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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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NASA Jumps on Star Wars Bandwagon
20 May 1999 7:00 pm
Why go see interplanetary travel in the movies when the real thing could be just around the corner? In an 18 May press release, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, talks up its own research on propulsion technologies--"closely akin to the 'hyperdrives' of Star Wars fame," it says--that could someday make planet hopping a reality.
And you thought George Lucas had cornered the market on Star Wars tie-ins. "Laser propulsion and antimatter have long been the stuff of science fiction, and now we're experimenting with them as viable options for space travel," states Garry Lyles, manager of Marshall's Advanced Space Transportation Program. Adds Marshall's George Schmidt, "We're convinced that ... these technologies will likely transform the space travel seen in sci-fi movies into real-life experience."
The space agency didn't actually have any breakthrough to report. And the press statement dutifully notes an important caveat--that traveling faster than light "will ... require overcoming the physical limitations of space itself." Nonetheless, the release, nicely timed with the 19 May release of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, scored a PR bull's eye. Officials say numerous TV and print outlets have picked up the nonstory, giving it a little propulsion of its own.