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Experimental Magnetic Shield Against Cosmic Rays

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the but-not-against-hyperbole dept.

Space 199

stiller writes "British scientists from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory have developed an experimental set-up in which a $20 magnet is used to deflect solar-wind-like radiation." Reader Dersaidin points out a slightly more enthusiastic article at Universe Today which emphasizes the possibilities of systems based on this phenomenon to protect astronauts during solar storms, writing "It's a good start. Hopefully, later versions will be able to protect spaceships from energy weapons. A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of copper. Shields, check. Energy weapons, check. Now we just need a viable interstellar drive, and an energy source to power it all."

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Oblig ... (1, Funny)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628625)

Modulate the shields !!

Re:Oblig ... (1, Interesting)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628929)

A fire a reverse tachyon pulse out of the main deflector. It has a possibility of firing the key systems but thats a chance we'll have to take.

Re:Oblig ... (1)

Anonymous Monkey (795756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629869)

You forgot to revers polarity.

Re:Oblig ... (1)

Kleen13 (1006327) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630663)

Oh man, that Main Deflector has so surpassed it's design specs. Is there anything it can't do?

Re:Oblig ... (5, Funny)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629005)

From Instructor: Now we're going to practice our impact procedures. Ok everyone lean to the left.

*Whole class but one guy leans to the left*

From Instructor: Good! Now lean to the right.

*Whole class but same one guy leans to the right*

From Instructor: Excellent! Your prepared for when the ship takes damage.

From The One Guy: Uh? Why are we leaning to the left and right like that?

*Instructor hands him a red shirt*

From Instructor: Keep your insurance paid up son.

Re:Oblig ... (1)

dspkable (773450) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629671)

Now my tin foil hat is only good for keeping left-overs in the fridge.

Re:Oblig ... (1)

prennix (1069734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630173)

wrong! It'll never go out of style.

http://zapatopi.net/afdb/ [zapatopi.net]

Re:Oblig ... (1)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629693)

You mean shield harmonics?

What if you don't want to deflect? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25628641)

If dealing with a Bussard ramscoop, of the type seen in e.g. Larry Niven's stories in Neutron Star [amazon.com] , wouldn't this kind of protection from radiation also mean deflecting mass useful for propulsion?

Re:What if you don't want to deflect? (4, Insightful)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629047)

You only need to protect the occupants and sensitive equipment. You can just put the ramscoop out ahead of the magnetic protection field.

Experimental Magic Shield Against Cosmic Rays (4, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628739)

Did anyone else misread the title?

Re:Experimental Magic Shield Against Cosmic Rays (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25628897)

Oh ...takes off wizard robe and hat

Re:Experimental Magic Shield Against Cosmic Rays (1)

GeorgeMonroy (784609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628911)

I did! =D

Re:Experimental Magic Shield Against Cosmic Rays (2, Insightful)

hot soldering iron (800102) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630853)

I thought it said "Experimental Magnetic Shield Against Cosplayers". I was planning to pick one up next time I went to Fry's.

Drive and Power source (2, Insightful)

WinPimp2K (301497) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628749)

Make the drive coils out of uranium and power it with allotropic iron.
Of course, you will have to give the ship a good British-sounding name like "The Dentless".

ANd remember to really reinforce the breech shielding on the Q-Gun.

Re:Drive and Power source (1)

curmudgeous (710771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629587)

I believe that was "Dauntless", actually. Just keep an eye out for the Bosconians and zwilnicks.

Re:Drive and Power source (2, Insightful)

Deadfyre_Deadsoul (1193759) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629649)

As for the drive, I have always liked the idea of speaker powered drives. So we would attach a pair of Texas sized Pioneer speakers to the back of our space ship, and turn on some heavy, low frequency bass music. Of course we would need a 9364474 joule amp to drive it. It might how ever, take the biosphere off the planets we pass.

Scorched Earth Deflector Shields (2, Informative)

n1ckml007 (683046) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628779)

Does this remind any one of deflector shields from Scorched Earth?

Re:Scorched Earth Deflector Shields (1)

Penguin Follower (576525) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628835)

Love that game! :) Also loved the original DOS version years ago.

