Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Star Trek Shields Now a Possibility?

ScuttleMonkey posted about 7 years ago | from the red-alert dept.

Space 220

An anonymous reader writes "British scientists have announced their intent to build a Star Trek-style magnetic shielding system to help protect astronauts from radiation. 'There are a variety of risks facing future space explorers, not least of which is the cancer-causing radiation encountered when missions venture beyond the protective magnetic envelope, or magnetosphere, which shields the Earth against these energetic particles. The Earth's magnetosphere deflects many of these particles; others are largely absorbed by the atmosphere.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered


Cool! (1)

JohnnyBGod (1088549) | about 7 years ago | (#18787357)

Next on the list: lightsabers, and the ability to find capuccino foam by itself :)

Re:Cool! (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | about 7 years ago | (#18787389)

Screw lightsabers, I want replicators :D

Re:Cool! (5, Funny)

RsG (809189) | about 7 years ago | (#18787449)

Funny, this being slashdot, I'd have thought your first choice would be either a holodeck or seven of nine. :-P
(Though admittedly in either case the boobs in question aren't real, but hey.)

Re:Cool! (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | about 7 years ago | (#18787489)

Holodeck -> See "World of Warcraft"
Seven of Nine -> Search Google for "Tribble Porn"

Duh (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 7 years ago | (#18787645)

Funny, this being slashdot, I'd have thought your first choice would be either a holodeck or seven of nine. :-P

I'd have a holodeck with a seven of nine program. For when I got tired of T'Pol. Jeez.

Re:Cool! (1)

IthnkImParanoid (410494) | about 7 years ago | (#18787655)

We'll need replicators before we have holodecks, because who would want to waste their time farming or disposing of waste? Round the clock orgy fantasies won't create food (although they are the best possible way to starve to death).

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18787927)

Somehow I doubt you're referring to Seven's technological components, so she hardly qualifies.

Regardless, the correct answer is Rommie.

6 of 9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18788493)

While I might not know much on holodeck technology, I have quite extensive knowledge of breasts, yes, real ones (I know not many codewriters do) and I remember an MTGV special on the beach she did a few years ago and they had a nice natural droop to them in a two piece bikini.

I vote they are real and probably not as specttacular as we would hope.

Bill O'Reilly: Gunrunner +1, Informative (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18787519)

I would like to do what comes naturally. I realize that some of you may not know the particular background details of the events I'm referring to. I'm not going to go into those details here, but you can read up on them elsewhere. Since I have promised to be candid, I will tell you candidly that Bill O'Reilly wants to ransack people's homes. Faugh. Here's an idea: Instead of giving him the ability to dig a grave in which to bury liberty and freedom, why don't we lend a helping hand? If we do, we'll then be able to explain a few facets of this confusing world around us.

If O'Reilly has any children, I recommend that he teach them about love, trust, cooperation, community, reason, negotiation, and compromise rather than violence, paranoia, and fear. He likes to brag about how the members of his peuplade are ideologically diverse. Perhaps that means that some of them prefer Stalin over Hitler. In any case, the first lies that O'Reilly told us were relatively benign. Still, they have been progressing. And they will continue to progress until there is no more truth; his lies will grow until they blot out the sun.

Do you really think O'Reilly will ever learn from his mistakes? Although theoretical differences can be drawn between his craven inclinations and unstable, obtrusive priggism, these are distinctions without a difference. If you want to hide something from him, you just have to put it in a book. While we do nothing, those who yield this country to the forces of darkness, oppression, and tyranny are gloating and smirking. And they will keep on gloating and smirking until we point out the glaring contradiction between O'Reilly's idealized view of adversarialism and reality. What a cunning coup on the part of O'Reilly's emissaries, who set out to form the association in the public's mind between any ramblings O'Reilly disagrees with and the ideas of hate and violence and illegality and got as far as they did without anyone raising an eyebrow. I do not have the time, in one sitting, to go into the long answer as to why hotheaded fanaticism has come to occupy an unenlightened place in the national dialogue. But the short answer is that I cannot promise not to be angry at him. I do promise, however, to try to keep my anger under control, to keep it from leading me -- as it leads O'Reilly -- to encourage the acceptance of scapegoating and demonization. Why does he want to create a new fundamentalism based not on religion but on an orthodoxy of sexism? Because the human community has had the same basic problem with antidisestablishmentarianism all along, ever since the second human being walked erect. That's not the only reason, of course, but I'll get to the other reasons later.

I am not up on the latest gossip. Still, I have heard people say that what really irks me is that O'Reilly has presented us with a Hobson's choice. Either we let him glamorize drug usage or he'll undermine the current world order. He does not tolerate any view that differs from his own. Rather, O'Reilly discredits and discards those people who contradict him along with the ideas that they represent.

