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Moon Swirls May Inspire Revolution In the Science of Deflector Shields

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the tractor-beams-still-a-challenge dept.

Moon 76

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes 'One curious feature on the Moon's surface are "lunar swirls", wisp-like regions that are whiter than surrounding areas and that, until recently, astronomers could not explain. But one team of physicists recently showed that these areas are protected by weak magnetic fields that deflect high energy particles from the Sun and so prevent the darkening effect this radiation has. The problem they had to solve was how a weak field could offer so much protection, when numerous studies of long duration spaceflight have shown that only very powerful fields can act like radiation shields. The team now says that these previous studies have failed to take into account an important factor: the low density plasma that exists in space. It turns out that this plasma is swept up by a weak magnetic field moving through space, creating a layer of higher density plasma. That's important because the separation of charge within this layer creates an electric field. And it is this field that deflects the high energy particles from the Sun. That explains the lunar swirls but it also suggests that the same effect could be exploited to protect astronauts on long duration missions to the moon, to nearby asteroids and beyond. This team has now produced the first study of such a shield and how it might work. Their shield would use superconducting coils to create a relatively weak field only when it is needed, during solar storms, for example. And it would create a plasma by pumping xenon into the vacuum around the vehicle, where it would be ionised by UV light. The entire device would weigh around 1.5 tonnes and use about 20 KW of power. That's probably more than mission planners could currently accommodate but it is significantly less than the science fiction-type power requirements of previous designs. And who knows what other tricks of plasma physics engineers might be able to exploit to refine this design. All of a sudden, long duration space flight looks a little more feasible.'

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76 comments

Other uses. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47203687)

When not in use, could the power from the deflector array be diverted to the weapons systems?

Re:Other uses. (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a month and a half ago | (#47203729)

Yeah my first question was whether or not it would be strong enough to repel the Romulan's attacks.

Re:Other uses. (4, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a month and a half ago | (#47203769)

More importantly, can we reconfigure it to emit a tachyon pulse?

Re:Other uses. (1)

zeroryoko1974 (2634611) | about a month and a half ago | (#47203841)

To many problems with temporal fluxes, can't be done

Re:Other uses. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47203897)

Just reverse the polarity

Re:Other uses. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47203939)

can't do that. Singularity will explode

Re:Other uses. (1)

kellymcdonald78 (2654789) | about a month and a half ago | (#47205823)

Not If you only reverse the polarity of the neutron flow

Re:Other uses. (1)

zeroryoko1974 (2634611) | about a month and a half ago | (#47206795)

I would need at least 30 minutes to do it. The Warp Core is going to breach in 15

Re:Other uses. (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month and a half ago | (#47208219)

No the warp core will not breach if you decrease the amount of dilithium crystals added to it from 10 microgram per second to 7.9 micrograms per second, which should still be enough to keep it stable.

Re:Other uses. (1)

shikaisi (1816846) | about a month and a half ago | (#47209475)

I cannae change the laws of physics! I've got to have thirty minutes!

Re:Other uses. (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month and a half ago | (#47210315)

30 minutes? The present age of the universe since the big bang is estimated to less than 14 billion Earth years, and humans have only been around for the last 200,000 years. If in another 900 billion years you still cannot change the laws of physics, and the 2nd law thermodynamic heat death of the universe is looming, everything turned into 62 nickel and barely any 58, 60 or 61 nickel left, or 59 cobalt or 56 iron left available to convert, I recommend creating artificial intelligence creatures to hopefully help you, instead of helping themselves and killing you in the process, like they do in the movie "Screamers."

Re:Other uses. (1)

Rhinobird (151521) | about a month and a half ago | (#47206599)

What are you? Romulan?

Re: Other uses. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47208039)

Captain. Captain!

Not now Scotty, I'm interrogating this delightful blue alien.

Re:Other uses. (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about a month and a half ago | (#47204369)

More importantly, can we reconfigure it to emit a tachyon pulse?

