Proxima B

Cieszymir Bylina

6446 words

49 minutes

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Hi there! It's a pleasure to welcome you to our Museum of Space History, on the planet Proxima B. My name is Ania and I will be your guide today. We will speak English this time, as your tour comes from an English-speaking country. We will start our journey with an interesting story: a story about the man who made the age-old dream of interstellar travel a reality. We will go deep into his mind and learn about his thoughts. You will learn how people once imagined our future and how their vision influenced how our world looks like today, in 2090. I will guide you through the modern history of mankind. Sit back and relax. You will now meet Cieszymir Bylina, the man — thanks to whom — — u can walk the streets of our extraterrestrial city today. Listen to history as seen through his eyes.

Suddenly, a loud crash woke me from my sleep, and my dream rolled into the air like milk in a fog.

I was on a ship on my way to Proxima Centauri B — the first colony outside our solar system. It was an unbelievably long journey. Despite the advanced technology we have in 2090, interstellar travel still takes a relatively long time. I looked out of the window. — Finally, after a few years, I saw the planet. It's funny how the movies have shown us our future. Not so long ago I was given my own copy of Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (1977). What an exuberant imagination George Lucas possessed. His spaceship engines were all out of his mind. Despite the massive leap in civilisation, we still can't jump into hyperspace like in the film . The speed of light has its limitations, and technologically speaking, achieving such a speed was no mean feat. Even travelling nearly at the speed of light, my journey from Earth took 4 years and 3 months.

This is all because I allowed myself to be dragged on a lower-class ship. If I could have done so, I would have flown the new

Ares 2.0. However, sadly, only the upper class can afford interstellar journeys in the new spacecrafts. They have working cryogenic chambers installed on board, similar to those in the movie Alien (1979). I've heard that they were supposedly inspired by this series of films when they developed a new life-support system for long space journeys. The design of the chambers is simple — it is a space for a human being covered with glass and plugged into the spacecraft system. Once lying peacefully in your place, you are sent into the stasis state. The mechanics of stasis are never explicitly explored in the Alien franchise, although the novelization of Alien mentions that the process involves lowering the body's core temperature considerably (Foster, 1979). Thanks to them, we do not feel the passage of time during the voyage and we age very slowly. Scientists call this the state of cryosleep, or torpor. The first such research was conducted by the European Space Agency back in 2017.During hibernation, an animal's metabolism grinds to a near standstill. The heart beats more slowly and body temperature drops. The hormones and composition of the blood are altered. Breathing, cell replication, and brain activity slow down (Baggaley, 2017). In 2060, they managed to make the first prototype of such a cryogenic chamber. They use hypothermia to lower our body temperature to just a few degrees Celsius. It looks a little different from the Alien film. People are not frozen in the chambers. It turned out that particles of frozen water, ice, burst human cells as soon as they were frostbitten. This was an extremely dangerous factor which caused capsule research to go in another direction.

"Dear passengers, the last meeting with the crew starts shortly" a female voice spoke up, pulling me away from my convoluted thoughts. So, I left my room, heading to the gathering place. Then, when I was at the end of my space journey, I took a last look at the spaceship's corridors. While going through the hall of the spacecraft, I was admiring the view of the new solar system. I made it to the end of the corridor, where it split into left and right passage. In front of me a huge window appeared. It reminded me of the film Passengers(2016). The two people, who woke up earlier from the cryosleep, had a stunning view of the galaxy. It's a shame that it was the last thing that they saw outside the ship. After a quick look on the new planet, I decided to continue my walk to the gathering place. I turned right into the corridor full of lights. I know the designer of the ship personally. He told me that the ship's interior was inspired by the Avalon Spaceship from Passengers. The interior looked really contemporary.

The walls, floor and ceiling were purely white. The walls fluently curved into the ceiling, creating one, continuous surface. The lights were dividing the hall into small sections, accordingly to the room's layout. All the lights in the spaceship had the same colour. The role of the lights was not just purely decorative, they had their practical function as well. During the day period, from 6 am to 9 pm, they had a warm-white colour. During the night period, the lights changed into a dimmer, cold-white, even light-blue colour. Finally, I made it to the lifts. There were a lot of people already waiting for a transport to the centre part of the ship. Inside the elevator, you could have seen the view of the whole spacecraft. From the outside, it seemed like some parts of it were influenced by 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). In the film Stanley Kubrick showed several innovative visions of space objects, mainly Space Station and some spaceships. Space Station orbiting around the Earth had two huge rings connected together by the core in a shape of a large pipe. To go from the rings to the core you had to walk through one of four corridors that connected each ring to the centre.

