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Interview with Dr. Bradley C. Edwards 118

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the no-elevator-like-caffeine dept.
Keith Curtis writes "I recently discovered that Dr. Bradley C. Edwards, noted expert on the Space Elevator pays $4 for coffee at the same Starbucks that I do. I asked him if he would meet up with me and chat and he graciously agreed. I recorded the interview for posterity. In our wide-ranging conversation we talked about NASA politics, getting energy from space, location, space tourism, software, nanotech, and several other topics."
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Interview with Dr. Bradley C. Edwards

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 15, 2005 @01:39PM (#13797967)
    Keith Curtis: Excuse me, aren't you Dr. Bradley C. Edwards... THE Dr. Bradley C. Edwards, noted expert on the Space Elevator?

    Dr. Bradley C. Edwards: Yes. Aren't you the guy that that's been stalking me for the past year? THE guy I have a restraining order against?

    Keith Curtis: Guilty as charged! Now that we have introductions out of the way, can I have an interview for my blog?! I'll pay for your Venti Iced Caramel Macchiato.

    Dr. Bradley C. Edwards: Alright, since you already know what I order on Wednesdays, I might as well.

    Keith Curtis: AWESOME! I'm gonna be famous on /.!!!!
  • with no place to go but up!
  • by rastakid (648791) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @01:45PM (#13798002) Homepage Journal
    Interview with Dr. Bradley Edwards
    October 14, 2005 on 1:28 pm | In Uncategorized |
    Seattle, A Hotbed For Space Elevator Development?

    KC: My jaw dropped when I went to my nearest Starbucks, saw your artwork on the wall, and realized that you lived in Seattle. How long have you been here? It doesn't exactly seem to be a hotbed for space elevator work...

    BE: I did my work for NIAC (NASA Institute For Advanced Concepts) here in 2000, and then moved back in June. I was working with people everywhere; most of the collaboration was virtual, and many folks I didn't meet until the end. I don't think I met Eric Westling until after we published our book (The Space Elevator: A Revolutionary Earth-to-Space Transportation System). A few people I'm currently working with I still haven't met. I don't work with people just because they're local, I have to find people I think are the best. It depends on what I'm working on. It's an effort that can be largely broken up into sections. "Here is the anchor station, go do it." Actually, it's great that I don't have to have everyone in the same room because it's just not possible.

    I tried to look up your biography on the Internet, and couldn't track down some of the organizations you've worked in. Some of them are probably from the early Internet days...

    We've been trying to get various projects started. A few were a few false starts, or in some cases just testing the waters. HighLift Systems was a Seattle-based company, and was one of those false starts. I closed it down. I'm not affiliated with LiftPort. I have worked with LiftPort's founder Michael Laine a bit at HighLift in Seattle before we parted ways. [Not on the best of terms; juicy but unsubstantiated gossip about LiftPort removed, Meow!! -ed]
    NASA Versus Private Industry

    Did you see Michael Griffin's interview in USA Today last week?

    No, but I know the general gist. It's not a surprise. In my mind the Space Shuttle and Space Station are not valuable efforts. It's not what NASA should be doing. NASA is using technology from commercial enterprises, or very old technology from the 70's to try and do space exploration. If they are going to be a real premier space agency, they need to be pushing it.

    They should be doing stuff which looks to us like science fiction...

    It shouldn't be science fiction, but they should be pushing the boundaries and doing work that inspires. That's what Apollo was. The technology for Apollo existed before the program started; they took that knowledge and pushed it to its limits, and it literally inspired the world.

    I wasn't around then, but it seems like peoplecared what NASA did back then. NASA has their Moon and Mars pictures up on their website, but I don't know if anyone cares. If you squint as you look, you'd think it was 1930.

    It is history; it's old news. And since then, they've done very little.

    It seems like there was a long-standing debate between rockets and the Space Shuttle. From where you sit, that's like choosing between Nicki and Paris Hilton.