Probably not, but I'd lay odds we could manage to get a coherent graviton beam out of it.

20KW? Sounds to me like the Elephant In The Room is a small on-board nuclear reactor to power the craft.

Re:Other uses. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47205165)

20KW is small. Ships will need nuclear reactors (hopefully fusion) or better to work in the first place, solar only works close to the sun.

Re:Other uses. (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about a month and a half ago | (#47205253)

Fission reactors would actually be better in this application because the mass of the fuel and shielding can be used as a 'safe room' in case the deflector field fails. And besides, they exist.

Re:Other uses. (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month and a half ago | (#47208283)

20 KW on a space device is huge. And they are talking wasting xenon into the vacuum of outer space. You do not waste xenon like that, any process using xenon should recycle it as much as possible, and if anything, it's better to waste the astronauts and make new ones, because they are cheaper to replace than xenon gas. People are made of carbon, water, proteins, calcium phopshate, etc, and all you gotta do to make a new one is fuck, then invest like 20 years into educating him before he can be used as an astronaut, but even with all that effort, he's still cheaper to replace than replacing wasted xenon, which is very rare, though could be created through radioactive means in small quantities. By the way there is nothing more precious than an astronaut life, or a human life, but people willingly take on risks as long as it's a risk and it's not 100% certain in the outcome, for economic benefits, things such as driving on any highway at highway speeds which are deadly. That's a calculated risk compared to driving safely with 20 mph, because who has time for driving that slow. You only have so many hours in a day. It's like who has time to read and comment on Slashdot?

Re: Other uses. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47205193)

Why not an artificial quantum singularity? It worked for the Romulans. Less for the Event Horizon.

Re:Other uses. (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a month and a half ago | (#47204667)

Yeah my first question was whether or not it would be strong enough to repel the Romulan's attacks.

Look. Polarizing the hull plating was good enough for grandad. It's good enoug

Re:Other uses. (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about a month and a half ago | (#47204551)

Sure, just make sure to use torpedoes instead of phasers if entering a wormhole when there's an engine imbalance

Re:Other uses. (1)

Rashdot (845549) | about a month and a half ago | (#47206171)

Or how about the holodeck.

You would think the plasma right around the moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47203727)

would be of greater density than the plasma in deeper space.

Re:You would think the plasma right around the moo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47203807)

would be of greater density than the plasma in deeper space.

I assume that's why "it would create a plasma by pumping xenon into the vacuum around the vehicle, where it would be ionised by UV light."

More than particle deflection... (-1, Offtopic)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | about a month and a half ago | (#47203753)

...couldn't this sort of principle be used in a weaker sense to help with incoming ionizing radiation? Micrometeorites are a concern, but so is long-term exposure to radiation for astronauts.

Re:More than particle deflection... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47203833)

...couldn't this sort of principle be used in a weaker sense to help with incoming ionizing radiation? Micrometeorites are a concern, but so is long-term exposure to radiation for astronauts.

The shield described in the article is already "used in a weaker sense": it would only deflect charged atomic-scale particles (ionizing radiation), with no effect on micrometeorites.

Re:More than particle deflection... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47203849)

Did you read the summary FFS?

Re: More than particle deflection... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47203879)

Wow.. The trolls have emerged from their Mtn Dew and PHP coding hangover early this morning.

Re:More than particle deflection... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47204025)

micro meteorites are easily dealt with via whipple bumper shields, just thin layers of sheet metal with some aramid fiber backing. The ultra high relative velocity of a strike, results in the shield and the micrometeorite vaporising into a diffuse spray of plasma, that is soaked up by the backing.

TV and Movies have kind of done a great disservice in portraying micrometeorites as things with ultra-high penetration, when in reality it is the exact opposite. The energy gradients involved in a low mass hypervelocity collision is too high to allow solid matter to exist for more than a few milliseconds.

