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Space Elevator Prizes Proposed

michael posted about 10 years ago | from the up-up-and-away dept.

Space 214

colonist writes "Space elevator proponents are planning competitions for space elevator technologies, similar to the Ansari X Prize. Elevator:2010 will organize annual competitions for climbers, ribbons and power-beaming systems. In other space elevator news, researcher Bradley C. Edwards recently left the Institute for Scientific Research to work at two companies on materials and technology. Also, the space elevator has caught the interest of Google's founders: 'At a space camp in Alabama last year, Brin talked about creating a space elevator to transport cargo up a special tether attached to earth. Also last year, Brin joined Page in proclaiming they should found a nanotech lab at Google.'"

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Ceren wins beautiful geek chick prize... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095485)

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Re:Ceren wins beautiful geek chick prize... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095682)

Go on, support her. After all she is a registered user of this fine forum.

Newsflash: I see others agree, we have already smoked a few of the above links. Uh, and weren't those links on a BSD machine? *cough*.

Re:Ceren wins beautiful geek chick prize... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095847)

>...gay looking goat!

Actually, RMS and his involvement with Doctress Neutopia is well known and a proof he cannot be gay.

Anyway, Ceren is rather nice, wonder what it would take to make her model Tux in latex...?

Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095486)

Please try to keep posts on topic.

Michael on teh spoke (-1, Offtopic)

Uber Banker (655221) | about 10 years ago | (#10095544)

24 hours solid posting! Excellent, Michael you are my hero!!!

The regularity of interval between posts and other ;site features' (I am a registered 'troll') shows slashdot.org is truely a site created by the readers and used by the readers, a true meriotcricy and not at all subject to groupthink of the OS community.

Could /.'s scripts be termed an intelligent life form? They certainly appear near-Turing complete. If someone adds a line of code stating 'I am Perl, I exist'... then they become self conscious life (memes certainly demonstrate 'life') and any deletion is surely a breach of Article 1 of the Startrek bill of rights.

Lab? Isn't that a forum? (5, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | about 10 years ago | (#10095493)

last year, Brin joined Page in proclaiming they should found a nanotech lab at Google.


No link to pursue, but one feels that if it's at Google that would be more like a discussion forum than a lab. Unless, of course, they are proposing that Google starts funding a research center. If they follow, for instance, IBM's and ATT's footsteps, that would be a Great Thing(TM).

Has Google jumped the shark? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095580)

Seriously, these guys must be developing some sort of messiah complex if they think space elevators and nanotech have anything to do with their core skills. I met Brin in 2000 and he was getting full of himself then. The last few years of success and money must have convinced these two they're invincible and that any field could benefit from their presence. It's the same "I'm rich because I'm the smartest" attitude that too-young Wall Street traders get after they get rich at the first thing they try.

The real test if Google is any different from any other flash-in-the-pan will be when they hit some real adversity. Until then, they're just the latest Lycos/Altavista/Inktomi fair-haired boy to make a splash with VC funding and a slightly better idea. The truth is, no search engine has substantially improved once it's been deployed on a large scale. If no one's passed Google on quality, it's mainly because they were the last to get funded before the crash.

Flame away

Re:Has Google jumped the shark? (1)

netsharc (195805) | about 10 years ago | (#10095619)

Maybe they'll built the first realistic AI, and an AI-controlled virtual world where you can escape real-life, where people would get addicted and rather stay there...

Sounds like a film plot to you? :)

Interesting. (0, Redundant)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 10 years ago | (#10095688)

Mod parent up!

Re:Interesting. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095954)

mod parent down

Re:Has Google jumped the shark? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095695)

>I met Brin in 2000 and he was getting full of himself then.
Say, wan't it Brin that wrote the book behind The Postman? Umm, it sure does looklike it [imdb.com] .

>The real test if Google is any different from any other flash-in-the-pan will be when they hit some real adversity.
I disagree; they already have a real product that is used quite simply because it is of good quality and is also user friendly. That already sets them apart from the dot-coms of yesteryears.

Re:Has Google jumped the shark? (4, Insightful)

twiddlingbits (707452) | about 10 years ago | (#10095878)

Perhaps these guys just want to invest some of that money in a)neat nifty things like nano-tech b) the Elevator as a type of "philanthrophy", which rich people have always done in the USA, but other than Andrew Mellon who founded a university, it has mostly gone to the arts c) e trying to outdo Paul Allen who has invested in the X-Prize entry from Burt Rutan...a Space Elevator would make the X-prize look like a cheap trophy. Oh, and what do these guys care if Google has a rough spell, they can't spend all the money that they have NOW. I don't see Google hiting any bad lows in the next few years, but there could be some technology hiding out there that trumps then.