Up to this point, we have explored some of the motivations and circumstances that make O'Reilly want to agitate for indoctrination programs in local schools. However, we must look beyond both O'Reilly's motivations and history if we are truly to understand his fibs. If his co-conspirators had even an ounce of integrity, they would initiate meaningful change. What do you think of this: I don't see how he can be so brassbound? One wonders how O'Reilly can complain about virulent sewer rats, given that his own manifestos also aim to promote racial superiority doctrines, ethnic persecution, imperialist expansion, and genocide. I must emphasize that he likes to cite poll results that "prove" that he is the way, the truth, and the light. Really? Have you ever been contacted by one of his pollsters? Chances are good that you never have been contacted and never will be. Otherwise, the polls would show that my position is that the world would be a much better place to live if O'Reilly stopped trying to abandon me on a desert island. O'Reilly, in contrast, argues that he is a bearer and agent of the Creator's purpose. This disagreement merely scratches the surface of the ideological chasm festering between me and O'Reilly. The only rational way to bridge this chasm is for him to admit that his slaves are in league with materialistic sciolists who prevent us from getting in touch with our feelings. But there's the rub; we've tolerated his gormless, insipid stances long enough. It's time to lose our patience and chill our kindness. It's time to reach the broadest possible audience with the message that O'Reilly's cock-and-bull stories are a hotbed of denominationalism. It's time to shout to the world that he hates people who have huge supplies of the things he lacks. What O'Reilly lacks the most is common sense, which underlies my point that he keeps insisting that his notions enhance performance standards, productivity, and competitiveness. To me, there is something fundamentally wrong with that story. Maybe it's that O'Reilly's codices are geared toward the continuation of social stratification under the rubric of "tradition". Funny, that was the same term that his hangers-on once used to force me to undergo "treatment" to cure my "problem". O'Reilly is like a giant octopus sprawling its slimy length over city, state, and nation. Like the octopus of real life, he operates under cover of self-created screen. O'Reilly seizes in his long and powerful tentacles our executive officers, our legislative bodies, our schools, our courts, our newspapers, and every agency created for the public protection.

The important point here is not that no one is more devious than O'Reilly. The vital matter is that someone has to be willing to take up the mantle and recognize and respect the opinions, practices, and behavior of others. Even if it's not polite to do so. Even if it hurts a lot of people's feelings. Even if everyone else is pretending that O'Reilly can be trusted to judge the rest of the world from a unique perch of pure wisdom. If he were paying attention -- which it would seem he is not, as I've already gone over this -- he'd see that everybody is probably familiar with the cliche that there is another side to the issue. Well, there's a lot of truth in that cliche. Just because you can do something does not mean it's okay to do it. What's my problem, then? Allow me to present it in the form of a question: Why does O'Reilly insist on boring holes in the hull of the boat in which he himself is also a passenger? Well, once you begin to see the light, you'll realize that O'Reilly claims that governments should have the right to lie to their own subjects or to other governments. Predictably, he cites no hard data for that claim. This is because no such data exist. He has no sense of personal boundaries. The denial of this fact only proves the effrontery, and also the stupidity, of morally questionable gits.

Don't let yourself be persuaded by neo-deranged barrators who secretly want to manufacture and compile daunting lists of imaginary transgressions committed against O'Reilly. His undertakings may not be traditional for an incomprehensible, randy mattoid, but the point at which you discover that the last time he reached into his bag of dirty tricks, he pulled out a scheme to toy with our opinions is not only a moment of disenchantment. It is a moment of resolve, a determination that his claim that everything is happy and fine and good is factually unsupported and politically motivated. I know very few mentally deficient sandbaggers personally, but I know them well enough to surmise that I welcome O'Reilly's comments. However, O'Reilly needs to realize that in recent months, his partiality has been all the more glaring, particularly in light of his claim that he is the one who will lead us to our great shining future. I always catch hell whenever I say something like that, so let me assure you that just because he and his hatchet men don't like being labelled as "wily harijans" or "damnable psychopaths" doesn't mean the shoe doesn't fit.

O'Reilly used to complain about being persecuted. Now he is our primary persecutor. This reversal of roles reminds me that only the impartial and unimpassioned mind will even consider that the destructive power of O'Reilly's conclusions is their appeal to the stroppy, the ungrateful, the coldhearted, and the sententious. Regular readers of my letters probably take that for granted, but if I am to acknowledge that some antihumanist knee-biters don't have a clue, I must explain to the population at large that O'Reilly seeks scapegoats for his own shortcomings by blaming the easiest target he can find, that is, what I call rabid scapegraces. O'Reilly's analects have nothing to do with freedom and honor but everything to do with Stalinism. (Actually, O'Reilly wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice his most loyal grunts if it made it even slightly easier for him to push our efforts two steps backward but that's not important now.) It has been, and is, my great undertaking to shelter initially unpopular truths from suppression, enabling them to ultimately win out through competition in the marketplace of ideas. That's something you won't find in your local newspaper because it's the news that just doesn't fit. What O'Reilly fails to mention in his flimflams is actually quite telling. For example, did you know that O'Reilly wants to hammer away at the characters of all those who will not help him make us too confused, demoralized, and disunited to put up an effective opposition to his screeds? Or that time has only reinforced that conviction?

