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A Practical Positron Rocket?

Antimatter seems the boldest — and newest — of propulsion concepts, but in fact Eugen Sänger’s work on the uses of antimatter in rocketry goes back to the 1930s. The German scientist thought it would be possible to reflect gamma rays produced by the annihilation of electrons and positrons to produce thrust. His work wowed the Fourth International Astronautical Congress in 1952, but there was a catch: the gamma rays created by this reaction seemed too energetic to use the way Sänger hoped — they penetrated all known materials and could not be channeled effectively into a rocket exhaust.

Which is why most antimatter designs since have focused on antiprotons. When antiprotons and protons annihilate each other, they produce not only gamma rays but pi-mesons, short-lived particles also known as pions. Many of these are charged as they emerge from the proton/antiproton annihilation, and can therefore be controlled by sending them through a strong magnetic field. Early designs by Robert Forward and David Morgan (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) took advantage of these traits even though the technology to produce sufficient antimatter lagged far behind their visionary concepts.

But antimatter researcher Gerald Smith and colleagues have been working on a study for NASA’s Institute for Advanced Concepts that takes us back to positrons, one that could power a human mission to Mars with tens of milligrams of antimatter. Not only would such a design be far lighter than competing chemical and nuclear options, but it would be fast enough to dramatically shorten flight time to the Red Planet; advanced versions might make the trip in as little as 45 days.

Smith’s background in antimatter research needs little elaboration; he is a towering figure in the field. While at Pennsylvania State University, he oversaw two key hybrid designs called ICANN II and AIMStar that used antimatter as a catalyst to induce nuclear reactions. The author of hundreds of research papers, he is also the designer of both the Mark I portable antimatter trap and the current state of the art, the High Performance Antimatter Trap (HiPAT).

He is, in other words, a key figure when it comes to wedding powerful antimatter technologies to practical spacecraft designs. Now head of Positronics Research LLC in New Mexico, Smith has built on the lessons learned from these earlier concepts to promote a new design that seems to offer enormous benefits, if we can produce the antimatter needed to make it fly.

One advantage of positrons is that the gamma rays they generate are about 400 times less energetic than those created by antiprotons, making the spacecraft a far safer place for human crews. According to a description of Smith’s work posted on the NIAC Web site (PDF warning), the positron/electron annihilation “…results in the creation of two soft 511 keV gamma rays. These gamma rays can be easily absorbed to heat a working fluid in a closed, high-efficiency thermodynamic power system, or directly into a propellant.” The NIAC work is ongoing — Smith’s Phase I study was completed in March and he is now making the case for an advanced Phase II project that will examine design variants like the positron reactor shown below.

Smith's positron engine concept

Image: A diagram of a rocket powered by a positron reactor. Positrons are directed from the storage unit to the attenuating matrix, where they interact with the material and release heat. Liquid hydrogen (H2) circulates through the attenuating matrix and picks up the heat. The hydrogen then flows to the nozzle exit (bell-shaped area in yellow and blue), where it expands into space, producing thrust. Credit: Positronics Research, LLC.

The high cost of antimatter is always an issue, but one that may become manageable. Smith is now estimating that the 10 milligrams of positrons a human Mars mission would require could be produced for roughly $250 million. It seems a reasonable assumption that antimatter production costs will continue to go down, just as it is also reasonable to question the wisdom of using staged chemical rockets with launch costs of $10,000 per pound when designs that could undertake far more sophisticated missions are waiting to be developed. Let’s talk more about these notions tomorrow and dig into antimatter’s advantages when it comes to deep space work.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • James M. Essig April 14, 2007, 22:06

    Hi George;

    Keep cranking on your advocacy for wormholes and spacewarps.

    A few more ideas occurred to me regarding interstellar space-faring concepts.

    1a) The first idea involves the notion of producing wormholes that can somehow be transported, not just in terms of the location of their mouths, but also in terms of translational motion of the entire wormhole within our ordinary 4-D Einsteinian Space-time and/or higher dimensional space such as that proposed by various models of Euclidean Hyperspace, Non-Euclidean Hyperspace, the 10 or 11 Dimensions of string theory, etc.. The idea would be to use the wormholes not only as transit tubes in the traditional sense, but also as translational vessels in a similar manner that spaceships would be used to travel through space-time to distant spatial locations and also locations in time, past, present, and/or in the future.

    Thus wormhole used as a spacecraft may optionally be transported through higher dimensional space, perhaps to other universes, big bangs, and even to other multiverses wherein the word multiverse refers to a fractal tree like structure of universes as proposed by the theory of chaotic inflation wherein, in each universe or twig, numerous universes are constantly forming and then become casually separated from the parent universe on time scales less than or roughly equal to the Planck time unit of about 10 EXP-45 seconds.