Re:Scorched Earth Deflector Shields (2, Informative)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629303)

You should try Scorched 3D [scorched3d.co.uk] , then.

Very good remake. Good graphics, runs on pretty much any hardware, Linux and Windows version, multiplayer. And seeing half the island disappear after firing something very overkill is really awesome.

Re:Scorched Earth Deflector Shields (3, Informative)

DarthJohn (1160097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630003)

so if you slashdot their site do you win?

ah... found it on SourceForge [sourceforge.net]

Re:Scorched Earth Deflector Shields (2, Interesting)

WinPimp2K (301497) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628913)

Nope, but it sounds exactly like the magnetic radiation shielding used in a sci-fi juvie from the 80's or 90's. It was set in the moons of Jupiter and the characters used small open "shuttles" that had magnets placed on the frame around the passengers. This protected them from radiation in the Jovian system.

Re:Prior Art (3, Interesting)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630903)

I was looking for a serious thread to reply to, but it seems this topic attracts more kidding than science. =p

Anyway, my college plasma physics professor, a decade ago, told us that he'd invented the "force field". It created a magnetic shield around an object in a vacuum, and was intended to protect things like satellites from charged particles. (For obvious reasons discussed below he didn't go into detail.)

His work was funded by the U.S. Air Force, who promptly took the patent and classified it. In other words, this was invented about 15 years ago, and this guy might have just made it public, but he's likely not going to get a patent to protect his invention since it will be rejected.

Re:Scorched Earth Deflector Shields (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25629533)

After reading the LHC article (yes, I'm new here yada yada) it seems the LHC is actually a PPC as used in the Battletech universe. ..Still a little bulky for there to be more than one or two in the world, but the same applied to computers.

USS Liberty (5, Funny)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628795)

I suggest mounting a standard generator at the core of the prospective space ship and attaching a coffin containing one of our founding fathers to it. The rapid spinning should provide plentiful power for all manner of techno-gadgetry.

Re:USS Liberty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25629191)

And if Cheney somehow manages to have Bush die in the next few months, we can do blackhole research as their spinning achieves relativistic velocities and we get a spinning relativistic mass out of Thomas Jefferson's corpse. With a wig!

Sounds like Highlander (2, Insightful)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628923)

Anyone else remember that awful sequel [imdb.com] ?

Re:Sounds like Highlander (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25629025)

I do now! Thanks a lot.

Re:Sounds like Highlander (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25629267)

There is no sequel. There can be only one.

Re:Sounds like Highlander (1)

Defectuous (1097475) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629359)

Now I have to go back and repress that memory AGAIN... :(

Re:Sounds like Highlander (1)

joeytmann (664434) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629515)

Atleast it was better than this [imdb.com] !

erm ... (1)

Scholasticus (567646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628925)

As long as we're not venting drive plasma, we're good to go.

That is, unless somebody left a sweater in one of the warp plasma conduits.

Tea or Death? (5, Funny)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628981)

According to TFA this thing uses about as much energy as an electric kettle, Does this mean British astronauts will need to choose between the two? I can see it now, a mustachio'd astronaut (in my mind I imagine him an old RAF captain) hovering over the button and staring at the kettle. Agonizing over the decision before muttering 'To the Queen' and putting the kettle on.

This brings up a larger issue to me...how well does tea steep in zero G, And would there be a difference between an Earl Grey blend or a black tea blend?

Re:Tea or Death? (5, Funny)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629105)

Well, obviously for the Earl Grey, you have to say "Hot", as in "Tea, Earl Grey, Hot", or it comes cold.
For the black tea blend, you get a cup of a drink that's almost but not quite entirely unlike tea.

Re:Tea or Death? (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629219)

If you're hovering over a kettle, you may as well brew up a really hot cup of tea, and let your Infinite Improbability Drive get you out of harm's way. Either that, or thr Drive will turn the radiation storm into music, and you can protect yourself with earplugs. For that matter, if the tea is *really* hot, you can specify that the music be "Silence" by Phillip Glass, and skip the earplugs.

I doubt tea would steep well in zero G, because there would be no natural convection. Ordinary stirring is a no-no, so it's time to patent the "zero-G tea stirring device" that applies just the right amount of motion in the water for a fine cup of tea, without overstirring.

