But even if Starshot never gets off the ground, it is at least inspiring some critical thinking in the area of interstellar travel that has not been explored before. Even materials science stands to benefit, with Heller showing off a small piece of graphene that could be used to develop giant sails for traversing the Solar System and beyond.
And Yuri Milner himself seems anything but disheartened, explaining his ethos in a fascinating but sadly off-the-record discussion with IFLScience and other journalists. He remains committed to the cause though, and clearly wants to be part of a discovery that makes life on another planet a possibility, whether that’s humanity or an alien race.
“Breakthrough Discuss boldly demonstrated that we stand on the precipice of making one of the most amazing discoveries in the history of humanity,” Siemion told IFLScience.
For every speculative fantasy, the conference remained mostly grounded in science. If we are to discover we are not alone, the people who'll find out were very likely here.