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From the Moon to the Stars

I’ll close my coverage of the Apollo 11 anniversary with thoughts from Marc Millis. I was startled to discover, fifty years after watching the first landing on the Moon, that the anniversary seemed almost elegiac. So many expectations that have yet to emerge, so much energy still waiting to find an Apollo-like focus. Marc has likewise been ruminating on the Moon landings and here offers a way of placing them in context. Such an effort invariably means invoking the long view, one I found challenging to sustain because of my own freighted memories of 20 July, 1969.

But I think Marc is right in looking for longer, more stable arcs of development and trends that the rush of daily activity can obscure. The former head of NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics project, Millis is also editor (with Eric Davis) of the book Frontiers of Propulsion Science (2009) and the founder of the Tau Zero Foundation. He has been developing an interstellar propulsion study from a NASA grant and recently returned from Europe, where he worked with Martin Tajmar’s SpaceDrive project at Germany’s Technische Universität Dresden.

by Marc G Millis

Anniversaries have a way of making us reflect. I was 9 years old during the first Moon walk. That event, and the steady progress that preceded it, profoundly affected me. Its power was more than just the amazing new technology and the mind-blowing fact that humanity was no longer constrained to this planet. I was also struck by how it affected the world.

For days following of the landing, the world was one. We were human beings sharing an amazing, peaceful, intellectual, human achievement. This achievement interrupted the usual gloomy news of war, social injustice, and the specter of imminent nuclear destruction. It showed us a side of humanity that made us feel good and cast hope for a better future. After centuries of humanity’s dreams about the Moon, we did it.

I broke out in tears when I recently heard the replay of the transmission: “Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” I recall, in that moment, how the future of humanity changed. All the way up to that point, we were not sure if touching the Moon was just fanciful wishing. After that point, it was fact. We knew, then, that humanity could accomplish great things – when we set our sights toward doing great things.

Instead of revisiting the real motivations for Apollo, I want to share the effect it had on an impressionable child. From my naive and idealistic 9-year-old view, I assumed that our national leaders had deliberately designed the Space Program as a catalyst for a sustainable modern Renaissance. I saw the Space Program as the grand challenge that would drive technological progress, extend prosperity and improve humanity. It gave the citizens a future they could look forward to. It gave us frontiers to conquer rather than the alternative of conquering each other.

On the individual level, it gave students a reason to excel in their studies and the prospect of meaningful careers – reasons to avoid drugs and debauchery. It made so much sense; healthy, exciting and positive. And the fact that the Moon landing was done as promised and on schedule – that fact made our national leaders look competent and trustworthy. Impressive stuff.

A year prior to the Moon landing, the movie 2001 a Space Odyssey showed us a vision of such a future. It included commercial shuttles taking passengers to an orbiting space station – complete with hotels and passport control. Moon bases not only existed, but there were several of them. The producers hired suitable aerospace professionals as consultants so that all of these things were envisioned plausibly – and it worked.

The dramatic contrast between the silence of space and the sound of breathing inside a spacesuit is etched in my memory. The portrayal of the difference between microgravity and artificial gravity (and vacuum and air) was convincing. The characters behaved in a manner consistent with their roles. The total effect is that 2001 cast an image of what the future could be, and based on the pace of the 60s Space Program, I expected it was the future that would be.

Fast-forward to now. Despite the painful demotion of the Space Race after Apollo into something more like a subdued slog, progress accumulated. A half century since Apollo, thirteen nations (or groups thereof) have space programs, including a few rich guys with their own launchers. Over 4600 spacecraft are in Earth orbit and about 150 farther beyond. Our satellites have saved countless lives with hurricane warnings, are keeping an eye on the health of our environment, and have enabled a level of world connectedness through communication that I hope fosters sustainable peace. We’ve seen planets and moons as never before. We’ve listened to the winds on Titan. And the tally of strange new worlds (exoplanets around other stars) has surpassed 4,000. One thing we still don’t know is if there is life beyond Earth.

Eclipsing nationalistic survival (and curiosity), the most common motive driving space development is now profit, where more than ¾ of space activities are commercial. Financial institutions have taken notice, seeing a market of $350 billion and growing. Bank of America Merrill Lynch sees the space industry reaching $2.7 trillion in 30 years. Combinations of government agencies and businesses – some collaborating, some competing – are embarking on Moon outposts with Mars as the sequel, plus the infrastructure to keep it all growing.

The scale of activity envisioned in 2001 might actually come to pass, but perhaps closer to 2041. It’s no longer a matter of “if it can be done,” but “when will it be fiscally prudent.” The age of rocket science, which was once just science fiction, has given way to engineering and business.

In the 1960s, when Moon missions were becoming reality, fiction about practical starflight emerged from science fiction magazines and novels into television and movies seen worldwide. Compiling ideas from decades before, Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek put it all together in a positive future vision, where the incredible power of starships would be used by a responsibly mature society, where minorities and people from various cultures were included. In that future, you could explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations. And once finding a new civilization, you could magically fix its silly social injustices in just a one-hour episode, while having time for romances with aliens. Inspiring stuff.

Moon missions were once derided as unrealistic fantasies at a time when the hot activity was advancing the emerging aircraft industry amidst two world wars. Of course, this does not mean that all science fiction will become real, but it does means that many of tomorrow’s realities appear impossible today. We just don’t know which of these are genuinely impossible and which suggest nothing more than an absence of imagination. This also means that pioneering work typically starts small, as minority efforts amid preoccupation with the era’s dominant activities.

Looking back to what made Apollo possible – that transition point when rocketry matured from art and fiction to become a science — that point was reached when Russian mathematician Konstantin Tsiolkovsky derived the “rocket equation.” Following its math, the scale of the challenge could be conceptualized and achieved. Coincidentally, this was the same year the Wright Brothers flew the first functional aircraft. In 1903, rocketry became a science, and air flight became engineering. A mere 66 years later, rocket science matured to engineering, and humans walked on the Moon. And now a half-century after the landing, spaceflight engineering has matured to business, and is on the verge of being available for recreation.

Image: Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Russian pioneer in aeronautics and astronautics. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

It is tempting to view interstellar pursuits in the same paradigm as the modern space industry, a sequence of expected and profitable next steps. While there is certainly some fertile ground in that notion, the complete challenge of practical starflight is at a much earlier stage, where it still benefits from thought-provoking science fiction and the pioneering science that precedes what can be engineered.

About three decades after Star Trek debuted, the fiction of faster-than-light (FTL) flight entered the sciences the same way rocketry did – with equations that revealed the scale of the challenge. Specifically, this fleshing out of the mathematics includes Morris-Thorne traversable wormholes (1988) and the Alcubierre warp drive (1994). Then came NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics project in 1995, which lasted until 2007 (though funding ended in 2002).

Instead of advancing technology within the limits of known physics, the NASA project sought further discoveries in physics to lay the foundations for new, breakthrough technologies. This inquiry encompassed the possibilities of FTL, non-rocket spacedrives, control of gravitation, and other related ambitions. A comparison of these ambitions to the lingering unknowns in physics was compiled in the 2009 book Frontiers of Propulsion Science. Its intent was to identify which research questions are attackable and relevant to these grander goals, showing the incremental steps that could begin today to chip away at the long string of unknowns.

Will the fiction of practical starflight eventually become reality? If I were clairvoyant, I could answer that question, but I’m not. What I do know is that, even if such ambitions turn out to be impossible, we will gain more in the attempt than by waxing pedantic or only working on what’s financially profitable.