Re:Tea or Death? (2, Funny)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629379)

Ah, but would such a tea stirring device add further energy calculations necessary to the question of putting on the kettle or preventing an agonizing death due to ionizing radiation. . . Also if it were attached to the ship the rotational force from such a device would eventually set about making the whole craft spin, or require more energy to counteract the spin. And thats not even beginning to touch the issue of crumbless biscuits! My fellows! We have much sciencing to do!

Re:Tea or Death? (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630597)

You bring up a good point that I hadn't thought about. I remember during the space-race days as a kid, that they talked about the special tools necessary for zero-G because gravity wouldn't hold you fast to torque against something. So clearly it can't be any ordinary spoon. In addition to the more gentle stirring action, it's got to be a "zero-reaction" spoon, or a pair of mini-spoons going in opposite directions, to impart no net torque to the stirrer. The means for the stirrer to actuate the thing has to be zero-torque, as well. I envision a handle-with trigger, with a rod extending into the tea, and a pair of counter-rotating spoonlets on the end.

Oops, this post constitutes prior art.

Re:Tea or Death? (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630221)

While it may be reduced, there still would be convection as the boundaries of the water lose heat to the container.
-nB

Re:Tea or Death? (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630697)

But the essence of thermal convection is the difference in density driven by the heat. That difference allows gravity to drive the convection. No gravity and the regions of differen density will just sit in place.

Re:Tea or Death? (3, Interesting)

PearsSoap (1384741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629441)

how well does tea steep in zero G

I don't know, but you can drink it with chopsticks. [nasa.gov]

Ah heck (-1, Troll)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629563)

you limey's have to get up there first, before you start worrying about your bloody tea. Even now, you talk to death about attaching an extra living container to the ISS, but it is more talk than anything.

Re:Tea or Death? (1)

blackanvil (1147329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629765)

Well, in microgravity, while heat can't rise and cold can't sink, so you won't have convection, you will still have diffusion. If you contain your leaves and hot water in some sort of container (I'm thinking french-press) and give it a good stir or shake, you should get a fairly good cuppa. As for flavor -- well, from what I've read, odors in space are not perceived as strongly as they are here on earth (low pressure's to blame, also the aforementioned lack of convection to bring the odors up to the nose), so the stronger flavored teas (such as Earl Grey) might be preferred. --doug

Re:Tea or Death? (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630375)

Just put the tea and the hot water into a closed sphere or cylinder, and give it a spin. The rotating walls of the container will gradually cause the liquid inside to rotate, producing a gravitational force within the liquid, and your convection will work just fine.

Re:Tea or Death? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25629863)

thats the funniest thing I read all day, thank you sweet prince

Checklist... (2, Funny)

Cyclopedian (163375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628987)

Shields, check. Energy weapons, check. Now we just need a viable interstellar drive, and an energy source to power it all.

No, what we need is a strong hull that can withstand all the micro-meteoriods hitting it at 27,000+ mph.

I recommend getting a General Products #2 hull.

Re:Checklist... (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629217)

I recommend getting a General Products #2 hull.

Watch out for anti-matter though, or you'll be in for a rude surprise. Also you'd probably need one of these magnetic bubbles as well, lest you cook the passengers.

My favorite part of the article:

"There're a lot of things to work out, like control, reliability, weight to launch, and so on," said Dr Bamford. "I don't think it'll come down to as little as sticking fridge magnets on the outside of the spacecraft."

Wouldn't it be deliciously ironic if it did in fact come down to just that. If you densely packed the exterior of the hull with rare earth magnets it might just provide sufficient shielding. Of course you'd need to be careful about temperature fluctuations in the magnets, particularly during takeoff and re-entry, as heat has a tendency to de-magnetize fixed magnets.

Re:Checklist... (3, Insightful)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629569)

And the one thing people keep forgetting: a power source. Or are we going to have the crew constantly peddling a bicycle to generate electricity? Which raises a question no one seems to be able to answer; do we need to deflect cosmic rays and solar radiation, or absorb it for use as energy to power the ship's tech?

