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Inspirations: To sail upon a star

Project Breakthrough Starshot plans to send probes to Proxima Centauri powered by lightsails. The lightsail was conceived decades ago, but the IKAROS probe is the only spacecraft to use it. IKAROS is powered by the sun, but Breakthrough Starshot will

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Posted in Inspirations, Wednesday Pontification

Greater Minds: Arthur C Clarke looks back

Arthur C Clarke wrote his Space Odyssey series between 1948 and 1997. Each sequel updated speculations on exobiology. HAL 9000 is a memorable character and a paradigm for contemporary discussions of artificial intelligence. We have not explored the solar system

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Posted in Greater minds, Wednesday Pontification

Greater Minds: Freeman Dyson says let’s look for life in the outer solar system

NASA’s New Horizons probe is approaching the Kuiper Belt. Freeman Dyson suggested Europa and the Kuiper Belt as habitats for life in the solar system. Europa’s ocean is under an ice pack, so life would be undetectable. If there is

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Posted in Greater minds, Wednesday Pontification

Solar Impulse 2: Update

At 07:12 local time, Andre Borschberg took off from Abu Dhabi. In itself, there’s nothing remarkable about taking off from a busy airport. What is unusual is that his aircraft did not carry a single drop of fuel. As I

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Posted in Current affairs, Inspirations

Inspirations: Round the world on a wing and a prayer

Solar Impulse 2 is a solar powered aircraft designed for a multi-stage circumnavigation. Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg plan to start this month. The project has developed many technologies that will have more widespread uses. Let’s wish them luck! On

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Posted in Current affairs, Inspirations, Wednesday Pontification
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