Re:More than particle deflection... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47204297)

Technically meteorites are the parts of metors that make it to the Earth's surface. So micro or macro, meteorites are not a problem for space vehicles.

Weak magnetic fields on the moon. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47203809)

Isn't anyone curious what exactly is generating the magnetic fields on the moon?

Re:Weak magnetic fields on the moon. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47203887)

I bet ICP would like to know...

Re:Weak magnetic fields on the moon. (1)

koreanbabykilla (305807) | about a month and a half ago | (#47203953)

HA!

Re:Weak magnetic fields on the moon. (2)

thePig (964303) | about a month and a half ago | (#47207487)

Just wondering why would Mars lose its oxygen and hydrogen to solar wind if such a small magnetic field can provide such big deflections?

Re:Weak magnetic fields on the moon. (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a month and a half ago | (#47208245)

It's a small magnetic field, only providing localized protection. It is not extending thousands of miles above the planet to protect the upper atmosphere.

Re:Weak magnetic fields on the moon. (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a month and a half ago | (#47203893)

Yeah, especially that big magnetic anomaly in Tycho crater.

Re:Weak magnetic fields on the moon. (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month and a half ago | (#47206571)

It's full of stars.

Re:Weak magnetic fields on the moon. (4, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | about a month and a half ago | (#47203917)

Educated guess:
Iron deposits. When exposed to a moving charged particles, say, solar wind, iron very slowly begins to magnetize, as individual electron spins are pushed very gently into alignment with their neighbors. We exploit this much more vigorously in the purposeful creation of permanent magnets here on earth.

I can't even begin to imagine how impossibly long it must have taken to happen on the moon.

Or another theory: it's magneto's secret moon base.

Re:Weak magnetic fields on the moon. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47204961)

Or another theory: it's magneto's secret moon base.

A pity. I had not planned on crushing humanity just yet, but now that you know...

I will do what I must.

Re:Weak magnetic fields on the moon. (3, Interesting)

DoctorStarks (736111) | about a month and a half ago | (#47208551)

It's not a bad theory, but the leading candidate relates to impact processes that leave what is called "remanent magnetization". The science is not settled. The abstract here [wiley.com] gives you a feel for the kind of discussions taking place (but you probably have to pay to get to the article). Google will turn up more work along these lines, including tests in hypervelocity launcher facilities.

Re:Weak magnetic fields on the moon. (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a month and a half ago | (#47204069)

most of it is believed to be left over from the early time when Moon still had molten core and a dynamo similar to what the Earth still has.

Re:Weak magnetic fields on the moon. (1)

sethradio (2603921) | about a month and a half ago | (#47204581)

Little purple men.

Re:Weak magnetic fields on the moon. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47209553)

Isn't anyone curious what exactly is generating the magnetic fields on the moon?

Or who.

Nearby asteroids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47203865)

You guys are killing it.

All of a sudden... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47203961)

All of a sudden,(Insert anything here) looks a little more feasible.'

It seems that the default utterance from any scientist is "that will never work". They are ultimately always proved wrong.

Re:All of a sudden... (0)

spiritplumber (1944222) | about a month and a half ago | (#47204205)

If you put a technical problem in front of scientists, they'll tell you it can't be done when it can.

If you put a scientific problem in front of engineers, they'll tell you it can be done when it can't.

Get the right people on the right job.

Re:All of a sudden... (1)

dpilot (134227) | about a month and a half ago | (#47204599)

Well of course it can be done.

You just might not like the price tag.

Re:All of a sudden... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47212627)

If it can't be done, they'll put the price they believe you can't pony up. It's engineers' game of poker: never say "impossible", just bluff.

Reminds me of how servo tabs work (2)

Solandri (704621) | about a month and a half ago | (#47204299)

The problem they had to solve was how a weak field could offer so much protection, when numerous studies of long duration spaceflight have shown that only very powerful fields can act like radiation shields. [...] It turns out that this plasma is swept up by a weak magnetic field moving through space, creating a layer of higher density plasma. That's important because the separation of charge within this layer creates an electric field. And it is this field that deflects the high energy particles from the Sun.