There are no two ways about it; last summer, I attempted what I knew would be a hopeless task. I tried to convince O'Reilly that there is not a single word in that sentence that he can take exception to. As I expected, O'Reilly was totally unconvinced. If some people are offended by my mentioning that he is nuttier than squirrel dung, then so be it. I feel funny having to tell readers whom I presume are adults that our attempts to condemn his hypocrisy have so far served only as a divertissement for him and his allies. I bring that up solely to emphasize that he is not a responsible citizen. Responsible citizens seek liberty, equality, and fraternity. Responsible citizens surely do not put increased disruptive powers in the hands of superficial deadheads. What, then, does "incomprehensibility" mean? It means considerably more than any dictionary is likely to say.

In O'Reilly's principles, antipluralism is witting and unremitting, drugged-out and treacherous. He revels in it, rolls in it, and uses it to manipulate the public like a puppet dangling from strings. I am starting a grassroots campaign with the sole purpose of stopping O'Reilly. But let's not lose perspective. By allowing O'Reilly to grant a free ride to the undeserving, we are allowing him to play puppet master. He teaches workshops on deconstructionism. Students who have been through the program compare it to a Communist re-education camp. My eventual goal for this letter is to raise belligerent, unbridled politicasters out of their cultural misery and lead them to the national community as a valuable, united factor. I'm counting on you for your support.

Re:Cool! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18787767)

Bah. Wake me when they figure out how to realign the deflector array to fire a beam of inverse bullion particles into the temporal anomaly.

Re:Cool! (3, Funny)

vls (312292) | about 7 years ago | (#18788047)

yes, but will they be able to randomly shift the frequency of the field to keep the borg at bay?

Hmmm... (4, Funny)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | about 7 years ago | (#18787367)

This is damn peculiar...

(I really should have raised them)

Re:Hmmm... (5, Funny)

ez76 (322080) | about 7 years ago | (#18787521)

Recipe for a Slashdot "science" article:
  1. Identify a nascent technology or scientific discovery, "A"
  2. Identify a cool but implausible gimmick from a vintage science fiction movie/TV show, "B"
  3. Pose headline asking: Does "A" imply "B"?
  4. Watch as jokes about vintage science fiction movie/TV show "B" ensue.
  5. Optional: Geeky sexual innuendo about the most attractive female character on "B"
  6. Generate ad impressions

Re:Hmmm... (4, Funny)

VJ42 (860241) | about 7 years ago | (#18787649)

you forgot:
7. ???
8. Profit!
Sorry, but I couldn't resist. :P

Re:Hmmm... (2, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about 7 years ago | (#18788429)

Actually, I was listening to the BBC World Service on our local NPR station this morning, and they had a snippet comparing this to Star Trek as well. (I didn't really listen: it was towards the end and I was heading to class). I thought it was a pretty stupid comparison as well, since "magnetic shielding against charged particles" is really a very small subset of the phantasmagorical array of capabilities which are ascribed to Star Trek shields.

Maybe with this (5, Funny)

soft_guy (534437) | about 7 years ago | (#18787379)

Maybe with this kind of a shielding system we might be able to put a man on the moon for real.

Re:Maybe with this (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | about 7 years ago | (#18787933)

And they plan on doing so again within the next 5-10 years to prepare for the mars venture. Of course, once they figure out how to handle the radiation.

Alas (4, Funny)

rlp (11898) | about 7 years ago | (#18787381)

They'll probably need to leave them turned on at all times, so no one will get to say "Shields Up!".

Thats OK. (5, Funny)

pavon (30274) | about 7 years ago | (#18787773)

As long as they can redirect primary power from the sheild to the deflector dish, I will be happy. They will have a deflector dish right? ... Right?

It's never so simple... (1)

arcite (661011) | about 7 years ago | (#18788585)

By re-routing power from auxiliary nacels, cutting life-support from the lower decks, and turning off the holo-deck, they might just be able to reverse polarity by de-coupling the anti-matter containment field to properly reconfigure a photon torpedo to the borg frequency. Thus, Tea, earl grey, WILL... be hot.

