2007-07-21

Umbilical Cord to the Sun

Estimated total cost of a space elevator: $40 billion
Estimated total cost to date of U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq: $400+ billion

I have long been impressed by the notion of using a space elevator to ferry solar power to the Earth.

Barring the invention of better energy sources, Sol, our local star, will continue to be the biggest source of energy in our vicinity. The trouble is tapping it. Solar cells so far are very inefficient. It would be more logical to tap the energy at its source!

But getting into space the current way is very expensive, and this would defeat the purpose.

Thus, the need for a space elevator to allow energy collected around the sun to be ferried back to Earth to be used. Think of it as a very long umbilical cord for the Earth!

And the space elevator would also help humans move off Earth when they are ready, when they are able to modify their bodies (or adopt other embodiments) to live in off-Earth environments. They would find the energy collectors around the Sun ready for easy colonization nearby, and they would find the space elevator a convenient jumping off point.

The main objections to the space elevator are that 1) the materials with sufficient tensile strength don't exist yet, and 2) it would be too expensive. The answer to 1 it seems to me would be conventional R&D. The cost of that, and the answer to 2, is well...

The money seems to be available for other things of questionable value. It is a matter of priorities...

4 comments:

V.R.Manoj said...

Hey Arc,
Nice Post. Remember how we tried to reach the sun in second life ? We had to dramatically increase our avatar;s flight speeds. Wonder what kind of cybernetic suits we would have to wear when we do get to travel in a space elevator !
Regards,
V.R.Manoj
http://cyborgfantasy.blogspot.com

Arcturus Gregory said...

Hi Manoj!
Yes, I remember our attempt to test out the limits of Second Life's physics-realism :)
In RL, I think the space elevators on the drawing board would be very slow - the trip would take several months I believe.
It would be quite a grueling trip for a human in any suit. Presumably it would be a lot easier on uploaded cyborg humans- :) They could transfer (at the speed of ER tranmission) their minds into the bodies only when they arrived in space. Or maybe they could split consciousness between their embodiments in space and on Earth... ?

V.R.Manoj said...

Well.. this is one area where Cryonics could work. You could just freeze yourself and be in suspended animation pretty much like a Sadhu (Indian holymen) reducing the BMR (basic metabolic rate)..then resume normal metabolic rate upon desired orbit. I think they will try it soon enough with a monkey.
V.R.Manoj
http://cyborgfantasy.blogspot.com

V.R.Manoj said...

Wow !
I almost missed your comparision of price of a space elevator vs Iraq war. Maybe your country needs more transhuman friendly senators ?

Read my recent blog articles on religion and one on Cyborg citizenships : http://cyborgfantasy.blogspot.com
V.R.Manoj