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Gravitational Lenses Could Be Used to Beam Power from Star to Star, Study Says

In 1916, Albert Einstein introduced his groundbreaking theory of general relativity, a cornerstone of modern physics that fundamentally altered our understanding of gravity and its impact on the curvature of spacetime. Among the many predictions of this theory, gravitational lenses have stood out as a phenomenon where massive objects can magnify and distort the light from distant celestial bodies. Over the past century, astronomers have harnessed these gravitational lenses to explore the far reaches of the universe. However, recent research suggests that these gravitational lenses might serve a much broader purpose - interstellar power transmission.


In a groundbreaking preprint paper titled "Gravitational Lensing for Interstellar Power Transmission," posted on arXiv and currently under review for publication in Physical Review D, scientist Slava G. Turyshev, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explores the tantalizing possibility of using gravitational lenses to transmit power from one star to another. This idea holds the potential to revolutionize space exploration, energy generation, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.


Turyshev's work builds upon earlier research into the physics of gravitational lenses, where he and his colleague, Viktor Toth, have delved deeply into the potential applications of Solar Gravity Lenses (SGLs). These lenses, created by our own Sun, can amplify and enhance observations of distant objects, including exoplanets. Claudio Maccone, a leading figure in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), also proposed that SGLs could serve as a means of interstellar communication.



Turyshev's latest paper pushes the boundaries of possibility by exploring how a star's gravitational focal point can concentrate energy, which could then be beamed to other star systems. The concept centers on equipping spacecraft with the necessary technology to exploit the focusing power of gravitational lenses. Turyshev's analysis shows that these lenses could potentially transmit power over interstellar distances, greatly increasing the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the transmitted energy.


While this idea is still in its infancy, Turyshev's research demonstrates that it is theoretically possible. By adapting the principles used for light amplification, power beaming via gravitational lenses may one day become a reality. This breakthrough opens the door to a range of possibilities, including interstellar exploration and settlement.


Space-based solar power, a technology that harvests solar energy in space and beams it to Earth using microwave lasers, is already considered a highly effective and sustainable energy solution. By extending this technology to interstellar space using gravitational lenses, humanity could unlock a new era of exploration and energy generation.


Turyshev acknowledges that there is much work to be done before this concept becomes a practical reality. Numerous technical challenges, such as transmitter-lens-receiver alignment, and the effects of the lens's interior structure, must be addressed. However, his groundbreaking paper provides the first step in a journey that could reshape the way we explore and utilize the universe.

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