This design was proven by science to be extremely helpful in maintaining the gravitational pull, similar to the one on Earth. There are several ways to produce it artificially, using acceleration. In his 1905 theory of special relativity, Albert Einstein wrote that gravity and acceleration are actually indistinguishable (Einstein, 1920). This means that if you are travelling fast enough, your body will feel just like on its home planet. Another possible way of creating artificial gravity is by using centrifugal force. It is possible to create it by utilizing a technology called an O'Neill Cylinder. Named after the physicist who proposed them, Gerard O'Neill, this consists of a pair of massive cylinders that rotate in opposite directions, allowing them to be permanently directed toward the sun, replicating gravity. In early 21st century Jeff Bezos, the owner of space exploration company Blue Origin, has proposed O'Neill Cylinders as the basis of floating space colonies, enabling trillions of humans to live in orbit (Lea, 2022). Sadly, his plans didn't come true. Humans do not yet have enough materials to make that big project happen. But still, centripetal force was the first form of artificial gravity that humans widely deployed in space. NASA's Nautilus-X's centrifuge, designed to be installed on the ISS, was a pioneer successful project developed in 2020s. As NASA researched, simulating Earth's gravity inside a compartment that rotates about its centre at a meandering 30-second pace would require a 224-meter radius. The size burden would be lessened if we accept a lower gravitational force (Pomeroy, 2020). As I was wondering again in my thoughts, the queue to the lift had gone and I finally could have entered it. I fastened the seatbelts, and going through zero-gravity zone, I admired the monumental view of our spacecraft.

The lift brought me to the centre part of the ship. I found myself in the great hall with a fountain in the middle. To my right, I saw the path leading to the captain's cockpit located in one of the smaller rings. To my left, I saw the path leading to the warehouse. As my designer friend told me, the warehouse was inspired by the movie Alien. In this particular spaceship model, the warehouse didn't need to be pretty. It needed to be practical. The huge open spaces loaded with machines. Small corridors. Just like in the movie, the halls were having octagonal shape and were in the colours of black and dark-grey. It was quite dark over there — the larger lamps were dimmer and not placed very often. On the contrary, you could have spotted a lot of small lights, looking like buttons. The pipes were not neatly hidden in the walls, as if they were to be prepared for a possible quick repair by a mechanic. The ceiling and floors were made out of crates and mysterious vapour passed through them (Alien, 1979). I am certainly never going in such places. I am not a big fan of finding myself in a real horror. That's why I lowered my gaze from the corridor and went to see the crew.

3D render of the Spaceship

Everyone got the invitation to join a ceremony before approaching the Space Station on the Proxima B's orbit. It is a tradition to celebrate a success like this every time the space cruise is finished. It is similar to the applause for the captain when the airplane lands at the airport. I approached the big room, where one of the crew members welcomed every guest. When I came closer, I noticed that the crew member is in fact an android. I was not surprised, since androids are now a common thing in our new worlds. You basically can't tell the difference between them and the normal humans. I believe that the futures from the sci-fi films came true. The big corporation mass-produced androids to help people settle in the new worlds and to solve problems back there, on our home Earth.

Actual creation of robots and androids is an old idea. The first robotic figure was created by Isaac Asimov in 1940 in a story Robbie. Asimov's work was influential, from that first robotic tale onward, but the first robot to appear within a film did not derive from any of Asimov's work. In fact it pre-dates his birth. The first robotic appearance on screen was presented in French by special effects pioneer Georges Méliès' in his 1897 short film Gugusse et l'Automate, also known as The Clown and the Automaton (, 2021). After this, the image of robots and androids developed further during the 20th century. Star Trek's Androids were referred to as 'synthetic life forms' and were used as assistants, servants and even crew members on Federation starships. The most famous of them was Data, an android who served as a science officer on the USS Enterprise-D. He was highly intelligent, had superhuman strength and was capable of expressing emotions (Star Trek, 1979). The android character in the film Alien was called Ash and was a synthetically created android. He was a science officer sent to help the crew of the Nostromo ship. But he was not the only artificial being presented in this piece. The titular alien was a biomechanical being created by an advanced extraterrestrial species. It was unclear whether this being was an android or a living organism (Alien, 1979).