    1b) The second idea involves the concept of using stable wormholes as living quarters wherein whole cities, nations, countries, and the human and/or extraterrestrial races could set up the living infrastructure wherein such structures could house whole civilizations or mega-civilizations. The wormholes may optionally be higher dimensional enclosures with 4 or more interior spatial dimensions within. Thus spacecraft might be developed which not only can travel through higher dimensional space, but which are higher dimensional industrially fabricated living structures or habitats. One might even consider higher dimensional wormholes being completely embedded within a 1 or 2 dimensional structure such as a loop or a membrane, wherein the inside of the wormhole would have any number of dimensions, which in the extreme case, might approach infinite-D. Also the inside volume of a wormhole might be as much as many times greater than the volume bounded by its external surface or its outside wall surface.

    In extreme versions, one can imagine producing a wormhole with a 4-D Einsteinian space-time contained within that has a volume greater than, perhaps much greater than that of our observable universe. In fact, one can conjecture that wormholes can be so produced that have inside volumes, temporal dimension extensions, dimensionalities, space-time curvatures that are essentially indistinguishable from actual individual big bangs or universes such that the inside of such wormholes becomes indistinguishable from real naturally forming universes in all of their possible variations. Perhaps one can summarize this concept as follows:

    Lim Wormhole Features [(D, V, STc, C, P), (delta volume)] = Big Bang Features [(D, V, STc, C, P), (delta volume)] as Wormhole features of D, V, STc, C, P approach the identity to those for a Big Bang

    where D, V, STc, C, P are the Dimensionality, Volume, Spacetime curvature, Physical Constants, and Laws of Physics respectively, and delta volume is an arbitrary reference differential volume element.

    Perhaps the wormholes themselves can be moved by affixed reactionary propulsion systems such as: electron, ion, photon, tachyon rocket drive; magneto-plasma-hydrodynamic drive (MPHDD), electro-plasma-hydrodynamic drive (EPHDD), and/or electromagneto-plasma-hydrodynamic drive (EMPHDD) propulsion systems; beamed energy or beamed mass drive sail systems; interstellar ramjet; non reactionary propulsion systems such as warp drive, antigravity, systems for teleporting the wormholes, and transmission of smaller wormholes through larger wormhole tubes, etc..

    2) The second main concept I would like to summarize is rather old and has been circulating for decades and is the conjecture that there are infinitely many histories within our universe that coexist “side by side” and wherein new histories are constantly forming, branching out, and separating from the current set of histories each time a quantum mechanical event occurs. As a result, there is an ever growing ensemble of developing histories many of which are very similar to ours, many others of which lead to histories that diverge in characteristics from our history. The differences range from simple displacements of the relative locations of particles and fields among differential volume elements in these alternate histories with respect to our history, thru development of histories with large scale features that are very different than those in our history yet with the same laws of physics and physical constants, to histories that do not resemble our’s because the laws of physics, constants of nature, and even dimensionality are completely foreign to that of our history.

    The idea here would be to some how access the most similar histories and/or create some by somehow judiciously manipulating quantum level events in just the right manner: e.g., spatially, temporally, energy level wise, electromagnetically, gluonically, weak force boson-wise, gravitationally, super symmetrically, etc. If we could learn to access and/or create these histories at will and in a controlled manner, think of all of the additional planet Earth’s that could be found, developed, and colonized, not to mention all of the Moon’s, Mars’s, other stars systems that could be found, developed, and colonized.

    Perhaps very similar histories could be developed such that we could enter a very similar location in a near by history and then pass thought that alternate history back into a location a cosmic distance away from Earth in our own history. Perhaps inducing multiply connected space-time regions within the alternate histories could be of help here and/or using multiple connectedness type features between dissimilar locations at interfaces between our universe and nearby similar parallel histories.

    Alternatively, perhaps we could travel through a series of parallel histories with series wise divergent characteristics until we enter a history with very different geographical features yet having the same laws of physics and constants of nature. We might further proceed through a series of histories until we arrive at ones that are vastly different than ours, not only in terms of geographical features, but also in laws of physics, structures of life forms, and constants of nature.

    Perhaps whole multiverses in the sense of the word proposed by the theory of chaotic inflation also have associated parallel histories or perhaps the multiverses analogue of parallel histories.

    Note that the underlying concepts for the discussion under item number 2) above are seriously considered as possibly correct by many quantum theorists.

    Anyhow, that’s all for now. I plan to be back on site tomorrow with some more down to Earth concepts as possible near term solutions for manned space travel about our solar system.

