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159 comments

Nice (0)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285208)

That's a big ass fiber.

Re:Nice (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38285364)

No, it's a graphene fiber, not an ass-fiber. Didn't you even read the summary?

Re:Nice (5, Funny)

djh2400 (1362925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286044)

Relevant xkcd: http://www.xkcd.com/37/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Nice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38286192)

Relevant xkcd: http://www.xkcd.com/37/ [xkcd.com]

No such thing.

Your desire to feel like one of the group by mindlessly reposting from the same comic over and over again is not relevant to anyone except maybe your therapist you hired for help with your OCD and personal insecurities.

Don't worry though. You will be greatly comforted soon. The idiot mods who also desperately need to feel like part of the group because they can't get that security from family and friends who welcome and cherish them will mod you up, like they always do for this and every other repetitive meme we've all seen a thousand times. Never would it occur to them that you are in fact redundant (they are what is called enablers). They will also lash out at me for pointing out things that make them and you uncomfortable, with no regard for the fact that the truth in it is what discomforts them so, modding me down because that's the only power they have.

They definitely can't argue against me because they know it's true. They just get upset and butt-hurt that I can see something once, understand it, and move on while they have to go over it endlessly trying to extract every last bit of group membership from it like the social failures they truly are.

Re:Nice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38286574)

hahaha, a butt hurt troll

faggotry is never ok, so you should think twice about ever posting again

Costs (2)

bobwrit (1232148) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285228)

Are still high.... Give it a few years and it may be cheaper.

Re:Costs (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285516)

>High cost

FTFA

"Carbon fibre is made by a high-temperature treatment. Our fibres are made just by spinning a water-based solution â" it is quite green and quite easy," says Gao.

Easy means cheap. And that's what's really ground-breaking about this.

--
BMO

Re:Costs (4, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286036)

It's pretty easy to snort coke laced with platinum from a diamod encrusted hooker's ass.. but it ain't cheap, let me tell you

Re:Costs (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286576)

It isn't easy to make the coke or the platinum, or to pry the diamonds from the hands of the diamond cartel.

Re:Costs (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38287166)

or to pry the diamonds from the hands of the diamond cartel.

If you're not too picky on origin, it's easier to grow artificial ones.

Re:Costs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38285578)

Are still high.... Give it a few years and it may be cheaper.

It is cheap. It is extremely cheap for cases where the alternatives are unusable.

Great news (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285276)

This has been a sticking point for a lot of uses.

Re:Great news (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285884)

Yeah, like the space elevator! I'd love to see one of those be built, but that will probably only happen in my dreams in my life.

Re:Great news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38286360)

"Yeah, like the space elevator! I'd love to see one of those be built,"

Why? Would you build an elevator that goes nowhere?

"but that will probably only happen in my dreams in my life."

1) Get better dreams.

2) Get more life.

Re:Great news (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286586)

Better dreams than cheap travel throughout the solar system?

I guess you want him to dream about warp drives and molecular replicators.

Re:Great news (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286866)

The Space elevator will never happen.
Never Happen.

Many, many technical issues aside, the risk is too damn high.

Re:Great news (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38287222)

Why need it be risky? As with all other things, use redundancy. Redundant cables mean no single failure will drop the elevator car. Multiple parallel cars mean loss of an entire strand won't trash the whole system, and new spools can be carried up to drop another elevator. You wouldn't be traveling at orbital velocity, so re-entry wouldn't need much in the way of shielding. One rocket burst to kick the elevator clear of the falling cable, followed by parachutes, and retro-rockets for final landing would be plenty reliable for emergency use.

There have been concerns of damage done by a falling cable, but that's not an insurmountable issue. By necessity, the cable will have to be a thin, wide film. On things such films do is fall very slowly. Charges placed at periodic intervals, keyed off cable tension, could fragment the cable into sufficiently short segments that they would slow down in the atmosphere and impact with minimal damage. Have the primary station at geostationary, such that in a worst case scenario, it could survive on its own for a while. Allow the counterbalance to be scuttled. If sufficiently close to geostationary, it could be recaptured with minimal fuel costs, and used again once the new elevator is dropped.