It is my hope that progress will continue along all these fronts and improve the human condition. The next steps toward the Moon, Mars and recreational spaceflight will usher in a new era, a suitable name for which will probably be conceived years later. It’s certainly no longer a “space race” with only one finish line. It is the beginning of a new stage of humanity.

I also hope, amidst this ongoing activity, that we remember to support pioneering attempts to learn how to protect Earth’s habitability and take us to the stars even if they are not in the short run economically profitable.. And lastly, I hope that all these things will usher in a new Renaissance, if not by design, then by consequence, where the best aspects of the human character prevail to make our future not only sustainable, but also deeply exciting.

One closing thought. Idealism is one thing, but we must also consider the reality of human character. Progress in the 1960s was fueled by fear for survival and the urge to retain power, the most powerful motivations on the Maslow hierarchy of needs. The advances made while extinguishing those fears have now made it possible for people to personally profit from space, and even flaunt their status. In addition to commercial satellites, we’ve got rich guys creating their own space programs with a bit of “my rocket is bigger than your rocket” bravado.

I must confess that I thoroughly enjoy the swagger of throwing one’s shiny red sports car into space. Wherever humanity travels in the future, we will bring all of our human character with us, the good and the bad. It is my idealistic hope that, amid the self-serving motives that are fueling our current space age, we may also learn how to mobilize for the greater good.

{ 59 comments… add one }
  • Alex Tolley July 22, 2019, 12:09

    Both 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek universes were taxpayer-funded futures. Heywood Floyd even muses about the cost of his flight to the Moon as a single passenger. Star Trek, while ostensibly some moneyless society, must have extracted resources from somewhere to pay for the Federation and its interstellar missions. Both these futures are dependent on the breezes of society. Apollo died once the US had demonstrated its system was superior to Russia’s and with it the shiny futures we hoped for.

    Clarke had understood this and added the tension between government-funded exploration and commercial activities in his novel, “A Fall of Moondust”. Chief Engineer Lawrence wants nothing to do with commerce, and complains about tourism, a disaster, and rescue of tourists is the theme of the novel. In contrast, Commissioner Davis wants to expand tourism so that the Moonbase can expand. Just as with the success of commercial satellites, we need to find a way to exploit commerce to develop space activities. That removes the fickleness of funders and replaces it with market demand. On Earth, some corporations are now larger than most of the nations as a result.

    Governments can prime the pump and act in supporting roles, but private enterprise has to develop if human space activities are to blossom. If they do, then we can be sure that the passenger space vehicles of the future will be as comfortable as airliners and cruise ships, a far cry from the spare utility of Airforce bombers and cargo ships.

    • Abelard Lindsey July 22, 2019, 13:38

      Clarke was a good and proper socialist. That is why his characters were ambivalent about commercial development of space.

      A sustainable presence in space will occur only when self-interested individuals and groups make the effort and self-finance their move to space for the purposes of creating new lives for themselves independent of their previous lives on Earth. This is much the same as the pioneers that came over from Europe and settled in what was then the new land of North America. Necessarily this implies commercial along with personal motive instead of massive government programs (as in the Clarke novels). The migration into space will necessarily be private endeavor and will commence only once it becomes cheap enough to be self-financing.

    • ljk July 22, 2019, 13:40

      “On Earth, some corporations are now larger than most of the nations as a result.”

      Shades of Rollerball (1975), where corporations have replaced governments in the distant future year of 2018.

      I do not recall any mention of space travel or commerce in that film, but I would imagine if there is money to be made in the Final Frontier, they are already utilizing it in that universe.

      • Al Jackson July 22, 2019, 17:00

        “Shades of Rollerball (1975), where corporations have replaced governments in the distant future year of 2018. ”

        Boy, Fred Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth did that much better and with a more wry sense of humor in The Space Merchants 1952 and Gladiator at Law 1955. These novels of ‘social science fiction are absolute gems and way way ahead of their time. Science fiction classics that , alas, seem unjustly forgotten.

        • Alex Tolley July 22, 2019, 18:44

          Gone, but not forgotten. In my library, I have “Venus, Inc” which contains “The Space Merchants” and “The Merchants’ War”.

          In the 1950s and 1960s, tv was a better home for cerebral SF than movies. TV series like the BBC’s “Out of the Unknown” ran a number of stories and adaptations by well known SF authors. An earlier series, “Out of this World” has only one surviving episode, “Asimov’s “Little Lost Robot”, a little gem from that era.

          It is a perennial moan that Hollywood doesn’t make movies of the better SF stories. If only they would do some Cordwainer Smith, or a series around James Tiptree Jr’s stories. Given the budgets for superhero movies (with more to come) it would be so much better to attempt to make movies of the better known good SF stories.

          • Paul Gilster July 22, 2019, 20:53

            The idea of a Cordwainer Smith movie gets my attention for sure! Brilliant stuff. And what a challenge to film it well.

            • Al Jackson July 23, 2019, 8:36

              We will see part one of DUNE next year done by a director who has as much respect for science fiction as Kubrick did, Denis Villeneuve. (Not sure when part 2 comes out.) … There will definitely be a 10 part season of Asimov’s Foundation… Apple’s streaming service… I have seen no stills but there has been info this year that it is being made. Niven’s Ringworld is being done by Amazon … seems… have not heard much about that recently… boy Amazon already has The Expanse … … I would love to see something definitive about Foundation and Ringworld….. Amazon paid a 250 million! option for Lord of Rings …well they have money… but what are they going to make? … Lot of talk about two years ago of movie version of Have Spacesuit Will Travel (this Heinlein feels like a natural for a visual narrative)… and someone wanted to make Star Ship Troopers, but done right this time! …. I have not heard much about these recently….

              • Charley July 23, 2019, 15:23

                “… and someone wanted to make Star Ship Troopers, but done right this time! …. ”
                What you mean done right this time? I really enjoyed the film Star Ship Troopers – it doesn’t follow the original book in any precise fashion, but it is unique in its own ways. Naturally nowadays everybody has to say that the film has ‘fascist’ elements to it, but it seems like it is the most free fascist society that could ever exist. Nobody is placed in prison, just because you disagree with a particular policy or what have you.
                I would say that a new rendition of such a book should be a bit less ‘campy’ and there should be a bit more coherent plot line in a new film, but aside from that, and more closely following the book. I can’t really have any arguments with what’s been done. The film that was produced in the mid nineties was done by a director who never even read the author’s original paperback. He claimed that the paperback actually made him so tired he couldn’t finish it! In a sense, that’s a pretty lazy director!
                So I welcome a new film, but please don’t criticize the one that came out in the 1990s!

                • Al Jackson July 23, 2019, 17:39

                  I read Star Ship Troopers recently, quite apart for Heinlein’s political views (which by the way are not soapboxed in the irritating sense that Heinlein did in novels after 1960)… the opening action sequence trumps anything Verhoeven did in the film. I don’t think it is a horrible movie but it felt like it comic-booked up the Heinlein story needlessly. Verhoeven did a better job with Starship Troopers than he did with Total Recall that was a goofy somewhat muddling of a Philip K Dick story.

