Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Breakthrough Starshot Sends Chip Craft To The Stars

Physics superstar Stephen Hawking and billionaire Yuri Milner have a vision of interstellar exploration taking place over the course of not thousands of years, but decades.


(Breakthrough Starshot)

Together with a team of scientists, they suggest that within a generation, humans could send a probe to Alpha Centauri more than 4.3 light-years away, or 25 trillion miles on a trip that would take just over two decades. That's 1,000 times faster than the current fastest spacecraft, the scientists say.

They're thinking big by thinking very small.

Instead of sending a car-size or piano-size probe, the "Breakthrough Starshot" team is proposing a postage-stamp-size spacecraft a "starchip." The project, announced by Hawking and Milner on Tuesday, would engineer a method for such a nanocraft to be propelled through space by a sail, pushed by a powerful laser aimed from Earth.

The idea of laser cannon can be found first in science fiction in Larry Niven's 1966 short story Neutron Star. However, the term "laser cannon" was used earlier. In a 1962 book titled Report on Laser Design Study, we find "results of the design analysis indicate the feasibility of proceeding with the construction of a LASER cannon system at once."

The basic idea for the laser cannon/light sail propulsion system belongs to Robert L. Forward, who published a short paper Ground-Based Lasers For Propulsion In Space in 1961.

And who first suggested that space travel could be accomplished by means of light pressure? Amazingly, Jules Verne suggested it in 1867 - see the article on light pressure propulsion.

Update: I was poking around and recalled that Larry Niven had a more specific term for a lasers that launched or accelerated space craft: he called them launching lasers in his 1971 story The Fourth Profession. End update.

Via NPR.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/10/2016)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

NASA Tests Prototype Europa Lander
Why have legs if they don't walk around? Just asking.

NASA's Psyche Mission To Metal Asteroid Launches Thursday!
'We can even fuel the space ships and mine the Asteroid Belt for rare metals...'

Space Weather To Universe Weather
'It radiates outward in a cone which, by the time it has reached our section of space, is many lightyears across.' - Poul Anderson, 1953.

That's MOXIE! Terraforming Mars Baby Steps
'Drake was the young spatial engineer he employed to terraform the little rock.' - Jack Williamson, 1931.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Wearable Energy Harvester
'... he had tightened the chest to gain maximum pumping action from the motion of breathing.'

Drones Participate In Buddhist Rites
'...a prayer wheel swung into view and began spinning at a furious pace.'

Anna Indiana AI Singer-Songwriter
'She is a personality-construct, a congeries of software agents'

Video Manicuring ala Schismatrix
'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time'

'Feel the AGI' OpenAI Leader Now OpenWorship
'And are all the people willing to be governed by a machine?'

NASA Tests Prototype Europa Lander
Why have legs if they don't walk around?

Tailsitter Drone Aircraft For SAR
'...it was so easy for me to remain motionless in midair.'

Forward CarePod The AI Doctor's Office
'It's an old model,' Rawlins said. 'I'm not sure what to do.'

Mika The Robot-Boss
'the robot-boss was busy at the lip of the new lode instructing and egging the men on to greater speed...'

Yamaha Motoroid 2 No Handlebars Self-Balancing Motorcycle
'He rode the bike with an intense lack of physical grace...'

San Francisco Autobus
'THE autobus turned silently down the wide street...'

Should Your Car Decide If You Can Drive?
'Okay. Maybe the car was right...'

Lucid Dreams On Demand From Prophetic and Card79
'the peeper did not operate by virtue of its machinery alone, but by the reaction of the brain and the body of its user...'

Honda UNI-ONE Hands-Free Wheelchair Follows 100 Year-Old Design
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed...'

EBS-260 Handjet Free Hand Dot Matrix Printer
'McKie held a chalf-memory stick over the dusted surface.'

Sensitive, Soft Robot Skin
'...tinted material that had all the feel and appearance of human flesh and epidermis.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.