The Icarus Interstellar Starship Congress aims to bring together the interstellar community to foster discussion and generate tangible action. Our ambition is to move humanity toward becoming an interstellar civilization, with a broad campaign of exploration and migration to begin by the year 2100.
For 2013, the Icarus Interstellar Starship Congress is a four-day event. The first three days are dedicated to interstellar accomplishments in specific timescales: Interstellar Now (Next 20 Years), Interstellar This Lifetime (20-50 Years), and Interstellar Future (50 Years+). These are the near-term, medium-term and long-term focuses necessary for the realization of our ambition. The fourth day will be a wrap-up of the Starship Congress with a chance to network and plan for the future.
Presenters are a combination of scientists, physicists, engineers, researchers, and representatives from international space programs and present-day commercial space operators, as well as popular and well-known interstellar speakers and space journalists. Special note: Day 3 presenters include Science Fiction celebrities, authors and creators. The fourth day is for discussion of future plans and a summary of the congress.
Day 3 will focus on what we can accomplish on very long timescales beginning 50 years from now and extending out to the next 500 years. Areas of interest will include exploring and populating nearby star systems, the ethics of colonization, SETI and first-contact scenarios, exotic propulsion, warp drives, wormholes, vacuum energy, worldships, hibernation ships and humanity’s expansion into the galaxy.
8:45am Introduction to Day 3
9:00am Keynote: Sonny White, “Warp Field Physics: an Update”
9:45am Presentation 1: Eric Davis, “Faster-Than-Light Space Warps: What’s It All About?”
10:10am Presentation 2: Hal Puthoff, “Engineering the Spacetime Metric for Interstellar Flight”
From about 1 hour 40 minutes into the video
Conventional wisdom has it that the probability of interstellar travel is vanishingly small due to the enormous distances involved, coupled with the velocity-of-light limitation. Analyses within the context of general relativistic dynamics, however, indicate the naïvete of this assumption. We discuss here a broad, general approach that might loosely be called ‘metric engineering,’ the details of which provide support for the concept that reduced-time interstellar travel is not, as naïve consideration might hold, fundamentally constrained by physical principles. Empty space itself (the quantum vacuum, or spacetime metric) can in principle be engineered so as to provide the requisite conditions for viable future interstellar flight. Although far-reaching, such a proposal is solidly grounded in modern physical theory, and therefore the possibility that matter/vacuum interactions might be engineered for spaceflight applications will be shown not to be a priori ruled out.
10:45am Presentation 3: Marc Millis, “Transgalactic Travel Guide” & “From Sci-Fi to Sci-Method – Space Drives”
Traveling through our galaxy takes time. How fast must our spacecraft travel to reach interesting destinations before the spacecraft’s warranty expires? Our galaxy is so astronomically large that it is difficult to comprehend. To help convey these vast distances in human terms, a “Transgalactic Travel Guide” is offered. This simple chart plots distances to intragalactic destinations versus time, as a function of 6 different flight speeds. Speeds range from the poky 0.00006c of Voyager all the way to lightspeed. Interesting destinations include the edge of our solar system, the Oort Cloud, Alpha Centauri, and estimates for the closest habitable planet and extraterrestrial intelligence. Time scales span a week through the final demise of Earth. A tutorial is presented to teach you how to read and use this chart, so you can plot your own galactic adventures.
Abstract for the second talk, From Sci-Fi to Sci-Method – A Case Study with Space Drives:
Science fiction can be upgraded into scientific inquiry. By contrasting the highly desirable goals from science fiction against accrued scientific knowledge, the critical unknowns and issues can be identified. These can be distilled into problem statements – the first step of the scientific method. The problem statements then guide the collection of relevant information, the second step of the scientific method. This process is illustrated for the case of non-rocket space drives, the kind of propulsion that enables craft to levitate above the ground and then ascend effortlessly into space – and then travel more ably than propellant-constrained rockets. Multiple fictional images are toyed with, explained with analogies, and then finally set in the context of a problem definition to guide genuine scientific inquires. Whether or not the desired breakthroughs are achievable, this line of inquiry presents different perspectives toward solving the lingering mysteries of physics. Specifically, space drive inquiries highlight physics issues about the inertial frame properties of spacetime.