    Thanks Once Again;

    Your Friend Jim

  • george scaglione April 15, 2007, 11:41

    jim,fantastic ideas,boy do you think BIG!! i never thought in terms of transporting wormholes i always assumed that they would be generated as needed.guess i think kind of big myself…after all “generate wormholes as needed”?! don’t think that that occurs to many people or at least not many people outside this circle. lol why i like this circle so much.then, the idea of linking other universes or multiverses.first thing i thought was,that would be covering some REAL DISTANCES.but then the second thing i thought was…hey,maybe not. – if all of these parallel places are just “the next dimension over” then they might only be…in fact… a couple of millimeters away! also,wormholes as living quarters(!!??). did not really like that idea until it occurred to me a minute later how ADVANCED a concept that is! i mean,to use space to make more space! would not be suprised if some of our hypothetical aliens who have technology a million years in advance of us already do that!! wheww!! keep up the great work my friend and i look forward to seeing some more “down to earth” concepts as i have come to see them as more practical in the sense that they are what must be done first anyhow. what we do here is usually working on current ideas while also at the same time working on much much more advanced concepts.that is why it is so much more fun!! thanks again jim and everyone else who may read here.respectfully your friend george

  • James M. Essig April 17, 2007, 7:31

    Hi George;

    Your mentioning of generating wormholes as needed is indeed a thinking big concept. Infact, it may be better to generate the wormholes as needed rather than produce the permanent ones such as those I commented on in my previous posting. One potential draw back with producing too many permanent wormholes is that spacetime might get cluttered with wormholes possibly resulting in accidents. Also, I wonder if producing copious quantities of permenant wormholes might have some adverse impact on the structure of the vacuum state of our universe. Still, I think I would much prefer have wormholes, generated as needed and/or permanent, rather than no wormholes.

    George, keep up the good thinking and studying of wormholes! You never know where the next break thru concepts are going to originate.

    I will be back on site in a few hours to comment on some more down to Earth concepts.


    Your Friend Jim

  • george scaglione April 17, 2007, 7:57

    thankyou jim,worm holes generated as needed…i guess the book and movie contact by carl sagan put me pretty much on to that concept.still, i think that that is the better way.clutter spacetime!?? something way down deep is virtually yelling at me that i don’t think that that is possible! lol my good friend i respectfully think that maybe it is time to think about some more “down to earth and commonplace ideas” ! again,lol… i feel we are beginning to stray into arguments that resemble “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin!!??” respectfully to one and all your friend george

  • James M. Essig April 17, 2007, 9:34

    Hi George;

    Thanks for the critique. I was beginning to wonder if I was venturing to far into fantasy land with my postings. A little reality check every so often is probably a good thing for me. I think that you are absolutely right.

    I would like to comment on the idea of using space elevators (such as the ones proposed to be anchored by large gravitationally centered masses in geocentric orbit) located in orbit around any of the gas giant planets in our solar system or perhaps around some of the moons such as Titan, Europa, etc. wherein fuel, be it chemical rocket fuels or reaction mass gas for large refillable interplanetary nuclear thermal and/or nuclear fission powered electric ion rocket drives etc. Optionally, the hydrogenic gases from Titan, which is belived to have vast ocean of liquid hydrocarbon gases, might be transportable to Earth or other locations in the solar system to meet energy demands.

    Perhaps, very large nuclear powered frieghters could be used to transport the liquified gas. Note that, I think, although I am not quite sure, that Japan experimented with a nuclear fission powered ocean going oil tanker. The idea would be to use the analogue in the form of an efficient nuclear thermal rocket powered and/or nuclear electric rocket drive to transport the fuel or gas to meet energy demands and/or fas raw materials for construction of certain components of space-based or other planetary based colonies and outposts.

    That’s all for now.

    I will be back onsite in a day or so.


    Your Friend Jim

  • ljk April 17, 2007, 10:10


    Sunday, April 15, 2007

    Is LiftPort Closing Shop?

    For space elevator fans, this is very sad news indeed.

    (Almost Girl) But today, roughly two hours before the panel, an obstacle was placed in Michael and Liftport’s path. Zealot that he is, even his belief and passion could not hold against this reality of finance. They lost their office space. The money ran out. And on Monday they will announce this fact.

    I almost cried in sympathy as Michael described how this would impact not only Liftport but his personal life. He had no home, no place for his animals, no job, no source of income, and no place for his staff. A three million dollar building that held the hopes and dreams of more than just a few space crazies was taken away from a project that for better or worse is attempting to bring about a future I was weaned on. And a future I don’t often get to remember in a day to day way and now perhaps will not see even in dreams anymore

    No official word yet from LiftPort, although there seems to be hints of this over on their corporate blog.

    Opinion: So what does a LiftPort’s fate have to do with colonizing our solar system? For some, nothing (as rockets is their mode of travel) but for others it means a lot.

