June 2012

Private Funding for Asteroid Telescope

June 29, 2012

Asteroids are certainly having their moment in the press, what with the combined attention being paid first to Planetary Resources and its plans for asteroid mining, and now the B612 Foundation, with a plan that in some ways tracks the Planetary Resources model. As announced yesterday, B612 intends to build a space telescope using private […]

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Measuring Non-Transiting Worlds

June 28, 2012

Although I want to move on this morning to some interesting exoplanet news, I’m not through with fusion propulsion, not by a long shot. I want to respond to some of the questions that came in about the British ZETA experiment, and also discuss some of Rod Hyde’s starship ideas as developed at Lawrence Livermore […]

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Fusion and the Starship: Early Concepts

June 27, 2012

Having looked at the Z-pinch work in Huntsville yesterday, we’ve been kicking around the question of fusion for propulsion and when it made its first appearance in science fiction. The question is still open in the comments section and I haven’t been able to pin down anything in the World War II era, though there […]

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Z-Pinch: Powering Up Fusion in Huntsville

June 26, 2012

The road to fusion is a long slog, a fact that began to become apparent as early as the 1950s. It was then that the ZETA — Zero-Energy Toroidal (or Thermonuclear) Assembly — had pride of place as the fusion machine of the future, or so scientists working on the device in the UK thought. […]

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Uses of a Forgotten Cluster

June 25, 2012

Astronomical surprises can emerge close to home, close in terms of light years and close in terms of time. Take NGC 6774, an open cluster of stars also known as Ruprecht 147 in the direction of Sagittarius. In astronomical terms, it’s close enough — at 800 to 1000 light years — to be a target […]

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Celestial Spectacle: Planets in Tight Orbits

June 22, 2012

I’ve always had an interest in old travel books. A great part of the pleasure of these journals of exploration lies in their illustrations, sketches or photographs of landscapes well out of the reader’s experience, like Victoria Falls or Ayers Rock or the upper reaches of the Amazon. Maybe someday we’ll have a travel literature […]

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Robotics: Anticipating Asimov

June 21, 2012

My friend David Warlick and I were having a conversation yesterday about what educators should be doing to anticipate the technological changes ahead. Dave is a specialist in using technology in the classroom and lectures all over the world on the subject. I found myself saying that as we moved into a time of increasingly […]

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Revising Our Starship Assumptions

June 20, 2012

We all carry our assumptions with us no matter where we go, dubious extra baggage that can confuse not just our scientific views but our lives in general. That’s why it’s so refreshing when those assumptions are challenged in an insightful way. Think, for example, of the starship as envisioned by Hollywood. In our times […]

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Interstellar Flight in the News

June 19, 2012

Tau Zero founder Marc Millis is interviewed by Bruce Dorminey in Forbes this week, the logical first question being where interstellar flight ranks on our list of priorities. A case can be made, after all, that we have yet to get humans beyond the Moon, and that while we have managed robotic missions to the […]

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Voyager 1 Nearing Interstellar Space

June 18, 2012

It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows Centauri Dreams that I am a great admirer of Ed Stone, the former director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (from 1991 to 2001) and more than any single scientist, the public face of many of our missions to the outer Solar System. Stone’s work on […]

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