11:10am Presentation 4: Jeff Lee, “Singularity Propulsion – Acceleration of a Schwarzschild Kugelblitz Starship”
The petawatt Hawking radiation of γ-ray laser-created subatomic black holes (Schwarzschild Kugelblitzes or SKs) has been proposed as a propulsive and power source for interstellar starships. In order to avoid underestimates of a SK’s Hawking power by approximately 3 orders of magnitude and overestimates of its life expectancy by 2-3 orders of magnitude (which occur when assuming purely photonic emission), this paper accounts for the entire instantaneous Hawking spectrum. Additionally shown is that 45% of the Hawking power and 55-58% of the Hawking flux are emitted on inaccessible channels. Based on the accessible Hawking spectrum, the acceleration curves of a SK-powered starship, in which the Hawking radiation is incident upon a fully-absorbing inertial plate, are determined.
11:35am Presentation 5: Gerald Cleaver, “The Quirks of Quark Engines”
Dr. Cleaver earned his Ph.D. in string theory and cosmology from Caltech in 1993. His dissertation advisor was John H. Schwarz, one of the founders of string theory. Cleaver is a Professor of Physics at Baylor University and is head of the Early Universe Cosmology and Strings (EUCOS) division of Baylor’s Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER). Cleaver’s research specialty is superstring phenomenology and he has over 70 peer-reviewed publications in the field. Cleaver was the dissertation advisor for Dr. Richard Obousy, President and Co-Founder of Icarus Interstellar. Together they proposed a theoretical string theory realization of Alcubierre’s warp drive effect. Cleaver is a member of Icarus Interstellar and its Project XP4 group.
Abstract of Dr. Cleaver’s presentation:
Matter/antimatter (MAM)-based propulsion systems are viable options for both intrasolar system and interstellar travel. For example, the feasibility and functionality of on-board Schwinger electron-positron pair production via high power lasers has received growing interest lately. In this talk an alternate in-situ MAM production method will be discussed. Production of quark-antiquark pairs via interaction of parallel electric and magnetic fields associated with chiral symmetry breaking will be reviewed. Emphasis will be placed on the physics involved in the quark pair production and in the basic design of a related propulsion system. Quark pair production rates as a function of electric and magnetic field strengths will be presented.
12:00am Presentation 6: Lance Williams, “Rise of the Scalar Field, and its Implications for Interstellar Travel”
The recent experimental confirmation of the Higgs boson, the last piece of the standard model of particle physics, is also the discovery of the first quantum scalar field. The Higgs field joins, however, 3 other scalar fields now thought to exist in our universe. Yet the Higgs field is the only one among them whose nature is well-understood; the other 3 remain mysterious new forces operating on the scale of galaxies. At this turning point in physics, let us assess the role of scalar fields in physical law; assess what we know about scalar fields operating in our universe, and their implications for interstellar travel. We look back to the lessons of physics before the quantum revolution, lessons lost from physics at a time when scalar fields seemed implausible and quantum gravity seemed imminent. We discover that scalar fields offer the promise of the electromagnetic control of spacetime and gravity, and we consider to what extent the already discovered scalar fields can be understood in those terms.
1:15pm Keynote: Rachel Armstrong, “Project Persephone”
Project Persephone is charged with the design and implementation of a giant natural computer that will form the ‘living’ interior to the Icarus Interstellar worldship, which constitutes a kind of ‘space’ Nature. Yet, her ideas are not just ‘black sky’ thinking but also address the way that we currently live and produces real world models and prototypes to address significant challenges such as, resource shortages within our megacities, which share Persephone’s challenges in surviving effectively ‘closed’ systems.
Rather than presupposing what the needs of an interstellar civilization may be within this system, which will experience its own physical and chemical rhythms, Persephone is approaching the idea of a living space within a worldship by taking a bottom-up approach to its construction. Yet, she is not by starting with bricks and mortar, but with designing, developing and producing soils that are essential for any truly ‘sustainable’ environment. Indeed, all civilizations are founded on soils, as they are the technology that spontaneously recycles materials and creates fertile conditions in which life may thrive. By understanding the basic physical and chemical interactions that may spontaneously form systems that shape the flow of matter through the worldship, it may be possible to create events within them such as, growth and decomposition, around which human activity can thrive. As these systems develop it may be possible to construct architectures and even cities that thrive around these spontaneous events.