Space elevator coming next? (1)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285286)

Is the magic missing technology required to construct a functional space elevator?

Re:Space elevator coming next? (2)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285304)

The only magic missing from that project is money.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (2, Interesting)

Doubting Thomas (72381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285652)

... and a material of the necessary tensile strength. If we had that, then the money probably wouldn't be that hard to get.

But as someone else replied, apparently this ain't it. Or at least, not yet. A pity, really. I was hoping the same thing.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286882)

Yes, lets but a super strong cable that can go around the globe 3 times and use it to tie a rock to the planet. What could [possible go wrong?

I prefer not to have thing that can annihilate civilization as we know it just hanging around.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (4, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285342)

not yet. I RTFA.

There are mechanical defects in the graphene strand that make it weaker than traditional carbon fiber.

They are going to need to be able to generate nearly perfect strands before that becomes an option.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285414)

Eek! And they also tied it into a square knot! Couldn't they at least have had the decency to tie it into a more secure figure-8 knot?!

Knot identification fail (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38285726)

That's an overhand knot, not a square knot. If you want to join two like-sized ropes use the square knot; neither the overhand nor the figure-8 can do that.

You're right that the figure-8 is better than the overhand in most ways.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285482)

They are going to need to be able to generate nearly perfect strands before that becomes an option.

I guess we're safe from China beating us in the Space Elevator race then... Based on my experiences with Chinese-made goods their quality control will never be up to the task.

At least all those batteries that the e-bike people order that keep coming inadequately packaged and deformed will be able to handle if the graphene can be deformed safely... *grin*

Re:Space elevator coming next? (4, Informative)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285530)

Whenever I see "space elevator!" Mentioned, this course of action plays out in my head:

A space elevator/orbital tether needs to be at the rotational equator. This means central or south america, or africa. (Islands would lack the strong continental plate foundations to hold the tether to the earth.)

The tether itself will be many kilometers long. It has to extend all the way, vertically, into low earth orbit.

The tether, if made of a conductive material like graphene, would become super charged with high voltages just from the air currents whorling around it. (Don't believe me, run a kite on copper wire and attach a volt meter between it and the ground. Remember that the kite string is orders of magnitude shorter than an orbital tether.) In addition to this constant charging, you have the high energy disturbances of the ionosphere to deal with. I suppose this could make the tether into a fantastic dc powerplant, but it would also make putting a carriage on the tether much more difficult.

Then you have the political problems.... look at the shit that happens with selecting where to hold the olypic games. Imagine the politics involved in breaking soil on an orbital tether.

And then, finally, what happens if there is an accident? Many kilometers of highly energized, and kinetically taught razorwire with toughness surpassing all other construction materials whipping round the planet sounds pretty dangerous to me.

Really, the logistics of such a project just don't make for a plausible project, barring some kind of officious one world government that doesn't brook dissent.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38285594)

And then, finally, what happens if there is an accident? Many kilometers of highly energized, and kinetically taught razorwire with toughness surpassing all other construction materials whipping round the planet sounds pretty dangerous to me.

I don't have the link handy, but someone actually did the math on this. Due to the mass vs. surface area (and how much energy will be lost to air resistance), the cord will land softly along the surface of the earth from the anchor to the breakpoint. The greater danger will be had by the station at the top of the cord, but there are ways to stabilize the rotation it would suffer.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286386)

I wasn't referring to tether breakage.

I was referring to what happens when something big (like an orbital cargo tug) fails to dock smoothly with the transfer station, causing the station to lose ballistic control, and get punted like a tetherball into the planet's surface.

The cable will remain taught in this catastrophe, and won't just float down nicely.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (2, Informative)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286640)

I don't think you understand the amount of force that would be required to do that. Maybe if the tether got hit by an asteroid the size of Dallas. Nevermind that in the event of such a catastrophe, they could simply cut the cable at the base, and the whole thing goes flying out into space. There would be plenty of time, as it would easily take weeks to fall.