    The largest hurdle with humanity colonizing our solar system can be boiled down to one word–cost. The cost of space is so high that only the wealthiest of the wealthy can afford to orbit our planet for a brief amount of time, let alone visit other worlds.

    LiftPort’s goal was to be the first company to construct a working space elevator, thus enabling humanity to not only construct solar powered satellites and rotating space stations, but also allow us to migrate the masses off world onto other worlds throughout our star system.

    Although they are not the only company attempting to do this, LiftPort was one of the few companies who were willing to be “open and honest” about their situation, whether good or bad (a rare trait in the space industry).

    Reducing the cost is a key factor in encouraging our population to live elsewhere, and the space elevator was one of the few technologies (along with maglev-rocket hybrids, magnetic sleds and nuclear propulsion) promising this.

    If this is the end of our beloved space elevator company, then let it be known that these men and women dared to attempt the impossible, and were willing to stake their futures upon it. President Theodore Roosevelt sums it up the best by saying:

    Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

    God bless LiftPort, and I await the news of your fate.

    (Image Credits: LiftPort.com)

  • James M. Essig April 17, 2007, 13:43

    Hi ljk;

    Sad news indeed. We can hope and pray that other corporations will join the band wagon for the space elevator concept. As you may have guessed, I am one of those fans of the space-elevator concept.



  • george scaglione April 17, 2007, 13:56

    jim, yes i did sometimes think that we where sometimes venturing a bit too far into fantasyland.but i quickly ad – maybe i am not the one to say that,after all i have sure come up with some ideas here that to say the least “are not exactly on the drawing boards “,either!!! ljk…now…having said the above,yes i am very sorry too if liftports concepts are going to be scrubbed!! a real shame,we need all the good ideas we can get. tragic if they could have done good work that now will not be done! as i think i recently pointed out my friends one of the things i enjoy most about this site is that we can consider a full spectrum of space exploration ideas side by side at the same time rangeing from the “reasonable” to the wild!! i think it is good for all of us here and for the concept of space exploration in general. kind of reminds me of the 60’s when you could follow a project gemini mission and then on friday night tune in to star trek!! much the same idea. anyhow,all the best to everybody and i very much look forward to discussing ideas with everybody,on any subject you would like to bring up! your friend george

  • george scaglione April 17, 2007, 14:03

    jim i was just this minute signing off when i noticed your space elevator comment to ljk above.you must have posted it while i was composing my last comments above!!!! i agree with what you said about space elevators and yes i do wish the project the very best also.thank you jim thank you ljk. your friend george

  • James M. Essig April 17, 2007, 23:56

    Hi George and ljk;

    Thanks for the critical review of my postings and also for your comments in general. I hope that other companies will continue to develop space elevator concepts.

    It occurred to me that if a space elevator can be built in Earth Orbit, perhaps one can be built in orbit around the Sun in the form of two or more concentric rings as a solar orbital anchoring mass wherein a multitude of spokes or elevators would reach inward as far as venus and outward as far as any one of the gas giant planets. No doubt that the spokes would need to be made of some incredably strong material, perhaps much stronger than carbon nanotube materials. However, something tells me that if we are one day able to produce materials that are 1 or 2 orders of magnitude stronger than carbon nanotubes, perhaps such a system could be doable.

    If such a system could be built, it would probably best be configured as a concentric wheels and spokes like arrangment of mass driver type tubes wherein spacecraft or frieght parcels would be accellerated and decellerated and wherein linear induction motor type systems would recover the kinetic energy of motion by slowing the craft down through magnetic interaction with the craft as it travels in the tube.

    If the spoke like tubes could be made long enough, then perhaps very high G accellerations could be obtained which would allow the craft to reach mildly to highly relativistic velocities as the crafts exited the tubes, or perhaps even such velocities within the tubes followed be magnetic breaking and energy recapture before the craft reaches its station along a tube line. One could see that interstellar missions to stars within our Galaxy might become possible this way wherein stars as far out as perhaps 1,000 lightyears could be visited with a craft that is accellerated to a relativistic time dilation factor of about 33 years thus enabling the craft to reach 1,000 llight year distances in a normal human generation of about 30 years ship time. The tubes could be scaled up in diameter to accomidate a very large spacecraft. The option of many circumferentially placed radial tubes would allow more choices in a given time period for the direction of craft launch as long as the flight path was substantially within the same plane as the wheels and spokes assemblage.

    For missions out of the plane of the transport system, perhaps matter/antimatter rockets could be used to steer the craft or perhaps some other steering mechanism could be deployed such as a system that would make use of local interstellar magnetic field patterns inorder to redirect the flight path of the craft as the craft reacted to the magnetic fields with appropriately deployed magnetic and/or electric field generators on board the craft.