Re:Checklist... (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630443)

The problem is that you need several feet of a very dense material to "absorb" cosmic rays.

hot stuff (2, Funny)

fyoder (857358) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629001)

Now we just need a viable interstellar drive, and an energy source to power it all.

Then it's all alien babes from here to the farthest star! Warp factor exosex, Scotty, all power to the engines!

You know what this means... (4, Funny)

jmcwork (564008) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629003)

No hope of becoming one of the Fantastic Four. Bummer.

Spoiler Alert - Shields (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629349)

Hey, we got the Fantastic Four, least according to the movie, because the shields DIDN'T work.

Sorry for the movie spoiler.

A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of copp (3, Informative)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629021)

A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of copper.

Technically, if things are set up, any continuous source of energy can melt just about anything meltable. Just keep the energy flowing, insulate the target, and if the temperature of the energy source (e.g. a lightbulb) is higher than that of the target, then energy will couple in and eventually melt the target. What needs to be mentioned if such a statement is to be of any use, is how long such melting is expected to take.

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (4, Informative)

daniel_newby (1335811) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629189)

What needs to be mentioned if such a statement is to be of any use, is how long such melting is expected to take.

According to this CERN page [web.cern.ch] , in the few microseconds that it takes a beam dump to complete. The circulating kinetic energy of the beam is an impressive 350 MJ, equivalent to running a 1000 watt heater for 97 hours.

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629355)

That is the most amazing engineering article I have read in quite some time.

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629213)

I agree with what you're saying.
But what they could be talking about -- something that's actually a useful metric -- is whether the energy source can get energy into a material faster than it can conduct the heat away. It's comparatively easy to drill a hole in a thermally insulative material with a laser, but much harder with copper. So if they want to make an impressive statement, they probably should make it clear (to those of us who care) that this thing can dump energy in, faster than any material can get rid of it, meaning you are guaranteed to vaporize a hole in the material.

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629311)

s how long such melting is expected to take.

Presumably, about the time it takes light to travel 27km, since the beam can't be longer than the circumference of the collider and the beam is near light speed.

From page 2 of linked article (4, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629429)

What needs to be mentioned if such a statement is to be of any use, is how long such melting is expected to take.

That's a very good point, and to answer the question raised by it I RTFAed so you don't have to! Regarding the "dump block" that they use to absorb the LHC beam before it becomes unstable:

The 10-ton graphite cylinder is encased in 1000 metric tons of steel and concrete. Why not just make the whole thing out of lead or another heavy metal? It turns out that graphite is the only material whose low density and high melting point can resist the ravages of the proton beam. In experiments, researchers found that an 86-microsecond exposure of the beam would bore a hole 40 meters into a block of copper.

Emphasis added. That's one hell of a beam.

BTW, I can't help but recall that the Enterprise D from ST:TNG fires its phasers from a large ring on the saucer section. You can almost imagine the LHC being weaponized and using the same technique that diverts the beam into the dump block to direct it outward towards enemy ships. Though it'd have the rather significant drawback that any damage anywhere on the enormous accelerator ring would take out the weapon. But hey, energy beam!

Re:From page 2 of linked article (2, Interesting)

NotNormallyNormal (1311339) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630451)

Of course, the problem with weaponizing this would be creating a vacuum to the target... the beam would simply collide with atmospheric particles and dissipate. If used in space... well, once we shoot down all the satellites... what's left? I would hope that by the time we are a spacefaring race we would have better weapons. How else will we battle the Kligons or the Cyclons or whatever your favourite space races are.

Re:From page 2 of linked article (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630577)

yeh, trouble is you'd only need a saucer section with a 27km circumference and hope that you got the first hit in, which as you know is impossible because you've always got to let the bad guys blast you so you can stagger from side to side while sparks fly out a console.

Re:From page 2 of linked article (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25631019)

I couldn't find exact specs on the LHC, but I suspect there are lots better ways to get destructive energy from my ship to your ship. Even if you insist on an energy beam, I suspect traditional lasers would be more efficient and would also be immune to your puny shields.

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (4, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629475)

reposted from below (with corrections) in the comments, since my comment belongs here in response to your comment:

FTA, testing showed a 1.5 mm beam "burnt" 40 meters into a block of copper in 86 microseconds.

