[FPSPACE] Tau Zero Foundation Announced
ljk4 at msn.com
Tue Jun 27 11:37:01 EDT 2006
Tau Zero Foundation Announced
Last February, Centauri Dreams described the formation of a new foundation,
a private nonprofit (501c3) corporation dedicated to supporting the advances
in science, technology and education that may one day enable us to reach the
Conceived by Marc Millis, former head of NASAs Breakthrough Propulsion
Physics program, the foundation aims to support a carefully chosen group of
researchers whose work is directed at this goal. On that occasion, I
described the fledgling foundations need for a name and asked for comments
from readers. Now that the choice has been made and the necessary legal work
accomplished, its time to announce the advent of the Tau Zero Foundation.
Inspired by the Poul Anderson novel of the same name and seconded by a
number of readers, Tau Zero seemed a natural fit. Tau refers to the Greek
letter representing proper time in relativistic equations. Tau Zero refers
to what happens when one approaches light-speed and ones proper time
shrinks compared to the surrounding universe. Thus the premise of the
Anderson novel, as an interstellar craft unable to stop accelerating takes
an inadvertent grand tour of the cosmos.
Anderson, who passed away in 2001, remains highly regarded as a science
fiction writer whose work reflects sound and thoughtful science. He wrote
often of interstellar flight and is believed to have inspired many students
to become scientists and engineers. In February 2006, his widow, Karen
Anderson, granted permission for the Foundation to use this name as well as
joining the Foundation as one of its advocates herself.
Centauri Dreams next post will be a statement by foundation founder Marc
Millis discussing the goals and composition of the organization. An older
background statement with more detail about the groups structure is
available, and all these documents will be be updated when the foundations
Web site becomes operational. The Tau Zero Foundation is still in its
infancy, but Centauri Dreams will continue to report on its growth and
progress as events warrant. And as the foundation grows, this site will grow
with it, continuing to report on developments in interstellar science that
may bring the grand goal just a little closer.
A final thought: the motto of the foundation is ad astra incrementis. The
Latin word incrementis is the root of English incremental, a fitting
thought given the nature of the challenge. Translated literally, ad astra
incrementis means to the stars in steps, with each step larger than the
last. Going to the stars is not likely to be the result of a single
breakthrough, but rather thousands of small, incremental discoveries that
build upon each other.
The goal of the Tau Zero Foundation is to ensure that those early steps are
taken now, so that some day people working with technologies far more
advanced than our own may complete the work of reaching nearby stars and
giving humanity the means to thrive beyond Earth. If that is a future most
of us may never live to see, it is enough to know that we played some role
in bringing it about.
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