“Fundamental physics is like an art more or less. It’s completely non-practical, and you can’t use it for anything. But it’s about the universe and how the world came into being. It’s very remote from your daily life and mine, and yet it defines us as human beings.” -Yuri Milner
In one of the boldest initiatives ever announced, billionaire Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking are working on developing a “Breakthrough Starshot” project, where an advanced laser array will power a sail-driven spacecraft to speeds exceeding 60,000 km/s, taking it to the nearest stars within a single human lifetime.
It’s an incredible ideas, and recent improvements in laser technology, strong-and-reflective materials and in electronics miniaturization seem to make this a realistic possibility. But there are a huge number of technical and scientific challenges ahead, and the pledged $100 million is barely a drop in the ocean of what’s needed. This might be a legitimate possibility at long last, but the obstacles to overcome are tremendous.