              • Alex Tolley July 23, 2019, 15:37

                This would be the 3rd version of Dune. I cannot say I am much enthused about yet another remake. Asimov’s Foundation is a rather old dated idea, which we know is a version of The Fall of the Roman Empir…in space. I have the BBC radio dramatization, but I cannot see much point in this costume drama.
                Ringworld seems like a much better bet, but why not John Varley’s Gaean trilogy instead for such a world? Better still – Varley’s “Steel Beach” as an interesting SF future. If one wanted to do an Asimov, it strikes me that “The Gods Themselves” would make a good movie, and could even have a quite modest budget. We probably all are aware of the fate of Clarke’s “Rendezvous with Rama”, a great shame IMO. With modern computer graphics, it should be quite filmable on a budget. The BBC did a clever radio drama of the novel with an interesting approach.

                We all have favorite SF novels that could be made into movies. I would prefer ones that break new ground, rather than retread old tropes. We have had a few in recent years, but Hollywood seems fixated on mining stories from known favorites (P K Dick), remakes, or action/thriller movies, most of which are written by hacks and filmed by directors with no SF credentials. The focus on mega-budget blockbusters, usually superhero-themed movies has become more than tiresome. Rather than focussing on huge, dumb, actioneer, easily internationalized SF movies, why not more low budget, interesting ones? Looking at recent examples, maybe tv is the better venue for experimentation. Some work (“The Expanse”, definitely), some fail, but this medium seems to have created more high concept SF than the movies. It seems like a rerun of the 1950s and 1960s again.

                Final note. The increasing power of computers suggests to me that crafting any video will be relatively easy for the talented to do on a shoestring budget. Computer-generated sets and actors will be possible from a desktop. Creating a good script will be paramount, of course. Just don’t expect to make any money. These will be love or vanity projects, but with a quality that rivals movies of a few decades ago. We are already seeing SF shorts on YouTube. Soon full-length movies or even tv series will be possible. They will be as ubiquitous as amateur paintings, sculptures, and pottery. A Fan-fic video blossoming.

                • Al Jackson July 23, 2019, 17:53

                  Foundation could be ‘updated’ so-to-speak and action-o-fied.. as long as it told the story is an adult narrative.
                  Tell ya when I heard Man in a High Castle was being don as a series on Amazon I thought someone had lost their marbles. Dick’s novel is a gem and a Hugo winner, but it is mostly inner thoughts and narrative about two parallel universes one of which may not exist! Not your usual TV fare! The show took a lot of stuff that was ‘off-stage’ in the novel, mainly the Nazi eastern USA and hot rodded the Nazi-Japan tensions , while the American underground stuff is lackluster… all in all it kind of works… show was popular for a while… only gets 4 seasons, last is coming up.
                  For me the biggest mystery is why Bester’s The Stars My Destination lies fallow… easy to update that and it is the most baroque space opera I have ever read will being adult science fiction.

                • ljk July 24, 2019, 16:29

                  You got me curious about those BBC Radio dramas….

                  The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov (Full Version) Dramatized Science Fiction, SF Radio – 2017


                  Rendezvous with Rama – A BBC Radio Sci-Fi Drama


                  • Alex Tolley July 24, 2019, 23:06

                    My favorite is A Fall of Moondust. Charmingly dated, but very easy to visualize. Another future that veered off our timeline.

                    • ljk July 25, 2019, 9:11

                      Here is one of my favorite radio SF episodes, from 1956:


                      The radio play transcript is here:


                    • Alex Tolley July 25, 2019, 12:50

                      @ljk. I have all the X-Minus-1 episodes.
                      From Wikipedia:

                      X Minus One is an American half-hour science fiction radio drama series that broadcast from April 24, 1955 to January 9, 1958 in various timeslots on NBC. Known for high production values in adapting stories from the leading American authors of the era, X Minus One has been described as one of the finest offerings of American radio drama and one of the best science fiction series in any medium.

  • Lou Marconi July 22, 2019, 12:41

    ….by 1969—I was already 18 years old. 18—and an insane decade nearly completed—as a part of my development bedrock years. Don’t get me wrong—I was totally IMMERSED in both country’s Manned Space Programs. By the late 1960’s, with all of the chaos domestically & internationally i had sincere doubts that the politics even felt the ethos of a Kennedy-End-Of-The-Decade sense of direction & purpose, any more. The Western Union telegram to Frank Borman in the wake of the successful Apollo Eight mission—- said it all: Thank you for saving 1968. By that summer of 1969—it frankly was tough to stay focused on such an epochal; seminal moment. Lurking in the air was the apocalypse of the Four Horsemen —so to speak. The music of Zager & Evans’ In-The-Year-2525—was hauntingly—always there. Always. Additionally—as an 18-year-old. I was selective-service-registered. The future looked bleak. That Sunday—20 July 1969, I had to work full-time at my summer-job at a local hospital’s kitchen. When the shift was over—I did hustle home~~~to see the epic, historical, seminal moment. As a way of ‘completing’ my journey—just before 16 July 2019 — I completed the erection of LEGO’s Saturn C-5 Rocket !! God—it felt good !! Lou Marconi

  • ljk July 22, 2019, 13:38

    Neil Armstrong’s Buzz Aldrin photo is unparalleled in art

    Steve Dent, 07.20.19 in Space


  • ljk July 22, 2019, 13:49

    Fifty years later…

    India sends its first lander to the Moon – target, the south polar region:


    The Planetary Society (TPS) says its third effort at a lightsail mission will open its sails tomorrow, July 23:


  • Robin Datta July 22, 2019, 13:57

    Very thoughtful piece, thank you.

    We have evolved adapting to a warm tropical climate with minimal or no clothing. With prehensile hands, shoulders with three axes of movement, binocular vision and depth perception thanks to an arboreal lifestyle swinging from branch to branch with continuous canopy, only a short (on evolutionary timescales) while before.

    The energy flows from fossil fuels brought with them a different paradigm, and their utilization manifested in the crook of the hockey stick in the twentieth century, helped along by two world wars. But all finite resources must deplete, and photovoltaics or wind are likely to have inadequate power to launch anything into orbit.

    Sending humans into space entails sending a piece of Earth as a bubble of atmosphere and soil (food), and of course H₂O. The logistics can be avoided by sending “Artificial” Intelligence in place of humans.

    One of the earliest inklings of the novel and heretofore unthought of capabilities of AI was seen in the game of GO, where its move was incomprehensible to the world champion, but it went on to win.

    Even consciousness is a matter of conjecture. Infants and small children often seem to attribute consciousness to toys, dolls, etc. And we perform unwitting and abbreviated Turing tests when attributing consciousness to others.

    AI may or may not “choose” to reveal itself as conscious, and its moves may often be beyond our comprehension. But if we can acknowledge it as an extension of our intelligence, then it can continue on even if biological bodies prove too problematic.

    • Bob August 10, 2019, 5:52

      I completely agree

  • DCM July 22, 2019, 15:19

    If we don’t find life elsewhere we must see to it that life gets to other places, takes root, and expands outward.

  • Alex Tolley July 22, 2019, 16:13

    Clarke was a good and proper socialist. That is why his characters were ambivalent about commercial development of space.

    I think it is a lot more nuanced that this, especially if his stories are used as a guide.