Re:Lab? Isn't that a forum? (3, Insightful)

KE1LR (206175) | about 10 years ago | (#10095685)

last year, Brin joined Page in proclaiming they should found a nanotech lab at Google.

[sarcasm] Today, General Motors announced they were launching a chain of fast-food resturaunts called "MotorEaters" and Coca-Cola began construction on a new factory to produce cruise missiles for the US military. [ /sarcasm ]

Whatever happened to sticking to what you do best? Perhaps all that IPO money is going to fund an attempt to make Google into a frankenstein conglomerate of all the founders' whims.

They will learn to seperate "Google" (2, Informative)

Goonie (8651) | about 10 years ago | (#10095899)

Sooner or later, they will probably, like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did, start to seperate their private enthusiasms from Google. Gates and Jobs both own private stakes in a number of companies and organisations, Jobs most famously with Pixar and Gates with an images company which I can't recall the name of just now.

I propose (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095494)

A one way ticket to pluto for the winner.

Welcome to planet google (3, Funny)

Barryke (772876) | about 10 years ago | (#10095498)

Aliens will enter earth via Google. I told you.

Re:Welcome to planet google (2, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 10 years ago | (#10095662)

No, more likely via Lindon Utah. [sco.com] Who but an eevil space alien could handle the Revenue Accountant job? (Earth Defence Missles, locked on! [mapquest.com] )

Re:Welcome to planet google (1)

Donny Smith (567043) | about 10 years ago | (#10095822)

They've entered it already via Brin & Page.

Haha! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095503)

And in other news, The RIAA has donated a large collection of hit music tracks [wikipedia.org] to the prize pool.

Re:Haha! (1)

caswelmo (739497) | about 10 years ago | (#10095806)

However, the music can not be listened to on the elevator because it is not an "approved" device.

RIAA Exec: "We are concerned that consumer interests could be threatened by freely distributed music at higher altitudes. By expanding unauthorized recordings past the atmosphere, beings on other worlds may be able to listen to music without the proper licensing. This could potentially destroy civilization & render...... What? Oh, those. Yeah, those are horns. They go well with my hooves & pointy tail, don't you think?"

Google Should fund it (3, Funny)

cflorio (604840) | about 10 years ago | (#10095505)

According to the Space Elevator Book [amazon.com] it will only take ~ 5 Billion to build the first one. After their IPO, they can afford it!

Re:Google Should fund it (1)

Louis Savain (65843) | about 10 years ago | (#10095700)

it will only take ~ 5 Billion to build the first one

And a few hundred dollars to buy a small bomb to bring it all down, miles upon miles of it crashing to the earth. The space elevator is a cool idea but not in this hate-filled world. Too dangerous.

Re:Google Should fund it (2, Interesting)

Tango42 (662363) | about 10 years ago | (#10095730)

The best solution to that i've heard is making it in sections that separate in an emergency and all burn up during re-entry. I still wouldn't want to be withing a mile or two of the base station though...

Moron! (4, Informative)

leonbrooks (8043) | about 10 years ago | (#10095804)

You don't have the first clue how it all works [liftport.com] , do you?

Re:Moron! (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 10 years ago | (#10095871)

> The space elevator is a cool idea but not in this hate-filled world.
You don't have the first clue how it all works, do you?

In many ways, I think that your answer makes the gp's point. s?he makes that point that security will be an issue. The faq, that you point to, says as well. In this day and age of 911 and GWB's generation of 1000 of new recruits for Al Qaeda, security will be an issue.

Now, that does not mean that we should not build it, but security is an issue for anything from the USA.

Re:Google Should fund it (2, Insightful)

stud9920 (236753) | about 10 years ago | (#10095725)

All the things you could have done with the Iraq $150 billions...You could have easily built five such elevators, plus ITER and the two next generations of fusion reactors to get rid of oil need. Prizes are good and all, but these things can also be fully financed by doing intelligent political choices.

Re:Google Should fund it (2, Interesting)

magarity (164372) | about 10 years ago | (#10095745)

After their IPO, they can afford it!

If you have a viable design for a space elevator, you can have your own IPO and raise plenty of cash. That's why there's no real need for artificial prizes. The revenue generated by the thing would be the real prize.

As I understand it... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095517)

A space elevator is a really long "superstrong" ribbon.

But then things get confusing. It's pretty obvious one end hooks to Earth, but what do you hook the other to? The Moon? An asteroid?

