Ideas in this vein have come in many forms. In 2001, David Goodwin proposed that the vibration that occurs when electricity is applied to supercooled electromagnets could provide enough of a jostle to propel spacecraft faster and further into space than any other method. About a decade later, Franklin Chang Díaz began working on a magnet-based engine that requires some fuel in the form of argon gas. This turns into cold plasma that becomes energized by flowing through superconducting magnets, thereby creating thrust as the plasma escapes through the back. And in 2015, NASA EagleWorks propulsion researchers led by Harold "Sonny" White demonstrated that a flavor of fuel-free electromagnetic propulsion drive proposed in 2010 by Chinese scientist Juan Yang could work in a vacuum.
Explore the idea of interstellar travel with the videos below.
Check out our full series on the power of magnets and how they are shaping the future.