SWIMMERs: A Thought Experiment on the Potential and Limitations of Propellantless Interstellar Travel12 Dec 2019, 18:49 UTC
Can we tap ionized particles in the interstellar medium as a way of exchanging momentum for propulsion? It’s a concept with a lot of pluses if it can be made to work, chief among them the fact that such a device would be propellantless. Looking at the topic today is Drew Brisbin, a postdoctoral researcher in astronomy who received his PhD from Cornell University in 2014. Dr. Brisbin has since gone on to work towards better understanding his field of specialization: the study of galaxy evolution in the early universe. He currently works at Universidad Diego Portales, in Santiago Chile, where he collaborates closely with other researchers using some of the most sensitive telescopes in the world, located in the mountainous Chilean desert. In addition to his formal work and outdoors-oriented hobbies, he also enjoys dreaming about the future of humanity. One particular dream recently seemed to warrant some further investigation, leading him to the ideas he explains today.
By Drew Brisbin
This article represents a distillation of a work published in April 2019 in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (reference ). Some technical details have been omitted for brevity, but interested readers are encouraged to read ...