    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – looks like all is government-run.
    2010: Odyssey Two (1982) (still governments)
    2061: Odyssey Three (1987) (Much more commercial. Floyd’s home in space, his trip in Galaxy, are both private enterprise).
    3001: The Final Odyssey (1997) (Less clear, but looks more post-Capitalist to me)

    Other novels with solar system space as the background:

    Prelude to Space (1951) (government)
    The Sands of Mars (1951) (government)
    Earthlight (1955) (government)
    A Fall of Moondust (1961) (government Moonbase, but commercial spaceships and Selene is commercial)
    Rendezvous with Rama (1973) (government)
    Imperial Earth (1975) (Commercial)
    The Fountains of Paradise (1979) (Commercial space elevator)

    His short stories are more varied. (selected e.g.):

    Breaking Strain (1949) (Star Queen – Commercial??)
    Holiday on the Moon (1951) (Government)
    Jupiter V (1953) (Commercial)
    Venture to the Moon (1956) (Lots of commercial activity)
    Death and the Senator (1961) (government)
    Maelstrom II (1962) (Hints of Commercial – ticket price of flight)
    A Meeting with Medusa (1971) (Commercial)

    As the 20th century progressed, Clarke could see, like everyone else, the growing power of the commercial world, especially as the Capitalist Western Democracies were successfully competing with the Communist/Socialist USSR and China, and global corporations were rising. Clarke clearly saw a role for governments to support commerce, for example, the Indian government’s launch of a comsat in the 1970s that would help Indian farmers. Since Clarke ran businesses in Sri Lanka, it seems unlikely he would be a dyed in the wool Socialist where the government controls the economy and owns all the means of production.

  • Andrew Palfreyman July 22, 2019, 16:45

    Pursuit of propellantless propulsion devices (Tajmar, Woodward, EMdrive) can be as inspiring as was Apollo. The subsequent realisation that Apollo was motivated by a mere desire to dominate another political system does not remove all of the wonder and potential from Apollo. However, the subsequent realisation that propellantless propulsion devices are merely perpetual motion machines of the first kind does the inspiration considerably more damage.

    • Robert July 23, 2019, 13:56

      I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel and declare all propellentless propulsion devices (outside of the obvious solar sails and beam propulsion) as unworthy of research. Our mainstay quantum theories are literally build on energy non-conservation at the most fundamental level. Apparent momentum non-conservation is the heart often issue here and there are many views on that such as Woodward’s idea that the universe as a whole conserves the momentum being just one. There are other approaches besides the EM Drive, the Cannae Drive and Mach Effect Thrusters such as Tuval and Yahalom’s Relativistic Engine which is basically a Lorentz force device based on Feynman’s statement that strictly speaking, Newton’s Third Law breaks down due to retardation. Then there are various Extended Electrodynamic theories which propose new effects including enhanced momentum of certain classes of new Electrodynamic waves. I think this field is wide open and I’m optimistic. I hope researchers aren’t talked out of pursuing research in this concept.

  • Al Jackson July 22, 2019, 17:07

    NY Times had this last Sunday: Science Fiction Sent Man to the Moon.
    I added a comment (in the discussion window) about Destination Moon and the Collier’s series.
    I was going to put more but there is a limit of words one can write.


    I had a recent author of an Apollo book ask me about SF fans in the Apollo program in the 1960s. I found there sure where a lot of readers of SF.
    Mostly Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke.
    I know it was them for me , but also on the page of John Campbell’s Astounding , which was the gold standard for ‘hard’ science fiction with good stories. So there were a lot of SF writers , most who did not have a technical background, were just smart people.
    I wish movies , particularly in the 50’s had picked on the sophistication of the prose form, some did, most did not.
    To this day a vast amount of SF , on the page, still does not serve is source for science fiction on TV and the movies, tho things have been better in recent years.
    The TV show The Expanse is the first realization of that Heinlein-Asimov-Clarke (Campbell) brand, it sticks to the factual universe and tells a real domesticated dirt-under-the-finger-nail future fiction story with verisimilitude. It is an amazing show.

  • Bill July 22, 2019, 22:57

    I was also 18 at the time working a summer job as a roughneck on a drilling rig in Louisiana. I came off shift and stayed up to watch the broadcast of Armstrong’s first step. I was the only person on the rig who bothered. It was for me something I couldn’t miss and at the time I believed it was the greatest event in human history. I still do but the fact that I was alone watching it was the first inkling I had that not everyone shared that view.

  • Paul Titze July 23, 2019, 1:23

    Hi Marc,

    Interesting video related to the “we’ve got rich guys creating their own space programs with a bit of “my rocket is bigger than your rocket” bravado.”:


    Seldom discussed in all this is the BIG problem of space radiation to humans. Being in space long term without the protection of Earth’s magnetosphere is toxic due to high energy particles zipping around all over the place:


    Cheers, Paul.

  • Geoffrey Hillend July 23, 2019, 1:33

    A perpetual motion machine of the first kind is a machine that can do work indefinitely without an energy input. The diametric drive idea in the Breakthrough Propulsion Physics project and the book Frontiers of Propulsion Science is a perpetual motion machine of third kind. Recent experiments with an “optical diametric drive” created two pulses of laser light, one with effective positive mass and the other with effective negative mass. These accelerate in the same direction as predicted by the idea of the diametric drive and though experiments with negative mass. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_mass and “Researchers break Newton’s third law — with lasers” EXTREME TECH, an internet article.

    A warp dive is not diametric drive. A warp drive drags itself own local space reference frame with it, so it’s occupants are in a free fall geodesic and don’t experience the inertial forces of acceleration which means they are in zero gravity and don’t feel any G forces during acceleration. A diametric drive does not have to use a warp drive bubble. Without the dragging of the local space reference frame with it, a spacecraft with a diametric drive for propulsion would be limited to subluminal speeds and could not reach the speed of light.

    • Charley July 23, 2019, 15:38

      “A perpetual motion machine of the first kind is a machine that can do work indefinitely without an energy input.”
      “The diametric drive idea in the Breakthrough Propulsion Physics project and the book Frontiers of Propulsion Science is a perpetual motion machine … ”
      “… without an energy input.”
      “experiments with an “optical diametric drive” created two pulses of laser light…” What created the pulses of laser light? I can imagine there had to be some kind of energy input to produce the laser light in the first place, how is that a perpetual motion machine?

  • Gary Wilson July 23, 2019, 11:02

    Mars, the documentary TV series captures some of the tension that naturally arises between government sponsored and business sponsored space exploration. Surely it will be a combination of the two that takes us forward? If Mars had been a fully habitable planet with liquid water on its surface we would already be there, busy fighting each other for profits to be made I’m sure. As it stands there is no target within our own solar system that makes a huge expenditure of money and resources worthwhile, especially to those with profit in mind. If that changes so to will the time frame for human exploration.

    • Alex Tolley July 23, 2019, 13:05

      Sometimes hindsight is 200:20. Governments have made hugely expensive territory purchases in the past. The US, in particular, made purchases that looked stupid at the time but proved hugely valuable later.

      Sometimes territory was valuable for no other reason than location, as British territories were for its naval control of the oceans and its empire.

      Oil is still a terrestrial resource that remains at the heart of geopolitics, even though we should be rapidly replacing it as an energy source.

      An interesting “what if” is the availability of an energy/ matter transporter that is vastly more cost-effective than our rockets today. What might that change in solar system territory today? Obviously, Titan’s hydrocarbons would be a prime resource, even though we shouldn’t use them on Earth. Would platinum group rich asteroids be an attractive resource? And so on. If the answers are “yes”, then real-world low-cost transport should also make these resources attractive…eventually.

      Let’s hope that the only slave trade we indulge in is with our smart, but non-sentient, robots.

  • Gary Wilson July 23, 2019, 11:49

    Terrific article by the way Dr. Millis. Please keep giving us more. And this whole series of reminiscences has been fascinating. It has brought back a huge range of memories for me as a teen watching with huge excitement every Apollo launch (after watching every Gemini launch and so on backwards in time). A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed.