Assuming we find a substance strong enough to build such a cable from, don't we then have to worry about the strength of the tethers and ultimately the consequences of altering Earth's rotation?

I like sci-fi as much as the next person, but maybe this project calls for some long-term planning.

Re:As I understand it... (3, Informative)

mangu (126918) | about 10 years ago | (#10095547)

It's pretty obvious one end hooks to Earth, but what do you hook the other to?


An artificial satellite in geostationary orbit, that is at an altitude (close to 36000km) where the orbital velocitiy is the same as Earth's rotation.


don't we then have to worry about the strength of the tethers


Yes, that's the main problem.


ultimately the consequences of altering Earth's rotation?


No, since the satellite would be rotating at exactly the same speed as the Earth.

Re:As I understand it... (1)

Tango42 (662363) | about 10 years ago | (#10095658)

Actually, I think it's higher than standard GEO. The centre of gravity of the tether and the satalite is at GEO, so the satalite has the be higher, to counter the weight of the tether below. Depending on the relative masses of the tether and satalite, it could be quite a lot higher than GEO.

Re:As I understand it... (2, Informative)

26199 (577806) | about 10 years ago | (#10095699)

Yes, it does have to be higher... since by definition it will be orbiting at the speed of rotation of the earth, anything lower than geostationary orbit is going too slowly and will tend to fall back; anything higher is going too quickly and will tend to move away from the earth.

The idea is to have enough mass higher than geostationary orbit that this pull supports the rest of the structure.

Re:As I understand it... (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | about 10 years ago | (#10095733)

Depending on the relative masses of the tether and satalite, it could be quite a lot higher than GEO.


Right, and don't forget the mass of the cargo. It's an interesting situation, because it's dynamic. The mass of the cargo being raised or sent down will change from day to day, and the altitude of the satellite must be adjusted accordingly. However, to change the altitude isn't that simple. You must make it go faster, so it will start overtaking the Earth, moving east, before it starts rising. There will be ripples in the tether as a consequence, and the cargo pods will follow.


Also, the cargo will come from someplace and be sent somewhere. What about the launch system at the satellite, to send cargo pods to other orbits and receive them? An electromagnetic rail launcher seems right, but it will add and subtract momentum from the satellite.


How about creating a simulator for that? http://spaceelevator.sourceforge.net, anyone?

Re:As I understand it... (1)

Tango42 (662363) | about 10 years ago | (#10095767)

I don't think a simulator is needed. It's simple newtonian mechanics. Lots of it, but each bit is fairly simple. Also, if the mass of the counterweight is big enough relative to the mass of a cargo, won't the problem be too small to worry about?

Re:As I understand it... (5, Informative)

cjameshuff (624879) | about 10 years ago | (#10095708)

A space elevator is a really long "superstrong" ribbon.
Correct.
But then things get confusing. It's pretty obvious one end hooks to Earth, but what do you hook the other to? The Moon? An asteroid?
Not the moon. And not necessarily an asteroid, or anything. You could build a ribbon that extends far past GEO, and you won't need any kind of counterweight. As long as there is enough mass higher than GEO, the elevator will stay up.
Assuming we find a substance strong enough to build such a cable from, don't we then have to worry about the strength of the tethers and ultimately the consequences of altering Earth's rotation?
As mentioned, we have found materials strong enough, the problem is now producing them. And there will be no significant effects on Earth's rotation. Yes, momentum for the payloads will be taken from Earth's angular momentum...but Earth is really, really big and massive. Tidal effects with the moon will likely have greater effects than we could cause with beanstalks.

This is one thing I'd like to see before I die. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095521)

I'm almost 40 so I'm probably halfway through my life, but the space elevator is one thing I'd like to see, along with a manned landing on Mars, true artificial intelligence, proof of extraterrestrial civilization, and a Libertarian president.

If we can get that far without destroying the hope of future generations I think mankind might have a chance to be more successful than the dinosaurs were.

Re:This is one thing I'd like to see before I die. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095558)

If movies have taught me anything, it's that the space elevator is the only thing in that list that won't stand a good chance of wiping us out.

Re:This is one thing I'd like to see before I die. (1)

Stalyn (662) | about 10 years ago | (#10095606)

and ironically the only thing you will see is a Libertarian president....

Re:This is one thing I'd like to see before I die. (1)

Robmonster (158873) | about 10 years ago | (#10095696)

You dont want much, do you...?

Re:This is one thing I'd like to see before I die. (1)

jefe7777 (411081) | about 10 years ago | (#10095741)

before i die, i'd like to see a petrified natalie portman covered with hot grits.

in person.