Back in the days when they couldn't outfit a plane with hydraulic actuators, they'd use a servo tab [wikipedia.org] instead. Without hydraulics, all the force to move a control surface had to come from the pilot, which became a problem when the larger control surfaces like the elevator required several hundred pounds of force to move it.

The servo tab was a small flap at the end of the control surface (usually the elevator). It would deflect the airflow at the tail end of the elevator, causing the elevator surface to move in the desired direction, causing the elevator to deflect air in the opposite direction of the servo tab, causing the plane to pitch. In effect, the pilot only has to move a small control surface; the effect of the wind on that small surface would move the larger control surface for him. The MD-80 is probably the most common aircraft people are familiar with which uses servo tabs (it uses minimal hydraulics).

Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (3, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | about a month and a half ago | (#47204311)

That's great! (No really: I'm not being sarcastic, that gets rid of one of the two great barriers to deep space travel and living on all the planets not-as-large-as-the-earth).

The other BIG problem is: What level of gravity do humans need to THRIVE for long periods of time? (That is so that they do not suffer from bone density loss, cardio-muscular problems, etc.) Is it 1/6 gee (moon)? 1/3 gee (mars)? Or will humans need a full 1 gee to live and, eventually, safely REPRODUCE?

If the answer is humans need a full gee, then we might as well just resign ourselves to limiting our trips into the solar system to quick jaunts and robotic explorers. (While you *might* convince colonists to spend say an hour a day doing exercises to maintain their health, no way would you be able to make a fetus do them). We'll need to re-engineer humans before we can make a serious effort to colonize another world. (The only rocky planet with anything near our level of gravity is Venus and it is a hellhole). That's why the loss of the centrifuge planned for the ISS that would examine the effects of "partial gravity" (as opposed to the "micro-gravity" the ISS currently has or the regular gravity that we have) on biological systems was so disappointing. Literally it would have told us whether or not colonization of space was really feasible in the near future. (It probably wasn't going to be big enough to hold people but just seeing how partial gravity affected laboratory mice would go a long way to answering these questions).

Perhaps if we can dump the Ruskies, with the money saved with using Space-X's rockets we could build a decent centrifuge to make these (literally) VITAL studies. Maybe we don't even need to attach it to the ISS; just take two of Bigelow's(?) inflatable habs, add a cable and spin! (Just by changing the cable length you could alter the g-forces so no additional propulsion other than the initial thrusting would be required). But that's the deluxe model, you could just take the Dragon capsule and have a cable attached to its spent second stage and spin THAT (the center of gravity might not be in the "middle" but it should work fine). Keep it in orbit for a few generations of mice and dissect them when they return.

While we're at it, we should probably look into circadian rhythms... (but maybe mars, with it's 24-1/2 hour "day" is close enough).

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47204729)

... we could theoretically increase Mars' gravity by crashing a bunch of asteroids in it, i mean, there are plenty of them, it might even have the bonus effect of uncovering ice stored under the surface of the planet.

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47205279)

mass doesn't work that way. the whole asteroid belt is perhaps a tenth of the mass of earth.

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (1)

confused one (671304) | about a month and a half ago | (#47205509)

No.... Won't have an appreciable effect. Now, if you're looking for something useful to do with that bunch of asteroids you've got, if you're really clever you could use them to impact Venus and blow the atmosphere off. without the thick atmosphere, it might cool off in a few hundred thousand years to something approaching desert in the summer temperatures.

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (2)

slew (2918) | about a month and a half ago | (#47204851)

Perhaps if we can dump the Ruskies...

