Monday, December 15, 2008

Life on Titan?

12/2/12 - A slideshow update of my own: 

Perhaps it would be going out on a limb, but would it not be possible that Saturn’s surprisingly active moon Titan might support a unique life-form? This moon exhibits temperatures that make superconducting electrical currents a certainty, and there is an awful lot of chemistry sloshing about. Might it not be possible that some pretty stunning surprises await us?
Addendum 6/23/13 - "Antifreeze on Titan could effect its chances for life"
Addendum 06/10/12 - "NASA scientists may have discovered life on Titan" See? Told ya! :-)
Addendum 10/13/11-Another article "The hazy history of Titan's air" (
Addendum 09/25/11- Interesting article about possible life on Titan, Fertile frontiers" in Science News, (with the unlikely date of publication, Oct. 8th, 2011)
Addendum 01/06/11 - I realize that the temperatures on Titan's surface are exceedingly cold, but we have already been surprised more than once on the tenacity of life. Consider the creatures thriving around the oceanic ridge vents in temperatures above boiling on our own planet. If there is chemical movement on Titan (note the river deltas welling into Titan's mysterious oceans,) and the now observed complex molecules in it's atmosphere - combine that with temperatures that allow for super-conduction; well, I'd say there is a pretty good chance that something really exciting is happening on that surface.

Update: 12/31/2010 - Nice to find oneself on the bleeding edge. Here is an article quite some time after my musing:

And earlier still: 10/20/10
ScienceDaily (June 7, 2010) — Two new papers based on data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft scrutinize the complex chemical activity on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan. While non-biological chemistry offers one possible explanation, some scientists believe these chemical signatures bolster the argument for a primitive, exotic form of life or precursor to life on Titan's surface. According to one theory put forth by astrobiologists, the signatures fulfill two important conditions necessary for a hypothesized "methane-based life."

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Just the facts, Ma'm..." If you want a clear picture of how to go about building a space elevator, you cannot do better than visiting The Space Elevator Blog. Concise and interesting, a great resource for learning the principles of space elevator construction.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Space elevator and Dooms Day pundits

Space Elevator detractors  are such an interesting phenomenon. If you were to peruse newspapers, magazines and science periodicals from the late 1800's, you will find endless articles by the learned who ceaselessly informed the public that powered flight was impossible.
Critical discovery is inevitable and necessary. It is an inherent aspect of tackling a new, bold idea. In a way, it is evidence that the Space Elevator is coming of age.
Unfortunately, rather than just stating the possible problems that might incur in the construction a Space Elevator, the pundits inevitably infer that the hitch is insolvable, making construction impossible.
Discovering possible pitfalls is healthy. But the sweeping pronouncements that a newly discovered hurdle makes building a Space Elevator impossible is both arrogant and counterproductive.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Space Elevator Animation 1, 2, 3 & 4

My hat off to the creators of this visionary work. This series of animations gives a very credible blow-by-blow account of how to build a space elevator. Yes, the animation is somewhat crude and the ambient techno music that accompanies the documentary is dorky, but this in no way inhibits the inspirational work. I recommend you turn down the sound and play some appropriate classical music. Sit back and enjoy what will be mankind's greatest accomplishment in the 21st century.

Space elevator animation, part one:

Space elevator animation, part two:

Space elevator animation, part three:

Space elevator animation, part four:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Nauru and the coming of the Space Elevator Complex

Open Letter to the Government and President of Nauru:

Dear Friends,

It may not have come to your attention yet, but the Republic of Nauru is about to become the most valuable real estate on our planet, because it is one of the very few locations where a space elevator can be realized.
For physical reasons, the space elevator can only be constructed on or near the equator. Your country is ideally suited because Nauru has harbor installations, asphalt roads and a landing facilities capable of handling large aircraft. Most importantly, it is an island surrounded by thousands of miles of ocean. Hence, security will not be an issue.
If you look at a globe and circumvent the World at the equator, you will see that most of the equatorial landfall is on countries that are politically unstable and where security would be a real issue. The other few islands that exist on the equator have no infrastructure to speak of. These factors make your nation a very attractive site for the space elevator complex.

Because of these factors, it would behoove your government to give close consideration to this issue and take a pro-active stance. It would be nice to see Nauru gain a long term benefit from this resource, rather than have it become an exploited Panama, or as in your not so distant past, a wholesale rape of your island by mining speculators.
Could the unproductive land in the island interior be nationalized? If that were possible, it could be leased to the highest bidder without the conflict that would inevitably occur if it were left to real estate speculators.

When you have your ducks in order, it would be prudent to start making NASA, the European Space Agency and the Chinese Space agency aware of your real estate. As far as the media goes, this will be a very "sexy" issue, and your nation is sure to gain a lot of coverage, long before the space elevator is actually realized.

Respectfully yours,

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Space Elevator and the Old Testament

"...He came to the place and stayed there that night, because the sun
had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his
head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed that there
was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven;
and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And
behold, the LORD stood above it [or "beside him"] and said, "I am the
LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on
which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; and your
descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread
abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south;
and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth
bless themselves..."'s_Ladder_(Bible)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Space Elevator "Wobble" - Ain't no big thing...

Well, duh...

Of course there'll be vibration in a Space Elevator cable. You can't have a long taught cable like that without it trying to behave like a guitar string.
That's why you need magnetic dampeners on either ends. As soon as an oscillation starts to build, the de-oscillation computer program instructs the rings holding the cable in place to magnetically shift in the direction of the oscillation, thus causing the cable's movement to dampen.
As with anything new and wonderful, there'll be many obstacles - but that's what us hairless monkeys are so very, very good at overcoming.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ideal Space Elevator location

Where does one place a Space Elevator?
Nauru, a small island in the Pacific, an optimum place for a Space Elevator.

I took a virtual trip, circumnavigating the World at the equator to see what places were realistically feasible for placing a space elevator using the following three points as a guide:
  • The location must be near the equator.
  • Easy access for transportation.
  • Road infrastructure.
  • Securable.
There is surprisingly little land on the equator, and much of that is subject to unstable governments and/or too easily accessible to terrorist attack. One of the few locations that almost fit the above parameters is in the Galapagos islands, but unfortunately it is on an active volcanic island.
When all was said and done, I was really only left with a small island called Nauru

Nauru can accommodate Commercial aircraft and has port facilities
  • The island is a scant 40 miles from the equator.
  • It has a full-size runway that can take commercial aircraft.
  • There are port facilities.
  • The population is small and inclined to Western ideals.
  • Because of the vast expanse of ocean surrounding it, access to the island can easily be monitored, thus enhancing security.
At a glance, it is surprising that such a small island with a proportionate population would be in possession of such over-sized transportation facilities, until you learn that this is because of it's main - and dwindling - export.
Guano - essentially bird-poop, layer upon layer created century upon century, creating a commercially viable quantity of rich phosphates, suitable for fertilizer and other commodities. These were ruthlessly mined to exhaustion in the last century. With some of the proceeds, Nauru was able to build a hard-cover road that rings the island. They also had a first-rate runway constructed, capable of receiving commercial aircraft.
To remove the guano, a deep port facility was created which now sits largely unused.
English is widely spoken and literacy is at %97. The country desperately needs some kind of economical infusion, and an invitation to host a Space Elevator would probably be very favorably received.