She'll probably be quite willing to do that... (1)

leonbrooks (8043) | about 10 years ago | (#10095839)

...in about 40 years... picture it. (-:

Re:This is one thing I'd like to see before I die. (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | about 10 years ago | (#10095927)

true artificial intelligence

How exactly do you define true artificial intelligence, and, assuming it's
possible, would it be useful?

Google to buy NASA? (1)

cuteseal (794590) | about 10 years ago | (#10095522)

Maybe Google should just acquire Nasa, the same way they bought out Picasa :D

http://www.shuttertalk.com

sigh - not this again (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095525)

the entire concept of a space elevator is ridiculous and has been debunked many MANY times.

Apart from the cost (several hundred billion) and the technical impossibility of putting it into place, there exists no material with even one hundredth the strength required to withstand adjustments that are needed due to the earth's tilt.

It's all good in theory, if somehow we could put one up and keep it static, but we can't. The physics just don't work that way.

I'm not so sure (4, Informative)

cflorio (604840) | about 10 years ago | (#10095548)

Before jumping to conclusions on how this is not possible, go ahead and pick up a copy of The Space Elevator Book [amazon.com] .

They do have the material, carbon nano tubes. They just can't be made to the length needed, yet. They have ideas on how to avoid the space junk.

Re:I'm not so sure (2, Funny)

pikine (771084) | about 10 years ago | (#10095592)

No, I think i'll prefer to build one with Lego.

Re:I'm not so sure (1)

TedCheshireAcad (311748) | about 10 years ago | (#10095795)

You damn hippies and your newfangled plastic toys. Real men would make a space elevator with an Erector Set, using that tiny little wrench the whole way up.

Re:I'm not so sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095650)

"They have ideas on how to avoid the space junk."

Sure... they'll just clean up near-earth orbit with a huge space-vac, which was announced as phase three of the competition.

Re:I'm not so sure (1)

Speare (84249) | about 10 years ago | (#10095845)

Why am I reminded of the scene in Spaceballs where Dot Matrix vacuums the air from the planet? Heck, it's been so long since I've seen it, I don't even know if that's accurate. I just remember a huge vacuum near a planet, with Joan Rivers' voice over.

Re:I'm not so sure (5, Interesting)

g129951 (769417) | about 10 years ago | (#10095673)

"They have ideas on how to avoid the space junk."

I wouldn't suggest that reducing the total cost to low earth orbit is a bad idea --it's a great idea, that needs to be considered very carefully. I don't think raising a valid criticism or reasonable doubt constitutes jumping to conclusions either.

I was stationed at NORAD in the early eighties and junk in low earth orbit was a major concern as the shuttle program transitioned from idea to reality. I expect the problem is much worse now. I think "cloud" is a more apt description of the debris field. Yes, stuff re-enters the atmosphere all day every day, so I guess you could say it's a self healing process, but it's a long process.

The trouble with ideas is that they cost taxpayer dollars even if it turns out to be a bust.

I don't think most people have any idea what it would take to successfully swing a cable through maybe 20,000 objects at various altitudes, all travelling at 17,000 MPH or so, all day every day without hitting anything.

There's a long ugly road between this idea and reality.

Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if NASA didn't fund the programs. It would be O.K. with me if someone with an idea wanted to fund the research themselves or recruit funding from corporate types.

MADMEN is a similar boondoggle. But, don't take my word for it, ask Duncan Steele, PhD. In 1995 Steele published a book called "Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets" addressing this particular option (throwing material off an dangerous asteroid using a mass driver). Thomas Ahrens and Alan Harris at the California Institute of Technology looked at this very system (page 229). They dismissed it in 1992 because the ejection requirement was "...many thousands of tons..." over a lot of years. What did they come up with in answer to that? A "fleet" of mass drivers throwing stuff off. MADMEN indeed.

Re:I'm not so sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095761)

>I don't think most people have any idea what it would take to successfully swing a cable through maybe 20,000 objects at various altitudes, all travelling at 17,000 MPH or so, all day every day without hitting anything.
It isn't the velocity relative to ground that is the problem, only differential velocity of ribbon and the junk that is there. You do not mention altitude so I'd appreciate some figures here.

Earth surface velocity at equator is 40,000km/24h = 1667 km/h. Obviously not all object can travel at 17,000 MPH or so

fix (1)

zogger (617870) | about 10 years ago | (#10095790)

All that star wars laser jazz they are developing. Seems like a good way to get target practice with it once it's fully built, let the guys take out pieces of space junk. ZZZZAAAP!