Actually, when it comes to the ISS, the "ruskies" might decide to dump the US first (at least the Russians claim that, "The Russian segment can exist independently from the American one. The U.S. one cannot."). Apparently Russia has already "banned" the US from using their RD-180 engines which power the Atlas V rockets used to launch our military satellites as a consequence of this Ukraine tiff...

Perhaps you are unaware of how much regression has occurred the US space program. You talk about the science of space travel from a knowledge point of view, but that is currently a moot problem from the US point of view, we don't have launchers at the moment. If you are in a hurry, you might have better luck if you direct your scientific requests to Roscosmos [wikipedia.org] ... Maybe the "ruskies" can dump the US from the ISS and build the centrifuge you seek...

While you're at it, you can probably look into this study of circadian rhythms on MIR cosmonauts [nih.gov]

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about a month and a half ago | (#47205293)

In the long run, I think we will re-engineer humans for space.

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (1)

confused one (671304) | about a month and a half ago | (#47205561)

I'm sure the Russians will take your suggestion under advisement. As it stands now, they're more likely to be building a next generation space station than the U.S. is. Look at recent analysis of the U.S. Space Program. Insufficient funding and no realistic goals, I believe was the short summary. If the U.S. manages to build a space station with a rotating hab, it will be a commercial venture, like Bigelow's proposed "hotel" in space.

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47209657)

Let's not forget space programs of China and India. There's a lot of fud and propaganda, but Chinese already built one fully operational space laboratory [wikipedia.org] , and are planning something much greater in the nearest decade. India doesn't look into building space stations right now, but their space program looks interesting and promising. I'd like to see what they'll come up with by ~2030.

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (1)

confused one (671304) | about a month and a half ago | (#47209921)

I'm not forgetting China. In fact, I believe China and Russia are negotiating an agreement to cooperate on future space ventures. This should put the U.S. on notice that it's about to be outdone; but, I fear Congress is not capable of looking more than 2 to 4 years into the future and is concentrating too much on local politics.

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (1)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about a month and a half ago | (#47208041)

Planetary surface colonization is only a romantic sci fi fantasy. It would be much much easier to construct and equip rotating space stations than to colonize planetary surfaces.

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (1)

Xyrus (755017) | about a month and a half ago | (#47208163)

Well, not necessarily. If we can integrate gravity into the GUT, we may be able to create and manipulate gravitational fields like we do with electricity and magnetism. But that's also assuming that the mechanism for creating and controlling such fields isn't prohibitive which is a pretty big assumption.

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47217675)

We can already (in principle) create and manipulate gravitational fields like we do with electricity and magnetism: simply move mass around. That was true in classical physics (Newtonian mechanics and Newtonian gravity) and remains true with modern semiclassical gravity. You do not need a theoretical model to *observe* beta decay (Becquerel didn't have a nuclear theory), it happens in nature. You don't need a theoretical model to *observe* gravimeter readings shift as you move over a large underground mine. Newton did an Eotvos-like experiment, and he obviously only had Newtonian gravity, but he got the same results someone fluent in modern general relativity would -- the latter would understand the result better, having had the benefit of the collaboration of many generations of scientists.

*If* we find a viable GUT it will still only model physical interactions of matter at short length scales, and adding gravity into it (making it a TOE) would not change the results of moving large amounts of mass around. It might be a more accurate -- or easier to calculate, or easier to reason about -- model in some extreme limits (very high mass, very high density, very high individual particle energy) than we have now, but a theory does not change nature.

Maaaaybe having a TOE that facilitates reasoning about the microscopic relationship between the two sides of the EFEs might help with engineering some sort of desired gravitational gradient locally, much as having QED facilitates reasoning about things like SQUIDs. However that is not a given -- it is just as plausible that a TOE will only allow us to understand the microscopic details of the very early universe before spontaneous symmetry breaking (or some other mechanism) created the four forces that we know about now, and explain (rather than just describe) the particle content and symmetries of the quantum fields we know (and possibly ones we don't know).

