Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, June 27, 2015

MVNews this week:  Page B:4

Mountain Views-News Saturday, June 27, 2015 
speeds necessary for interstellar flight.
“While not suitable for every spacecraft 
design, this approach opens up radically new 
possibilities,” Lubin said. “The project is a step 
toward the first interstellar mission, but more 
importantly we are studying and designing the 
relevant technological base. This will give us the 
ability to build a single photon driver capable of 
sending out literally millions of low-mass probes. 
“We’ve had to radically rethink our strategy 
in order not to give up our dreams of reaching 
the stars,” Lubin added. “DEEP-IN posits a 
technological path forward that, while not simple,
is within our technological reach to begin.” 
You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@ 
Illustration by Adrian Mann 
A laser-powered wafer-thin spacecraftcapable of reaching Alpha Centauri in 20 years 
may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but 
it’s not. And while such a launch isn’t imminent, 
the possibility of one in the future does exist, 
according to UC Santa Barbara physics professor 
Philip Lubin.

To further explore that possibility, Lubin and 
his team in UCSB’s Experimental Cosmology 
Group will study photo-driven propulsion—the 
use of lasers as a means to power a spacecraft. 
The group has been awarded one of 15 proof-ofconcept 
grants from NASA Innovative Advanced 
Concepts. The NASA program aims to turn 
what sounds like science fiction into science 
fact through the development of pioneering 

“One of humanity’s grand challenges is to 
explore other solar systems by sending probes—
and eventually life,” said Lubin. “We propose 
a system that will allow us to take the first step 
toward interstellar exploration using directed-
energy propulsion combined with miniature 
probes. Along with recent work on wafer-scale 
photonics, we can now envision combining these 
technologies to enable a realistic approach to 
sending probes far outside our solar system.”

The UCSB group’s ultimate goal is to send 
small probes to supplement the current long-
range remote sensing done by orbital and ground-
based telescopes. The funding will enable Lubin’s 
team to create a more complete roadmap for 
building a fully functional wafer-scale spacecraftcomplete with power, laser communications, 
and controllable photon thrusters. The project, 
Directed Energy Propulsion for Interstellar 
exploratioN (DEEP-IN), will also chart laser-
driver elements that require technology 

The key to a functioning system lies in 
the ability to build both the photon driver and 
the ultra-low-mass probes. While capable of 
propelling any spacecraft mass, lower-mass 
probes go the fastest and are most suitable for 
interstellar missions. 

The DEEP-IN design keeps the main 
propulsion driver back in Earth’s orbit (or nearby) 
yet still capable of propelling highly integrated 
spacecraft to speeds vastly higher than anything 
scientists can currently achieve. The laser photon 
driver would use photon pressure in the form 
of streamed energy to power the spacecraft as it 
travels away from Earth. With no intrinsic speed 
limit, this technology allows for the relativistic 

AND SAVING MONEY” by Christopher Nyerges

 Way back in 2000, my wife Dolores and I wrote a book called “Extreme Simplicity: 
Homesteading in the City,” where we detailed how we grew food, recycled household water, 
collected rain, raised animals, generated power, and more, in our average home in the hilly 
outback of Los Angeles. We wrote the book because we constantly heard how difficult it was 
to do the very things we were doing on a very low budget. We knew it wasn’t all that difficult 

– you just had to make the commitment to do it! 
The “Self-Sufficient Home” book is a continuation of that work, but in this case, we didn’t 
strictly write about what we did in our own home. Rather, I interviewed at least two dozen 
other home-owners and experimenters to discover the ways in which they were practicing 

urban self-reliance. In every case, these were private individual who simply chose to take control of at least one 
aspect of their lives, without waiting for some elusive government solution.

 The book is a timeless work, detailing many of the ways that we can live with less water and still live well, and it 
provides a guideline for others to do the same.

 “Self-Sufficient Home” includes an interview with Altadena architect Steve Lamb, who shares all the ways in which 
homes should be built to take advantage of natural principles such as sunlight, wind patterns, shade, and other site-
specific issues. Lamb points out that white roofs, and large overhangs helps keep houses naturally cooler. During 
the course of writing the book, Lamb took me to a few of the places he’s worked on to show me how it’s also possible 
to retrofit an “average” house to take advantage of these principles. We also visited Pasadena’s Gamble House to 

look at the timeless architecture that keeps a place cool in the hot summer, 
naturally and without electricity.

 “Self-Sufficient Home” details the many ways to use less water, and to recycle 
water. There are interviews with people who collect rain water, with everything 
from low-tech to high-tech methods. In fact, this is now so “mainstream” 
that all of the building supply companies routinely sell you all the hardware 
needed to turn a bucket into a rain water catchment system. 

 My mother used to have us take the water from washing the dishes and pour 
it outside on the fruit trees. Very low tech, of course. 

 In the 1970s, during a previous drought era, I worked with others to retrofit 
many homes so their “grey water” (everything but the toilet water) could be 
directed out into the yard for either a lawn, or garden. In most cases, this is 
a simple plumbing job that any plumber could do, though it is still frowned 
upon my most city’s Building and Safety departments. 

 Not big fans of the pointless grass front lawn, we also describe in the book 
how we mulched the entire front lawn area (in 1986), and grew vegetables and 
fruit trees on it. All the water came from the washing machine, whose drain 
hose was disconnected from the sewer and re-routed out into the yard.

 Of course, toilets use a lot of water too, so the simplest solution for most 
people is to get the low-flow toilet. But did you know that there are many 
alternatives to the conventional flush toilet, from the expensive high-tech 
to the very simple low-tech methods that have been practiced for millennia. 

Though local health departments take a very dim view of such toilets, they are proven water-savers that can be 
safely used in most situations. In fact, I describe in my book two toilet alternatives that I tried successfully for many 

 The book also addresses all the ways in which the average urban back yard can be utilized for food and medicine 
production. This begins with an assessment of the resources already on the property, coupled with a list of your 
specific needs and wants. 

Where to get your seeds, how to produce plants from cuttings, and ways to create your own backyard fertilizers are 
all included.

 The book shares the specific ways in which various local people, with no government aid and with no whining, went 
about producing their own electricity, and their own solar-heated water. The reader is guided through the steps of 
making an electrical use assessment before going out to purchase any solar devices or components. It’s important 
to do that assessment if you’re going to be your own power producer, so you build a system that is suitable to your 

 I figured that if I was able to do all these things with limited specific education, and a very low budget, than anyone 
could do so! I dedicate the book to those I call the members of the silent revolution.

 “Self-Sufficient Home” can be obtained via Kindle, and hard-copies are available wherever quality books are sold, 
or on-line. This is a wonderful book and everyone should have a copy. 

[More information about Nyerges’ classes and books is available at, or via School of 
Self-reliance, Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041] 

Dude McLean with copy of 

Self-Sufficient Home