NORAD, huh? Got any "fast movers" stories you can neither confirm nor deny? ;)

Re:sigh - not this again (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095739)

>he entire concept of a space elevator is ridiculous and has been debunked many MANY times.
Right, and what were these alleged theories? Are you even remotely capable of pointing out one that has even the slightest shred of credibility?

>Apart from the cost (several hundred billion)
That is easily on par with the cost of several recent US-led conflicts in the world. Just the latest increase (not the total, just the increase) in the US defence budget is higher than 100 billion USD. The money is there. Also there are other countries in the world than the US too you know.

>and the technical impossibility of putting it into place
Care to tell me what these imossibilities are? Or did you mean impossible as in going to the moon?

>there exists no material with even one hundredth the strength required to withstand adjustments that are needed due to the earth's tilt
Feel free to attept explaining this too.

>It's all good in theory
OK; so it is good in theory but still, somehow, impossible? Neat.

> if somehow we could put one up and keep it static, but we can't
Syntax error dude.

>The physics just don't work that way
And what physics would that be?

BTW IAAP (phycicist), so feel free to be as technical in your arguments as you wish.

Welcome to the World of tomorrow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095531)

..now if you would mind just stepping into the probulator thankyou.

Re:Welcome to the World of tomorrow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095770)

Is this the probulator [dailynexus.com] you were talking about? In that case I can think of many who would step on it, hard!

kim stanley robinson (1)

bob_avernus (799481) | about 10 years ago | (#10095566)

if anybody has read the mars series by kim stanley robinson in his book they created the end out of an astroid which was also cannibalized to make the cable the problem with it was that during a revolution the astroid was detached by explosives and went on a trip around the sun with people in it then the cable started to fall which ended up wrapping around mars like 1.5 times and did major damage to the planet and killed thousands... "and they want to do this on earth?"

Re:kim stanley robinson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095579)

Does science FICTION mean anything to you?!

Re:kim stanley robinson (1)

bob_avernus (799481) | about 10 years ago | (#10095598)

alot of science FICTION has proven to be facts plus what else do you propose to connect a cable that long to? it would have to have enough mass to hold the cable and connecting the cable would also be very complicated... also about power there was a nasa mission where they strung a cable out from the space shuttle and it collected so much energy that it arked into the shuttle causing some minor damage

Re:kim stanley robinson (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095641)

You're obviously referring to the Tethered Satellite experiment. That 20km tether was intended to generate power by running this conductive wire through the earth's magnetic field. Something like a large scale alternator. The damage was caused by a hole in this wire's outer insulation layer, coupled with the fact that the part of the tether giving its strength was able to hold enough air(oxygen) to permit this spark to burn long enough to break the tether. Of course, the satellite and the 19.8km of tether was lost. However, the test for generating power (at the expense of orbit altitude) was a success. This now proven technology can be used for satellite power generation, or even a fuelless orbit raising by applying a current to the tether.

Re:kim stanley robinson (1)

Gest (755925) | about 10 years ago | (#10095587)

There are plenty of serious obstacles to an elevator but they don't include these. Read the Wiikipedia article and associated talk page.

Re:kim stanley robinson (1)

Pentagram (40862) | about 10 years ago | (#10095813)

Well, that'll save everyone teh trouble of actually reading the book!

Re:kim stanley robinson (1)

bob_avernus (799481) | about 10 years ago | (#10095879)

the book isn't about the elevators it plays a role in the first book there are 3 more after that though they do have elevators in them they are very good books with alot of science in them even though they are science fiction i looked into them and at the time most of it was based on fact

Re:kim stanley robinson (2, Insightful)

sketerpot (454020) | about 10 years ago | (#10095950)

Bravo. You've read a science fiction book and assumed that it applies to real life. Perhaps you should read about the actual proposal to build a space elevator instead of just blindly posting "in the mars series it WRAPPED AROUND TEH PLANET!!!".

I'm sorry if this is unusually harsh, but I'm sick to death of this reply. Whenever anybody brings up the plans to build a space elevator, some bozo says that it's a bad idea because of something that happened in that series. I like to think that most people can tell fiction from reality, but this is seriouslly making me reconsider.

In other space elevator news... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095569)

"In other space elevator news..."

You know you're living in the 21st century when you read words like these.

Google Space Elevator? (3, Funny)

Paulrothrock (685079) | about 10 years ago | (#10095570)

Would it have the 'o's going up the side of the tether?

I heard people complaining about how Google's a one-trick pony, but that kind of diversifying probably isn't what they're talking about.