    No doubt, such a solar system wide elevator-like system would envolve a minumental construction effort as well as materials with strength properties that we do not yet possess.

    In the near term, perhaps a scaled down version of a concentric rings and spokes arrangment could be deployed around the Earth, Mars, Jupiter etc. wherein a manned spacecraft could be accelerated to a velocity of a few tens to hundreds of kilometers per second thus reducing the required accelleration loads on equipment and passengers. For the larger systems described above, some method of counteracting the extremely high levels of accelleration would have to be devised to prevent injury and death of passengers and damage of equipment on board the spacecraft. However, the slower tens to hundreds of kilometers/sec velocities potentially doable with single planet based systems might offer an excellent way for us to tool around the solar system as more elaborate technologies are developed to permit feasable and eventually practical manned interstellar flight.

    For manned interstellar spacecraft launched in this manner, the craft could be slowed upon arrival near the target star system by matter/antimattter rockets, perhaps very efficient fusion rockets, or by magnetic breaking mechanisms that use interstellar magnetic fields interacting with a very large and optionally superconducting loop or other judiciously chosen configuration of electrical current carrying wire or cable system.

    In order to reduce the apparent load on craft passengers for craft that are accellerated to relativistic velocities, perhaps the crew and passengers could be placed in sealed high strength hydrostatic liquid containing vessels in such a manner so as to act as G suits. Note that a deep sea scuba diver at a depth of 100 meters (in the extreme range of diving depths) has roughly 100 metric tons of force pushing in on his body, but the diver does not get crushed becuase the force is evenly distributed around his body and pushes inward only. Even people on Earth’s surface at sea level have several tons of pressure acting on their bodies without noticing it because it is uniformly acting on their bodies and pushing inward. Other methods of counteracting the force of accelleration may include magnetic and/or electric fields acting on magnetized or electriccally charged human bodies.

    Note that I am in no way the originator of these concepts and make no claim to have developed them, however I thought that the general readership of this site would enjoy reading the brief summary provided above.

    That’s all for now. I will be back on site be no later than about 11 PM tonight

    Thanks Again;

    Your Friend Jim

  • george scaglione April 18, 2007, 15:00

    thank you jim very interesting.there is alays alot to consider here with 10 more things just waiting in the wings! thats why i come here so often. your friend george

  • James M. Essig April 18, 2007, 19:35

    Hi George;

    Thanks for the critique and kind words.

    I would like to mention an article I read about a program between China and Russia involving a desire by both nations to send man back to the Moon. Perhaps this will spur the U.S. manned space program onto even more adventurous plans and also lend greater assurance for the continuance of our plans to send humans back to the Moon by 2020.

    George, I think we are now at a point where there seems to be a somewhat renewed interest in manned space exploration, atleast in the minds and hearts of those persons like us who are predisposed to think about such. With all of the interest being generated about sub-orbital space flight tourism and eventual Earth orbit tourism, I would like to think and I hope that many of the next baby steps that we have been discussing will soon start comming to fruition. I think the next 20 years on Earth, Earth orbit, and the Moon etc., are going to be an interesting ride. It would be very interesting if we somehow discovered and extraterrestrial civilization’s artifact(s) on the Moon or elsewhere within the Solar System during the next 20 years.

    That’s all for now. I will be back on site later this week.

    Thanks Again;

    Your Friend Jim

  • george scaglione April 19, 2007, 8:18

    yes jim alot is being done along the lines of space tourism.i seem to come across a new article on that somewhere almost daily. i think we are entering a new and exciting phase for space and technology! good news. by the way on my screen here on this site i have a black ribbon to the right of my screen which is annoying in that it “eats” the last couple of words to the right in every sentence. i wondered if that is just me or if all of us are expierincing it? one theory i have is that maybe it is because this subject has run so long! i mean i have never seen a discussion that ran over 200 contributions!! i recall once having a discussion on the possible constuction of wormholes.it ran to about 135 and i thought that was remarkable! anyhow i don’t really like the interferennce and thought i would ask. thank you again your friend george ps one more thing on the above.whereas i prefer exploration to tourism…i still see the above as a good thing.because it will have the effect of making space just a “normal” thing in most peoples minds.which CANNOT help but help the effort in general ! :) george

  • James M. Essig April 19, 2007, 19:52

    Hi George;

    Thanks for the critique and comments.

    I am not noticing any black ribbon to the right of my screen however, such a ribbon with its interference could be the result of a software artifact within your computer system and/or its link to the site. Perhaps the site administrator Paul might have some suggestions to overcome this difficultly if not your internet service provider.

    I too much prefer space exploration to space tourism. As an aspect of space exploration, I also enjoy the concepts and the wordage of “space pioneering”, “remote space-based research outposts”, and the Star-Trek motto “To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before” not to mention many other simmilar phrases and the concepts they embody.

