National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Marc Millis

Sci-Fi to Scientific Method: A Case Study with Space Drives

June 22, 2012

Marc headed up the Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Program for NASA and was tasked with documenting the whole project. This resulted in the book Frontiers of Propulsion Science, authored by him. The book describes various hypothetical faster than light or warp drive concepts in detail. After funding for the project ended, Marc and other former project members started the Tau Zero Foundation to continue their research.

Marc talked about how movies and other media have inspired people to reach for seemingly impossible goals such as faster than light travel and gravity control. He showed how the scientific method can be applied to these ideas and some examples of problems they run into.  He also described how any idea goes from Conjecture, to Speculation, to Science, to Technology, and finally to Commerce. According to Marc, many of his Foundation’s ideas are somewhere between Speculation and Science. He ended the talk with the phrase “Ad astra incrementis!” which translates to “To the stars in steps!”