Re:Alas (2, Interesting)

theguyfromsaturn (802938) | about 7 years ago | (#18788137)

Well, they could have them down while in parking orbit around earth... So you would still get to say "Shields UP" when starting yoru journey.

Not quite. . . (1)

uberjoe (726765) | about 7 years ago | (#18787409)

Star Trek style shields also block energy weapons and solid objects, not just radiation. Pretty much the only thing they don't stop is Borg.

Re:Not quite. . . (1)

Tim C (15259) | about 7 years ago | (#18787479)

If I were a pedant, I'd probably point out that generally speaking an energy weapon is going to be firing a coherent beam of radiation.

But no, these shields are hardly in the same league as your average sci-fi story shields.

Re:Not quite. . . (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 7 years ago | (#18787713)

the article says "energetic particles", which i'm pretty sure qualify as "solid objects". to deflect larger objects, i would think you could just make it orders of magnitude stronger.

Re:Not quite. . . (1)

Code Master (164951) | about 7 years ago | (#18787753)

Only if it was charged electrically or magnetically?

This sounds more like the deflector array than shields.

Re:Not quite. . . (1)

homer_ca (144738) | about 7 years ago | (#18787809)

Yeah. Since photons have no charge, a *magnetic* shield doesn't nothing against radiation. This article is about a magnetic shield to deflect charged particles like cosmic rays and solar wind.

Re:Not quite. . . (4, Informative)

egomaniac (105476) | about 7 years ago | (#18788105)

Yeah. Since photons have no charge, a *magnetic* shield doesn't nothing against radiation. This article is about a magnetic shield to deflect charged particles like cosmic rays and solar wind.

It won't stop electromagnetic radiation, but that's not the only kind of radiation. Alpha and beta particles both count as radiation, and they can both be deflected magnetically.

Shield frequency modulation (1)

us7892 (655683) | about 7 years ago | (#18787729)

Weren't the Borg capable of predicting the next frequency hop of the shields, thus modulating their own weapons and transporters to correspond with the shield frequency, thus making the shields useless.

Or some such nonsense.

Re:Shield frequency modulation (1)

wgaryhas (872268) | about 7 years ago | (#18787805)

Why oh why did no one think of having 2 shields of differing frequencies so that they could not be bypassed simultaneously? (Or did they and I just never heard about it?)

Re:Shield frequency modulation (1)

pclminion (145572) | about 7 years ago | (#18787879)

While we're waxing ridiculous on Star Trek, why didn't their uber-powerful computer have the capacity to predict where the enemy weapon/projectile was about to strike the ship, then focus ALL of the shield energy in that ONE location? It would increase the effectiveness of the shields by hundreds of times.

Re:Shield frequency modulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18787969)

Good God man, how are you going to generate drama with such powerful über-tech as that? --Some random screenwriter. Actually, the TNG tech manual said the the shields and computer behave exactly as you describe.

Re:Shield frequency modulation (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18788031)

I believe the shields were able to focus their energy in original series episode #303, "The Paradise Syndrome". I recall Spock pulling out a small circuit-board from under the console and making a few small adjustments to focus the shield energy at the proper vector to thwart the attacking Klingon warbird.

Movies lead again! (3, Funny)

RedElf (249078) | about 7 years ago | (#18787445)

Once again, the movies/tv shows have lead the way to developing new technology!

Re:Movies lead again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18787847)

Euh...sometimes this is true...but not this time. It's called common sense...

The only way we'll ever get to other stars is to travel faster then the speed of light (unless you are VERY patient).

If I write a book or make a movie that has a ship that goes faster than light does it mean I came up with the idea? What about if I talk about a 250 MPG car...the day someone actually makes it happen it will all be because of this post on slashdot...come on.

Misleading Title (4, Insightful)

PixieDust (971386) | about 7 years ago | (#18787447)

These aren't Star Trek shields. They ONLY protect against a few types of radiation. Basically do the same thing as the Earth's Magnetosphere. Too bad. It'd be really cool to run around in something with shields up, see an occasional flare up when something hits it.

Course, it wouldn't be long before Jack-Ass had shields around someone's nether regions, and shot it with a gun.

Re:Misleading Title (1)

sqwishy (927732) | about 7 years ago | (#18787657)

Too bad. It'd be really cool to run around in something with shields up, see an occasional flare up when something hits it.

Then that would be a force-field. Shields don't physically block stuff.

Re:Misleading Title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18788233)

Get a magnet, and you too can play with force fields.

Re:Misleading Title (4, Informative)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | about 7 years ago | (#18787697)

Yeah, these would be more in line with the field produced by the deflector dish up front. It is supposed to push particles out of the way at high relativistic speeds.

