Using Quantum Mechanics, We Can Reach Foreign Stars in a Human Lifetime
A nonprofit dedicated to researching the science and technology needed to travel vast distances across the cosmos says lasers can be used to harvest antimatter from the vacuum of space.
What's the Latest Development?
Icarus Interstellar Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to enabling interstellar flight by 2100, believes quantum mechanics may hold the key to a propulsion system capable of traversing the immense distances of space within a human lifetime. Contrary to classical physics, which states the that vacuum of space is essentially empty, quantum mechanics describes it as a place buzzing with energy. Using lasers to create a powerful electrical field, electron-positron pairs can be created from the vacuum space itself. Such a technique could be used to farm and store vast amounts of energy capable of propelling a mission to another star or planetary system.
What's the Big Idea?
The principle obstacle to interstellar space travel is the distance humans would have to cross to study another star or planet outside our solar system up close. "Voyager 1, launched in 1977, is the furthest manmade object from Earth, and travels at over 10 miles per second (36,000 mph). Even traveling at this incredible speed, it would take just over 70,000 years to reach the closest star to our solar system." Icarus Interstellar's ultimate goal is to design deep-space missions that could be completed within the time frame of a professional scientist's career.
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Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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