Broadcast 3056 Paul Gilster

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Guest:  Paul Gilster;  Topics:  spaceflight technology, interstellar flight, science fiction, the writer's influence on science and more.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See

We welcomed Paul Gilster to the program for this one segment 61 minute discussion about interstellar flight, science fiction, space technology and its implications. During the first part of our discussion, I asked our guest about his background in medieval  literature and then becoming a science and space technology writer with a profound interest in interstellar flight.  Paul easily made the connection with his field of study and his spaceflight interests.  This mini discussion was important in providing us with a connection to the future and interstellar flight and activities with the past so don't miss it. 

I also asked our guest why he thought there has been a significant push toward interstellar over the past 5 or 6 decades.  He talked about early contributors to the field and role their early work played in helping us to get to the point we are at today.  One such person he talked about was Dr. Robert Forward who passed away in 2002.  As our guest said, people were becoming more visible and Dr. Forward was an example of this. 

Paul was asked about the role of movies, television, and science fiction.  He said Star Trek energized the public. We then talked about early wins. Here, he mentioned two projects, New Horizons and Star Shot with its $100 million funding from Yuri Milner.  He was optimistic that we would see successful laser powered sails that could go approximately 20% of light speed on a time table of approximately 30 years.

Another topic was that of young people wanting to work their entire career on a project that may or may not come to fruition, i.e. interstellar flight.  Paul thought the payoff would still be there as people wanted to build the future and hand off progress to future generations. He also talked about the possibility of what he called disruptive breakthroughs or serendipity happening that rapidly speed discovery and progress up.    Paul then got an email from a listener asking if the confirmation of life on Mars or elsewhere would speed up the development progress.  Before moving on, listener Bill sent us an email about the challenges and low probabilities of their ever being actual human interstellar flight.  He wanted to see people actually go rather than robots or human consciousness et al on a wafer.  Paul had much to say on this subject, including the fact that the manual was not yet finished on this subject and there was still hope about the possibility of humans embarking on interstellar flight.  We talked about sleeper or generation starships and again, the possibility of disruptive serendipity.

Robert in Boston sent Paul a note wanting to know about the potential influence on the scientist by the writer, including the science fiction writer.  Paul had much to say on this subject but in the end said the influence was mutual and upon both.  Robert's question was followed by an email form Todd asking about time travel.  Paul said time travel to the future was as we know possible due to Einstein but the past was doubtful.  Don't miss all of what he said about this including the reference to former Space Show guest, Dr. J. Richard Gott of Princeton.

Another topic of our focus was one of Paul's favorites, exoplanets.  Our exoplanet discussion suggested this was the beginning of the early stage serious push for interstellar spaceflight.  He noted the potential contribution for this field to develop by the private commercial space segment, again citing the $100 million funded Star Shot project.  Paul commented that he hoped to see real results in the development of sail material that could stand 60,000 g's for a two minutes of push to 20% or so of the speed of lot.  Don't miss our full exoplanet conversation

Toward the end of our segment, I asked about his writing at   You can subscribe to the blog which I am sure you will find most interesting.  Paul said he strives for five posts a week.  He also accepts guest writers and he said many authors of peer-reviewed papers publish a first draft on the website for feedback before refining their actual reviewed document.  This may interest some of you who want to test the waters on a paper you are writing.  Guest writer topics include long term life support, biology, space agriculture, SETI searches and all relevant space topics.  He also said many well-known speakers, writers, and personalities post on the blog including Dr. Robert Zubrin. 

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show.  You can read Paul Gilster through his blog per the above address or me.




Interstellar travel and related topics

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31 Jan 2018 Paul Gilster
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  • The Space Foundation Conference

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