    Wow! We are now up to 214 postings.

    My mother pointed out an article to me in the local newspaper about how Virgin Atlantic and another company are teeming up to hopefully provide access to Earth orbit for the ordinary citizen within a decade or so from now. At least I think that is the name of the company.

    That’s all for now. I will be back onsite tomorrow.


    Your Friend Jim

  • george scaglione April 20, 2007, 8:34

    yes thank you i will look into that annoiying black margin.i think we will get out there for whatever reason and resaonably soon.someone just pointed out to me that it will be done for the business opportunities reasons if only that!!? not the best but i’ll take it.that same person also pointed out to me that in a recent poll when asked how should we save money? what should we cut? 51% said the space program!! on the other hand…to make money?! hell yes.i’m sure suddenly they would want to go!! not good but it “plays into our hands” as space enthusiasts anyhow!?jim and everyone else who may be reading i’ll say one more thing.it sickens me that when it comes to creativity like space exploration alot of people just cannot wait to express their contempt and at the same time 31 valuable young lives are wasted in virginia for no reason at all!! what more can i say?! thank you george

  • James M. Essig April 20, 2007, 13:59

    Hi George;

    Thanks for the comments and critical review.

    A perhaps very far out concept occurred to me last night before I went to bed. In essence, it involves somehow transporting the human soul and all of its faculties along with a single particle to which it is somehow united and made to interface with the material world. The particle could be a boson or a fermion, matter particle or antimatter particle, a real particle or somehow a virtual particle, or a particle associated with a super symmetric field, a tachyon, etc..

    According to certain theological definitions of the human soul, it is multiply present, i.e., completely present in every location of the human body while it is still attached to the human body in life in the world. The idea would be to make it entirely present to a particle by some how transferring its entire presence in a differential particle element of a human body to the particle to be beamed. If the particle travels at light speed, then the particle should experience no change in its fundamental state with respect to the background space-time unless it interacts with another particle or black-hole, thus experiencing a time dilation factor of infinity with respect to the background reference frame. If the particle is accelerated to C – e, where e is miniscule, then the time dilation experienced by the particle will be very large but not infinite. Perhaps as a result, the passage of time perceived by the soul might be zero or vanishingly small. Alternatively, the process of connecting the soul to the particle might result in temporary sleep for the soul or temporary arrested consciousness.

    Upon traveling as much as a cosmic distance in: space-time; higher dimensional space-time; space-time past present, or future; another universe or multi-verse, etc., the particle could be united to a physical media where it can then experience normal life somehow and relate to its surroundings in a completely familiar manner. Perhaps the media would be a teleported body, the original body teleported, a new body produce through an immediate but remote manipulation of matter through some instantaneous link such as quantum entanglement, teleportation, wormhole connections between the origin and destination of the particle/soul combination etc.

    Alternatively, the soul with all of its faculties and accidental properties might be attached to a region in space-time wherein the region is a single fundamental unit of space-time such as a Planck unit as in Quantum Field Theory, or a spatial-temporal volumetric unit such as that proposed in the more recently developed Loop Quantum Gravity Theory, etc., and this volumetric element might be linked with another volumetric element or perhaps even with a macroscopic volumetric element of space and/or space-time located as much as a cosmic scale distance away from the originating element via quantum entanglement, naturally or artificially induced multiple connectedness of the widely separated space and/or space-time elements, naturally occurring artificially manipulated wormholes, artificially generated wormholes etc.

    Perhaps the soul and its faculties can be united to a software storage medium such as a region within the fabric of space-time itself such as in ordinary 4-D Einsteinian space-time, proposed hyperspace-higher-dimensional space-time whether or not such space-time is Euclidean or Non-Euclidean, the higher dimensional space-time proposed in string theory, meta-theory, D-brane theory, etc.. Or the soul might be united to a software storage medium in the form of a quantity of: energy, matter, antimatter, electric field, magnetic field, strong and/or weak nuclear force field, gravitational field, a black-hole, or a super-symmetric field, or quantity of super-symmetric matter, etc.,,

    I think the main point is that if we are willing to assume that we can and will learn how to enhance human intelligence, psychology, and other personality dimensions through improved pharmacological agents, followed by neuronal regeneration, followed by neuronal implants and augmentations, followed by non-organic circuit central nervous system augmentation, why not take a step further and suggest that the human soul might someday be artificially, permanently or temporarily, removed from the human body and united to another physical medium or to the same original body in the body’s original form or improved form by technological means without resulting in the so-called death of the human person as conceptualized in the belief in the final separation of the soul and body at the end of natural life in the world. If such can ever be accomplished, then perhaps we will enter an even higher frontier involving transports of the soul. If such is ever possible without terminating the life of the person, then perhaps it will be necessary to begin scientific and mathematical study and experimentation with the once outmoded concepts of ectoplasm, astral-planes, etc., followed by controlled technological manipulation and creation of ectoplasm and astral-planes.