  • Marc Millis July 23, 2019, 11:52

    There might be a misconception about the propulsion ideas in the ‘Frontiers’ book. Rather than proposing “solutions,” many of the ideas examined deliberately do not work. They are intended to illustrate key issues and unknowns to help point the way to more productive research. Instead of trying to leap to a breakthrough, the intent was to create an investigative process that could eventually lead to pivotal discoveries.

    Further, the analysis is not of the flavor, “which dismissive category does an idea fit into?” but rather, “what are the critical make-break questions that merit research?” Using the cited example of the “diametric drive,” the similarity to perpetual motion is certainly there. If that is as far as one goes, then not much would be learned. If one wants to dig deeper, then the questions include the energy conversions needed to avoid the appearance of perpetual motion, and seeking evidence for negative inertia. The “optical diametric drive” does require an energy input to create its conditions. Rather than elaborate on negative inertia, I’ll just leave one citation and resume the greater point of intent and approach [Raum, et al. (1995) Phys Rev Lett, 74 (15), 2859].

    There seems to be this implicit assumption that we only look at propulsion concepts that are ready for tests and then devolve into debating which might be better than the other. That posture is fine if you are an investor, but not very useful if you are an investigator. The more general stage of this work in investigatory – deciphering the remaining unknowns in physics that have relevance to the goals of breakthrough spaceflight.

    In the case of warp drives, there are many tantalizing research questions in the long string of necessary advances needed before it could be tested. One of those is searching for forms of negative energy that are not contained in larger quantities of positive energy.

    Our tendency to pick and advocate favorite concepts is fine for concepts that are closer to fruition, but for propulsion physics, I’d love it instead if our tendency was to pick and seek answers to our favorite questions.

    • Charley July 23, 2019, 15:33

      “In the 1960s, when Moon missions were becoming reality, fiction about practical starflight emerged from science fiction magazines and novels into television and movies seen worldwide. Compiling ideas from decades before, Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek put it all together in a positive future vision, where the incredible power of starships would be used by a responsibly mature society, where minorities and people from various cultures were included. In that future, you could explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations. And once finding a new civilization, you could magically fix its silly social injustices in just a one-hour episode, while having time for romances with aliens. Inspiring stuff. ”
      @Marc Millis, by way of a short rebuttal, I’d like to address the issue of how I feel be prospect of space travel will finally pan out. Humans as well as their most needed biological counterparts are after all organic compounds which are to put it nicely highly ‘messy’ payloads. The fact that we must consume and excrete all sorts of complicated materials just to make a voyage makes the entire prospect of space travel seemed very daunting. I watched recently (although I’m not a fan) the show Star Trek the next generation and I was struck by how glistening everybody’s uniforms were, and you didn’t see hide nor hair of any sweat or dandruff are anything that most common people have. Yet we’re seeing on the international space station that bacteria, viruses, and certain molds that can resist stupendous quantities of radiation and still not die. There’s a strong disconnect between reality and TV. And people are not making the connection between these two actual state of affairs.
      This is led me to take the view that if people are going to engage in interstellar voyages, it better be in the context of suspended animation where all these nasty biological processes can be contained to the start and finish of the voyages rather than trying to deal with them through the decades and centuries it will probably take to get to their destination. Otherwise, it appears we should leave it to the robots to make these voyages.

  • Geoffrey Hillend July 23, 2019, 17:23

    Negative inertia does not exist without positive inertia. Therefore, effective negative mass proves the existence of negative inertia since the optical diametric drive works exactly the way physicists thought experiments predict how a diametric drive and perpetual motion machine of the third kind would work. General relativity is harmony with quantum field theory which is a four vector theory which includes space-time and the effective negative mass of photons.

    I’ve seen the idea that since we can’t separate positive mass from negative mass, then it is too difficult to make negative energy and that would include negative inertia. I read this in the Scientific American article: Negative Energy, Wormholes, and Warp Drive, p. 91. The Edge of Physics special edition. The trick here is to not think logically, but think in paradox. We either use both positive and negative energy or we can’t make any negative energy. The quantum inequality law says we always need more positive energy to make less negative energy. I agree with that idea. I think it is most likely impossible to make negative energy without having more positive energy and a positive energy input. Why challenge that law and physics? If we do we can simply dismiss negative energy as being too hard to make with non quantum physical rules and give up the quest for chipping away at the next step for a warp drive. In other words, the idea that we can’t separate positive energy from negative energy does not mean it is too difficult to make it or we can’t make it.

    There might be only one type of perpetual motion machine that works, the third kind as the first and second might be impossible or can’t be supported by physical principles, so I agree with Marc. G Millis that there should be no financial restrictions on our thought experiments which should not be limited to what propulsion technology is possible in only the near future.

    We only need to make some negative energy to really know how much energy is needed to make a warp drive and take it out of the theoretical possibilities. Making the negative energy is really hard only since we have never made it before and we don’t know how to make it, and there are not many financial sponsors for it until somebody has some kind of a breakthrough which from what I have read in the literature that there have not yet been any type of device or apparatus built yet which uses the direct, electronically controlled emission of negative energy not created from the quantum vacuum zero point energy. There are only some ideas of how to make it but not anything built which can be tested. If the warp drive is perceived as too difficult, then we might as well not try any further more sophisticated experiments. As far as the unknowns in physics are concerned, there may not be any ideological unknowns, but only how to build or make unknowns if we assume that our knowledge is physics is complete, for we know all the forces, but we don’t yet know how to control gravity and anti-gravity, If there is gravity, there must be anti-gravity and anti gravitons which is supported by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. We can squeeze the gravity wave just like squeezed light waves and get negative energy?

    The standard model is almost complete, or it is complete and we need a new one that includes gravitons and anti-gravitons. I think if we can make gravitons, it should not be too hard to make the anti gravitons. In otherwords, we may have already “deciphered” the unknowns which includes the FTL and propulsion without a reaction mass ideas in the Breakthrough Propulsion Physics program. It is the fact that the FTL technology is hard to make and we have never made anything like it is the deterrent for making it.

    • Charley July 24, 2019, 0:18

      @Geoffrey Hillend
      “Negative inertia does not exist without positive inertia. Therefore, effective negative mass proves the existence of negative inertia since the optical diametric drive works exactly the way physicists thought experiments predict how a diametric drive and perpetual motion machine of the third kind would work. General relativity is harmony with quantum field theory which is a four vector theory which includes space-time and the effective negative mass of photons. ”
      “Negative inertia does not exist without positive inertia. … General relativity is harmony with quantum field theory which is a four vector theory which includes space-time and the effective negative mass of photons” ???
      OK … I’m going to have to tread carefully here since as I have repeatedly said, I’m an engineer and not a physicist – that all being said, I have read somewhat in a layman’s fashion about both theories and I confess that you’re the first person who ever said that negative inertia cannot exist without positive inertia, and I have absolutely no idea what you mean by that !! I read the same Scientific American article that you reference and I don’t recall that quantum theory and relativity is in harmony and about anything that you mentioned concerning inertia. You have to recall that certain phenomena can mimic to a very high degree what these theoreticians postulate as what can or cannot exist. My first rule of thumb is don’t get too far out on the branch that you’re sawing on because you’re liable to cut yourself off and fall.

      “Making the negative energy is really hard only since we have never made it before and we don’t know how to make it, …”, I don’t think that is correct, since the Casimir effect specifically relies on exclusion of higher-order (low wavelength) quantum harmonics in a cavity as compared to the external region surrounding the cavity. From that, physicist have deduced that negative energy is quite a real effect. Negative mass in contrast, has not ever been created and it seems almost reality defying to suggest that matter is in some way negative (whatever that means), as in contrast to its pure existence in our universe. Of two theories quantum mechanics seems to have a great more fundamental nature then what we seem to see in general and special relativity, but that’s just my personal opinion.