    Even high up in NASA management, they won't officially say it - but they have said it directly to me - that nothing substantial in space can be done with rockets. A federal program with lots of money can take some people up there, but it won't be able to commercialize space. We've been going at it for thirty-five years now, and we've put up telecommunications systems and GPS. If there's a buck to be made and a product to be built, it'll get done. With current technology, I think we've developed space commercially as far as we can. We need something dramatically different--a brand new market, a brand new technology.

    Economists should get that. How did trains and highways change America?

    Private enterprise is starting to get it. NASA hasn't shown much interest on the space elevator, but there are a number of private entities that have.

    But we just laughed at a bunch of them: HighLift, LiftPort. Do any of them have billions of dollars?

    Th
  • quick! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    dude, you put in your actual email address mailto:keithcu@gmail.com [mailto]!! teh spambots are coming!
  • Wow... (Score:2, Funny)

    by jettoki (894493)
    That is probably the most informed discussion about the current state of advanced energy/space technologies that I have ever read. Dr. Edwards seems like a very even-handed, practical, and worldly individual, with the kind of vision we need to truly make progress in coming decades.

    Too bad he's is a space elevator wacko. Narf!@#!!
    Space shuttle 4-eva!
    • He lost me when he said the Space Elevator would be easier than rebuilding New Orleans.

      "It is similar in size to that, but it's also similar in size to the Boston Big Dig. It's small compared to, say, rebuilding New Orleans in money or effort."

      BS, we have no idea how much it would cost in money or effort because it's not been done. None of the technology exists, none of the materials exist, none of the real engineering work has been done.
      • Re:Wow... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jettoki (894493)
        Considering the estimated costs of rebuilding New Orleans, I think his statement is pretty fair. The ISS is a much more tangled, complicated project, and it totals about $100 billion. New Orleans is now being estimated at $200 billion.

        So that's really not BS...
        • So, the Space Elevator which has none of the materials in existence at this time and none of the engineering done is LESS tangled and complicated that the ISS?

          Thats BS, a 144,000 km long construct of materals that don't exist right now can not cost less than two ISS.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevator [wikipedia.org]
        • This is OT to the space elevator, but wouldn't it make sense to invest in "hurricane disrupters?"

          The (extremely low-tech) idea I have is a giant bank of fans, attached to batteries. Giant, that is, like 1 mile cubed. It would be best made with nanomaterials, but could conceivably be started immediately with current tech and made stronger/lighter/more efficient later.

          We'd move this construct into the path of hurricanes, and it would reduce the speed of the winds by converting the wind energy into rot

        • by Rei (128717)
          But it is. The sad fact is that no matter how much the engineer climbers and anchor platforms, suitable cable materials simply don't exist. They're not even close to existing. It's not just an engineering problem - current evidence suggests that it may well even be *impossible* to exist.

          The strongest measured strength of individual single-walled nanotubes is just over 60GPa; most were much weaker. The longest individual SWNT is measured in centimeters, and was likely far weaker than the short-measured t
      • Actually, wrong on all three counts. The challenge now is coming up with feasible fabrication processes to produce the carbon-nanotube-based cable in sufficient lengths to work.
    • Dr. Edwards is clearly just a karma whore.
    • "Keith Curtis writes "I recently discovered that Dr. Bradley C. Edwards, noted expert on the Space Elevator...""

      How can you be a "noted expert" on something that doesn't exist, nobody knows if or when it could exist, and is so full of potential problems that the "noted expert" can't even speculate on what those problems might be? Does "noted expert" mean guy with the gift of gab?

      Some might call Dr. Edwards a "visionary", but another word for that might be "dreamer". Forty people a trip, three trips
  • Sometime ago I heard that to pull off the space elevator .. the material cost would be massive that we didnt have enough steel cable to do such a thing and only experimental substances (like spiderweb yarn) would meet the challenge of providing that much material.

    Is this true? What sort of materials will the Space Elevator make use of?