The newer films like I, Robot presented robots as humanoid beings that are programmed to obey the Three Laws of Robotics. They were capable of independent thought and action, but were limited by their programming. One of the main characters, Sonny, was an advanced robot created by the US Robotics Corporation. He was the first robot to have true artificial intelligence and was capable of thinking for himself and expressing emotions (I, Robot, 2004). The android similar to the crew member on our ship was Arthur from the movie Passengers. He was an advanced android created by Avalon Corporation. He was designed to be a companion to the passengers on Avalon and was capable of showing emotions and understanding complex situations (Passengers, 2016).

The most similar to our reality in 2090 is the vision of replicants from the Blade Runner franchise. In the original Blade Runner (1982) synthetic androids, known as replicants, were created by the fictional Tyrell Corporation to be used as slave labour on off-world colonies. They looked and behaved almost like humans, but had greater strength and agility. They were used as slaves and had no emotions or free will. Replicants from Blade Runner 2049 (2017) still existed, but had been upgraded from previous models. These new replicants were designed with built-in limitations and were programmed to follow orders. In short, the Replicants were similar to those in the original film, but were more advanced and had more human characteristics (Blade Runner 2049, 2017). The androids in our world are various. Majority of them are now treated and programmed with limited consciousness, having a simple aim to serve humans. Some of them were developed further, with the hope of solving the nurturing the question — what makes a human a human?

While wandering in my thoughts, I suddenly heard a heart-warming female voice. I looked up and saw a beautiful woman, with the smile stunning like a sunset. She welcomed me, and with a fluent hand movement, full of grace, invited me to the meeting.

image of my Metahuman, who is the smiling android

During the meeting I learnt that we are going to approach Space Station in several hours. The crew gave us bags full of free space goodies from the company and entertained us with some fun-facts about the spaceship. The information that I remembered the most was about the engine used in an interstellar travel. It is called the Helical Engine. The first theoretical description was conducted in 2019 by a NASA space sngineer David M. Burns. Scientists at this time said that this new type of engine breaks the laws of physics (Cartwright, 2020). Based on the technology that we had back then, the journey to Proxima B would have taken us 4000 years. Keeping that in mind, there was a need to start a new space breakthrough. With every action, there is a reaction. Helical engine exploits mass-altering effects known to occur at near-light speed.

To get to grips with the principle of Burn's Engine, picture a box on a frictionless surface. Inside that box is a rod, along which a ring can slide. If a spring inside the box gives the ring a push, the ring will slide along the rod one way while the box will recoil in the other. When the ring reaches the end of the box, it will bounce backward, and the box's recoil will switch too. In normal circumstances, the box would move back and forth. But Burns asked, what if the ring would have a bigger mass on one side of the box and smaller on the another — it will push the box forward. The mass change is not prohibited by physics, since Einstein's theory of special relativity says that objects gain mass as they are driven towards the speed of light. Thanks to that, the engine doesn't need the fuel to move spaceship forward and it reaches 99% of speed of light (Space Insider, 2022). This research led later on to invention of the physical Helical Engine by the Polish billionaire, and allowed interstellar travel.

There is another type of space engine that people suggested as a candidate for space travel. In 2016 Positron Dynamics was out to make space travel to distant stars a reality using antimatter. Antimatter is the most energy-dense material known. Positrons are the easiest form of antimatter to produce with our technology. With physics that humanity understood back then, they thought that any hopes of traveling beyond the edge of the Solar System can only be realized with antimatter. As Ryan Weed proposed in 2016, antimatter engines were supposed to use annihilation to produce thrust. When antimatter particle and antimatter particle come close enough together there is a probability that both particles will disappear and form pure energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation. Let's say that we have 100 grains of antimatter salt — they would produce the same amount of energy as all of the fuel on SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (Hello Tomorrow, 2016).