Also, you demonstrate your lack of understanding of the space elevator concept by claiming the fiber needs to extend to low earth orbit. It doesn't. It has to go to GEOSTATIONARY orbit. If you don't know the difference, Geostationary is MUCH further away, and that is the MINIMUM distance. In reality, it needs to extend beyond it to keep the tether taught.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286930)

Yes, in fact I do, and know it wouldn't need to be that big.Doesn't matter, that math that ti would fall gently to the ground is wrong. Of course people who don't actually understand the physics involved just buy it hook line and sinker.

This doesn't even go into the constant pelting of space debris and micro meteors.
Or what happens when the weight on the end returns to earth after moving away from the initial breaking.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38287378)

> Or what happens when the weight on the end returns to earth after moving away from the initial breaking.

There's another, much bigger weight up there. It's called the moon. Do you worry about what happens when *it* comes crashing down too?

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285684)

The potential difference between the top and bottom could potentially be used to power the elevator in the first place. It wouldn't be a problem for the carriage because of physics. You know how birds aren't electrocuted when they stand on high-voltage power lines? The carriage won't have a potential difference across it, so I don't think it will be a problem. So long as the tether has someplace to discharged continuously I don't see it being a major problem.

Also, nothing (probably) would stop you from just attaching the tether to a location in the middle of the ocean. A few hundred/ thousand extra feet won't make a difference. Politics might be an issue, but probably not much more than any major project. An accident, of course, would be an issue. Safety measures would have to be installed.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285930)

If politics is an issue you can always bring peace with some bombs before you start building.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286566)

The charge problem is one of a saturated floating ground on the carriage's electronics, not an electrocution hazard. :)

Re:Space elevator coming next? (5, Informative)

kybur (1002682) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285758)

A space elevator can't just go to LEO, it's got to go all the way to geosynchronous orbit (42,000 kilometers up) and then past that for a counterweight.

If we only had to go to LEO, we'd probably have done it already.

Also, there are a ton of satellites in LEO, and most of them are likely to hit the tether at some point. It is just a matter of time (and not as much time as you'd think -- you'd probably have a near miss every couple weeks).

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286654)

Something tells me that no-one is going to care about LEO once the cost to GSO is dramatically reduced by the space elevator.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

Doubting Thomas (72381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285874)

Not so sure about the anchor point bit, but the rest seems true.

One of the proposals terminates the cable at a boat. I dunno how they keep the thing from being pulled downwind (other than "because it's in the doldrums"), but the tension on the cable only needs to exceed the weight of the cars, the freight, and the safety margin. If you put too much tension on the cable, you'll snap it. If you're trying to hoist an island off its foundations, that would definitely be 'too much tension'.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (2, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286050)

I was thinking more like this:

Say you send a 100 ton payload up the tether. After a certain point on the ascent, you stop trolling up the fiber, and actually have to start applying breaks on it, because the centrifugal force (please, I know the difference between it and centrepital force. The former is a pseudo force, yes, but still real.) Acting on the carriage will be correlated with the inertial mass of the carriage, the rate of rotation, and the radal distance from the center of rotation, in relation to the gravitational force. At some point centrifugal forces will overcome gravity, and this will pull the tether very tight.

The problem is not with lifting the island, but with tearing the anchor of the tether out of the ground.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38286808)

"and actually have to start applying breaks on it, because the centrifugal force (please, I know the difference between it and centrepital force. "

Too bad you can't spell it, or "brakes"...

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

rgbatduke (1231380) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286048)

Don't try to bring sanity into this! This is Big Science. Great Science Fiction novels portray it. They can't be f-ing out of their minds apeshit berserk, surely!

