Category Archives: interstellar travel

Could Fast Radio Bursts Be Powering Alien Probes?

An artist's illustration of a light-sail powered by a radio beam (red) generated on the surface of a planet. The leakage from such beams as they sweep across the sky would appear as Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), similar to the new population of sources that was discovered recently at cosmological distances. Credit: M. Weiss/CfA
An artist’s illustration of a light-sail powered by a radio beam (red) generated on the surface of a planet. The leakage from such beams as they sweep across the sky would appear as Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), similar to the new population of sources that was discovered recently at cosmological distances. Credit: M. Weiss/CfA

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence has looked for many different signs of alien life, from radio broadcasts to laser flashes, without success. However, newly published research suggests that mysterious phenomena called fast radio bursts could be evidence of advanced alien technology. Specifically, these bursts might be leakage from planet-sized transmitters powering interstellar probes in distant galaxies. Read more

Warp Speed Won’t Get Us to the Stars, But This Just Might

Illustration of Project ORION, a smaller version of the craft proposed by Freeman Dyson. NASA
Illustration of Project ORION, a smaller version of the craft proposed by Freeman Dyson. NASA

People have dreamed about interstellar travel for decades. Wouldn’t it be nice to escape political turmoil, climate change, overpopulation, and nuclear proliferation? Wouldn’t it be nice to move, with a few family members and friends, to a welcoming virgin world? Hollywood makes it seem easy. We strap in aboard our starliner, and the craft gently lifts off. A button is pushed. The star field distorts. The ship slips into a wormhole, and we take a shortcut through space-time to arrive in a new planetary system and a blue-green oasis. In reality, things aren’t that simple. We don’t know how to create a wormhole. Warping space requires immense energies — and forms of matter that might not exist. Space is so vast that if we were to depend on the conventional chemical propulsion systems that have taken us to the moon and other planets in our solar system, a voyage to the stars would last tens of thousands of years. Read more

Why Aren’t The Aliens Here Already?

This question, known as “Fermi’s paradox,” is now a staple of astrobiological/SETI thinking. And while it might seem pretty abstract and inconsequential to our day-to-day existence, within Fermi’s paradox there lies a terrible possibility that haunts the fate of humanity. What Fermi realized in his burst of insight was simple: If the universe was teeming with intelligent technological civilizations, why hadn’t they already made it to Earth? Indeed, why hadn’t they made it everywhere? Full Article

New Test Suggests NASA’s “Impossible” EM Drive Will Work In Space

futuristic spacecraft

Last year, NASA’s advanced propulsion research wing made headlines by announcing thesuccessful test of a physics-defying electromagnetic drive, or EM drive. Now, this futuristic engine, which could in theory propel objects to near-relativistic speeds, has been shown to work inside a space-like vacuum. Full Article

Stephen Hawking Predicts End-of-Earth Scenario

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s greatest physicists and cosmologists, is once again warning his fellow humans that our extinction is on the horizon unless we figure out a way to live in space. Not known for conspiracy theories, Hawking’s rationale is that the Earth is far too delicate a planet to continue to withstand the barrage of human battering. Full Article

Interstellar Travel: So Where Should We Go?

A few of the thousands of stars within 50 light years of Earth.(Credit: Wikipedia/Andrew Z. Colvin)
A few of the thousands of stars within 50 light years of Earth.(Credit: Wikipedia/Andrew Z. Colvin)

The whole idea of interstellar travel was created by fiction writers, but because it has many elements of good science in it, it is a very persuasive idea. It is an idea located smack in the middle of the “gray area” between fantasy and reality, and this is what inspires people to try to imagine ways to make it a reality. Full Article