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Examining the global impact of technology
FUTURE TALK #72
Breakthrough Starshot
In this episode we examine a radical new technology for spaceflight, which if successful, could enable spacecraft to travel more than 1000 times faster than they do today. The project is called Breakthrough Starshot, and the goal is to launch a space probe to Alpha Centauri, the next nearest star, and have the trip take a mere 20 years instead of the 30,000 years it would take with current means of propulsion. But the ultimate goal is to find out if there are other intelligent species out there that we might be able to communicate with. The guest is Pete Worden, executive director of Breakthrough Initiatives, an umbrella group that includes Breakthrough Starshot, as well as Breakthrough Listen (an attempt to detect electronic signals from advanced civilizations in deep space) and the Breakthrough Prizes, given for progress in key scientific fields. Pete was previously director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, which is one of the world’s top space research facilities. He’s a retired Brigadier General in the U.S. Air Force, he has a PhD in Astronomy, and he’s long been recognized as one of the world’s leading space experts. Breakthrough Starshot is funded by a $100 million grant from Russian philanthropist Yuri Milner. Other notable people actively involved in the project include physicist Stephen Hawking, Sergey Brin of Google, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Martin Wasserman hosts.