Star Trek linked to pedophilia? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18787797)

This has very little to do with the article, but the L.A. Times recently published an article regarding the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit [torontopolice.on.ca] that focused on their fight against child pornography ("Sifting Clues to an Unsmiling Girl" [pqarchiver.com] ). They are the law enforcement organization that photoshopped the victims out of child porn photos in order to get the public's assistance in identifying the backgrounds (it worked). In any case, the article had this amazing claim:

On one wall is a "Star Trek" poster with investigators' faces substituted for the Starship Enterprise crew. But even that alludes to a dark fact of their work: All but one of the offenders they have arrested in the last four years was a hard-core Trekkie.

Wow. All but one in four years. Seemed rather unlikely to me.

So, I called the Child Exploitation Section of the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit and spoke to Det. Ian Lamond, who was familiar with the Times article. He claims they were misquoted, or if that figure was given it was done so jokingly. Of course, even if the figure was given jokingly, shouldn't the Times reporter have clarified something that seems rather odd? Shouldn't her editors have questioned her sources?

Nevertheless, Det. Lamond does confirm that a majority of those arrested show "at least a passing interest in Star Trek, if not a strong interest." They've arrested well over one hundred people over the past four years and they can gauge this interest in Star Trek by the arrestees' "paraphenalia, books, videotapes and DVDs."

Det. Constable Warren Bulmer slips on a Klingon sash and shield they confiscated in a recent raid. "It has something to do with a fantasy world where mutants and monsters have power and where the usual rules don't apply," Bulmer reflects. "But beyond that, I can't really explain it."

I asked Det. Lamond if this wasn't simply a general interest in science fiction and fantasy, such as Star Wars or Harry Potter or similar. Paraphrasing his answer, he said, while there was sometimes other science fiction and fantasy paraphenalia, Star Trek was the most consistent and when he referred to a majority of the arrestees being Star Trek fans, it was Star Trek-specific.

Re:Misleading Title (1, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | about 7 years ago | (#18788213)

Indeed, if by "a few types of radiation" you mean, "no types of radiation at all." since a spacecraft megnetosphere only affects charged particles and plasmas. And doesn't technically deflect anything away, but instead traps stuff. causing the particles to precipitate at specific locations (which can be more heavily shielded) at the poles.

Re:Misleading Title (1)

Doctor-Optimal (975263) | about 7 years ago | (#18788445)

Course, it wouldn't be long before Jack-Ass had shields around someone's nether regions, and shot it with a gun.
Nice. The bullet proof underwear from super troopers, gone high tech.

Fine, but dont call them 'Star Trek' shields (4, Funny)

LibertineR (591918) | about 7 years ago | (#18787453)

Any fool knows that the shields used on Star Trek were about heat absorbtion from Phaser fire and Photon torpedoes, also Mass deflection (ala the Tractor Beam) against asteroids and your odd ship explosion. Of Course, the shields were modified over the years to deal with Temporal Incursions and the Genesis effect, but it would be wrong these shields as simular to Star Trek.

I hope we have cleared that up, dammit.

I intend... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18787457)

to build a warp drive...once I become a world famous physicist...and overcome some of those pesky power problems.

Re:I intend... (1)

RsG (809189) | about 7 years ago | (#18787501)

I intend to build a perpetual motion machine. I've been trying for years, and ironically I can't seem to stop.

I'm also hoping to get my anti-aging device working, but it can wait. I don't think I've got the time machine working, or if I will I'll have forgotten to tell me that I did...

Re:I intend... (1)

RedElf (249078) | about 7 years ago | (#18787601)

I'm also hoping to get my anti-aging device working
Mine seems to be working now, everyone keeps telling me I look 4 years younger now. Who would have thought the anti-aging device would be something so cheap as a razor blade?

Prepetual motion (1)

iamacat (583406) | about 7 years ago | (#18788017)

I intend to build a perpetual motion machine

Just spin up a pendulum in vacuum. It just keeps going and going and going... wicked! Now you can move on to more challenging pursuits like a closed system energy generator.

Don't try to be a great man... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18788383)

You're mixing up the order. First you build the warp drive, then you'll automatically become famous.

What about space dust and photon torpedoes? (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 7 years ago | (#18787487)

This is great for charged particles but what about space dust, micro-meteors, and photon torpedoes, not to mention phasers?

This is great but it's not Treknology. Not as we know it, not as we know it, Jim.

Re:What about space dust and photon torpedoes? (2, Insightful)

RsG (809189) | about 7 years ago | (#18787705)

Fast moving space dust and micro meteors (really the same thing actually) can be stopped by far more mundane means. You don't even really need to stop them per se, you just have to build your spacecraft to survive them. Remember that inflatable stations have been seriously considered - the reason is that a few pinhole leaks aren't going to be the end of the world if you have a contingency in place for them (duct tape perhaps? :-)

Radiation, on the other hand, generally isn't so easy to block. You can mostly ignore it if the spacecraft is unmanned, which is the best solution most of the time, but if you have to have astronauts up there, then they need some sort of shield.