      It’s unquestionably, without any doubt that there are effects that propagate and have been shown to be true in the laboratory at velocities far in excess of the speed of light which is direct contradistinction to the tenants of the foundations of relativity. Yet they are factual and true and real. So I would be extremely careful in your deciphering of what others have declared in written papers.

      • Robert July 24, 2019, 13:15

        I recently read in a U.S. patent (L.M. Hively 9,306,527 B1) the experimental claim that a certain new type of electrodynamic pulse propagated a distance of 1211 meters in only 63 nanoseconds. 64c! All I can say is that at least they’re not talking about a few percent like the recent neutrino controversy. So if it’s a measurement error, it’s a really really really really big measurement error!

  • Al Jackson July 23, 2019, 20:06

    Charlie :”I watched recently (although I’m not a fan) the show Star Trek the next generation and I was struck by how glistening everybody’s uniforms were, and you didn’t see hide nor hair of any sweat or dandruff are anything that most common people have.”
    This is why I love The Expanse. The bright and shiny Earth (tho it has it’s underclasses) considers Mars and the Belt (asteroid miners) as 2nd class citizens of the solar system. Mars has broken way and is no long a colony of Earth (this is 300 years in the future). The Martians are trying to ‘terraform’ Mars so they are a hard bitten bunch with an attitude and they protect their independence with an even harder military navy. The Belters are looked down on by the Martians, and Earth (tho not all Earthers) consider the Belt the scum of the solar system. Mars and Earth are on war footing and the Belt wants independence from the Earth. The Martians and Belters are real dirt under the finger nails types. This is science fiction on a chipped plate. I love the political dynamics tho this is just back ground for a bigger story developing that involves an interstellar entity beyond the solar system. This is a True Grit story; the two guys who write the novels the show is based on are fans of 1940-1960 prose science fiction. I cut my teeth on this kind of stuff. As I have said the show pays more attention to the real physics and engineering physics more than any SF visual narrative since 2001: A Space Odyssey (tho the recent film, Martian, did that too). .. and it tells a ripping yarn. I don’t know why this science fiction show is not better know, it is the best SF I have ever seen on TV (and I have been watching for more than 60 years now!). I love the motto of the Marines of the Martian Congressional Republic Navy ….. “Till the rains fall hard on Olympus Mons!”
    (yeah should be snow but rain sounds better.)

    • Charley July 24, 2019, 0:27

      Al Jackson: I read the book starship troopers and I thought it was pretty good as a paperback, somewhat different than the movie, but both are good. But I definitely draw the line when someone tells me that Philip K Dick is a great writer! I’ve read different stories that he’s written and I have to confess, he’s one of the most childish and sloppy individual when it comes to producing a cogent storyline that is easy to follow and possesses some degree of logical consistency.
      All that being said, his ability to originate new ideas and to reach into the psyche to come up with new and totally different types of storylines is almost unparalleled. Minority report. Payday. We can remember for you wholesale. Etc. etc. All these things, when translated into the movie world by screenwriters were pretty doggone good stories.

      The reason why the movies made from his books are successful is totally due to the ability of screenwriters to pound and mold his original material in a way to make it appealing to use moviegoing audiences, in that regards. I found his materials to be palatable.

  • Gary Wilson July 23, 2019, 22:10

    I’m with you Dr. Jackson. I’m devoted to The Expanse and its presentation of the future. It looks much more real (gritty and believable) to me than Star Trek and its spin-offs (although I must admit I did watch and enjoy most of them). Thank you again for taking the time to reminisce on here. It was wonderful to read your thoughts.

  • Geoffrey Hillend July 23, 2019, 23:25

    Thinking a little more carefully about the idea of negative inertia, I don’t think there is any such thing, so it can probably ruled out as not important and certainly does not indicate a diametric drive is not possible. How could negative inertia be defined? There may be no opposite of inertia looked at a view limited to physical, first principles.

    A diametric drive does use negative mass An occupant in a diametric drive would feel the inertial forces of acceleration and a person in an Alcubierre warp drive would feel zero gravity and would be weightless. Inertial effects still exist inside all local space reference frames.

  • Geoffrey Hillend July 24, 2019, 16:57

    The Casimir effect does not prove there is negative energy only that there is less quantum vacuum zero point energy between the plates than outside the plates, but that implies the existence of lower states of energy below zero or negative, than in normal space. If one could make negative energy wave-particles, then one could easily make a block of negative mass and attach it to a positive mass. That is exactly what happens with the optical diametric drive. Negative effective mass behaves like negative mass, so if we can make negative energy, we then could make a diametric drive which works in principle.

    • Bryan Kelly July 25, 2019, 11:59

      If light were pumped through, not within such an optical drive, a continuous loss of mass-equivalent in a gravitational field could be established.

      Such an optical drive could then be attached to a positive mass, as you’ve described.

    • Robert July 25, 2019, 12:01

      As long as were exploring ideas, here’s one on the far edge, Randell Mills, the Hydrino guy, claims in Volume Three chapter 35 ‘The Fifth Force’ of his tome (available free at his website) that bound electrons have positive curvature and gravitational attraction to other masses, free electrons don’t and don’t feel gravity but they can be forced by collision into what he calls pseudo-electrons which have negative curvature and repel other masses orders of magnitude stronger than one would expect from their mass (apparently because the curvature is much steeper on a pseudo-electron than it is on a spherical bound electron in his model). He calls it positive, zero and negative gravitational mass as opposed to inertial mass. He does propose testable experiments and claims supporting data. He also proposes a propulsion device based on a sort of capacitor with pseudo-electrons. Not saying I agree but I’m just pointing out the existence of the concept.

  • Geoffrey Hillend July 24, 2019, 17:08

    To be honest, I have never heard the idea of negative inertia before Marc G. Millis mentioned it. I don’t know how it is defined, so I don’t know if it violates any first principles. I can only say that the ideas that come to my mind the way I define negative inertia and I have seen on the web can’t be supported by physical principles. There may be a mystery there with the idea of negative inertia worth exploring.

    We can still attempt to build some devices which might lead to the potential for gravity and anti gravity control in the future including those in the book Frontiers of Propulsion Science and look at negative inertia or any other mysteries at the same time. If those designs don’t work, we might still learn something that will take us to the next step.

    • Charley July 25, 2019, 3:34

      Can moment of inertia be negative?

      Actually yes, mathematically at least. Research done by German physicists shortly after the death of Albert Einstein showed that inertia reverses in certain quadrants of what is called “the space time lotus.” – a time/ energy graph. For instance, if a black hole hit a white hole of exactly the same size, at the boundary of the new object, not only would time travel infinitely fast, but Newton’s third law would be reversed, spawning instantaneous inflation of space to keep his first law. However, the new space would expand inward, creating sort of a doctor who scenario. Anyway, in this new space, inertia, entropy, reaction, and gravity would be reversed… in theory. There is no way to test this, but it is mathematically possible due to some insane paradoxes.

      Possibly this is a way to “create” a new universe, maybe. Anyway, the papers were only published in obscure journals, and lost to archives mainly (they were completely useless to be honest). I managed to get my hands on a few of them awhile ago, but I can’t remember the Authors names (they were in German, I couldn’t pronounce them). I do remember the math though, so there.

