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"The Drive for Interstellar Travel" Scheduled for 21 October at Penn State

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10 October 2001 -- A free public lecture titled "The Drive for Interstellar Travel" will be given at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, 21 October, in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park Campus by Dr. Marc Millis, an Aerospace Engineer at the NASA Glenn Research Center. The talk is the first of the 2001-2002 Friedman public lectures sponsored by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State, which this year have the theme, "Black Holes and Time Warps."

"Millis's talk will be of interest to anyone who ever asked the questions, Will science fiction ever become science fact? and Will human beings ever travel to other stars?, explains Jane Charlton, associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics and the organizer of the lecture series. "This year's series is designed for people keen on exploring the universe as they do in Star Trek or Star Wars. Warp drives and wormholes were once considered pure fiction, but now they are being researched by NASA as real possibilities, albeit for the distant future."

Millis comments, "There comes a time to seek the next revolutions in technology. "That time is when existing technology is approaching its theoretical limits, and when clues are emerging for new methods that might surpass these limits." His lecture will describe NASA's efforts to discover propulsion methods that eliminate the need for propellant in order to achieve hyperfast travel.

"Someday, hundreds of years from now, it may be possible for human beings to break the barrier and travel faster than light," speculates Charlton. "Millis is a pioneer at NASA, pursuing solid and credible ideas that represent a first step toward this goal," she adds.
Millis founded the NASA Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project in 1996 and managed this project for its

first five years. Millis received his Ph.D. degree in physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1982. As an aerospace engineer at the NASA Glenn Research Center, he has contributed to research in relatively conventional topics such as guidance displays for aircraft low-gravity trajectories, ion thrusters, and cryogenic propellant-delivery systems. Millis is now at the forefront of research on "space drives," hypothetical devices that rely on the fundamental properties of space and time to create propulsive forces anywhere in space.

Remaining lectures in the 2001-2001 Friedman series, scheduled in 100 Thomas Building, include: "When Black Holes Collide" by Pablo Laguna of Penn State at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, 11 November; "Can a Bright Star Find Happiness in the Deadly Embrace of a Black Hole?" by Michael Eracleous of Penn State at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, 24 February; "Back to the Future: Time Travel in Modern Physics" by Sarah Gallagher of Penn State at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, 17 March; and "The Physics of Star Trek" by Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, 7 April.

The "Black Holes and Time Warps" series is hosted by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and is largely funded by the Ronald M. and Susan J. Friedman Outreach Fund in Astronomy. Friedman is a member of the department's Board of Visitors.

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CONTACT:
Jane Charlton, associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics, 863-6040 or 865-0418

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