So... napkin calculation...

.15 cm * 4000 cm == 600 cm^2.

density of copper is about 9 g/cm^2, so 5600 grams of copper melted per .86 microsecond beam burst.

500 lbs =~ 227 kg, so roughly forty 86 microsecond bursts to melt 500 lbs...

So we're talking roughly 3.5 milliseconds to melt 500 pounds of copper.

That's 70 tons of copper melted per second for a single beam. That's a hell of a lot of energy, but I'm not sure what the standard unit is for energy/time (hiroshimas is just energy; libraries of congress and football fields obviously don't apply). Anyone know what the standard made-up unit is for energy/time?

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629595)

Anyone know what the standard made-up unit is for energy/time?

Energy/time is Power. I don't know if there's a standard, but if not I nominate Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters.

That's ~4.9 GW, btw.

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629911)

~300 kJ to melt 0.0635 kg (1 mole) of copper.

Did the calcs... roughly 87 MW... not even close to the power of one SSRB.

Can you come up with something a little lestt powerful?

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629957)

.15 cm * 4000 cm == 600 cm^2. density of copper is about 9 g/cm^2,

Why cm^2 (square centimeters), not cm^3? It should be 0.15 * 0.15 * PI * 4000 cm = 282 cm^3. so 2544g of copper per 0.86 of millisecond.
This gives 76ms to melt 227kg of copper.

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (1)

bloobloo (957543) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629959)

I would guess 100W lightbulbs would do the job.

350 MJ in 86 us = 4 070 000 MJ in 1 s = 4.07 TW

40.7 billion 100 W lightbulbs.

More than 6 each for everyone on earth.

--

But only for 86 us at a time every 10 hours. I get 10 kW for the mean power requirement assuming it is constantly charging. That is only 100 lightbulbs.

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630083)

That's 70 tons of copper melted per second for a single beam. That's a hell of a lot of energy, but I'm not sure what the standard unit is for energy/time (hiroshimas is just energy; libraries of congress and football fields obviously don't apply). Anyone know what the standard made-up unit is for energy/time?

Inconceivable! Libraries-of-Congress and football-fields can be made to apply to anything, if you use them right.

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (2, Funny)

rcw-home (122017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630485)

Anyone know what the standard made-up unit is for energy/time?

Watt? Horsepower? Michael Phelps? NSA datacenter electricity usage? Total solar output?

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25630499)

Elementary my dear: Watts

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25630563)

Believe it or not laptop-miles still applies.

Popularized unit (3, Informative)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630621)

"Hoover Dams" are the units used to represent such things as the power output of the Shuttle main engines. Other popular ones are "enough to light N,000 homes" and "equivalent to N nuclear power stations" (always nuclear, for some reason).

Melting copper takes 13.050 kJ/mol. A mole of copper is 63.546 grams. We'll drop everything to two significant figures, which is probably already more precise than the rest of the numbers. 70 tons is one million moles, so melting 70 tons per second is 13E12 J/sec, 13 terawatts, which is close enough to the 10 terawatt figure for the beam dump that's on the web. Five or six thousand Hoover Dams, then.

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25630715)

power is measured in watts obviously

Math Nazi Time.... (3, Informative)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 5 years ago | (#25631041)

Uh, some math errors exist in some of the parent posts.

A 1.5mm diameter beam that is 40 meters long has a volume given by:

V = pi * r^2 * d

If r and d are in cm, then:

V = pi * (0.15/2)^2 * 400
V = pi * 0.005625 * 400
V = 7.07 cm^3.

At 9 g/cm, this gives a mass of 63.2 grams.

If we're melting/vaporizing this much in 86 uS, that gives a rate of

63.2 / 0.000086 = 734,883.72 g/s (or 1,620.14 lb/s).

It's still a bunch of melted (actually, vaporized) copper, but it's nowhere near 70 tons.

All the above assumes that the beam stays perfectly coherent and doesn't have any losses due to heating of surrounding material. In reality, the beam would rapidly diverge, and heat would begin to flow through the copper. Oh, also, ejected copper plasma would at some point begin to interfere with the beam itself before it reached the copper itself. This would rapidly de-focus the beam and absorb energy, so the plasma ejecta would get oh-my-god hot while shielding remaining copper from being damaged.

