Blog: Vera Janssen

Vera Janssen talks about her role in the GrapheneX DYT! team, and her excitement at exploring new frontiers!

The Leitmotif

The idea of sailing through space and breaking through the current frontiers of humanity is dazzling. The intrinsic beauty of this endeavour, for me, lies in the circularity of history. It's about revisiting the ages of the big European explorers that sailed to new worlds. These journeys taught us about those new places, but most of all it confronted us with ourselves; about our place in the world, about our greed and cruelty, about beauty and about our curiosity.

With GrapheneX we try to humbly push this giant endeavour just a little further. Our sails are only two millimetres in diameter; they will be weightless for less than ten seconds. They will only sail a millimetre, if everything goes right. This contribution pushes me and the team to revisit and develop old and new skills; like electronics, vacuum technology and programming. Using all of this we make something new.

Currently we are in the allegro stage of the project. Now it is the stressful time of getting everything together, assembling the setup and making sure everything arrives on time. It is also the beautiful stage of materializing all our ideas and plans. It's the ultimate preparation for the finale drops in November.

For me personally, the project gives me the opportunity to revisit media and public outreach. In my student days I had the chance to lead an outreach foundation. Now, in my PhD phase, I am organizing the outreach of this exciting project. And attention we get! Even in this stage, before any experiments, we have had a national radio interview, and journalists calling. I have made an animation that you can see above.

The next chapter in human travel can bring us back to the motif of sailing. History is composed by countless people giving small pushes; using personal talents, experiences and passions. From this sea of small human stories, revisiting their personal motifs, a larger story is created. Like a music masterpiece revisits old themes, develops them, and progressively finding itself bearing something new and exciting.  

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Publishing date: 27 November 2017 21:42