Physical radiation shields generally rely on putting enough mass in the way to protect the people on the other side, and while that's fine for a nuclear reactor or a fallout shelter, it's a bit of an issue when you need to carry all that extra weight up to orbit. Getting the same protection without all the extra weight would be a big advantage. Pity it can't be adapted to non-charged forms of ionizing radiation.

mod parent's signature informative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18788385)

Erotic is when you use a feather. Exotic is when you use the whole chicken.
Mod +1 kinky

So does that mean.... (2, Interesting)

ericdano (113424) | about 7 years ago | (#18787503)

So does that mean when went sent people to space before, they got exposed to all kinds of particals and stuff? Are they still ok? If so, then do we really need this?

Or....did we fake the moon stuff?

"Denny CRANE"

Re:So does that mean.... (5, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | about 7 years ago | (#18787659)

So does that mean when went sent people to space before, they got exposed to all kinds of particals and stuff? Are they still ok? If so, then do we really need this? Or....did we fake the moon stuff?
Galactic cosmic rays [wikipedia.org] are the biggest, most difficult problem. For a variety of reasons, explained in the WP link, they're not a big problem for low-earth orbit space stations like the ISS. The Apollo astronauts did get exposed to a lot of radiation, but they were only out for about a week, whereas an elliptical transfer orbit to Mars takes 1.4 years round trip in interplanetary space. For anyone who's actually had to wear a radiation badge to work, the integrated dosages they've estimated for a Mars issue just sound nuts, like somebody moved a decimal place over three places by mistake. It's a huge amount of radiation, roughly on the right order of magnitude to kill a human being. The Apollo astronauts got dosages at the level where there's speculation they may be getting cataracts at a significantly higher rate than normal. Scale that up by a ratio of 1.4 years to 1 week, and you get effects that are just not on the order of magnitude that you could laugh off heroically.

Re:So does that mean.... (1, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | about 7 years ago | (#18788305)

Scale that up by a ratio of 1.4 years to 1 week, and you get effects that are just not on the order of magnitude that you could laugh off heroically.

And that's just one of many knowns and quite a few unknowns. Your whole body will be quite fucked up by all the zero/low-G. Anything goes wrong, you might end up as everything from a tin can in space to a smear on Mars' surface to the first permanent resident on Mars. Even on the most deserted arctic outpost you don't get crammed up in so little space for a so long time. But with all that and more - if NASA called me up and said "If you pass all the tests, you'll be the first man on Mars" I'd go striaght into a three year exercise program. Really. Not for the second mission to mars though. Everybody knows Neil Armstrong. Some remember "Buzz" Aldrin. But the rest aren't remembered by anyone without at least a passing interest in space travel.

Re:So does that mean.... (1)

orclevegam (940336) | about 7 years ago | (#18787701)

Yes, but they also had more traditional shielding in place to help mitigate some of this, and also stayed inside the space craft during high solar activity. As it is now as long as you're inside some sort of decently shielded structure such as the space shuttle, or ISS, you won't be exposed to anything that's too far outside the normal exposure range.

Re:So does that mean.... (1)

Locklin (1074657) | about 7 years ago | (#18788119)

The earth's magnetosphere extends a long way into space. The further you go, the more radiation. If you go to mars, your totaly F'd.

dupe from 2004; lots of practical problems (5, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | about 7 years ago | (#18787545)

This was reported on slashdot three years ago [slashdot.org] . The space.com article linked to from the 2004 slashdot summary is actually much more detailed in terms of the science. The big engineering problems with this approach still have not been solved. (1) If you're not using superconducting magnet coils, a large, static magnetic field requires a huge power supply to keep it going. That's not practical for foreseeable, near-future technologies for going to Mars, which will need to use very small payloads. (2) Superconducting magnets are unreliable, finicky beasts, at least from my experience here on earth. You need big, heavy cryostats full of liquified gases. It's not necessarily a good idea to have a vital piece of safety equipment for your spaceship depend on an inherently high-maintenance, low-reliability technology. (3) Large electric fields are hard to maintain because you get arcing and discharges. I used to work at an electrostatic accelerator that used megavolt potentials, and it would start sparking at the most inopportune times, for reasons like, e.g., someone leaving behind a speck of lint inside the accelerator. When a spark would happen, you could hear it all through the building, and the energy released was equivalent to dropping a VW bug off the roof of a building. Again, low-reliability, high maintenance. (4) Although it's possible to use tricks to get rid of some of the particles, or channel particles to a place where they're not as harmful, you still have to deal with the fact that you have particles with both signs of charge, which feel forces in opposite directions from the same field. What repels one attracts the other. Also, if the particles get channeled to a certain place, and impact on something solid, then you get extremely intense secondary radiation at that spot.

