unify – to bring different ideas together to solve very hard problems." The problem of establishing and sustaining an InterPlanetary civilization draws from many ongoing research themes at the Santa Fe Institute, such as archeology, anthropology, economics, the Internet and technology, and the origins of life itself.

Learn more about complexity science at the Santa Fe Institute.

The InterPlanetary Project is supported by the Miller Omega Program.

The InterPlanetary Project panel discussion is generously underwritten by Thornburg Investment Management.


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