And seriously, do not try to put any actual physics or arithmetic or above all, economics into it. They'll hunt you down like a dog if you do...

rgb (and yes, I'm an avid SF reader, from Brin to Cordwainer Smith to Niven -- but just because they write cool stories doesn't make the idea feasible or even physically correct, see e.g. Ringworld and the gravitational instability problem.)

Re:Space elevator coming next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38286512)

Oh crap! The Space Nutters, once they're done howling and crying over their 1970s Space Age posters, will call you names and throw hissy fits! Watch out!

Re:Space elevator coming next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38287062)

Is there an anti-Space Nutter website? I'd love to have a place to point these idiots to to debunk this crap.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286168)

...A space elevator/orbital tether needs to be at the rotational equator.

No, it doesn't. If not on the equator, it will simply be a bit longer, and appear to go up at an angle. This might not be a bad thing either, as it's generally easier to push things up a ramp than lift them straight up.

The tether, if made of a conductive material like graphene, would become super charged with high voltages just from the air currents whorling around it. ...

You say that like it's a bad thing. Golly, all of those oil-free volts going to waste. And it wouldn't be all that difficult to run the car, you just gradually raise the charge on the vehicle (and the inhabitants) to the same charge as the cable before launch. Have a look at what high-wire linesmen are doing today.

And then, finally, what happens if there is an accident? Many kilometers of highly energized, and kinetically taught razorwire with toughness surpassing all other construction materials whipping round the planet sounds pretty dangerous to me.

If it breaks, you snap it loose from the base and let the lower part fly upwards. A solution can be engineered

Really, the logistics of such a project just don't make for a plausible project, barring some kind of officious one world government that doesn't brook dissent.

This ain't your lawn, and I ain't getting off it.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286332)

Not on equator:

If it isn't on the equator, it will have an impact on the earth's axial tilt. This is a bad thing. Look up precession to see why. A space elevator would most certainly be a long term investment, and building such an investment in such a location pretty much garantees local dependence on the investment economically, and a strong disincentive to terminate the investment when problems eventually begin to manifest. See, eg, current problems with fossil fuels.

Charged cable == bad?

This admittedly is a design consideration, but we are talking voltages here that make high voltage transfer lines look like wire on christmas lights. The cable will present with a very strong static charge, which while not going anywhere without a drain, can saturate electronics that make use of a floating ground. This is why it poses a problem to the carriage. It's an electronics fault, not an electrocution risk.

Accident:

I wasn't referring to a line breakage type accident. That would just have cable fall lifelessly to the ground, and launch the transfer station in geo orbit out into space. (Especially if it was full of cargo).

I was referring to what happens if the station on the end of the tether loses ballistic control, and suddenly becomes a huge, high speed tetherball. (For instance, something big, like a spaceship runs into it, or somebody suddenly releases a bunch of cargo, creating thrust against the station.) The station falling to earth would be bad enough. Falling to earth while being swung hard on a several hundred kilometer lever with several tons of kinetic energy behind it? Even worse.

Not your lawn:

I happen to live on this planet, than you. Please don't blow it up or make it uninhabitable. Thanks.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286684)

lol, sure, a few hundred billion tons going up a space elevator over the course of human habitation is going to have an effect on the tilt of the Earth, which weights ~6E+24 kilos.

Christ, and ant just crawled across my foot and sent me spinning into the wall. That impact sent me flying into space!

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38286200)

How the hell this absolutly clueless post got modded to +5 Informative is beyond me:

(Islands would lack the strong continental plate foundations to hold the tether to the earth.)

You're serously suggesting a space elevator could lift ENTIRE Islands into space. A small Island has a mass of at least 1 billion metric tons.

The tether itself will be many kilometers long. It has to extend all the way, vertically, into low earth orbit.

At least 40000km.

The tether, if made of a conductive material like graphene, would become super charged with high voltages just from the air currents whorling around it.

The theter is only a tiny bit in the troposphere. But you miss the electrical elephant in the room: The Van Allens Belt.

Really, the logistics of such a project just don't make for a plausible project, barring some kind of officious one world government that doesn't brook dissent.

