top of page
  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#181 - Kelvin Long - Interstellar Travel

This week we talk to Kelvin Long about an Interstellar road map, we chat about the discovery of Leton scale CP violation and Osiris-REx practises a sample return and a follow up on Matt’s Ladbible Flatearth appearance

“we consider this planet more of an Earth cousin than an Earth twin, Our galaxy is probably littered with cousins of Kepler-186f”

Elisa Quintana

OTD 2014 – The public announcement NASA's Kepler space telescope and Elisa Quintana et al’s discovery of the first Earth-size planet Kepler-186f in the habitable zone of another star. 582 light-years away OTD 50 years ago 1970 – Apollo program: The ill-fated Apollo 13 spacecraft returns to Earth safely.


RIP - Jon Conway inventor of the Game of Life and hugely influential maths guy

John Horton Conway FRS (26 December 1937 – 11 April 2020) was an English mathematician active in the theory of finite groups, knot theory, number theory, combinatorial game theory and coding theory. He also made contributions to many branches of recreational mathematics, most notably the invention of the cellular automaton called the Game of Life. Born and raised in Liverpool, Conway spent the first half of his career at the University of Cambridge before moving to the state of New Jersey in the United States, where he held the title of John von Neumann Professor Emeritus at Princeton University for the rest of his career

On 11 April 2020, at age 82, he died of complications from COVID-19.

Interstella Travel with Kelvin Long.

Kelvin F. Long is an Aerospace Engineer, physicist, author and business entrepreneur. He has been working on the problem of interstellar spaceflight since around 2007 and seeks to bring about this hypothetical future as a self-fulfilling prophecy. He has been involved with the founding of numerous projects, initiatives and companies which have interstellar spaceflight as a primary goal.


Note on Flat earth comment on Chinese Space

He referred to bubbles coming out of helmets,- Can only be talking about an EVA ….right?

  • China became the third country to independently carry out an EVA It’s first and ONLY one September 27, 2008 during the Shenzhou 7 mission.

  • Chinese astronaut Zhai Zhigang completed a spacewalk wearing the Chinese-developed Feitian space suit, with astronaut Liu Boming wearing the Russian-derived Orlan space suit to help him.

  • Zhai completely exited the craft, while Liu stood by at the airlock, straddling the portal.

  • I can’t see any bubbles in the footage.

Maybe he’s seen poorly translated footage of practice EVA in the pool?


This Week NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft performed the first practice run of its sample collection sequence, reaching an approximate altitude of 246 feet (75 meters) over site Nightingale before executing a back-away burn from the asteroid.

  • Nightingale, OSIRIS-REx’s primary sample collection site, is located within a crater in Bennu’s northern hemisphere.

  • The four-hour Checkpoint rehearsal took the spacecraft through the first two of the sampling sequence’s four maneuvers:

    1. the orbit departure burn and the

    2. Checkpoint burn. named because it is the location where the spacecraft autonomously checks its position and velocity before adjusting its trajectory down toward the location of the event’s third maneuver.Four hours after departing its 0.6-mile (1-km) safe-home orbit, the spacecraft performed the Checkpoint maneuver at an approximate altitude of 410 feet (125 meters) above Bennu’s surface.

    3. From there, the spacecraft continued to descend for another nine minutes on a trajectory toward – but not reaching – the location of the sampling event’s third maneuver, the “Matchpoint” burn.

      • Upon reaching an altitude of approximately 246 ft (75 m) – the closest the spacecraft has ever been to Bennu – OSIRIS-REx performed a back-away burn to complete the rehearsal.

    4. Of course it also didn’t attempt the sampling itself

However, During the rehearsal, the spacecraft successfully deployed its sampling arm, the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM), from its folded, parked position out to the sample collection configuration.

Additionally, some of the spacecraft’s instruments collected science and navigation images and made spectrometry observations of the sample site, as will occur during the sample collection event.