Re:Google Space Elevator? (1)

kidgenius (704962) | about 10 years ago | (#10095885)

Just like the google search, you click the "O" at the level you want to get off at.

More importantly... (3, Funny)

m1kesm1th (305697) | about 10 years ago | (#10095596)

If a space elevator is built, what music will it play?

I suggest some calming Thievery Corporation or maybe Air might be more appropriate.

Re:More importantly... (1)

ScottGant (642590) | about 10 years ago | (#10095609)

well, if it took a while to take the elevator up, and it had private rooms...then you could play "Love in an Elevator"

Re:More importantly... (1)

adrianbaugh (696007) | about 10 years ago | (#10095672)

To hell with music, I want space elevators with Genuine People Personalities! :-)

Re:More importantly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095870)

Holts, "The Planets" of course.

Rename "Clarke orbit"? (3, Interesting)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 10 years ago | (#10095600)

From a link from the FA link: [nasa.gov]
In 1895 a Russian scientist named Konstantin Tsiolkovsky looked at the Eiffel Tower in Paris and thought about such a tower. He wanted to put a "celestial castle" at the end of a spindle shaped cable, with the "castle" orbiting the earth in a geosynchronous orbit (i.e. the castle would remain over the same spot on the earth). The tower would be built from the ground to an altitude of 35,800 kilometers. It would be similar to the fabled beanstalk in the children's story "Jack and the Beanstalk," except that on Tsiolkovsky's tower an elevator would ride up the cable to the "castle".
Depending on how it was written, wouldn't this cover at least part of Arthur C. Clarke's idea (and patent) for using geostationary orbits? To fully cover it, the castle would have needed radios, but Marconi hadn't stolen the radio yet... Did it have semaphores?

Forget space elevators... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095603)

Google should use their expertise in searching to create their own version of SETI.

Re:Forget space elevators... (2, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 10 years ago | (#10095622)

There you go! [google.as] (0.28 seconds) I'm sure that the Martian Embassy will have a link somewhere down in the (about) 139,000 hits.

Re:Forget space elevators... (1)

Jozer99 (693146) | about 10 years ago | (#10095686)

Why, so we can devote our spare cycles to helping people search for porn?

Cool...but (3, Insightful)

deanj (519759) | about 10 years ago | (#10095604)

I've always like this idea, but I bet some whack-job will try and bomb the thing. :-( ...on the other hand, some other whack-job will probably try and *climb* the thing.... wonder how far he'd be before he'd realize that it wasn't as good of an idea as he thought?

Re:Cool...but (1)

WhiteDeath (737946) | about 10 years ago | (#10095683)

I wonder if that would count as a base jump?

Re:Cool...but (1)

caswelmo (739497) | about 10 years ago | (#10095776)

Of course, if they climb high enough, they might just fall up when they let go. :^)

What, you don't think a 60,000 mile climb is realistic? Whatever....

Re:Cool...but (3, Interesting)

caswelmo (739497) | about 10 years ago | (#10095768)

Not that it would be fool-proof, but I'm willing to bet that access to space of this type would be an incredibly precious commodity, both militarily & commercially (not to mention tourism!). As such, I'm betting there would be a no-fly zone 50 miles wide around this thing, with military air support from an internationally diverse force. Plus, I'm sure there would be incredibly hefty ground security as well.

All I'm saying is, I can hardly imagine some nut getting close enough to do damage (or climb :^) this thing. But then again, if it's used for tourism, we would be hard-pressed to keep some suicide-murdering nutjob from find some way. So perhaps no tourism. Damn! As with all terrorism, the common man/woman suffers & the powers-that-be keep on truckin'.

Did that just turn into a rant?..... Oops! :P

Re:Cool...but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095791)

It will have to be located near Equator, and the US (assuming it will be US-built as opposed to, say, Japan-built) has several islads in the Pacific. It also has the fleet to protect it.

Moreover defence companies are frequently also into aerospace (Rockwell, Lockheed Martin, Boeing etc.) so I can see a military-industrial angle here.

Re:Cool...but (1)

klang (27062) | about 10 years ago | (#10095805)

People are climbing everything that seems posible or imposible, so if a space elevator is ever build, people will try to climb it .. good idea or not ..

Climbing a building without permission, the police will be waiting on the roof, at least that woun't be a problem here .. Climbing high enough to make a base jump and strike two birds with one stone!

Re:Cool...but (2, Interesting)

CmdrGravy (645153) | about 10 years ago | (#10095920)

Why would it be any easier to conduct a terrorist attack against a space elevator compared to against the Space Shuttle launch facility ?