40meter hole in copper in 86usec (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629487)

According to the article, the 1.5mm beam (already diffused from the original 0.2mm beam) can penetrate 40 meters (around 130ft) into solid copper in 86usec.

Re:A beam from the LHC can melt a 500kg block of c (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629723)

the LHC is not a continuous source. You'll run out of particles in the main ring after about 90 microseconds.

Now available from Monster (4, Funny)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629053)

up next: Monster Gold Diamond HDMI cables with Cosmic Ray protection.

Re:Now available from Monster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25629241)

When and where can I buy one? I've got money bags to spend, TELL ME NOW!!!

Re-route the power? (1)

PearsSoap (1384741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629139)

Swap those crystals round, Carter.

Space elevator (2, Insightful)

The Fun Guy (21791) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629205)

When the space elevator eventually gets built, passengers are going to need something to protect them from the radiation in the Van Allen Belts. Rather than hauling a bunch of passive shielding up and down, these isomagnetic shields would be pretty useful.

Power would come from the same source that drives the climber (whatever that is...).

Re:Space elevator (1)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629473)

The main idea for the space elevator is to use magnetic levitation for propulsion, throwing another magnetic field into the mix may not be the best solution.

Earth-based uses? (1)

tirerim (1108567) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629215)

Seems like this could also be useful for protecting Earth-based computers from the occasional cosmic ray that makes it through the atmosphere and the magnetosphere. At least, if the magnetic field doesn't interfere with their operation just by itself.

slow progress (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629231)

This is an approach that's been worked on for years and years now, and there hasn't been any rapid progress. Electromagnetic shielding may ultimately work, but it has a lot of problems to overcome. Without some kind of significant technological progress, the radiation dose for astronauts going to Mars is a real showstopper: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_threat_from_cosmic_rays [wikipedia.org]

Engineers have studied a variety of electromagnetic field configurations for this. Electric fields have a problem because any field that repels positively charged particles will attract negatively charged ones, and vice versa. Also, large DC electric fields tend to discharge violently.

With magnetic fields, one problem is that you need magnet coils that carry huge currents. If they're not superconducting, then you're talking about huge amounts of power, way more than is really practical. If they're superconducting, then you're trusting your life to a type of technology that's notoriously prone to failure; normal superconductors need liquid helium temperatures, which are very hard to maintain reliably, and high-temperature superconductors still need liquid nitrogen temperatures (and also may be decades away from being ready for this type of application).

In this article they talk about using an AC field, although they don't provide many details. One thing I wonder about with an AC field is radiative losses. They say, "The approach will probably also work with a field that is not on constantly, but cycles on and off - conserving the power that is precious on long-term missions." I totally don't get the idea here. They make it sound like they're just going to have it be pulsed, with a low duty cycle. But then won't it only provide some small fraction of the desired protection?

Another approach that looks promising is to make the spacecraft from low-Z materials like plastics; most of the hazard from cosmic rays is actually from secondary radiation (which is why thicker shielding actually *hurts* you, for any practical thickness).

I think the real question to ask is whether there is any valid, objective reason for sending a human to Mars. Crewed spaceflight has never been a good value for the money in terms of scientific research, compared to probes. Or if the motivation is some kind of romantic vision of heroic exploration of a new frontier, then I think we need to be more realistic about the prospects for permanent, economically viable settlements, which are probably at least a century away.

Re:slow progress (1)

mblase (200735) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630261)

normal superconductors need liquid helium temperatures, which are very hard to maintain reliably,

Although in outer space, surely that's less of a problem?

Yes, I know about factors like engine heat, the need to keep critical mechanical components above a certain temperature a la the Mars landers, and so forth. But shouldn't it still be easier to maintain superconducting temperatures in deep space?

Re:slow progress (1)

jnik (1733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630277)

I'm also trying to figure out how a solar wind shield (a few keV) would do anything for cosmic ray particles (GeV, anyone?)

