Sigma: April 2, 2013

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Cheating the Death of the Sun by Relativistic Interstellar Spaceflight

Friedwardt Winterberg

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. at the Virginia Air and Space Center in downtown Hampton, Virginia. FREE (no reservations).


For the human species to survive after the sun ceases to support the conditions for life on earth, a bridge must be found to reach other solar systems. Even assuming that no enirely new laws of physics are awaiting our discovery, the laws we know make interstellar spaceflight possible, but exceedingly difficult to accomplish. This talk will discuss two possible ways to make it happen: harvesting comets for deuterium to use as thermonuclear fuel, and mastering the production and storing of antimatter leading to the use of a matter-antimatter annihilation gamma ray laser for propulsion. Using the first approach can yield speeds about one-fifth the velocity of light. Using the second, much more difficult, approach can yield speeds close to the velocity of light.
Friedwardt Winterberg


Friedwardt Winterberg is a German-American theoretical physicist and research professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. With more than 260 publications and three books, he is known for his research in areas spanning general relativity, Planck scale physics, nuclear fusion, and plasmas. His work in nuclear rocket propulsion earned him the 1979 Hermann Oberth Gold Medal of the Wernher von Braun International Space Flight Foundation and in 1981 a citation by the Nevada Legislature. He is also an honorary member of the German Aerospace Society Lilienthal-Oberth. He received his MSc from the University of Frankfurt and his PhD in physics from the Max Planck Institute as a student of Werner Heisenberg.

More information about the speaker is available at his wikipedia page.