Really logistics will kill a space elevator? What about the the material that doesn't exists for the tether. Or the climber no one knows how to power und how to attach to the cable. Or the counterweight, catching an NEO doesn't sound easy. Or thether vibrations. Or tether maintanance. Or construction cost, which are easly in the TRILLIONS.Or ...
But you worry about logistics.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

JSG (82708) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286220)

Given the length of this thing and its sheer mass, I don't think that the relatively short depth of the sea is likely to make much difference.

Granted that the water will get in the way somewhat. However the construction team that puts up (drops down?) a space elevator link are probably not going to find that a problem.

I suggest that the whole equator is fair game.

Cheers
Jon

Re:Space elevator coming next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38286298)

Space elevator?

HAHAHAHAHA /counter resets

Re:Space elevator coming next? (2, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286484)

Your head unfortunately doesn't have a good handle on space elevators.

A space elevator doesn't HAVE to be right at the equator, although that's the easiest way. The equator doesn't go through central America.

Islands are perfectly fine. A space elevator doesn't pull on the ground station much. If it did, your ground station would certainly fail before "strong continental plate foundations" were an asset. Actually, an artificial, mobile sea platform may be a good idea because you can move it around to tow the tether a bit if you need it to dodge some space junk.

Space elevators don't go to low earth orbit. They MUST go somewhat past geosynchronous orbit. Geosynch is actually the MIDDLE of the tether unless you weight the space end of it, say by attaching it to an asteroid.

Have you ever seen a bird sitting on a power line? Not that it really matters anyway, you can get some high voltages from voltage differentials in the atmosphere (friction with the wind is probably a negligible contribution) but not much current. If somehow you did manage to get a decent amount of current, you'd use it as a power plant.

The olympics are contentious because there is only one. And even so, we manage to find a place to put them every two years, don't we? A space elevator would probably be built by a group of countries, like CERN or some of the other large projects. Fights over the location would probably be considerably simplified because no large industrial nation would be a suitable host. Instead it would probably end up somewhere like French Guiana where the European Space Agency already has their launch facilities, BTW.

If the tether were to break, most of the lower end would probably burn up in the atmosphere. The rest would land fairly softly. The thing is LIGHT remember.

Given an appropriate material, a space elevator will get built. Various plans put it well within the reach of private enterprise if no governments get around to doing it.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

evil_aaronm (671521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38287006)

> barring some kind of officious one world government that doesn't brook dissent

Welcome to America!

Re:Space elevator: Forms of Carbon (2)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285574)

Carbon fiber, carbon nanotubes and graphene fiber are all different forms with different properties.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

cdcoulon (1979848) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286086)

>>>They are going to need to be able to generate nearly perfect strands before that becomes an option. that depends on the strength required by the tether, which is tied to other engineering puzzles - no pun intended - it might be that far from perfect is perfect for the job

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285404)

Is the magic missing technology required to construct a functional space elevator?

Of all the things needed to make a space elevator, the only thing missing is the magic. And pretty much everything else.
Don't expect to see one in your lifetime, or probably even your children's lifetime. It's just way too impractical.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38286366)

It's just way too impractical.

Says you.
Please present your mess of evidence before making sweeping statements.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286710)

Wow, I didn't know Lord Haldane was still alive.

"The aeroplane will never fly." -- Lord Haldane, Minister of War, Britain, 1907

Re:Space elevator coming next? (2)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285418)

You're thinking of carbon nanotubes, not graphene. Graphene is a layer of carbon only a few atoms thick, which (like carbon nanotubes) is electrically conductive, and (unlike carbon nanotubes) is also transparent. So if they can iron out the manufacturing issues, they can create transparent panels (like glass) that are electrically conduct. This has all kinds of useful applications for display panels (transparent ipads, anyone?), windows that function as TVs, monitors, solar energy collectors, etc.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285614)

Carbon nanotubes are just rolled up graphene. I'm sure a single nanotube would be almost as transparent as a single layer of graphene.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (0)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286104)

Carbon nanotubes are just rolled up graphene.