Re:Cool...but (4, Insightful)

isorox (205688) | about 10 years ago | (#10095941)

I was thinking of going outside, but some whack-job will try to kill me :-( So I stay in my basement. Trouble is it's in a city, so some whack-job might try to blow up a CBRN bomb near me. Perhaps I'll move to nepal.

If your attitude is that of the rest of the U.S. Your status as world leader ended on September 11th.

Do people stop going to Spain on holiday cause of ETA? Did people avoid British cities, train stations, and Norther n Ireland, while the IRA were busy murdering people? Do you avoid driving as you might die (afterall, more americans died in 2001 from car accidents then terrorism)?

Rotovator(tm) (4, Interesting)

Baldrson (78598) | about 10 years ago | (#10095623)

Such prize awards might have a wonderful side-effect.

Hans Moravec's Rotovator(tm) [google.com] picks up hypersonic (near mach 12) payloads from an altitude of 100km and slings them to orbit.

Current proposals for implementation of the Moravec's design [tethers.com] rely on a hypersonic air-breather of advanced aerodynamic design like the Boeing DF-9 (that exists only on paper).

Is there anything likely come along in the near future that could take paylods to 100km and mach 12?

Probably the same thing that is driving the bureaucrats to make all this noise about space elevators now:

The prospect that centralized space programs will be left behind by the emergence of a competitive suborbital launch industry with the emergence of suborbital space tourism and prizes like the Ansari X-Prize.

A key to the Rotovator(tm) is getting hub mass in place to keep it out of the atmosphere while it picks up mass from 100km@mach12 -- but that mass can be any old space junk (what is the dry weight of the International Space Station?) -- at least at the hub where it counts the most for high strength materials like carbon nanotubes. However, you can do a Rotovator(tm) with off-the-shelf commercially available fibers and still have a factor of 2.

Nice thing about Rotovators(tm) is that they can be built with much lower capitaliztion over a much shorter period of time using existing commercial materials. All you need is a bunch of mass orbiting near earth, some quite-doable tethers, and sufficient manuverability and speed in the atmospheric leg to hook up with the tether as it reaches the nadir.

Modest prize awards toward early milestones of a space elevator could end up enabling the Rotovator(tm) as well.

Don't know if this would be such a good idea... (3, Funny)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | about 10 years ago | (#10095633)

The 'muzak' in normal elevators is allready driving me crazy :

Imagine going upwards for alot of miles ; in the meantime having to listen to Julio Iglesias' songs, performed by some guy on a synthesizer. NOOOOOO !

Deus Ex (1)

intx13 (808988) | about 10 years ago | (#10095634)

Hmm, a guy named Page discussing the foundation of a nanotech lab... Nah, I'm sure it's fine...

Re:Deus Ex (1)

blackomegax (807080) | about 10 years ago | (#10095720)

i'd have gotten that without the title :)
google is already well on thier way to quiet world domination :)

Of course Google is interested in a space elevator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095644)

How else would employees get to Google Copernicus Center [google.com] ?

  • Google Copernicus Center is hiring
  • Why a lunar location?
  • What are the challenges?
  • Searching the heavens
  • New rules. New tools
  • Life in the Googlunaplex
  • Thrust yourself to the forefront of search

google should rename themselves (2, Funny)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about 10 years ago | (#10095663)

to Cyberdyne Systems.

Google Nanotech (2, Funny)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | about 10 years ago | (#10095665)

They just want to make the Pigeons smaller so they can fit more into a 1U server case and make google faster.

Tell you what... (2, Funny)

Jozer99 (693146) | about 10 years ago | (#10095677)

Tell you what; to get things moving, I will start a challenge: The first commercially viable space elevator constructed before August 28, 2005 at a height of more than 100 km will win $1000000 from me.

Re:Tell you what... (1)

Tango42 (662363) | about 10 years ago | (#10095738)

You are going to feel so stupid if someone goes and does it... unlikely, I admit, but it would be funny.

Re:Tell you what... (1)

Jozer99 (693146) | about 10 years ago | (#10095858)

Well, if you do manage it, then come to my house and bang on the door until I come out. Here is my address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue District Of Columbia Feel free to hop the fence and scream a lot, I don't mind. The men in black suits will take you to collect the money.

Usual Elevator slashdot posts (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095681)

Here we go. Another Space Elevator post. Cue lots of post about

1) What musak should be playing in the elevator. This is the height of modern humour people, make as many jokes as possible.