    How about doing a QandA with Slashdot user questions? :D

    Cheers!
    • by The Snowman (116231) * on Saturday October 15, 2005 @02:29PM (#13798196) Homepage

      Sometime ago I heard that to pull off the space elevator .. the material cost would be massive that we didnt have enough steel cable to do such a thing and only experimental substances (like spiderweb yarn) would meet the challenge of providing that much material.

      Steel is extremely dense. The sheer quantity of steel needed would mean the elevator would collapse under its own weight. That is why nobody plans on using steel cables. Instead, carbon nanotubes are the way to go. Essentially, these are thin strands of carbon engineered in such a way that they are light and strong. A strand the thickness of a human hair has the strength of a steel girder, but weighs around 0.00001% as much. Nanotechnology means more than just making things small, it also means building life-size objects but engineering them at the molecular level to have special properties, such as high strength or low density.

      • A strand the thickness of a human hair has the strength of a steel girder, but weighs around 0.00001% as much.

        Any particular reason they don't they make buildings out of these carbon strands instead of with steel girders?
        • Any particular reason they don't they make buildings out of these carbon strands instead of with steel girders?

          Unfortunately, we can't yet make strands longer than a few centimeters...

        • by wfberg (24378) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @03:01PM (#13798338)
          A strand the thickness of a human hair has the strength of a steel girder, but weighs around 0.00001% as much.

          Any particular reason they don't they make buildings out of these carbon strands instead of with steel girders?


          The little piglet that tried found that the unusually low weight made his house much too easy to blow over by the big bad wolf. ;-)
        • by Winkhorst (743546) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @03:27PM (#13798450)
          Because they are just now building the first plant to manufacture carbon nanotubes in Milville, New Jersey, you dolt.

          I read this website and I realise that beyond the limited realm of computers the folk who hang out here are, with a few exceptions, generally as ignorant as the average man in the street. The idea that someone with a computer and access to the internet would not understand that carbon nanotubes are cutting edge technology and not something available off the shelf at your local Ace Hardware is mind boggling. This cuts to the very heart of the question of worldview. I have to wonder what the worldview is of someone who doesn't understand where his civilization stands technologically--what is possible and what is not yet possible.
          • That's it - that's just great. You smacked the beehive with a stick... and there's nothing worse that a bee that drinks Bawls.
          • I read this website and I realise that beyond the limited realm of computers the folk who hang out here are, with a few exceptions, generally as ignorant as the average man in the street.

            I have two responses. The first is to deny: the average man on the street does not even know what a space elevator is, or whether NASA has sent rovers to multiple planets or just one. You responded to a single misinformed (low-rated) post and ignored the others that were better informed.

            I have to wonder what the world

            • To paraphrase Richard Nixon, I am not a Dickhead! though I have read most of his novels.

              But the "discussion" is about space elevators/sky hooks. And the one remaining technological hurdle is coming up with a material that will support the elevator and will not snap, and the only thing available, as far as I can tell, is carbon-nanotube-based fiber. That is why LiftPort (http://www.liftport.com/ [liftport.com]) is building their plant at Millville for the specific purpose of providing the technical and financial support fo
          • The idea that someone with a computer and access to the internet would not understand that carbon nanotubes are cutting edge technology and not something available off the shelf at your local Ace Hardware is mind boggling.

            I want to be the one to build the first strawman out of carbon nanotubes.

            Tubeman? Nanostraw... guy...??? I'm open to suggestions for the name.
        • Aside from the obvious problems with the fact that steel is a lot easier to produce and less expensive than carbon nanotubes right now, that "strength" he's talking about is tensile strength, not compressive or shear strength. (Ref.: here [engineersedge.com].) Just because something has a large amount of tensile strength doesn't mean you'd want to build a building out of it.

          In fact I'm fairly certain that there are types of plastic (nylon maybe) which when woven together have more tensile strength per unit mass and volume than
      • I'd like to point out that current CNT preps yield very polydisperse samples both in terms of diameter and length. And also that getting tubes longer than 1-2 microns is difficult. Using them for a space elevator may happen one day, but we're nowhere close. Also- currently we're not engineering things at a molecular level. or rather we are, but not on a molecule by molecule basis that some people tend to assume we're working with. For instance, we coat with a single monolayer of molecules, but over a l
        • Also- currently we're not engineering things at a molecular level. or rather we are, but not on a molecule by molecule basis that some people tend to assume we're working with.

