June 2006

On Foundation-Building and Starflight

June 28, 2006

by Marc Millis Welcome to the birth of a new foundation. Using the dream of reaching other worlds as a long-range goal and a catalyst for near-term progress, the Tau Zero Foundation supports incremental advancements in science, technology, and education. As a private nonprofit (501c3) corporation, supported mainly through philanthropic donations, the Foundation seeks out […]

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Tau Zero Foundation Announced

June 26, 2006

Last February, Centauri Dreams described the formation of a new foundation, a private nonprofit (501c3) corporation dedicated to supporting the advances in science, technology and education that may one day enable us to reach the stars. Conceived by Marc Millis, former head of NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics program, the foundation aims to support a carefully […]

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Correction on a Plutonian Moon

June 24, 2006

Centauri Dreams incorrectly identified the name of one of the new Plutonian moons yesterday as Nyx. The actual name is Nix, as witness this statement from the International Astronomical Union, quoting Oddbjørn Engvold, general secretary of the organization: “In Greek mythology, Nyx is the goddess of the night, but since asteroid 3908 already bears the […]

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Naming Names Around Pluto

June 23, 2006

Centauri Dreams is told that one reason the name Pluto was chosen for the ninth planet in our Solar System is that the first two letters formed the initials of Percival Lowell. The Boston-born astronomer became world famous for his studies of the so-called ‘canals’ on Mars, but he devoted the last years of his […]

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Cryopreservation: The Slow Way to Centauri

June 22, 2006

Slowing down the biological clock is one way to get to the stars. And it’s a leading trope of science fiction, this idea that if we can’t find faster ways to travel beyond our Solar System, we can at least shorten the journey for the crew, who will wake up decades (or centuries) after departure […]

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An Unusual Object in Boötes

June 21, 2006

What exactly is the object recently discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys in the constellation Boötes? If it’s a supernova, it’s an odd one, since it took five times longer (100 days) to reach peak brightness than a normal supernova. In fact, indications are it brightened by a factor of more […]

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Remembering Tom Corbett

June 20, 2006

Going to the stars is a matter of hard science, but it’s also a question of inspiration. I know scientists who found their calling by reading Poul Anderson’s novel Tau Zero, and others whose love of the early Star Trek forever changed their career path. But for some of us, growing up in the 1950s, […]

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The Exploratory Imperative

June 19, 2006

Centauri Dreams often uses planetary peril as one good reason for expansion into the universe. As the human species spreads out onto multiple worlds, the chances of survival continue to increase even if our planet meets catastrophe in the form of a rogue asteroid or comet. But another good reason is the need for exploration […]

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A Dedicated Mission to Study Antimatter

June 17, 2006

Exciting news on the antimatter front with the launch of PAMELA, a probe designed to detect antimatter in space. Standing for Payload for Antimatter Matter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics, the PAMELA spacecraft lifted off from Baikonur on June 15. The mission should be a significant upgrade to previous balloon-borne attempts to survey antimatter inflows in […]

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Housekeeping Notes (and Problems)

June 16, 2006

The cleanup after the big splash continues. I am now working in an office that is more or less dry, with the help of constant dehumidifiers, but am inexplicably plagued by software problems that have shut down operations on one of my machines. Add to that a hardware glitch that surfaced just yesterday and it’s […]

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