  • This first rehearsal provided the mission team with practice navigating the spacecraft through both the orbit departure and Checkpoint maneuvers and with an opportunity to verify that the spacecraft’s imaging, navigation and ranging systems operated as expected during the first part of the descent sequence.

  • Checkpoint rehearsal also gave the team confirmation that OSIRIS-REx’s Natural Feature Tracking (NFT) guidance system accurately estimated the spacecraft’s position and speed relative to Bennu as it descended toward the surface.

The mission team,(who I’m pretty sure including guest and patron Tupper a Chief Engineer at Goddard) working under exceptional conditions

  • On the day of rehearsal, a limited number of personnel monitored the spacecraft’s telemetry from Lockheed Martin Space’s facility, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Arizona, taking appropriate safety precautions, while the rest of the team performed their roles remotely.

“This rehearsal let us verify flight system performance during the descent, particularly the autonomous update and execution of the Checkpoint burn, Executing this monumental milestone during this time of national crisis is a testament to the professionalism and focus of our team. It speaks volumes about their ‘can-do’ attitude and hopefully will serve as a bit of good news in these challenging times.”

Rich Burns, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

The spacecraft will travel all the way to the asteroid’s surface during its first sample collection attempt, scheduled for Aug. 25. During this event, OSIRIS-REx’s sampling mechanism will touch Bennu’s surface for approximately five seconds, fire a charge of pressurized nitrogen to disturb the surface and collect a sample before the spacecraft backs away. The spacecraft is scheduled to return the sample to Earth on Sept. 24, 2023.



If antimatter and Matter were equal at the big bang, and why not??? It should have all cancelled out and there would be nothing.

Are the laws of Physics symmetrical,’d think they would be. Like looking in the mirror and certain things not being reflected in the same way as others, it would be odd.

  • the discovery of parity violation in the 1950s.

    • test based on beta decay (neutron transforms it into a proton by the emission of an electron accompanied by an antineutrino) of cobalt-60 nuclei was carried out in 1956 by a group led by Chien-Shiung Wu, and demonstrated conclusively that weak interactions violate the P symmetry or, as the analogy goes, some reactions did not occur as often as their mirror image

    • Overall, the symmetry of a quantum mechanical system can be restored if another symmetry S can be found such that the combined symmetry PS remains unbroken

    • shortly after the discovery of P violation, and it was proposed that charge conjugation was the desired symmetry to restore order.

    • Simply speaking, charge conjugation is a symmetry between particles and antiparticles, and so CP-symmetry was proposed in 1957 by Lev Landau

    • CP-symmetry was proposed to restore order after the discovery of parity violation in the 1950s.The charge-conjugation and parity-reversal (CP symmetry states that the laws of physics should be the same if a particle is interchanged with its antiparticle (C symmetry) while its spatial coordinates are inverted ("mirror" or P symmetry).

  • The discovery of CP violation in 1964 in the decays of neutral kaons resulted in the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1980 for its discoverers James Cronin and Val Fitch.

    • This discovery showed that weak interactions violate not only the charge-conjugation symmetry C between particles and antiparticles and the P or parity, but also their combination. The discovery shocked particle physics and opened the door to questions still at the core of particle physics and of cosmology today. The lack of an exact CP-symmetry, but also the fact that it is so nearly a symmetry is a bloody mystery

    • Symmetry can be restored if you add time reversal as a third term, the three combined CPT is now a fundamental of quantum Field theory

    • The implication of CPT symmetry is that a "mirror-image" of our universe — with all objects having their positions reflected through an arbitrary point (corresponding to a parity inversion), all momenta reversed (corresponding to a time inversion) and with all matter replaced by antimatter (corresponding to a charge inversion) — would evolve under exactly our physical laws

It plays an important role both in the attempts of cosmology to explain the dominance of matter over antimatter in the present Universe and in the study of weak interactions in particle physics

  • In 1967, Nobel legend and peace activist Russian dissident Andrei Sakharov proposed necessary conditions that a baryon-generating interaction must satisfy to produce matter and antimatter at different rates, one of which is the existence of CP violation, during the extreme conditions of the first seconds after the Big Bang

  • CP violation in quarks like Kaons is too small to support what we see.

