It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie.
UC Santa Barbara researchers are talking about using laser propelled microchips as tiny spacecraft, to explore the closest stars. The research is one of the projects being highlighted at a unique South Coast film festival this weekend.
UC Santa Barbara physicist Phillip Lubin is working with NASA on the concept. He says the photonic, or laser propelled craft could theoretically reduce travel time to the nearest star from 100,000 years to the span of a human lifetime.
Lubin says these “spacechips” could even potentially carry life. Fellow UCSB researcher Joel Rothman is studying whether microscopic creatures like hematodes and tardigrades could be used. They can be placed in a form of sleep, or suspended animation in which they don’t need life support for the decades long trip.
The technology is one of the things being highlighted at a unique film festival on the South Coast this weekend. The Raw Science Film Festival, based at Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theater, connects Hollywood with the scientific world.
Keri Kukral is founder, and CEO of the three day long festival which runs Friday through Sunday. The highlight is an Academy-Awards style show at the Lobero Saturday night to honor the best in science related media. But, the festival also features workshops, lectures and demonstrations related to science.
Lubin says one of the highlights will be a talk during the Saturday night awards show by one of the nation’s leading experts on the nuclear proliferation issue.
The Raw Science Film Festival is open to the public. There’s a complete schedule of events, and ticket information online at Rawsciencefilmfestival.TV.