    All this may sound very weird, but look how far we have come in just one century from steam driven locomotives, horse drawn carriages, and ether as an anesthetic to nuclear armed nuclear powered submarines, peta-flops supercomputers, the pioneer 10 and 11 probes which are now essentially in interstellar space, ubiquitous air travel at near the speed of sound all over the Globe, and anti-psychotic agents which can re-stabilize even the most psychotic persons such as the one that unfortunately slipped through the cracks and made a very poor choice to murder 32 of his fellow Virginia Tech class-mates.

    Nor does any future type of soul transport and reconnection to a physical host necessarily contradict the Catholic teaching that the human soul is immortal, and even incorruptible per addends and perse, because if we are willing to make the claim that it is united to its host body in this life but continues to exist for ever, incorruptible in either Heaven or Hell, then why not assume that it can somehow be temporarily united or manipulated to or with respect to another somewhat arbitrary medium aside from the human body that it initially animates.

    It would be an incredible technological development if we as a civilization learned how to manipulate the relationship between the human soul and its host body in the manners described above. As a Catholic, I do believe in the fundamental immortality of every human soul and its transcendental and unique and special relationship to its Creator, and also the Resurrection of every human body and its reunion to its separated animating soul at the final resurrection and believe that the final resurrection may occur at a cosmically distant time into the future. If such is the case, then perhaps mankind’s technology can be developed through God’s guidance as man colonizes the universe such that somehow, this technology will play some role in the Final Resurrection of the Human Body and its reunion with its animating Soul. To those who summarily discount this possibility because it would entail human technology having God like powers, I say “Why Not ?”. Cannot God, Almighty as He is, have the power to work through any means He desires!

    I will now summarize some much more down to Earth concepts so as not to get too far into rambling on about such intangibles as outlined above.

    1) The first such concept I would like to mention involves the possibility of developing some form of chemical rocket fuel that has a greater mass specific heating value then hydrogen, kerosene, and other commonly used rocket oxidants. I have heard of research being done in the past involving the use of very high strength polymers as oxidants in rocket fuels but that such research was discontinued because the exhaust produced formed very nasty pollutants as primary or secondary by products of combustion. Perhaps in space, this would not be a problem and could facilitate manned missions to Mars and further out into the solar system. Also, such fuels might be producible on planetary bodies where hydrocarbon materials appear to be present in great quantities such as on the moon Titan and perhaps also from material contained within the surface or sub-surface of Mars.

    2) The second concept I would like to mention involves the concept of using ultra-compressed hydrogen and perhaps ultra-compressed materials made of other single elements or combinations of elements wherein very large quantities of energy could be released by sequentially explosively destabilizing quantities of such fuel. Fairly recently, I read a theoretical discussion proposing the production and usage of stable compressed solid metallic hydrogen as such a fuel wherein the energy contained in a unit mass of such fuel would be about 25 times greater than the energy of explosion contained in an equal mass of TNT. Perhaps with further compression of hydrogen into a yet more compressed state and/or similar states involving other elements, or compounds, even significantly more energy can be stored for release as needed per given mass of fuel.

    That’s all for now.

    I will be back on sight tomorrow.

    Best Regards;

    Your Friend Jim

  • James M. Essig April 20, 2007, 21:03

    Hi George an all other readers;

    I think I might have made an error in my reporting of the joint effort by two companies to do orbital tourism as I described in my second to previous posting. The joint effort involves Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites LLC and aims to have sub-orbital flight hardware (spaceship) ready by 2009-Just two years from now! Space tourism will then very soon follow with suborbital flights with 5 to 10 minutes of wieghtlessness with large viewing windows to see the curvature of Earth and the blackness of space.



  • george scaglione April 21, 2007, 8:44

    yes jim i agree that first idea above is pretty far out! more like religion than technology.but the rest about rocket fuel is right on the mark for our purposes here not to say much more no pun intended “down to earth”!! thanks as always george

  • James M. Essig April 26, 2007, 15:26

    Hi George;

    Its good to be back on site.

    A few concepts occurred to me regarding extreme energy storage and/or released from highly compressed materials.