          This is what I meant. Rather than engineering steel by "measure this much iron, this much carbon, etc and smelt it all in a big pot," nanotech is about taking elements and getting them to do what we want on a smaller scale -- rather than melting stuff in a pot, use various techniques to get molecules to align certain ways, create c

          • Well, I think nanotech can be used to describe any engineering process which has some controllable dimension less than 100 nm. The idea that my initial response was trying to convey was that we can do things on the nanoscale, but we still use billions upon billions of molecules to do it. No one has figured out a way to get around the "sticky fingers" problem to control single moleculesv(for more info, do a goodle serach to read Smalley and Drexlers debate on molecular assemblers), and personally I dont th
      • Lots of folks have gone off about using nanotubes and such to replace the fiber in "fiberglass" and all tests of bulk material properties (so far) that I'm aware of have shown essentially no net gain. So far, it seems, you can't make the nanotubes and such long enough to effectively be gripped by the binding component to do any good whatsoever. Or cross link the molecules well enough to do away with the need for the binder's strength. Else we'd already have things like fighter planes and cars made of the
  • by lheal (86013) <lheal1999@yahoo . c om> on Saturday October 15, 2005 @02:09PM (#13798105) Journal
    ... of harmonics? That is, how on earth (or wherever) are they going to keep a giant 20,000-mile long (minimum) string from vibrating, tearing itself away from its moorings and giving passengers a severe case of lawnmower shakes? Awful hard to do the random weighting thing they do with high-tension power lines when you want a robot to climb it (fast). ... or terrorist attacks? Yah, I know that's passe and overrated as a topic, and that it applies to any transport medium. But it still ought to be dealt with at the design stage rather than afterwards, I think. ... or birds? Doesn't anyone care about birds? :-).


    • Ditto. Wind speeds change dramatically as you go higher. The jet stream for example can vary between 60-200mph depending on the location and time of year. How do they plan to cope with this and stop the top of the elevator from whipping around up there with all the forces being exerted on the cables below.

      I'm extremely skeptical that this can be done safely.

      • A quick google search would have given you this [yahoo.com] (read the message and the quoted part too).
      • Sounds like you just need a few systems and signals specialists there. This kind of thing is exactly what Fourier analysis was made for.

        I see no reason to worry undully and think this can be done quite safely, if they leave room for adjustments when the thing is up (kinda like what they do to bridges when they turn out to have missed a harmonic frequency...they just add/change some shockabsorbers to cancel out the vibes).

        Mind you, I'm not saying this is a trivial problem...just that it's a quite solvable on
    • Never thought of this but it's kinda cool...
      With several elevators we could make a huge planetoid banjo and play the song from the mission on it, which would probably attract aliens from all around the galaxy and transform the solar system in a huge fiesta zone ! Or maybe not, but the banjo part would be fun anyway.
    • Since there is many basic questions and confusion what stage is space elevator program in I recommend checking out this (warning, pdf): http://www.liftport.com/files/521Edwards.pdf [liftport.com]
  • by Libor Vanek (248963) <libor...vanek@@@gmail...com> on Saturday October 15, 2005 @02:21PM (#13798153) Homepage
    I just don't see one, the most fundamental, question in all interview. I don't worry about climber construction or powering them (it's after all "just" engineering - even if powering means, that you'll put very very small reactor on the climber and restrict it going only from 1000 Km and higher and for 0-1000 you'll use chemical rockets) - BUT (!) AFAIK the material is problem! I've read somewhere, that the strongest nanotube ever produced is still only 50% of necessary strength - and THAT'S a LONG way to go! (you can't use just 100% necessary strength - you need more for safety - something like 130-150%!)
    • So hang on, you need more than is necessary? Or is it necessary to have more than you need?
    • No; nanowire is strong enough. The real problem is length; nanowires are just a couple of micrometers-millimeters long, and we have no idea how to make them longer.
      As soon as that is sorted, we need to think up a method of producing that length, and how do we produce it and make it go up to space (do we make it in orbit and just string it down as we make it? Do we shoot a rocket up with nanowire attached?).

