How Humans Could Get to Mars in Weeks, Rather than Months

Researchers from the public and private sectors will come together this summer to create a nuclear fusion-powered propulsion system that could save precious mission time. 

What's the Latest Development?

This summer, researchers from the public and private sectors will come together for a project aimed at reducing the travel time to Mars--from eight months to just a few weeks. NASA, Boeing and the University of Alabama, Huntsville, will lay the groundwork for a propulsion system that uses "powerful pulses of nuclear fusion created within hollow 2-inch-wide 'pucks' of lithium deuteride." Like a hockey puck, researchers plan to 'slapshot' them with plasma energy, "fusing the lithium and hydrogen atoms inside and releasing enough force to ultimately propel a spacecraft—an effect known as 'Z-pinch'." 

What's the Big Idea?

The power generated by the Z-pinch effect would be tremendous, equivalent to 20% of the world’s power output in a tiny bolt of lightning no bigger than your finger and lasting just one hundred billionths of a second. "If this works," said Dr. Jason Cassibry, an associate professor of engineering at UAH, "we could reach Mars in six to eight weeks instead of six to eight months." Lengthy trips to Mars do not bother unmanned space probes, but an eight-month journey, given current accommodations aboard our spacecraft, could take physical and psychological tolls on human passengers. 

Photo credit:

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

Why avoiding logical fallacies is an everyday superpower

10 of the most sandbagging, red-herring, and effective logical fallacies.

Photo credit: Miguel Henriques on Unsplash
Personal Growth
  • Many an otherwise-worthwhile argument has been derailed by logical fallacies.
  • Sometimes these fallacies are deliberate tricks, and sometimes just bad reasoning.
  • Avoiding these traps makes disgreeing so much better.
Keep reading Show less
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less