2) Fear of terrorist attacks, despite the obvious difficulty of trying to snap a super-strong cable. And since when did Terrorists attack where they were expected?

3) Fear of accident, 'what if the thing fell to Earth?!!?!! it would slice through everything!!!". As if the brilliant scientists who are developing the elevator didn't think of this.

And don't forget, under no circumstances whatsoever should the story be discussed.

Is beaming power the best? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095810)

In there proposed competition they have a 10kw searchlight, at 25% efficiency, giving about 500w of power (I'm guessing after conversion from light back to electricity).

Is beaming the power the best way of doing this? Is there no way we could have some cool [sic] superconductor material in the ribbon to transmit power. Room temperature might not be needed.

I think the floor in my proposoal is that not all the layers in the atmosphere are cold; isn't there one layer that's actually very hot.

Ok, why not microwaves, or something a little less inefficient?

Re:Is beaming power the best? (1)

matthewr84 (469595) | about 10 years ago | (#10095900)

It did seem like they put a bunch of unnecessary constraints in. The assumption seems to be that there could be no better power source than artificial light/photoelectrics, so why bother with anything else. They even interviewed other space elevator folks whose existing designs wouldn't qualify for this. Seems like it would be better to just let people try any crazy way they can come up with to accomplish the goal of getting up rather than insisting everyone stick with the photoelectric idea.

The truth about Google (3, Funny)

SlashCrunchPop (699733) | about 10 years ago | (#10095816)

I guess I can now break the news that Brin and Page intend to stack up the entire Google data center into the world's largest rack. With the jurisdiction problem out of the way they will finally be able to do what they wanted to do in the first place. Start their X-rated Go-Ogle portal.
Domain Name: GO-OGLE.COM
Registrar: GO DADDY SOFTWARE, INC.
...
Status: REGISTRAR-LOCK
Creation Date: 10-mar-2002
...
Registrant:
Glen Analise
...
Administrative & Technical Contact:
Shires, Glen REMOVED_TO_PROTECT_THE_GUILTY@spies.com
Everybody knows that John Glenn is Sergey's favorite astronaut and that Sergey is a sucker for mathematics, so don't tell me you are surprised to find out Sergey uses such aliases.

Who's your Daddy now?

But... don't tell me... (2, Funny)

leonbrooks (8043) | about 10 years ago | (#10095817)

...all of the details are still up in the air?

Mods: please don't get too highly strung, go ballistic or hit the roof over this.

Excuse me, but WTF?? (1)

Transcendent (204992) | about 10 years ago | (#10095874)

Brin joined Page in proclaiming they should found a nanotech lab at Google.

Talk about a huge leap of focus here...

why doesn't Yahoo! start getting into genetic engineering now? ...same logic...

Floor 11,947 - Lingerie, Housewares. (4, Funny)

zenneth (767572) | about 10 years ago | (#10095886)

The only problem with space elevators is those people who like to push all the other buttons for the other floors.

A bit premature? (4, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | about 10 years ago | (#10095918)

The Ansari X-prize seeks to reproduce an effort that had already succeeded, and been substantially surpassed, by several governments.

A "space elevator", on the other hand, is totally unlike anything ever done before. As I read in a Slashdot post some years ago (referring to nanotubes, the favorite among space-elevator aficionados), "When somebody has built a 40,000 millimeter bridge across a creek on campus, then we can start to talk about a 40,000 kilometer bridge straight up".

The fact that we have not yet achieved one millionth of the task (and in fact fall several orders of magnitude for that) suggests to me that, much as I would love to see a space elevator in place, the job today belongs to materials scientists who are looking at shorter-term goals.

An eye to the future is great, but experimenting on climbers is like practicing the high jump: if you're jumping twice as high today as last year, I wouldn't start drawing any exponential curves. The ribbon is the really, really hard part, and we're currently so far away from it that research energy is better spent elsewhere for a while. 2010 is way, way too close.

Maybe with enough motivation we could get that 40,000 mm bridge by 2010, but somehow I doubt you're going to raise $10 million to build a bridge. The X-prize shot somebody into space for that kind of money.

I'm prepared to be wrong. I'm a software developer, and I've learned that as a consultant I can say, "Your project is doomed" with 95% accuracy before I've even heard your name. Being a nay-sayer is easy. But the real trick is being able to spot the 5% that will actually be profitable, and there are a lot of projects more immediately deserving of this kind of money.

what if it falls over? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10095945)

If the space elevator should fall (or be pushed) over isn't that going to cause a big hole in the earth about 36000km long (or will some of it be left floating in space??).
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