I trust the folks at RAL to be doing good work. I think the real news here is in the size of the protected area: magnetic fields deflecting charged particles is hardly new. Their trial is billed as a metre across, whereas the solar wind DeBye length is on the order of 10m. So they're dealing with scales smaller than a typical plasma treatment. I'll have to read the actual article to be sure.

Re:slow progress (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630699)

A couple of years ago there was an article in Scientific American that reviewed all of the known technologies (including magnetic, electrostatic, and thick materials) to shield astronauts from space radiation on interplanetary missions. They found that none of them would work in the foreseeable future. Their rather depressing conclusion was that the best bet would be to develop drugs that work to repair radiation damage.

IIRC, they said that a astronauts on a quick Mars mission would probably survive, but they would face significant damage to their health from the radiation dose.

sure it can melt 500 lbs of copper... (0, Redundant)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629309)

How long does it take for the beam to melt 500 lbs of copper?

FTA, testing showed a 1.5 mm beam "burnt" 40 meters into a block of copper in 86 microseconds.

So... napkin calculation...

.15 cm * 4000 cm == 600 cm^2.

density of copper is about 9 g/cm^2, so 5600 grams of copper melted per .86 microsecond beam burst.

500 lbs =~ 227 kg, so roughly forty 86 microsecond bursts to melt 500 lbs...

So we're talking roughly 3.5 milliseconds to melt 500 pounds of copper.

We're talking 70 tons of copper melted per second for a single beam per second. That's a hell of a lot of energy, but I'm not sure what the standard unit is for energy/time (hiroshimas is just energy; libraries of congress and football fields obviously don't apply). Anyone know what the standard made-up unit is for energy/time?

Re:sure it can melt 500 lbs of copper... (1)

natebarney (987940) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629591)

(hiroshimas is just energy; libraries of congress and football fields obviously don't apply). Anyone know what the standard made-up unit is for energy/time?

Hiroshimas/fortnight ?

Re:sure it can melt 500 lbs of copper... (4, Funny)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629847)

Anyone know what the standard made-up unit is for energy/time?

Sadly, we don't need a made-up unit for that. The one we have is bad enough:

Horses

ultimate invention (1)

r00b (923145) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629409)

This really is the ultimate invention, everything else can be accomplished simply by routing it through the main deflector.

We have the energy source! (1)

Groo Wanderer (180806) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629415)

"Now we just need a viable interstellar drive, and an energy source to power it all."

We just need an interstellar drive now. Oh, that and someone to teach that pink bunny how to pilot the ship, after all, his back is going to be plugged into the warp drive.

                -Charlie

does this mean tin foil hats are out of vogue? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629419)

the new "in" fashion statement amongst the crackpots will be magnets tied to your head to protect from alien radiation?

LHC: no way! (0, Offtopic)

lapinmalin (1400199) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629443)

Last time i went to see a prostitute. As she turns out to be a shemale i said: no way! Then she did an anal probe to me.

Oops, photons! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25629465)

Good against remotes is one thing. Good against the living?

OK, seriously: this only works against charged particles. Masers/Lasers of whatever frequency, not so much. Pretty serious limitation. - Jeff

Passenger Flight Exposure: Terminals and Flight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25629561)

Anyyone have any numbers on the total exposure
to radiation OUTSIDE and INSIDE airport gates in addition to in-flight exposure?

Thanks for your answers.

Cordially,
Kilgore Trout

Got the power source already... Here ya go (1)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629571)

"and an energy source to power it all."

Check.

My anus after HomeTown Buffet.

--Toll_Free

Fantastic 4 anybody? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25629593)

Stan Lee has a patent!

Propulsion - Project Orion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25629625)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion)

40 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25630071)

40 years of star trek and you guys are just figuring this out?

Discovered? Huh? (2, Interesting)

Walkingshark (711886) | more than 5 years ago | (#25631005)

This is Robert Winglee's M2P2 [washington.edu] . He Mini-Magnetospheric Plasma Propulsion. His original idea was to use it as an innovative type of solar sail, but it quickly became obvious that it could be used in the way that these people have stated. All in all, nothing to see here, already been done, and here in the US too. You might also enjoy checking out his page [washington.edu] , the guy is a big time plasma nerd.

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