Project Persephone also aims to address an even a deeper issue, which relates to the way we imagine reality. In 1948 Erwin Schrodinger noted that the characteristic of life is that it resists the decay towards entropic equilibrium. This observation is profoundly important when thinking about the design of an environment for living things, as it requires us to consider far-from equilibrium conditions in the fabrication of soils. Persephone is also imagined as an ‘open’ system to resist entropic decay. Perhaps she may ‘feed’ on space ‘junk’, asteroids and even the electromagnetic spectrum, so that the living system that supports her interstellar crew does not grind to an energetic halt. Yet how do we begin to resolve these challenges – to keep her system open – or even design and engineer with material flows and networks of metabolic interactions? Working with open, non-equilibrium systems flies in the face of all our design efforts to history, because when we design, we assume that our design substrates are closed and their surroundings are at equilibrium, so we can make a world of composed of objects. However, such assumptions are not suitable for a living interior, as Schrodinger noted, an equilibrium state is not compatible with life.
Persephone’s international community – a network of world-leading architects, designers, engineers, sociologists, creative and scientists – is exploring how to navigate these challenges through the inpossible.me community, which builds tools and methods to deal with a constantly evolving reality.
Persephone does not expect these challenges to be solved by any one particular team, or indeed any particular generation and is looking to work with all the Icarus Interstellar group’s project leaders and extend her network to multiple collaborators, across many disciplines and age groups as an open network of volunteers, makers and visionaries.
Persephone is looking forward to participating in Icarus Interstellar’s international community, which is coming together for the first time in person, to talk about such issues at the Starship Congress, which will be the start of many challenging conversations that will ultimately result in taking the first real steps towards becoming an interstellar civilization.
2:00pm Presentation 7: Ken Roy, “Shell Worlds: an Approach to Terraforming Small Rocky Worlds”
When humanity travels to the stars we will probably find that Earth-type worlds are very, very rare, that Earth-sized planets in a star’s habitable zone suitable for traditional terraforming are more common, but that Mars-type worlds are ubiquitous. Terraforming Mars-type worlds may be the only option for future human colonists to create a terrestrial-type home. The shell world approach requires construction of an engineered shell around the planet to contain (and partially replace) an atmosphere. This shell also provides radiation protection as well as additional real estate. Lighting under the shell must be artificial but permits Earth-like conditions to be simulated, regardless of the type of star that the world orbits. The shell also allows for the control of the planet’s temperature, making the distance from its star and location with respect to the star’s habitable zone irrelevant. This approach could be applied to Mars, the Earth’s moon, and perhaps Mercury within our own solar system. The structural stresses and stability of the shell with respect to the central body will be discussed. These would be small worlds, not merely large habitats, stable across millennia. Each shell world would contain a full, self-sustaining ecology based entirely on life imported from Earth. This approach allows for the terraforming of planets around stars not usually considered suitable for colonization such as Red Dwarfs, Brown Dwarfs, and even lone orphan planets far distant from any star.
2:25pm Presentation 8: Sheryl Bishop, “Odyssey: Global Personality Test for Crewing a Generation-Starship”
3:00pm Presentation 9: Thomas Hair, “Radio Transients & Base Rate Bias: Bayesian Argument for Conservatism”
3:25pm Presentation 10: Al Jackson, “Extreme SETI”
3:50pm Presentation 11: A. Caminoa & G. Gaviraghi, “Code of Ethics for Alien Encounters”
4:15pm Break | Description of Evening Event
4:30pm STARSHIP CONGRESS: Long-Term Questions
6:00pm Dinner (Individual)
8:00pm Event 3a | Peter Garretson: “Space – A Billion Year Plan for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”
It isn’t enough just to plan for two or 20, or even the fabled Chinese 100 year periods. We need to be thinking and planning on the order of billions of years. Our civilization needs inter-generational plans and goals that span as far out as we can forecast significant events.
For this discussion, I define a “significant event” as an event about which we have foreknowledge and which will fundamentally change our planning assumptions.
For instance, the most significant near-term external problem we can forecast is that we have only about one billion years before the Earth becomes uninhabitable. Somewhere around that time, our Sun will have expanded and start boiling away our oceans. Truly, as the great space visionary Konstantin Tsiolkovsky foresaw, “Unless mankind leaves the Earth, it will surely die there.”
It is a nasty reality that sometimes the solutions to significant problems take time, and last-minute crash programs can fail. It would be a darn shame to end life’s two billion year run (and humanity’s eight million year run) prematurely because of a lack of planning.
Moving everyone and everything we value off Earth is likely to take some time. The same is likely to be true for any of the alternatives: uploading most of us to exist “in-silico,” putting a sunshade between Earth and the Sun, moving the Earth, or attempting to control the Sun.
It is often a good idea to have at least a cadre of people thinking well in advance about the problem, and designing solutions.
8:45pm Event 3b | “Dream of Starships” with Hailey Bright
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.