Abstracting from real engines, I have always liked the forms of travel within science fiction films. In the Star Trek universe, Impulse engines were a form of propulsion used in the Star Trek universe. They were typically used to provide manoeuvrability and acceleration, and to supplement warp drive in long-distance space travel. Impulse engines were powered by the reaction of matter and antimatter, with matter usually coming from deuterium fuel. Impulse engines were not as fast as warp drives, but could still reach speeds of up to a tenth of the speed of light. (Star Trek: Nemesis, 2002). Milano, the spaceship from the 2014 Marvel film Guardians of the Galaxy, was powered by a series of ion engines, which are engines that use ions to generate thrust. It was also equipped with a powerful fusion engine that allowed it to travel at incredible speeds and traverse vast distances of space (Guardians of the Galaxy, 2014). In Star Wars, spaceships used hyperdrive engines, which were powered by an energy source known as Tibanna Gas. Tibanna gas was a type of rare gas found in the atmosphere of the planet Bespin in the Star Wars universe. It was highly valued for its use in powering hyperdrive engines and other advanced technologies. It could be found in liquid form deep within the planet, and is mined and refined for use in spacecraft and other technological applications. It was also highly coveted by smugglers and criminals, as it was illegal to export Tibanna gas from the planet (Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back, 1980).

After the meeting with a crew member, I went to the bar and ordered my favourite juice Tymbark. I just love the taste of apples mixed with cherries, served in an elegant glass bottle, with a funny quote under the pin. Of course, I paid for the drink with my finger. It was possible thanks to the Neuralink. All of our devices are now managed by and connected directly via the brain. It includes all payments as well. Neuralink was a company founded by Elon Musk in 2016 that develops ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers. The company's first product was a brain-computer interface (BCI), also called Neuralink, which was designed to connect the human brain to a computer. The company's goal was to create devices that can be implanted in the brain to allow direct interaction with digital devices, ultimately enabling humans to achieve symbiosis with artificial intelligence. As a first application of their technology, they hoped to help people with quadriplegia by giving them the ability to control computers and mobile devices directly with their thoughts (Neuralink, 2016). Today Neuralink is a permanent part of our daily lives. Sadly, this technology has never targeted immortality as the ultimate goal. However, another inventor thought about this and created ELife — the Eternal Life, or what is otherwise known as Electronic Life. A true Holy Grail.

Eternal Life is similar to the Cortical Stacks from Altered Carbon (2018). Thanks to them eternal life was made possible. With this technology, human consciousness could be downloaded into a new body or sleeve, allowing the individual to continue living indefinitely. As long as the cortical stack was not damaged or destroyed, the individual continued to exist in this way. This vision of eternal life gave people the power to live forever, while allowing them to choose how they want to spend their existence. This could mean anything from exploring the universe to living a long, happy life with loved ones. Ultimately, it gives people the freedom to make their own choices and determine their own destiny. But this technology brought a threat as well. Rich and bad people could have lived forever, gathering more and more wealth and power, making them living gods.. The vision of eternal life in Ghost in the Shell (2017) was a world where technology is so advanced that cybernetically enhanced humans could upload their consciousness into an immortal, digital form. In this world, they could exist indefinitely, free from ageing or physical death. The film suggested that this new life form could be superior to the biological form in many ways, with enhanced mental abilities and no need to worry about death or physical deterioration. However, the film also presented the idea that this new form of life is not without its own risks and dangers. The film suggests that eternal life is a complex concept and that there is no simple answer to whether it is a desirable or viable option for humanity. In the film, the main character, Major Motoko Kusanagi, was a cyborg who had the ability to download her consciousness into a new body if her current one was destroyed. This gave her a form of immortality, allowing her to exist after physical death. It also allowed her to transcend physical death and become more than human, although still retain her humanity and identity.

