December 2011

Prior Visions of Star Flight

December 29, 2011

by Marc Millis Here is a holiday gift from Tau Zero as compiled by TZF’s founding architect Marc Millis. It’s part of Marc’s continuing effort to find earlier references to the interstellar concepts — many of them in fiction — that we routinely ponder today. Some of these go back to the early 20th Century […]

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New Work on FTL Neutrinos

December 28, 2011

A paper in the December 24 issue of Physical Review Letters goes to work on the finding of supposed faster-than-light neutrinos by the OPERA experiment. The FTL story has been popping up ever since OPERA — a collaboration between the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS) in Gran Sasso, Italy and the CERN physics laboratory […]

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Complex Molecules on Pluto

December 27, 2011

I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season and looking forward to the upcoming New Year’s festivities. In the intervening window, let’s look at the outer Solar System. No other spacecraft has ever come as close to Pluto as New Horizons now has, already halfway between the Earth and the distant dwarf planet. It’s […]

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A Break for the Holidays

December 23, 2011

Best holiday wishes to all from Centauri Dreams. I’m now going on an abbreviated schedule, with no post today or on Monday. I’ll follow the same pattern next week as we close in on the New Year. The next regular post, then, will appear Tuesday December 27, and we’ll see what interesting news items accumulate […]

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Planets Survive Red Giant Expansion

December 22, 2011

The most interesting thing about the worlds known as KOI 55.01 and KOI 55.02 is not just the fact that they are — if current thinking holds — the smallest planets yet detected around an active star other than our Sun, but that they are evidently survivors of the most extreme kind of experience. KOI […]

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Kepler Finds Earth-Sized Planets

December 21, 2011

I’m delighted that we keep finding solar systems so different from our own. The discovery of two new planets that are roughly the size of the Earth just confirms the feeling — in a galaxy of dazzling fecundity, every system we look at has its own peculiarities to instruct and delight us. The system around […]

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Update on Innovative Interstellar Explorer

December 20, 2011

by Ralph McNutt Because of the interest that the Innovative Interstellar Explorer mission generates whenever I write about it, I was pleased to receive Ralph McNutt’s latest update on IIE. This was written in response to a recent article in these pages on the Voyager missions and refers to several of the comments in that […]

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Into the Planetary Rainforest

December 19, 2011

So-called ‘super-Earths,’ planets larger than the Earth but smaller than Neptune, pose problems to our theories of planet formation. The most recent illustration of this came in the announcement that the candidate planets found by Kepler had now reached 2,326. Remember, many of these will not be confirmed — they’re candidates — but taken in […]

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Spaceflight and Legends: A Dialogue with Michael Michaud

December 16, 2011

I’ve been hoping to publish a dialogue between Michael Michaud and myself ever since talking to him at the 100 Year Starship Symposium and pondering his paper “Long-Term Perspectives on Interstellar Flight.” Centauri Dreams readers will know Michael as the author of the must-have Contact with Alien Civilizations: Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials […]

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Voyager in the Doldrums

December 15, 2011

One of the pleasures of writing Centauri Dreams is digging into a paper to look at it from various directions, as I did recently with Jim Benford’s work on cost-optimized beamed sails. Jim has been working on these concepts for a long time, and although I had originally intended to devote two days to his […]

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