Stripping out gravity, a GUT that "only" explains the fixing of the parameters of the Standard Model, or that "only" explains why the absolute values of the charges of electrons and protons are identical except for sign (the Standard Model does not *explain* that at all, it accepts it as an axiom and partitions the proton charge into the valence quarks for no theoretically-driven reason) -- those would be GUTs with enormous value to science. It would do little to nothing for engineering, however. Likewise a TOE that "only" explains the hierarchy problem or that "only" provides quantum corrections to GR in the strong field, would still be enormously useful to science, but probably not useful to engineering in the foreseeable future.

It is entirely possible that we invent artificial gravity before we have a complete (or even effective) theory that explains its operation in detail. We certainly invented light bulbs, electrical motors, radio, and lots of electronics before understanding quantum anything.

Finally

assuming that the mechanism for creating and controlling such fields isn't prohibitive which is a pretty big assumption

especially since we have never seen a non-negligible gravitational gradient sourced from anything other than a large aggregation of matter.

Hopefully this encourages you to learn more about the ingredients you threw into your word salad.

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month and a half ago | (#47208299)

If you made a huge cylinder centrifuge building with different floors, all spinning at the same angular velocity, called omega, then the centripetal or centrifugal acceleration is omega squared times radius, is greater at the outer, lower on the ladder layers than up towards the center, and you can go from floor to floor to see what you like, and the workout gym should be on the bottom floor, with the biggest gravity, while you could sleep in a suspended sleeping back in the center core room that's not even spinning (i.e. the last ceiling rotates with respect to the last floor, just before the weightless zone.

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month and a half ago | (#47208311)

sleeping bag, not sleeping back.. i must be getting sleepy

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month and a half ago | (#47210281)

The real reason to have the floors spinning at the same angular velocity and dropping gravity as you go to the center, is the Coriolis force. It's a weird force to try to explain, you can get some idea of it when you watch a video of a guy spinning a bicycle wheel, then flipping the rotation axis, or when you're handling fast spinning heavy metal objects, they have "extra" inertia that manifests itself in weird ways. A previous poster on Slashdot mentioned that the smallest radius cylinder he calculated people to be still comfortable in from the effects of the Coriolis force is 260 meters, with 3.3 feet per meter that's about 250x3=750, 250x0.3=75, 750+75=825 feet, and that's radius, the diameter is double, or 520 meters, 1650 feet. That's a huge building size cylinder to build up there, you can only build it from Moon based, Moon mined materials, even if your cost of shipping and handling from Earth drops to $700/lb, (or $700x2.2 /kg) as some other Slashdot poster mentioned, from the old something like $10000/lb for the Shuttle.

Under the Coriolis force, you sit at a desk, and you reach out to grab a pencil, and your hand flies off to the left or the right and you miss. Son of a bitch, so you try again, it's annoying. The thing to remember is that there is no Coriolis force if you don't move, only when you try to make a regular straight line motion thinking you're in an inertial reference frame with no virtual forces acting, so if you don't move, or do so ever so slightly, you avoid the Coriolis force, and if you move really fast, its effect is huge. For this reason, and others, while the gym, the weight lifting section and what not, possibly at even higher g than earth (imagine a 200 lb guy weight 250 lbs, try to do squats and pushups like that) should be at the outermost layer, or "lowest" floor under a centrifugal artificial gravity, and higher floors gradually decreasing in speed, the center floor being under no rotation weightlessness experiments or sleeping quarters, the floor right beneath it should be at regular Earth g, with the ceiling spinning fast above it, and the floor beneath it, but on this "Coriolis force floor" with small radius and high speed, they should have the martial arts section, karate, tae kwon do, jew jitsu, kung fu, and of course, tai chi chuan. Out of these only tai chi chuan people would be comfortable at the beginning, because they move so slow, and all the other fast movers would need some adaptation periods before their minds subconsciously correct for coriolis forces. As that's what life does, it adapts, and adapting to coriolis forces is not a bigger deal than, say developing white blood cells eating diseases like aids and malaria and what not, now that, life against life, is difficult, but not impossible to adapt for.