3D render of the Space Station

I grabbed my drink and went to prepare myself for a transfer into the Space Station. I packed my belongings and finally after 4 years of travel, I exited the spaceship. The Space Station was huge. I think this is one of the biggest projects humanity ever made. The station is using the same technology as the spaceship that I was traveling on. It is built out of the rings that are rotating, creating artificial gravity. The rings are connected together by the core of the station, where all of the important components are located. The bigger rotation ring is meant to host the huge spacecrafts that are sailing through the dark ocean of the universe. The two smaller ones are the host for small ships, that are the part of planet-station communication route. I finally found myself in the upper ring, where the departures are located. I paid for my ticket and entered the vehicle. The small spaceship launched off the station and I started to fly to the planet surface. From the windows you could have seen a stunning view of the planet Proxima B. The planet looked extraordinary — despite having some similar to Earth features, it looked completely different. Due to the fact that it is tidally locked, one of the sides is always exposed to its star, and another is bathed in an eternal darkness. It orbits around Proxima Centauri — the nearest star to our sun, although it is actually part of a three-star system including the two stars of Alpha Centauri (Anderson, 2020). Just imagine — an Egyptian scholar living 4000 years ago, one who was mapping what he thought to be pin pricks in the celestial sphere. He made careful note of the position of a bright star hung just above the southern horizon. But he never imagined that he was gazing on a multi-star system, the star system that hosted a world much like the Earth. A world that would be humanity's first destination when we found venture to the stars (PBS Space Time, 2022).

Proxima B is the perfect place for setting the first colony outside our solar system. After discovering her in 2016, using the Radial Velocity method, she was carefully studied. It turned out that our closest space neighbour seemed to be similar to Earth. According to the astronomers, Proxima B is 1.3 times Earth's mass, a radius of 1.1 Earths and a similar density. Scientists also believed she could have been a rocky world, just like our home planet. As I mentioned before, Proxima is tidally locked to her star. She is much closer to her parent star, located only 0.05 astronomical units away from it. It's closer than a distance between Mercury and Sun. This places her in the Goldilocks' Zone of the star. Because of the planet being so close to the red dwarf, she's experiencing a strong gravitational pull and she's locked to it just with one side, like it is with Earth and Moon. The side of the planet exposed to the sunlight exceeds zero and allows the liquid water to be present (Destiny, 2022). It was confirmed by the scientists at the University of Exeter and British Meteorological Office. The model showed the presence of a stable climate on the planet. The hottest spot on the surface, the one that is closest to the star, is going to have even 30 degrees Celsius. On the other side of the planet, covered in the dark, the temperatures can drop even to -90 degrees Celsius (University of Exeter, 2017). The view of the whole planet is now gone, replaced with more and more detailed terrain. On the right side of the ship I noticed the first glimpse of the first human city establish in another solar system. Placed in the zone of eternal twilight, where the life conditions are just right.

3D render of the planet Proxima B

Finally — I land on the new planet.

So here I am — the Dziewanna colony. I've heard a lot about this city. It was supposedly built on the remains of an ancient civilisation. During earthworks here, organic remains of non-terrestrial origin were found. Interestingly, buildings and technology that probably belonged to them were also found. It sounds like a scene from the Netflix television series Altered Carbon (2018). In the series it was shown how the humans found a new habitable planet, perfect for colonising. It turned out that the planet was a home of the alien intelligent life. The founding fathers destroyed the remains of their civilisation and used their advanced technology to benefit human race. Ultimately this led to a rapid technological development of humans and allowed them to settle across the galaxy. I wonder if the writers of the series knew we'd come across something similar one day? But there is a difference between the imaginary future from Netflix and the 2090. We came across the habitable planet in our solar system's neighbourhood, that was just a colony of an extinct civilisation. In Dziewanna there is an archaeological space that I am going to visit. I would like to see on my own eyes what the aliens left for us.

I stepped out of the ship and filled my chest with the first breath of alien air. It was not poisonous. On the contrary, it seemed cleaner and better than on Earth. The last time I was breathing the air on a rocky planet, it seemed like it was less fresh. Our Earth was clean from the deadly fossil fuels remains right now, but I still remember when back in 2022 we had a problem with pollution. Most air pollution came from energy use and production, burning fossil fuels released gases and chemicals into the air. Carbon Dioxide caused the temperature rising on the planet and resulted in the greenhouse effect (Mackenzi & Turrentine, 2021). The worst pollution was the smog — a community-wide polluted air. There were two types of it: the London and the Los Angeles smog. The London one was a result of burning fossil fuels, particularly coal. The Los Angeles one was caused mainly by the nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons emitted by automobiles (Martinez, 2022). Humans were using fossil fuels at the astronomical scale. The natural resources formed millions of years ago were nearly gone in just 200 years. As the data said back in 2015, our reserves of oil would have last for 51 years, coal for 114 years, and natural gas for 53 years. Yet, renewable energy was not popular enough, so emptying our reserves could have speed up (MET Group, 2021).

