Physicist Les Johnson serves as principal investigator for NASA's first interplanetary solar sail space missions, Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, and Solar Cruiser. In the first half, he discussed the idea of interstellar travel, and venturing forth into the cosmos using various advanced technologies. It's a tough challenge to go the stars, but it's not impossible, he commented. "Solar sails are one of many advanced propulsion technologies I've worked on in my career," he shared, noting that the advantage of this technique is that no fuel is required (typically, missions are limited by how much fuel they can carry aboard). He explained that this technology uses a very thin, large, lightweight reflector, and as light hits it, a craft is propelled like a sail in the wind. A related technology, laser sails, involves shining extremely high-energy lasers on spacecraft.
From a physics point of view, there are a variety of propulsion systems that conceivably could take craft outside of our solar system, but the engineering still needs to be worked out, he pointed out. To get us out to the stars, we could think about sending ships much faster than the Voyager probes (which would take about 70,000 years to reach the closest star). Electric rockets could cut the trip time to 10,000 years, but if we built big lasers out in space, we could launch a robotic probe to Alpha Centauri in less than a thousand years, he stated. Nuclear fusion (how the sun produces its energy) and antimatter propulsion (based on an exotic form of matter) are also possibilities for getting us into the cosmos, he added.
In the latter half, Caroline Cory, a filmmaker, teacher, and author, talked about the discoveries made during the production of her latest film, A Tear in the Sky, and the challenges of undertaking a large-scale UFO investigation. Explaining the title of her documentary, she suggested that UFOs may represent a kind of opening or wormhole in the fabric of space-time, which could be why they sometimes suddenly appear and then disappear. Working with a team of scientists and technicians for her film, including Kevin Day (former radar operator on the USS Nimitz, which captured the Tic Tac videos), they conducted an expedition using multiple types of equipment to capture phenomena.
The technology for the expedition included military-grade infrared cameras, radiation detectors, and magnetometers, which were positioned at multiple angles. They recorded a kind of cloud that opened and closed, and within it were some 50-100 objects. Radar indicated these were actual reflective objects, she reported. They sought further information from satellite agencies about the recording and learned they could not receive details or aerial images because the location/incident was "classified." She also updated her work exploring the mechanics of consciousness, and the benefits of meditation (for more on this, view her YouTube video "Connecting to Source").
News segment guest: Howard Bloom