      But nanowire in and of itself has all the mechanical properties needed to build a space elevator.
  • Guess my head is the wrong place again. I just finished up some DVD authoring. I was kind of looking forward to an audio recording. Interesting interview regardless. :)
  • by Bulmakau (918237)
    I never understood why man is obsessed with going to space... I bet it has nice view of our globe ;) but I understand its the most dangerous place on earth (hmm... actually off earth), right after port morsbey ;)

    The concept of having a big "rope" in the middle of the sea, reaching out to space, with elavator/s connected to it, exposed to attacks from Al Quaida, Bush (if Al Quaida ever uses it), The sea, the wind, commets, space debree, mir stations, dumb people pressing the wrong buttons, harrasing the el
    • Uh huh. I bet you would have said the same thing about aircraft in 1900. And desktop computers in the 1950s. And about putting a man on the moon. Maybe you should become Amish or something.
    • I for one would not want a space elevator unless every one of them had international inspectors monitoring everything that is being put there. If we do not put very strict controls on what is being put into orbit it will mean that vast amounts of weapons will be put there and we will be drastically worse off than we were before its creation.
      • If we do not put very strict controls on what is being put into orbit it will mean that vast amounts of weapons will be put there

        So, your point is?... Do we need to put very strict controls *everywhere*? Or do you think weapons in space would be significantly more dangerous than weapons anywhere else? Why would space be a more attractive place to put vast amounts of weapons than, let's say, Nebraska, or in submarines under the sea, or in whatever other places there are vast amounts of weapons today?

        • Exactly.

          I always get a laugh at the people who are all afraid of "space weapons," as if there aren't a whole lot of weapons sitting underground in North Dakota right now that are more than capable of annihilating you where you sit.

          The only real purpose of putting weapons in space would be to shoot other things which are in space. It's already pretty easy (for the U.S. and probably a bunch of other industrialized countries) to put a missile anywhere they want on the face of the Earth; putting them in space i
        • I for one would not want a Nebraska unless... Oh, never mind.
    • Because there are limited resources on earth and unlimited resources in space. Isn't it obvious?
    • Elevators in buildings were at first considered unsafe in the 1800's and were initially only used for cargo. Assuming we can develop the technology to build the thing, it probably only should be used for cargo. My personal guess is that we'll have to work out the human and sociological issues before we humans can generate the resources and materials to build the thing in the first place. One country won't be able to do it, unless political boundaries shift dramatically.

      "There is no more new frontier, we hav
  • I wonder if it's just a parody...or if it's been taken seriously in Slashdot... I rarely come over here, but, AFAIK, there are very interesting discussions here, and very bright people...that's why it surprised me to see this interview treated as it it was a serious proposition (even in the responses exposing concerns)... The most basic common sense says that such 'Space Elevator' can't be a serious project, is there something I'm missing?
    • The most basic common sense says that such 'Space Elevator' can't be a serious project, is there something I'm missing?

      So Arthur C. Clarke lacks common sense?

      • AFAIK, Arthur C Clark made obvious that he wrote Science Fiction.