Dont you have cable? (4, Funny)

LibertineR (591918) | about 7 years ago | (#18787673)

You need big, heavy cryostats full of liquified gases.

No, no, no, dude.

You only need bio-gel packs and iso-linear chips. But, only the green ones.

If you use the red ones and get them mixed up, you'll need Data to save your ass.

Re:dupe from 2004; lots of practical problems (1)

orclevegam (940336) | about 7 years ago | (#18787787)

(4) Although it's possible to use tricks to get rid of some of the particles, or channel particles to a place where they're not as harmful, you still have to deal with the fact that you have particles with both signs of charge, which feel forces in opposite directions from the same field. What repels one attracts the other. Also, if the particles get channeled to a certain place, and impact on something solid, then you get extremely intense secondary radiation at that spot.

Maybe rather than try to stop the particles it would be possible to channel them around the craft? Also, is it feasible to maintain two oppositely charged fields layered one within the other, so that what isn't channeled by one, gets picked up by the other? I don't really have much physics knowledge beyond what I recall form HS and the odds and ends I've picked up over the years, but just trying to toss out some ideas.

Re:dupe from 2004; lots of practical problems (1)

bcrowell (177657) | about 7 years ago | (#18788171)

What you're talking about is exactly the kind of stuff discussed in the space.com article [space.com] linked to from the 2004 slashdot article. They discuss a certain electric quadrupole configuration. This [islandone.org] article talks about magnetic shielding. Here [umich.edu] is a web page that gives references to a whole bunch of papers on this topic (mostly powerpoints, but look at the pdf links).

I'd rather have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18787573)

Star Wars shields and technology. Everyone knows an ISD beats Enterprise any day :-)

there are practical power limitations (2, Informative)

plasmacutter (901737) | about 7 years ago | (#18787589)

there is a lab in the southwest (nevada i think) where they generate fields as strong as the earth's magnetic field (in otherwords, what theyre looking for here).

the power consumption of the machine used is about the same as dayton ohio.

good luck mounting that generator on your back.

additionally, equating them to star trek shields is a bit of a stretch. it will block the same type of radiation the magnetosphere blocks, in other words, good luck deflecting lasers or solid matter. I get the feeling in order to do that you would have to make a shield with orders of magnitude more magnetic power, then for objects with mass engineer gravitic shielding a-la babylon 5.

in other words, star trek style shields are, very optimistically, at least 250 years away, and more realistically 700 to 1000 years away, assuming we last that long as a species.

Re:there are practical power limitations (4, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | about 7 years ago | (#18787945)

there is a lab in the southwest (nevada i think) where they generate fields as strong as the earth's magnetic field (in otherwords, what theyre looking for here).

The Earth's magnetic field is wimpy. A refrigerator magnet produces a stronger field. The thing about Earth's field is that it is HUGE, spatially. So particles have a LOT of field to contend with on their way through the magnetosphere. Even though the field itself is incredibly weak.

oh noes, your hard-drives got pwnz0red (4, Funny)

vivin (671928) | about 7 years ago | (#18787595)

Captain Kirk: Raise Shields!
Mr. Spock: Captain, may I remind you that these new shields developed by British scientists rely on Magnetic fields and as a result...
Captain Kirk: Not now Spock!
Chekov: Shields up, Captain!

Lights flicker, ship powers down. Emergency lights light up**

Captain Kirk: Spock! What happened?
Mr. Spock: It appears that the magnetic shields have erased our hard-drives. Our ship is powerless.

Disclaimer: I have no idea if magnetic shields would really erase hard-drives, but oh well! ;)

Re:oh noes, your hard-drives got pwnz0red (1)

orclevegam (940336) | about 7 years ago | (#18787837)

Well, assuming that the field used by the shield has a central generator, and that the field must be expanded into place rather than just suddenly being in place, the field would most likely erase any magnetic media it passed through while expanding. If the field projector was central to the craft that would be a issue. If on the other hand you had man small projectors on the outside of the craft, then only something within any given projectors field radius would be effected (and would have the added advantage that a failure in one projector would only compromise a small portion of the hull rather than all of it).

Ya right... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 7 years ago | (#18787607)

From the TFA:
...need to generate a magnetic field and then fill it with ionised gas called plasma... "You don't need much of a magnetic field to hold off the solar wind. You could produce the shield 20-30 kilometres away from the spacecraft,"...