That's like saying graphene is just a slice of graphite (since small amounts of graphene can be made by cleaving graphite)... CNTs aren't currently made by rolling up graphene and many of the specific properties of CNTs are because of *how* they are rolled (specifically the n,m chiral values and the diameter)...

I'm sure a single nanotube would be almost as transparent as a single layer of graphene.

Strangely, graphene is quite opaque for a single layer of material, but since it has very good conductivity, you don't need thick layers of the stuff to make wire meshes needed to control stuff like LCD panels (as opposed to other forms of semi-transparent conductors say like indium tin oxide). Single nanotubes likewize aren't very transparent, although they are of course very, very thin (several angstroms), and therefore block very little light even when you put lots of CNT wires on a transparent substrate.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286764)

That's like saying graphene is just a slice of graphite (since small amounts of graphene can be made by cleaving graphite)...

I think it would be more accurate to say that graphite is layered graphene, but that is what it is. Is it not?

CNTs aren't currently made by rolling up graphene and many of the specific properties of CNTs are because of *how* they are rolled (specifically the n,m chiral values and the diameter)...

Steel pipes aren't made by rolling up steel plates, and a steel pipes diameter comes from its shape. A steel pipe also has properties that a steel pipe doesn't, but they're still the same material.

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

John.P.Jones (601028) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285636)

I was thinking about how the energy of chemical rockets is just barely sufficient (given fuel mass) to make chemical rockets that can escape Earth's gravity well. I'm not sure of the exact headroom but my understanding is that it is fairly tight. From what I have read on the strength of nanotubes, they too are theoretically just strong enough to barely make a space elevator a possibility (if we could manage to weave them into a macro-fiber without significant losses.) If this turns out to be the case I wonder if there is a connection between these two methods and the strength of chemical bonds to overcome the gravitational potential of our planet. Need it be so that these two very different ways of utilizing bond strength achieve a similar maximum gravitational field that they can overcome?

Going further, obviously the strength of a planet's gravity is important for the development of life, it may be that it is required for the development of intelligent life that the planet's gravity be close to this value (earth's gravity).

Re:Space elevator coming next? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285954)

Chemical rockets efficiency is all about the nozzle and reaction mass velocity. Which are all about the materials used to make the nozzle. (Simplification of course, chamber pressure also matters.)

There are no 'laws of physics' that prevent us from building a chemical rocket that can go single stage to orbit. Their are not materials to build the nozzle, yet.

Finally we still don't know how to make the theoretically best fuel for rockets outside the lab (metallic/monatomic Hydrogen). Even in the lab we make it for nanoseconds.

You sound like an IDer desperately looking for more 'evidence' that 'god did it'.

Interesting correlation! (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286002)

Interesting correlation! Maybe it also plays a role as to whether or planet is suitable for life, a lot weaker and we'd lose too much of our atmosphere to space. A lot stronger and we'd end up a gas giant. But these might be pretty broad limits.

However, once life gets started, I'm not sure that the strength of gravity is tied closely to the development of life (life evolved into quite complex forms in the oceans). As far as INTELLIGENT life, I also am not sure if there's any correlation. Perhaps our ancestors evolved exceedingly good hand eye manipulative skills while swinging from branch to branch; I'm not sure how making gravity weaker (or stronger!) would make this better or worse.

So, too bad we didn't evolve on an exo-moon like Titan (or "Pandora") where getting to space would be much easier (low gravity, dense atmosphere). Or too bad we didn't evolve on a world that was subject to lots of radiation from the local star (no magnetic field?), then nuclear rockets would be very appealing because we'd be immune to high levels of radiation!

Space elevator? (3, Insightful)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285308)

Sorry, but that's the first thing I think of when a new super material is described.