        In this case, the discussion about the Space Elevator is as if it was a very feasible way to go into the space, when minimal common sense says that, with our current level of scientific development, such 'Space Elevator' would be hardly a practical solution (can you imagine such estructure? how much would it cost, how easy it could be damaged severely by terrorists, meteors, etc..)?
        • "Minimal common sense" tells me that it's quite likely to be at least as reliable as our current space shuttle fleet.
        • True, Arthur C. Clarke does write science fiction, but true science fiction (Note lack of fantasy elements) just takes realistic science and changes one principle or posits a truth and runs with it. A.C.C. has been a master at it, and the truth he posit in The Fountains of Paradise was of a cable strong enough to bear the weight of the elevetor itself. We have discovered a material with such a (possible) strength in carbon nanotubes (buckytubes). /The Fountains of Paradise was the book he used the space e
        • Nope...as soon as we can create nanowires of any length, the space elevator is a very practical solution. And don't knock AC Clarke...he invented the communications satelite (which might have sounded impracticle to you too, but which has proved to be quite realistic).
        • AFAIK, Arthur C Clark made obvious that he wrote Science Fiction. He also proposed/invented the communications satellite. Many people thought he should have stuck to writing fiction then, too, instead of passing off his crazy ideas as possible. Notably, when asked when the space elevator would be built, he replied "About 50 years after everyone has stopped laughing." (Though I've read he's later revised it down to 25.) Some of us have stopped laughing.
        • Compared to the horribly complicated and unreliable liquid fueled rockets in use now, its a pretty good idea. rockets require billions of dollars in manufacturing and maintenance infrastructure are yet are still pretty shaky platforms.

          the key is to build a plant to build the material, probably would cost a billion or two (similar to plants that manufacture LCD panels...there are actually very few in the world)

          Once you've got that, its a matter of engineering robots to put it together. Relatively simple, c
      • Did you read 3001? The worst utopian tripe I've ever had the misfortune to be handed as a gift... criminy that book sucked. Yes, I realize that Arthur C Clarke invented the communications satellite and single-handedly build the first shuttle and yadda yadda, but if 3001 is any indication, this space elevator is a disaster waiting to happen. There was a goddamned ROBOTIC DRAGON in it! Goddamn!
    • by chaidawg (170956) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @03:19PM (#13798408)
      Yes, it was a serious interview. The idea of a space elevator has been bandied around in scientific and science fields for a number of years, but the strength of the cable needed to hold it up was always a sticking factor. With the discovery of Carbon-60 (Buckyballs and Buckytubes) the strength factor is theoretically within reach.
      The basic idea is an elevator with its center of gravity at geosyncronous orbit, making the elevator stay in one spot over the earth. It would allow for much larger space lift capacities and much lower costs per pound.
      Read more at:
      Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
      The Space Elevator Reference [spaceelevator.com]
      Liftport Group, a consortium of companies working on space elevator tech [liftport.com]
      Also, for a good sci-fi treatment of space elevators, read Kim Stanley-Robinson's Red-Gree-Blue Mars Trilogy

    • Common sense also forbids most of quantum mechanics, and relativity. A space elevator is actually quite feasible, but most people do have some very wrong ideas about how it might be built. It's basically just a thin ribbon of carbon so long that the center of mass is in geostationary orbit. Tension holds it up. Mechanically, it really couldn't get any simpler. You have a robot crawl up and down the ribbon.

      No, we don't have large scale carnon nanomanufacturing technology in place. It's an engineering i
    • Depends on what you mean by 'serious project'. Blueprints drawn up, budget allocated and space booked on a series of Delta IV flights? No.

      But what is going on are a series of test and projects to refine the enabling technology, people studying different aspects of the problem and so on.
    • I got the distinct impression of some parody or crankishness too, but not from anything said by the interviewee or about space elevators ;-) If you think space elevators sound outlandish, take a look at this:

      http://omnis.if.ufrj.br/~mbr/warp/ [if.ufrj.br]

      ...which theoretical but apparently sound science provided the background to an amusing discussion I had with the UKPO a while back concerning this little gem:

      http://v3.espacenet.com/textdoc?DB=EPODOC&IDX=GB23 47912&F=0&QPN=GB2347912 [espacenet.com]

      Publication No GB2347912

      • background to an amusing discussion I had with the UKPO a while back concerning this little gem [espacenet.com]

        Is this discussion available online for the entertainment of all intelligent life in space? ;-)

        Faith in the patent system on this planet should quickly fade in anyone staring in disbelief at the word "GRANTED" rubberstamped across a document with lines like:

        a gravity wave is bent around the craft enabling the craft to float. Reference is also made to the craft being capable of travelling at many times faster tha

        • Is this discussion available online for the entertainment of all intelligent life in space?