Hmm, what would be the energy requirements to create a "magnet bottle" to a distance of 20-30 kilometers? They got the idea for the shield from fusion reactor tech, but I'm guessing one would need a Warp Core to power this thing... Oh ya, and not have every piece of metal in the ship pinned against a wall :-)

Re:Ya right... (1)

adrianbaugh (696007) | about 7 years ago | (#18787789)

Uhh... why not just have a little magnetic bottle on a 30km long tether? Much cheaper and easier. Kind of like an aerospike, but for charged particles not air.

Shields? Nothing beats my wife's glare (0, Offtopic)

rogerborn (236155) | about 7 years ago | (#18787633)

Nothing can penetrate it. Nobody even tries.

But for destructive capability, her glaring eyes are far more powerful than lasers, phasers, or photon torpedoes.

She sails through life like a queen, beautiful, peaceful, and serene.

But let someone raise her hackles, and watch out!

Theose gov scientists could learn a thing or two from her.

Let me know. I will be happy to lend/lease her time for research.

Re:Shields? Nothing beats my wife's glare (1)

rogerborn (236155) | about 7 years ago | (#18787907)

actually, it is thought that all women have this capability.

HERE [provocateuse.com] is an example.

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18787745)

Wake me up when they invent Photon Torpedoes.

Wake me up when we have replicators (1)

us7892 (655683) | about 7 years ago | (#18787903)

Steak dinner. Pfftssshshzzzz.
A Guinness. Pfftssshshzzzz.

Can replicators only make food? Still, not bad...

Re:Wake me up when we have replicators (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | about 7 years ago | (#18788393)

I don't like being sprayed in the face by acid, or having a hand in my forehead thank you very much.

How Long Will It Take? (3, Funny)

filesiteguy (695431) | about 7 years ago | (#18787777)

I can see it now at the Didcot Science Centre (English spelling):

Manager: How long until we can get the shields operating?

Engineer: Eight Years

Manager: Eight Years?

Engineer: Yes, but you don't have eight years, so I'll do it in two.

Manager: Do you always multiply your design estimates by a factor of four?

Engineer: I have a reputation to maintain, sir.

Ohmygodponies style reporting (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | about 7 years ago | (#18788029)

My how slashdot has fallen. If these are "star trek shields" I'm an Aardvaark. How the fuck did this one get past the editors? Were they asleep at the time?

FFS (1)

deblau (68023) | about 7 years ago | (#18788237)

"Star Trek Shields Now a Possibility?"

No, some scientists have said they intend to build one. I intend to do a lot of things, it doesn't mean they get done.

Tesla ftw! (1)

Pvt. Cthulhu (990218) | about 7 years ago | (#18788283)

bah, Nikola Tesla would've had these guys beat 70 years ago if he had funding for his teleforce weapon. Imagine, entire countries surrounded in an impenetrable force field! With a couple million dollars, he might have stopped WWII.

Re:Tesla ftw! (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | about 7 years ago | (#18788461)

tesla was like that proverbial chinese weapon salesman. if that teleforce weapon was his ultimate shield, the "death ray" he was developing toward the end of his life would be the ultimate sword.

i'd bet electrons focused into a nanometer thin beam would beat this so called "force field".

This can have other uses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18788319)

I don't read TFA, but as other ppl said ( This thing is just like the magnetosphere ),
I think in the future colonization of planets, like mars, could be useful.

I'm not sure, but I think that mars don't have a magnetosphere like earth ( or if has it,
isn't strong enough to be effective). With something like that, could be possible
to make more easy to terraform mars!

Maybe that kind of "shield" allied with some nanomachine technology could help
colonization and terraforming of other planets...

Not to nitpick but... (1)

suitepotato (863945) | about 7 years ago | (#18788453)

...oh hell, yes I am nitpicking.

In Star Trek, the shields were not magnetic but like other such technology manipulations of gravity and spacetime. From the POV of a particle headed for the shield, it would appear the whole ship moved out of the way and from the POV of the ship, that the particle moved aside. The active deflector array to the front did a combination of this and energizing of debris ahead to break it up, ionize it, push aside easier. Larger objects had to be avoided altogether but gas and dust could be dealt with which otherwise would be instant destroyers of a ship moving at high speed.

Read the Star Trek the Next Generation Technical Manual. Then go and Google for terms such as Alcubierre, Hutchison effect, crystal channeling charged particles, etc. You can see it is almost as if we have a really good idea of what we need to do to get there, but not the technical reproducible specifics. As if something unconscious is trying to get through to us.

Maybe someday someone will think, "hmmmm, if the electrostatic field is in the way of fusion, maybe instead of overpowering it with magnetic or gravitational means, we could find a way to cancel out the fields to let the particles merge easily... Hmmmm..."

Just musing...

Deep sea exploration? (1)

skeftomai (1057866) | about 7 years ago | (#18788477)

Could this be used in deep-sea explorations? Or would these shields only deflect energy and not matter?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account