    1) The first concept involves crushing material until it somehow forms a stable state with the density of white dwarf material. If a small but macroscopic quantity of material could be compressed about 100 million fold to achieve some sort of stably locked compressed mode, then the destabilizing the material on command I think would yield enough energy for use in manned interstellar starflight. If the Pauli Exclusion Principle could somehow be suppressed and then reinstated for macroscopic white dwarf dense rocket fuel quantities, then we might have a whole new method with which to reach the stars. Perhaps somehow zero-point vacuum energy would come into play to enable easier compression of the normal density matter into white dwarf density wherein the reinstating of the Pauli Exclusion Principle as such might be away of explaining the huge energy release upon decompression.

    2) The second concept involves crushing material further into neutron density wherein a macroscopic would be quantity of neutron dense matter would be formed by crushing the precursor normal density matter into a stably locked form of neutronium possibly with any usable form of Pauli Exclusion Principle surpression. As in the case of the white dwarf dense material, the neutronium dense matter would be decompressed for use as even more powerful rocket fuel wherein the neutron dense matter state would be unlocked possibly by somehow reinstating the Pauli Exclusion Principle. This procedure ought to definitely get us to the stars if possible.

    3) The third concept involves compressing matter to the extent that the Pauli Exclusion Principle that would normally keep quarks within neutronium from getting to close to each other would effectively be at least partially suspended and the super dense state of quarkonium would be stably locked. Unlocking this super-dense state possibly by reinstating the Pauli Exclusion Principle in full might allow for stupendously powerful rocket fuel upon decompression.

    Note that for white dwarfs and neutron stars, fermionic degeneracy plays an important role. As normal matter becomes compressed past white dwarf density towards neutron density in a neutron star, it is not the electric charge repulsion between the protons within the nuclei that matters, for the protons and electrons are effectively crushed together to a state that is indistinguishable form neutronium. It is the neutron degeneracy pressure that holds to neutron star from its final collapse into a black hole until the mass of the neutron star reaches about 3 solar masses.

    4) The fourth concept involves a very hypothetical denser state yet that assumes that quarks may be composite wherein an even much greater density state can be achieved than that for quarkonium. Once again, producing a stably locked state possibly with the aid of Pauli Exclusion Principle surpression followed by decompression possibly through its reinstatement might yield even more powerful rocket fuel yet.

    It has been stated by at least one physicist that it would take more energy than that contained within the entire visible universe to compress the Earth into a black-hole state if the Earth was squeezed by mechanical pressure as if by a hand. Note that the size of an Earth massed black-hole is about 1.2 centimeters in diameter. This density works out to be about 10 EXP 21 metric tons per cubic centimeter. Clearly, there is huge energy available in ultra-compressed matter. Such states as mentioned in items 1-4 above should not be discounted as rocket fuel for starships as we learn how to compress matter significantly beyond normal density.

    Note that the pressure at the center of a neutron star can be roughly estimated to be the weight of a column of unit area extending from the neutron star surface radially to its center. The pressure thus approximated is (10 EXP 12 Gs)(10 EXP 6)(10 EXP 9) = 10 EXP 27 Metric Tons (Force equivalent) per square centimeter.

    That’s all for now;


    Your Friend Jim

  • mundu May 3, 2007, 11:28

    i was surfing for information on whether laser radiation from a dvd player affects the eyes or any other part of the human anatomy if one is exposed to it when the search led me to your site. would be great if you could get back to me on this.

  • James M. Essig May 4, 2007, 2:41

    Hi Mundu;

    I don’t think the laser radiation form a dvd player would effect your eye or other parts of the human anatomy in any serious way, and definitely not if the light remains confined within in the electronic equipment encasement that reads the DVD. I am not sure what the power output of the DVD reading laser is, although I am sure it is pretty low. However, like any form of concentrated light, shining such light directly into ones eye has the potential to cause eye injury. Note that the amount of energy that would actually enter the human eye and impinge on the human retina if one would stare directly at the Sun would only be about atmost 1/10 of a watt although doing such would almost immeadiately cause severe eye damage and a prolonged stare at the Sun would of course as you are well aware cause permenant blindness. The point being that perhaps almost any macroscopic laser could potentially cause eye damage if mis-handled.

    Thanks for your inquiry;


  • ljk May 4, 2007, 15:47

    NASA Science News for May 4, 2007

    NASA-supported scientists and engineers have successfully
    tested a methane-powered rocket engine. The firing was not
    only remarkably beautiful (a must-see movie is featured in
    today’s story) but also may herald a new type of spacecraft
    that one day roams the outer solar system gathering fuel
    from planets and moons that it visits.



    Check out our RSS feed at http://science.nasa.gov/rss.xml!

  • george scaglione May 7, 2007, 10:42

    ljk thank you for passing that along but i thought we where posting these ideas currently under a practical positron rocket II the way to that had been through clicking on the april postings…which have currently disappeared from the menu for a bit! i’ll see what i can do ! still,thanks a good idea that i was glad to see! your friend george