The research-and-development arm of the U.S. military is looking to spend half a million dollars in grant money to develop strategies and approaches toward interstellar space travel. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (D.A.R.P.A.) “will hold a symposium that brings together astrophysicists, engineers and even sci-fi writers so they can brainstorm what it would take to make this starship enterprise a success.” D.A.R.P.A. funds are no free lunch: If the ideas generated are deemed good enough, no money will be rewarded.
What’s the Big Idea?
D.A.R.P.A.’s director, David Neyland, says the objective of the new research project is not to build a starship but to start asking the right questions and begin developing tangible products. “‘Products’ doesn’t mean physical products,” Neyland said, “but might be a new computer algorithm, a new kind of physics, a new set of mathematics, a new philosophical or religious construct, a new way of growing grain hydroponically. The organization needs to have the gestalt of how to inspire that kind of research.”