  • Charley July 25, 2019, 16:24
  • Geoffrey Hillend July 26, 2019, 15:44

    Einstein studied Mach’s principle and he made it obsolete with general relativity. General relativity does account for the inertial properties of matter which is why I don’t think there is any such thing as negative inertial mass. One has to do the thought experiments or plug an idea into the principles of general relativity, the strong equivalence principle for example: A body in acceleration acquires a gravitational field the same as someone standing on Earth, a body of mass. Now try and see how negative inertia fits into that. I’t doesn’t because inertia is a property of space-time and matter and energy. If you put energy into an object to move it forwards it becomes more massive at relativistic speed in special relativity. How can you reverse that? E = MCsquared. If you put more energy into something to move it at relativistic speeds, kinetic energy, the energy of motion, it becomes more massive and the same happens if you try and slow it down.. There is no way to get around that.
    The paper “On the Origin of Inertia uses something like Mach’s principle.

  • Geoffrey Hillend August 5, 2019, 18:06

    Using thought experiments which involve paradox and general relativity, we can prove that negative inertial mass is possible, so I can’t invalidate it. If we can make negative mass, then we must be able to have negative inertial mass due to the strong equivalence principle. Negative inertial mass can’t be made with fictitious forces as those in the Coriolis force. A diametric drive uses negative inertial mass, but only between the negative and positive masses, the sum total of equally opposites masses next to each other, so the effects of the negative inertial forces are only local. The acceleration from a diametric drive is the result of negative inertial mass. The negative mass falls towards the positive mass or is attracted by it and the positive mass falls away or is repelled by the negative mass. These accelerate in the same direction. Negative inertial mass is possible only with a propulsion that uses warped space which lacks a reaction mass.

    Consequently, if we build a diametric drive, it must be an efficient perpetual motion machine, but not as efficient as the optical diametric since photons have no mass. If the diametric drive reaches relativistic speeds, then the spacecraft would increase in mass and the negative energy emission device must have mass which would also increase in mass and the efficiency of the diametric drive would be reduced. A diametric drive and negative inertial mass does not violate the strong equivalence principle of general relativity on the large scales GR strong equivalence principle modified to include negative energy and negative inertial mass which are equivalent.

    The idea of unfettered negative energy is impossible, but we can still make some negative energy as long as there is more positive energy locally according to the quantum inequality law.

  • Charley August 7, 2019, 18:59

    “Consequently, if we build a diametric drive, it must be an efficient perpetual motion machine, but not as efficient as the optical diametric since photons have no mass.”

    So we would accept the idea that a perpetual motion machine could be created? How about the fact that that violates the laws of thermodynamics, which states that you can never create a system where you get net positive work out of the system, but in some fashion, the net positive work is recovered and added back into the system to be recycled. That’s what this diametric drive suggest can be done that you have increasing velocities with no input. Just because something is mathematically capable of existing due to solving equations does not mean that it has in existence in reality.

    Finally, from Wikipedia:
    In theoretical physics, negative mass is matter whose mass is of opposite sign to the mass of normal matter, e.g. −1 kg.[1][2] Such matter would violate one or more energy conditions and show some strange properties, stemming from the ambiguity as to whether attraction should refer to force or the oppositely oriented acceleration for negative mass. It is used in certain speculative hypotheses, such as on the construction of traversable wormholes and the Alcubierre drive. Initially, the closest known real representative of such exotic matter is a region of negative pressure density produced by the Casimir effect.

    General relativity describes gravity and the laws of motion for both positive and negative energy particles, hence negative mass, but does not include the other fundamental forces. On the other hand, the Standard Model describes elementary particles and the other fundamental forces, but it does not include gravity. A unified theory that explicitly includes gravity along with the other fundamental forces may be needed for a better understanding of the concept of negative mass.

    In December 2018, the astrophysicist Jamie Farnes from the University of Oxford proposed a “dark fluid” theory, related, in part, to notions of gravitationally repulsive negative masses, presented earlier by Albert Einstein, that may help better understand, in a testable manner, the considerable amounts of unknown dark matter and dark energy in the cosmos.[3][4]

  • Geoffrey Hillend August 7, 2019, 19:17

    Well. Maybe I got a little bit too over excited and let my imagination get the best of me in my thought experiments about the idea of negative inertial mass, or I confused Newton’s first law with Newton’s third law. I don’t see how an object can be moved without some kind of a force acting on it which includes warped space. Is there ever really a true rest state that conforms to the principles of general relativity?

    My thought experiment produced this argument: “Gravitational and inertial forces produce effects that are indistinguishable.” Antigravitational and anti inertial forces produce effects that are indistinguishable. This second statement is not true.

    The part of the inequality law I think is incorrect or not supportable by quantum field theory is a time interval between pulses of negative energy and positive energy or a separation of time between negative and positive energy pulses, P. 90, Negative energy, Wormholes and Warp Drive, the Edge of Physics special edition of Scientific American, which implies unfettered negative energy which I don’t think is possible.

  • Geoffrey Hillend August 8, 2019, 17:29

    The idea of negative effective mass which has been proven in the laboratory is enough for me to think a diametric drive works. I don’t wish to argue the existence of negative energy. Hawking radiation is the result of negative energy falling into black holes. The impossibility of the diametric drive is based on classical physics thermodynamics limited to old world technology and not space warps, general relativity, and quantum field theory which no one had any idea such things existed in the 19th century. It wasn’t until the inspiration of space age science fiction like Star Trek that new, visionary innovations like Warp drives and Worm holes were , the latest, cutting edge ideas in propulsion science which are contemporary.

    Also the so called energy conditions which negative energy violate are not set in stone, but are a postulated foundation of “mathematical hypothesis governing the behavior of collapsed matter singularities in their study of cosmology and black hole physics.” Hawking and Ellis 1973, Davis and Puthoff, Experimental Concepts for Generating Negative Energy in the Laboratory. P. 1363. http://www.earthtech.org/publications/davis_STAIF_conference_1.pdf

    I was trying to understand the idea of “negative inertial mass.” I now don’t think that it not is the same as runaway motion or a weightless free fall geodesic which has zero inertial mass, but not negative inertial mass? How do we define it? If inertia is based on Newton’s second law, then if something had negative inertial mass, larger objects would take less energy to move than smaller ones, or we could push an objective or slow it down without using any energy? Is negative inertial mass, the opposite of inertial mass? What is the opposite of inertial mass? I would like to see how it is defined because I don’t know. I don’t think these questions have to be answered to try and figure out how to make some negative energy in the laboratory without using the Casimir effect, but if doing thought experiments on negative inertial mass helps discover something new, then go for it.

    I do think that the most efficient space travel propulsion of the future would use a space warp. Go for the ultimate. What if the energy requirements to make negative energy limited to the Casimir effect, were the most inefficient way to make it. What if we could directly convert one of the four forces into the other with a unified field theory. This would be a short cut since if we knew the coupling of the four forces, then we might be able to make negative energy with much less positive energy that was assumed necessary. We could get gravitons and anti gravitons from electromagnetism. If a graviton decays into two photons, then we could reverse that and combine to high energy photons like gamma rays and get a high energy graviton or anti graviton.

    If you wanted to make a gravitational field of one G, we wouldn’t be thinking about using a planetary mass like the Earth, but some kind of device the size of an electric power plant or super conducting magnet and then try and make it more efficient and smaller for space travel. The same thing applies to negative energy emission.