    • So far, CP violation has not been observed in non-quark elementary particle systems ...with enough certainty

  • The effect would be big enough if it were in the “Lepton sector” causing leptogenesis via a process called Leptonic Mixing, and this is where this paper comes in!!!

    • Experimenters have known since the 1990s show that neutrinos and antineutrinos as they wizz around change flavour between “electron”, “muon” and “tau” whilst in flight

    • This CP violation can be measured in muon neutrino to electron neutrino oscillations and the corresponding antineutrino oscillations, which are experimentally accessible using accelerator-produced beams as established by the Tokai-to-Kamioka (T2K) and NOvA experiments

      • T2K ("Tokai to Kamioka") is a particle physics experiment, The intense beam of muon neutrinos is produced in the J-PARC facility in Tokai on the east coast of Japan.

      • The beam is directed towards the unbelievably beautiful Super-Kamiokande Neutrino Observatory, located more than 3,000 feet below Mount Ikeno near the city of Hida, at the. Kamioka Observatory ….295 km away

      • The properties and composition of this neutrino flux are also measured by a system of near detectors located 280 metres from the beam production

      • Comparison of the content of different neutrino flavours in these two locations allows measurement of the oscillations probability on the way between near and far detectors.

      • Super-Kamiokande is able to detect interactions of both, muon and electron neutrinos, and thus measure the disappearance of muon neutrino flux, as well as electron neutrino appearance in the beam

      • Do Neutrinos and Anti-Neutrinos change their flavour at different rates? This Paper using long-baseline neutrino and antineutrino oscillations observed by the T2K experiment indicate CP violation in leptons(neutrinos), not for the first time but now with 3 sigma certainty (only a 0.3% chance it could be a fluke), a statistical level that physicists regard as official evidence of a physical effect - The first official evidence of a key imbalance between neutrinos and antineutrinos

      • The American NOvA experiment is also near this level of evidence, but even combined, they won’t get to discovery status

      • Only a next-Generation experiment will get to the data to make it a discovery of 5 sigma (0.00006% chance of a fluke dataset) DUNE and T2HK

      • But this has still happened sooner than scientists thought, - neutrinos and antineutrinos seem to differ as much as they possibly could within the standard model.

Why does this lead to more matter in the universe

  • All observed neutrinos are left-handed (spins antiparallel to momenta)

  • All observed antineutrinos are right-handed

  • This could mean that the other handedness of each particle might be a very heavy neutrino

  • Majorana mechanism suggests that the Neutrino is it’s own antiparticle, they are the same thing, (still a big unanswered question in physics)

  • if neutrinos are indeed Majorana particles, then lepton-number violating processes such as neutrinoless double-beta decay would be allowed. In 1939, Wendell H. Furry proposed that if neutrinos are Majorana particles, then double beta decay can proceed without the emission of any neutrinos, via the process now called neutrinoless double beta decay. It is still not yet known whether the neutrino is a Majorana particle and, relatedly, whether neutrinoless double beta exists in nature

  • Majorana neutrinos come in two varieties:

    • lightweight ones observed

    • heavy ones at the start of the universe

  • Leptogenesis: hypothetical physical processes that produced an asymmetry between leptons and antileptons in the very early universe

  • Heavy Neutrinos, if this result is correct would also be asymmetrical and decay, via leptons to baryons into more matter than antimatter. ( a few particles per 10 billion photons)

  • But are they Majorana or Dirac Particles, well scientist are desperately trying to find out, trying to observe neutrinoless double-beta decay

  • Possible ranges for the half-life of neutrino-less double beta decay, stretching between a few trillion trillion and a few thousand trillion trillion years. It’s a vast and remote range, but finite. Make it bloody difficult to find

So to make this the answer we have to get up to discovery level with flavour change and actually prove that the Neutrino and anti-neutrino are the same things a Majorana type particle.

We’re a big step closer, but it could still be a dead end.

190 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page