IT'S SCIENCE FRIDAY! A new feature on Loquimur Latine!

Liftport: The Space Elevator Company is advertising investment opportunities in new technologies to bring mankind within striking distance of outer space. The website features Lego(TM) Mindstorm demonstrations on how the elevator will function, as well as some nifty concept art of what the space-port will look like (I was disappointed to see no Mos Eisley-esque graphics)

For any of you out there who don't read science fiction (and shame on you if you don't!), the concept is simple: Build a ribbon to space with a "dock" at each end. One end is fastened to the earth, the other is held in orbit by centripetal acceleration. The elevator climbs the ribbon (hand-over-hand style) to achieve different orbital statuses, or even the end of the ribbon, which would be beyond Earth's gravity well, thereby allowing its payload to be deloyed to the moon, mars, high-orbit, etc, without the horrendous cost in rocket fuel used now to attain such heights.

The chief material they are proposing for the ribbon is carbon nano-tubes. If you are like me, and have been reading Science News for the past 15-odd years, then you've read a lot of the promise of this material, but have also read that the potential is not being realised in human time.

Setting aside technological barriers for a moment, let's think of the implications: Low orbit hang-gliding! The restaurant on the Seattle sky-needle is in for some SERIOUS competition! More how-do-spiders-weave-webs-in-low-G-while-on-acid experiments! Terrorists will target it instead of our tall buildings! (Takes some of the heat off, whew!) Hey, I can see my house from up here, oh, wait, no I can't!

Would you ride it? (To the moon, baby!) Would you spit off of it on hapless pedestrians below? Would you help finance it? What other dumb questions can I think up? Will it happen in 15 years, or 50, or never?

PS Thanks to Heather Nyugen for pointing me to this URL!


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