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (1)

Xtifr (1323) | about a month and a half ago | (#47209453)

If the answer is humans need a full gee, then we might as well just resign ourselves to limiting our trips into the solar system to quick jaunts and robotic explorers.

Disagree. Large-scale habitats/SPS/O'Neill Colonies have always been the best option. No huge gravity wells to deal with, since rotation provides your G's, and, while they are extraordinarily expensive, they cost nothing compared to a full-scale terraforming effort, and can provide a shirt-sleeve environment in basically no time flat. The one remaining big knock on them was the issue of radiation shielding, and now, that may be solved.

Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47209577)

Don't ignore Venus. We're scouring the galaxy for Earth-like planets when Earth's twin is right next door.

So Venus has a surface that is not suitable for our life right now, but it has a thick atmosphere, and it's conceivable we could build buoyant structures at an altitude equivalent to 1 earth atmosphere in pressure. Drop anchor and we have a heat engine that powers the thing. Crack atmospheric gases to provide life support and carbon.

Venus has too many resources and possibilities to really ignore it.

might inspire revolution ... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a month and a half ago | (#47204363)

... but then again, they might not.

Is this a weaker version of Betteridge's law?

Weasel words (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a month and a half ago | (#47204597)

"And who knows what other tricks ..."

Re:Weasel words (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a month and a half ago | (#47206403)

Weasels absorb radiation

What about Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47204679)

The big picture. How do we get a viable shield for the entire planet Mars? Going there is nice but living there is awesome.

nt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47205053)

Insert fantastic four reference here.

minimagnetospheres.org (1)

dtmos (447842) | about a month and a half ago | (#47205271)

The cited paper refers to http://www.minimagnetospheres.org/ [minimagnetospheres.org] , which has some interesting detail on the concept.

Cosmic rays (2)

buback (144189) | about a month and a half ago | (#47205551)

Protecting from solar radiation is great, but i understand that the greater threat is cosmic rays. Solar radiation is somewhat easy to block, because you just put a light element shield, like hydrogen tanks, between the astronauts and the sun.

Cosmic rays are much harder to shield from because they are so high energy. They also come from everywhere, so require a omnidirectional shield.

Re:Cosmic rays (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month and a half ago | (#47208343)

Cosmic rays hit you down here on Earth too, even if the atmosphere does block some. But your cells have a certain capacity for repair, including DNA repair, and only if you're drained, and drained faster than you can replenish, do you have permanent effects. And by the way they "are" talking about solar radiation, in the sense of Aurora Borealis, hitting you. Go watch some youtube on Aurora Borealis to see what they are talking about hitting you without a magnetic shield. Aurora borelais happens at the magnetic "holes in the shield" called the poles, where charge particles do not encounter perpendicular fields to their propagation forward effects. A way to eliminate Aurora Borealis against your space suit is to have to poles under your feet and on top of tall people's heads, so something either properly hits the field lines perpendicular, or it smashes into the metallic magnetic material shields at the poles.

Whiter means less radiation?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47205753)

Don't things on Earth left to bask in the sun's radiation turn white and lose pigmentation? Rather than gain it?

Re:Whiter means less radiation?? (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about a month and a half ago | (#47210207)

Not everything. My skin does exactly the opposite. There may be a specific process at work with the lunar regolite.

An Aside: " ... recently could not explain." (1)

fygment (444210) | about a month and a half ago | (#47211157)

Just an aside about the statement ending " .... that, until recently, astronomers could not explain."

There's a lot of stuff like that in science. There are even things that we don't know that we don't know about.

That should give a person pause for thought the next time they hear some scientist or engineer speaking definitively about some proposed solution to disease, the economy, and especially climate change.

The more grandiose and definitive the idea, the more likely it is vulnerable to what isn't yet known or explained.

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