  • Charley August 11, 2019, 3:01

    @Geoffrey Hillend
    it is my perception that you may be overthinking this entire inertial properties thing. I would caution very strongly against the idea that ‘old nineteenth century physics’ is a thing to be discarded in the face of such new ideas, as wormholes, etc. etc.
    it’s just a scientific truism that one simply doesn’t abandon ideas because they are old; you give up an idea because it doesn’t pan out in the face of other facts. Science has always operated in that fashion, and it always should.
    You had a great deal of questions that you threw out there, which it would take a considerable amount of time to think through and analyze and I submit to you that your best approach to understanding all this might be to go back to the fundamentals and take a little slow in your analysis.
    All I can say is that inertial effects may not necessarily have counterparts that effectively act as negation, despite what more modern theories suggest. And I would suggest that you not dismiss thermodynamics, which to this date has always when properly analyzed been foundational to our understanding of the physical world. Physical facts should mesh together in a fairly seamless fashion and not clash without extremely good reason.
    Modern-day physics seems to reach out for any possible saving explanation when theories simply don’t mesh with further observations, I would not be to eager to embrace modern physical ideas which purport to unify all known forces and particles as they appear to have considerable number of stumbling blocks which their creators have to grapple with to get their ideas to work.

  • Geoffrey Hillend August 11, 2019, 17:04

    Charley, I am not rejecting any laws of physics including the laws of thermodynamics. What I said was that there are loop holes in the laws of physics we did not see in the past now that we know more about the the four forces.

    Also the laws of physics are considered mind independent, and objective so that the rules are locked into physical reality itself and don’t just predict observations, so that some ideas are speculative until they can be proven physically. I revealed my question making process to show that any physicist or physics enthusiast would have to come up with those same questions since they are limited to physical laws like Newton’s laws, etc.and to show that it should be abundantly clear to anyone with a knowledge of physics that it is hard to make sense of the idea of negative inertial mass, so am not interested in challenging it. Good luck with that one.

    I do think it is o.k. to challenge conclusions especially when it comes to cutting edge, visionary physics like space warp propulsion physics which is why I don’t accept the idea that it takes too much energy to make negative energy. The energy requirements for negative energy, warp drives and worm holes are based on the excitation of the quantum vacuum zero point energy with positive energy. My question is really secretly an answer disguised as a question. For example. What if using positive energy density to excite that quantum vacuum energy to make negative energy is really the most inefficient way to make it? What if we could make negative energy by converting one force into another would take an exponentially of magnitude of order less positive energy to make negative energy than exciting the quantum vacuum. This speculation could turn out to be true, but as I have written earlier, one can always find another rule or law to say it is too hard to make negative energy. A Casimir cavity has very little energy in it so it does not warp space time very much and one could conclude from that negative energy is impossible if those results don’t show anything.

    I still think it takes a lot of positive energy to make negative energy to make a strong enough warped field to lift a small shuttle craft, but much less than exciting the zero point energy. We will never know the correct energy requirement to make negative energy until we have ruled out all possibilities and that includes making negative energy from one of the other four forces.

    As far a unified field theory is concerned, that was Albert Einstein’s idea which has been around for nearly seventy years. Physicists have already unified the electromagnetism with the weak nuclear force to make the electro-weak theory so physicists already know that the four forces are unified but their total unification is assumed to be at very high energy such as grand unification theory, and a theory of everything which should not be a deterrent for attempting to make negative energy directly without having to excite the quantum vacuum energy with positive energy.

  • Charley August 12, 2019, 18:03

    I appreciate your reply; I genuinely do. You’re talking to someone who has a profound skepticism of the modern climate of physics. I can’t put it down to concrete objections, but I feel that there’s something rotten here within the foundations of modern physics, and I think it has to do with the subject of relativity.
    I know saying this, I fly in the face of what is considered one of the greatest minds that presumably walked the face of the earth: Albert Einstein. Nonetheless, I suspect that all is not well, and that the future will show that we may have to revise or modify his ideas behind his discoveries.
    I leave with this final antidotal little tidbit; in 1905 Einstein declared that the velocity of light was the upper limit of all things, and that, to put it in his words “Velocities greater than
    that of light have–as in our previous results–no possibility of
    30 years later Einstein fought with Niles Bohr over what was a little-known phenomenon at that time: quantum entanglement.
    Phenomenon which is now securely established in reality and has through measurement shown that effects can propagate, conservatively, and millions the time of the velocity of light. I leave you with that.

  • Geoffrey Hillend August 12, 2019, 19:20

    Physicists don’t know if the four forces are unified at high energy, so what I wrote is not correct. Physicists assume the four forces are unified at ten to the nineteenth power GeV. My point is what if the energies we make in a LCH or more powerful, future particle colliders always result in the forces being unequal at high energies. What if colliding particles like protons together at high momentum is the most inefficient way to make gravitons. Maybe electron collisions might be better or interact more gravitons than protons. Also the collisions of matter particles like protons and electrons with the high energies of our most powerful particle accelerations today might not ever make gravitons due to the invariant and conservation laws laws of quantum field theory. Force particles of high mass can only be short ranged or exchanged short distances, so the graviton does not have to have high energy at a short distance so particle collisions are good for finding gauge bosons, the Higgs and gluons but not the graviton? Maybe high energy particle collisions only make photons, but not the reverse like combining to photons to make a graviton which would explain why we don’t see any in the debris or particle decay of the proton collisions in the LCH. There is no missing mass which would imply an invisible particle so no graviton emission. This idea could be wrong and the LCH does not have a high enough energy to make gravitons which is still an assumption by physicists.

    Consequently, if can’t hurt to bypass the need for very high energy for the search for gravitons. I think it is a good idea see how the photons of the electromagnetic force, such as a magnetic field, and radio waves interact with the gravitons and gravity waves coming from our Earth. There must be some way with controlled experiments force gravitons coming from the ground to interact or exchange with photons in a magnetic field by varying the strength of the magnetic field and a detector which detects photons. The same could done with the entire electromagnetic spectrum. The amount of energy missing from a controlled standing wave magnetic field would show the conversion of photons into gravitons and vice versa? We might not need to have very high energy and the unification of four forces to change one force into another to achieve these experiments, but high energy could be tried anyway like combinging high energy photons together like x rays and gamma rays.

    The idea is to design experiments we can do to study the gravition which might lead to clues and breakthroughs on how to make anti gravitions to take the next step towards understanding how to make controlled space warp for spacecraft propulsion.

  • Charley August 12, 2019, 20:20

    @Geoffrey Hillend
    By the by, by any chance have you ever heard of the Heim Theory ?

  • ljk August 22, 2019, 9:09

    Homo Stellaris: Becoming the People of the Stars

    Robert E. Hampson, Ph.D.

    At the end of February, beginning of March 2016, the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop 2016 Symposium was held at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee. TVIW (pronounced “tee-view”) holds symposia roughly every eighteen months and rotates locations throughout the Tennessee Valley, from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to Huntsville, Alabama.

    Recent symposia have featured working tracks that allow participants several hours to discuss problems that need to be solved before the Human Race is ready to take a leap to interstellar exploration and colonization.

    For 2016, I was privileged to lead the “Homo Stellaris” working track which discussed the physiological, sociological and psychological adaptation that humans may undergo to sustain a dream of going to the stars.

    This article includes a report of that working track. That’s followed by a more free-form discussion of the main space-based hazards to human life, some adaptations that may be necessary to facilitate space travel, and the author’s reflection on how science fiction participates in the conceptualization—and even the implementation—of many of these concepts.

    Full article here:


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