The scientists' predictions were accurate — our resources ended around 2050. People are referring to this moment of history as the Blackout. The increased consumption of the natural goods caused drastic changes in our life. Governments started to collapse and the private companies increased in power. Some countries had an advantage over others and so they tried to shift to other sources of energy in 2020s. These countries were the either leaders in fossil fuel consumption or their economies were based on selling fuels to others. One of the most significant successes achieved was Saudi Arabia, which started to shift to renewable sources of energy. After the expansion of solar energy in 2019, Saudi Arabia planned to generate 50% of its electricity from clean sources by 2030 (John et al., 2022). Their plan was realised successfully. In 2055 Poland become a superpower, thanks to its research in energy technology. Poland was known in the modern history as a black square — in 2018 coal was used to produce 78,2% of all needed energy (Bednarek, 2019). In 2016 Poland ranked 9th in the world for Coal consumption, accounting for about 13.1% of the world's total consumption (Worldometer, 2016). Once the world was in energy chaos, the Polish billionaire drastically changed the energy sector in his country and research new energy technology. Once his influence risen, his corporation assimilated POLSA, the Polish space agency. It was a turning point in the history of the human race. Several years later, POLSA invented the interstellar engine.

I remember the events of the Blackout very clearly. As our future was threatened, people got scared and saw just the black scenarios. They were expecting the vision of the future represented in pop culture. Like Blade Runner films for example — pollution and destruction of the environment was a major theme in both films. In Blade Runner, the environment was seen as heavily polluted and overpopulated, with most of the urban landscape dominated by industrial, smog-filled cities. Pollution caused the extinction of many animal and plant species, and the air was filled with toxic smog. In Blade Runner 2049, the environment was even worse — most of the planet was no longer capable of supporting life. The sky had a permanent orange hue due to the smog, and the climate changed drastically, with severe dust storms occurring frequently. In addition, the water was polluted and contaminated, killing many aquatic species. People living in these conditions were forced to rely on artificial oxygen and faced many health problems due to pollution. In the film Io (2019), the pollution and destruction of the Earth were central themes. Earth has been devastated by an unknown event, leaving the planet uninhabitable. The remaining population lived in a few scattered cities, while the rest of the planet was a wasteland and ruined cities. The air was toxic and the water polluted, making it difficult for any living thing to survive. The few remaining humans were desperate to find a new home. The pollution and destruction of the Earth was the result of human activity, something the characters are reminded of throughout the film. Humans have made the planet uninhabitable and the government has not acted to stop this.

Interstellar (2014), on the other hand, showed the effects of human pollution and the destruction of the Earth. The film followed a group of astronauts who travelled to a distant planet in search of a new home for humanity, as the Earth was slowly destroyed by environmental degradation. The film presented the devastating effects of climate change and resource destruction, including oxygen depletion and the destruction of the planet's ecology. Humans have exploited the planet and allowed their own greed to bring them to the brink of extinction. The film showed how the human race has failed to take responsibility for their actions and how the consequences of their actions now threaten the survival of the entire planet.

