Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Introducing the Tau Zero Foundation

Thanks to Paul Gilster at Centauri Dreams I stumbled this morning onto the website of the Tau Zero Foundation. The TZF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to making incremental advancements in science, technology, and education with the eventual goal of interstellar flight and colonization.

A bold goal, to be sure. Tau Zero is led by Mark Millis of the NASA Glenn Research Center (although the foundation itself is not associated with NASA in any way). Millis is best known as the coordinator of the Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Program for NASA between 1996 and 2002. I followed BPP closely during its existence and was disappointed when NASA was forced to terminate the program. I read all of the papers that came out of the original studies (although I didn't understand everything that was in them). If Tau Zero is going to pursue and encourage the same type of work—and it appears that they will—I will be following their work very closely, as well.

I have long critized space-themed organizations whose only function seems to be to tell other people what to do ("advocacy"). I feel that if you want something done, you should do it, not advocate for someone else to do it. And Tau Zero seems to be focused on doing things. The foundation's plan is to start with educational and informative projects, including one or more books and possibly videos. TZF will also organize researchers to work together and share information. Eventually, once the foundation has the funds, they will sponsor research and possibly open an institute where researchers can collaborate and share ideas in person.

Check back here and, better yet, read Paul's blog, to get updates on this fascinating organization. I wish them the best and, when I can afford it, I'll be supporting them.


gilster said...

Matt, one thing I do need to mention is that the Tau Zero site is still under construction and has not yet made its public debut. So readers will want to be aware that we haven't finished with significant parts of it. The plan is for the site to go public by the end of the summer, at which time most of the content should be complete. Thanks for your interest and support! The Centauri Dreams site will have TZF updates throughout the summer.

Matt Metcalf said...

Thanks, Paul. I didn't mean to jump the gun and out your site before it's ready. I did submit some suggestions using the contact form, including some content for one of the pages that's missing a bit.

Good luck, and I look forward to reading up on TZF progress!