I can't think of any other technology that, barring a really huge breakthrough (like anti-gravity) would truly make space travel a practical reality for millions. Even Arthur C. Clarke in his "Fountains of Paradise" book alluded to this saying that the supposedly hyper-efficient rockets of the future would create so much environmental damage (pollution, sonic booms) that really heavy traffic couldn't be sustained.

Maybe if we had cold fusion (or something like it like muon catalyzed fusion or zero-point energy) space travel on a large scale would be practical but these "breakthroughs" might be just as far (or impossibly far!) away.

By the way, did anyone see the developments (at MIT?) where they showed a nano structured "tape" able to support the weight of a full grown man with only a few inches of surface area? And it was able to be re-used thousands of times before using its grip? Perhaps the space elevator could be made of material structured this way, I mean if that thing is ever going to be built it will essentially be a gigantic 23,000 mile long SINGLE MOLECULE anyway so nano structuring should be almost trivial!

Re:Space elevator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38285358)

"should be almost trivial".

It makes me sad how often I see this.

Re:Space elevator? (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285402)

Sorry, I'm not an engineer or a materials scientist! And I did say "almost"! ;)

factually correct, yet of no use at all... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285544)

The science is there, it's just a simple matter of engineering.

Really? Pollution from rockets?... (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285392)

Compared to airplane travel, would several hundred rocket launches a year really contribute that much more pollution?

Re:Really? Pollution from rockets?... (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285464)

Again, I'm just paraphrasing from his book (but I think I'm remembering it correctly). It was a scene where they were pitching the idea of the space elevator and talking about the fact that the (unspecified) rockets of he future would be producing unacceptable environmental damage.

In his defense I think he was talking about "astronomical" (ha ha) levels of space traffic, something we can only hope for in our wildest dreams of a true space faring civilization with millions going to space DAILY. But who knows? He's dead. :(

Re:Really? Pollution from rockets?... (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285498)

Compared to airplane travel, would several hundred rocket launches a year really contribute that much more pollution?

Gaseous-core nuclear rockets are pretty polluting. LOX/LH2 not so much.

Re:Space elevator? (2)

F34nor (321515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285468)

See "Space Fountain." Build-able with current technology. Basically use a particle accelerator to provide lift to the building, at the top have a turnbuckle that sends them back to the accelerator, rinse and repeat. Like trying to raise a full fire hose in the air vs. a tape measure.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_fountain [wikipedia.org]

Re:Space elevator? (2)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285716)

Seems we are missing the almost limitless, cheap power that would be needed to maintain such a thing. That doesn't sound to me like it is any less impractical or far-fetched then a space elevator.

Re:Space elevator? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285860)

Or indeed the Launch Loop [wikipedia.org] , Skyhook [wikipedia.org] , or Laser Propulsion [wikipedia.org] . There are several ideas on how to get us to orbit on the cheap. Personally, I'd love to see more interest in 'Dynamic' structures like the space fountain or launch loop. I'd love to see competitions a la the space elevator competitions, something like building a dynamic bridge over a 10 meter gap that can be walked over.

Re:Space elevator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38285634)

Sorry, but that's the first thing I think of when a new super material is described.

I can't think of any other technology that, barring a really huge breakthrough (like anti-gravity) would truly make space travel a practical reality for millions. Even Arthur C. Clarke in his "Fountains of Paradise" book alluded to this saying that the supposedly hyper-efficient rockets of the future would create so much environmental damage (pollution, sonic booms) that really heavy traffic couldn't be sustained.

Maybe if we had cold fusion (or something like it like muon catalyzed fusion or zero-point energy) space travel on a large scale would be practical but these "breakthroughs" might be just as far (or impossibly far!) away.

By the way, did anyone see the developments (at MIT?) where they showed a nano structured "tape" able to support the weight of a full grown man with only a few inches of surface area? And it was able to be re-used thousands of times before using its grip? Perhaps the space elevator could be made of material structured this way, I mean if that thing is ever going to be built it will essentially be a gigantic 23,000 mile long SINGLE MOLECULE anyway so nano structuring should be almost trivial!