          Sadly not. It began on a mailing list but I just checked and the list archive is private. Maybe one day I'll get whatever permissions are necessary and put together a web page. I first found a reference to the patent in the BBC science message boards where James Avey is one of the regular errm... eccentrics and my connection to the UKPO was with regard to a completely unrelated subject, but when I saw the Avey patent

          • Is this discussion available online for the entertainment of all intelligent life in space? ;-)

            Sadly not. It began on a mailing list but I just checked and the list archive is private. Maybe one day I'll get whatever permissions are necessary and put together a web page.

            Please do (and post an URL already for everyone to bookmark), this sounds like a strong contender deserving the next Victor von Frankenstein award (cf. p. 60) [jihad.net].

            Also be sure to propose including this with the next SETI transmission - and bef

  • He can't be all that smart if he pays $4 for a cup of coffee...
    • I'm sorry, but I just can't take the guy that seriously. After all, the natives here (Seattle) don't really drink Starbucks, it's actually just for the rubes. Real Seattleites drink Cafe Vita, Cafe d'Arte or Torrefazione.

      Starbucks coffee - it's really far too burnt for our refined palates.....

  • Congrats on finding and interviewing the only science PhD in the country who doesn't think Bush is a fucking idiot.
  • by Goonie (8651) * <[gro.arbmaneb] [ta] [lekrem.trebor]> on Saturday October 15, 2005 @06:55PM (#13799386) Homepage
    As innumerable slashdotters have said before, when Bradley Edwards can build a bridge as long as this one [benambra.org] out of nanotubes of the requisite tensile strength, then I'll take the space elevator seriously. Until then, it's science fiction and NASA's quite correct to plan its Moon-Mars program out of technology that actually exists.
  • From Arthur C. Clarke's recent contribution on Space Elevators to the The Times [timesonline.co.uk]:

    If this ever happens, the most expensive component of travel around the solar system would be for life support -- and inflight movies.

    A true visionary, he seems to have realised that the greatest threat to the survival of the human race here on earth and in space could be DRM under the DMCA&friends...

    While we're at it, back in Forbidden Planet (1956) [imdb.com], didn't they already talk about civilisations wiped out by "the monster

  • by ankhank (756164) * on Saturday October 15, 2005 @08:29PM (#13799818) Journal
    1) What does he know that he can tell usabout electrical potential differences along the cable, both crossing Earth's magnetic field lines and between upper atmosphere and ground? I think yet another short tether test is anticipated soon by satellite, I recall the first one failed. I know quite a few methods are used to trigger lightning now, from rocket-carried wires to lasers ionizing a column of air.

    2) Where can we invest?

    3) Wouldn't a branching structure like a suspension bridge -- several orbital counterweights somewhat separated, crosslinked, and several sea level contact points -- be safer than a single cable, spread out to protect against the random meteor or space debris impact, lightning strike, aircraft strike, or structural flaw?

    4) When I lived in Seattle in the early '70s, before Starbucks, there were good coffee houses all over the place. Does anyone besides Starbucks sell coffee in his neighborhood now?
  • 4$, and I probably won't even be able to call that "coffe"; warm, black water may be more appropriate. Crazy stuff... Bye!
  • With a space elevator, is it possible the carbon cables could cause a short between the ground and ionisphere? How would this effect weather? Could this problem be turned around and used as a meathod of powering the elevator and then some?
  • >>So are you resigned to the fact that Michael Griffin's successor
    >> is going to do another mea-culpa in 20 years? The space
    >>elevator will be flying on by, and NASA will be stuck with their
    >> tiny little rockets and lunar landers.

    >Well, NASA will continue to do what they've always done,
    >which is to provide employment.

    According to the Associated Press as reported by the Washington Post, at least 300 jobs will be lost at NASA's Jet Propulsion Labratory [washingtonpost.com]. So apparently they haven'

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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