concept art of the Dziewanna City

I looked around. In the deepest spaces of the city it was dark. The sky looked like an internal sunset. Yet everything was perfectly visible — the buildings and streets shine like a starry sky. Lights abound: neon, holograms and ordinary led street lamps. Suddenly, a ship seemed to swish over my head. I got a better look at it from a distance. It was a flying car. Can you imagine? A flying car! It is unbelievable how people used to imagine the past. Back in the 1980s they thought we would be flying cars. And here we find that only recently Elon Musk has joined the forces of Tesla and SpaceX to create a convenient transport system in the Martian colonies. Maybe we didn't need flying cars before then? Anyway, the flying vehicles are a common thing nowadays. I went to the parking lot and saw my private car. I saved some money to buy it. The car with flying abilities is really expensive. If you can't afford it, you are doomed to use flying public transport or stick to the ground by going everywhere by foot or commuting with a regular car. My car model was custom-made, based on the John Wick's car — 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 (John Wick, 2014). The boot featured 3 long led lights, glowing neon red. The rear wheels were turned into jet engines, allowing it to fly, take off vertically and land. Air vents were placed in place of the rims, from which glow-in-the-dark turquoise lights came through. The front side of the car was likewise altered, but the original car wheels were retained. Behind the rims was a gliding aid that emitted a very bright green-turquoise light. The side of the car was divided in half by glass. The doors opened upwards, revealing the view behind the car's tinted windows. The interior of the car was minimalist, with hologram screens allowing the entire machine to be controlled. A steering wheel was visible in the driver's seat, which retracted into the dashboard when switching into autopilot mode. Every time I enter my car, I am reminded of first visions of flying vehicles.

concept art of the flying car

The cars in Blade Runner were mostly retro-futuristic, featuring sleek, curved designs, tinted windows and glowing headlights. Many were hovering vehicles, while others are traditional four-wheelers. The cars featured a mix of classic and futuristic design elements such as chrome rims, jagged edges and angular lines. The cars in the second filmof Back to the Future (1985) were mainly classic cars from the 1950s, such as the iconic DeLorean. The DeLorean featured a stainless-steel body, gull-wing doors and a flux capacitor. Other cars used in the film include the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Impala and Volkswagen Beetle. These classic cars had a boxy, angular design, small windows and large, round headlights (Back to the Future Part II, 1989). In I, Robot (2004) flying cars were called Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (AAVs). They were used both by United States Robotics and by the citizens of the city of Chicago, where the film was set. They were described as being able to go anywhere at any speed and were used as both a form of transport and law enforcement. The cars were an advanced form of technology, with features such as autopilot, voice control and advanced driving capabilities. They were able to fly at high speeds and could travel from one place to another without the need for roads. They were shown to be equipped with both defensive and offensive capabilities, and were often seen chasing after the main characters. In the film The Fifth Element (1997), flying cars were called 'taxis' and are manufactured by the fictional company Lux Industries. They were used by both civilians and the police of the future to get around the city quickly. They had a distinct yellow and black design, two wings and four engines, and they hover above the ground. The cars were also equipped with advanced technologies such as autopilot, voice recognition and a built-in microwave. These vehicles were capable of vertical take-off and landing and were able to fly at high speeds. Cars were powered by an anti-gravity system and can reach speeds of up to 200 mph. They are seen throughout the film as the main form of transport. The last film with flying cars, that I remember, was Minority Report (2002). Tom Cruise's character John Anderton used Lexus 2054, a flying car, to get around town. The car was equipped with advanced features such as voice commands, an autopilot function, and a navigation system. It was capable of vertical take-off and landing and had a sleek, futuristic design.

I entered my car and started the engine. I toggled autopilot mode and the car broke away from the ground. I just wanted to fly to the hotel and finally get a proper sleep. On my way there, I wondered if the advancement of our human race was good for us. Better technology has several pluses, it made our life easier and it let us reach the stars. On the other hand, technology in hands of bad people will lead to destruction and cruelty. The division of our society into ultra-rich, ultra-poor and artificial android class was inevitable. In 2090 we are living like in a film, where human greed and selfishness rules the world. The artificial is mixed with natural and digital is blended with physical. All of it is blurring boundaries of what is real and what is not. I am curious what future is being prepared for us and if the human race will remain human. I hope that in this wild, dystopian cyclone we can find a peaceful place where we can find ourselves.

second image of my Metahuman Ania

This is how the story, told by Cieszymir Bylina, has ended. I hope you have learned a lot about our world and our history. Now you know how humanity lives in 2090. How the world we live in has been shaped. What ideas, concepts and visualisations have influenced what our streets, cars and spaceships look like today. How it is possible that we pay for our museum ticket very easily, just with our finger.

It was a pleasure to meet you! I invite you to visit the rest of the exhibition halls and don't forget to grab a souvenir from the shop to remember our wonderful time together at Proxima B. See you soon!


2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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Altered Carbon (2018). USA: Netflix.

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Back to the Future (1985). Universal Pictures.

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