Dec 13, 2022

The Halo Drive

Posted by in categories: cosmology, media & arts, nuclear energy, physics, space travel

How could we one day travel between the stars with real physics? Perhaps the greatest challenge to interstellar flight is energetics — it takes vast amounts of energy to accelerate even small ships to 20% the speed of light. But what if we could steal that energy from where? Perhaps even a black hole. Enter the “halo drive”, a video by Prof David Kipping based on his new peer-reviewed research paper on the subject.

This video is based on research conducted at the Cool Worlds Lab at Columbia University, New York. You can now support our research program directly here:

Further reading and resources:
► Kipping, David (2018), “The Halo Drive: Fuel Free Relativistic Propulsion of Large Mases via Recycled Boomerang Photons”, JBIS, 71458:
► Dyson, Freeman (1963), “Gravitational Machines”, in A.G.W. Cameron, ed., Interstellar Communication, New York Benjamin Press:
► Breakthrough Starshot homepage:
► Our Cool Worlds video giving some background on Breakthrough Starshot:
► Our Cool Worlds video on relativistic moving mirrors:
► Our Cool Worlds video on mirror distortion effects:
► Columbia University Department of Astronomy:
► Cool Worlds Lab website:

There’s an error in the video at around 8:30, 2 trillion joules is the cumulative energy output of a typical nuclear power station after 2000 seconds, not 20 days.

Music is largely by Chris Zabriskie ( and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (, in order of appearance;
► Cylinder Five (
► Music from Neptune Flux, “We Were Never Meant to Live Here” (
► Music from Neptune Flux, “That Hopeful Future Is All I’ve Ever Known” (
► Cylinder Four (
► The Sun is Scheduled to Come Out Tomorrow (
In addition, music from OneGuitarOrchestra, acoustic cover of Hans Zimmer’s “No Time For Caution”:

Video materials used:
► Several NASA videos, in particular from the Voyager 1 and New Horizons missions.
► Several ESO videos, in particular of TRAPPIST-1 and LIGO merger animations.
► Breakthrough Starshot animation from Breakthrough Initiatives (
Films clips used:
► Interstellar.

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