Apparently Stephen Hawking thinks that we can send interstellar micro-probes to Alpha Centauri. I’m not going to argue physics with the guy, but…wow. The probes themselves aside, we’d need a laser array that could generate 100 gigawatts of power for two minutes. An entire modern nuclear reactor generates 1-3 gigawatts. So you’d need to string together a few dozen of those, and have a way to transmit the power, and then focus the laser, and then hopefully not melting your face off in the process.

I’m all for interstellar exploration, and I suppose could be the most efficient way to get it started. Clearly nobody on the project is thinking that this is going to happen anytime soon, and probably just trying to get it done will generate lots of good technology. The most dangerous bit of it is probably how most sites, despite trying hard to communicate the scale of the proposed project, probably make it seem as if this is something on the scale of, say, the Space Shuttle, or Facebook.

The second most dangerous bit of it is how, if it ever does get built, Stephen Hawking will have the worlds most face-meltingest laser.

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