Perhaps magnetic catapults, a la The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress [amazon.com] ?

Re:Space elevator? (1)

cdcoulon (1979848) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286144)

this. i don't know why we don't develop magnetic rail launch - just for putting matter in space it seems like the most efficient method.

Re:Space elevator? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286052)

I agreed all the way till, "...so nano structuring should be almost trivial!"

Ouch! But I could be wrong, could you point to us your web page of similar trivialities with nano structuring? I think that's were I have some questions.

the nanostructure is porous (4, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285348)

To me, this suggests a couple more interesting applications:

Battery electrode
Supercapacitor dielectric
Chemical sensor
Nanofiltration
Lightweight structural blocks/foams (this is essentially a spun aerogel with a water solvent...)
Carbon wire (copper is expensive)

I am sure there are others.

Look, I'm too lazy, but read the FAs hereunder (0)

da5idnetlimit.com (410908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285692)

And tell me why we don't already have Gigawatt, Flying batteries Overlords ?

Darn, lazy scientists !
1 / Read /., and not your gloosy, SCIENCE magazine
2 / SPEAK TO EACH OTHER, SU****RS !!!
3 / * ? *
4 / Profit

Stanford Researchers Invent Everlasting Battery Material 180
Research Promises Drastically Increased LiOn Capacity 378
Highly Efficient Oxygen Catalyst Found 156
Researchers Demonstrate Quantum Levitation 133
Superior Anode For Lithium-Ion Batteries Developed 77
Boosting Battery Storage With Seaweed 59
Polymer Gel Shows Promise For Smaller, Cheaper Batteries 108
Transparent Lithium-Ion Battery Created 91
Aluminum-Celmet Could Increase EV Range By 300% 182
MIT Develops Fast Charging Liquid Flow Batteries 135
Integrating Capacitors Into Car Frames 189

Re:the nanostructure is porous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38286250)

I was thinking on how I could sell this on a next date. I think I'd get more mileage with dinner using the Space Elevator, than with Lightweight structural blocks/foams. Of course Victoria's Secret catalog could have some new items using nano foam stuff.

Re:the nanostructure is porous (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286724)

I can attest that it's being researched for numbers 1-3. Numbers 4-5 are likely but outside my field. #6 is currently unlikely as graphene is a helluvalot more expensive than copper.

China? wha? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38285432)

I think the real story here is China actually developed a new technology like this.. then again maybe we'll be hearing from another country about research being stolen soon.

Re:China? wha? (4, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285800)

I RTFA. It actually mentions that the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology where this was done is actually in, who would have guessed it, South Korea! and not China.

Re:China? wha? (2)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38285824)

Edit: damn you slashodot for no edit feature. The research was at both South Korea and Singapore, so china is almost but not quite correct.

Re:China? wha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38286072)

The previous research related to graphene oxide liquid crystals were done by two separate teams. The advancement, spinning these crystals into threads, is done by the Chinese team.

Earlier this year, Xu and Gao were one of two research groups that published the first results showing graphene oxide liquid crystals.

It sounds like a nice export article (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38285760)

It sounds like a nice export article.

Researched, developed, and in China

No Western copy-cats allowed.

Shades of "The Windup Girl" (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286348)

"Carbon fibre is made by a high-temperature treatment. Our fibres are made just by spinning a water-based solution â" it is quite green and quite easy,"

We should make kink-springs out of this stuff, since gene-hacked algae can be dangerous if the tanks are contaminated.

I predict cancer (3, Interesting)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 2 years ago | (#38286796)

I expect the effect of graphene on the human body to be similar to asbestos. So expect increased cancer rates, Asbestosis, and other health problems from people who work with it as a raw material.

not graphene (3, Interesting)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 2 years ago | (#38287040)

Graphene oxide and graphene are two different materials. As different as iron and rust, particularly in electrical properties.

This deliberate misleading of people outside the field by nanotechnology researchers is a major problem and has been for several years.

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