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27 November 2013 12:59 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The new head of the National Center for Science Education promises to "fight the good fight" against attacks on...
Analyses of the H7N9 strains isolated from four new cases show that the virus is evolving rapidly, heightening anxiety...
In 2009, Jack Szostak shared a Nobel Prize for his part in discovering the role of telomeres, the end bits of...
Science has exposed a thriving academic black market in China involving shady agencies, corrupt scientists, and...
Paper-selling agencies flourish in the aura of reputable businesses. For some scientists, it may be difficult to tell...
Featuring the first lunar rover in 40 years, Chang'e-3 is seen as an important milestone on China's quest to send a...
Data collected by satellites and floating probes have chronicled a 2-decade rise in the temperature and thickness of a...
Cholesterol, the artery-clogging molecule that contributes to cardiovascular disease, has another nasty trick up its...
- 27 November 2013 12:59 pm , Vol. 342 , #6162
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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.