-Z- (Z@Gundam.Com)
Thu, 29 Jul 1999 20:47:52 -0700

At 19:13 7/29/1999 -0400, you wrote:
>In a message dated 7/29/99 2:25:17 PM Mountain Daylight Time, Z@Gundam.Com
>> Hmmm. I may have to update my discussion of this and mention the
>> possibility of icy or frosted glass, although I'll stick by my conclusion
>> that filling the "sky" with a fixed volume of water is the best all-around
>> solution.
>> -Z-
>I agree with the idea of covering the glass panels with water, and even the
>possibility of an ice covering, but I still don't believe that a giant flat
>foot could slide smoothly enough over ice to effective "skate." Besides,
>light will only keep the panels from dropping below 40 Kelvin, which is way
>below the freezing point of water, so a frozen layer is very realistic. The
>problem I see with an ice layer covering the "light" panels of a habitat is
>that ice should diffuse incoming light to the point where no external view
>would be available. So, none of those spy shots from outside of a colony. On
>the other hand, the reflecting mirrors should collect more than enough heat
>from the reflected light to keep any water on the panels from dropping below
>freezing. But an ice covering should simulate those beautiful blue skies we
>keep seeing inside of the colonies.

In the actual O'Neill "High Frontier" concept, they "sky" was just a
blue-tinted light source that simulated the Terrestrial sky, not a window
on the world. The business of actually being able to see through the "sky"
panels is an artistic license begun with some of the early NASA artwork and
carried over into Gundam. The actual O'Neill designs specified a set of
baffles over all of the transparent sections that would allow light through
but screen out cosmic rays and other radiation, somthing like this:

      | | | | | | | |
      \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \
       | | | | | | | |

Here, the angled bits are mirrored on both sides. There's no straight-line
path through the baffle and only light within a specified range of
wavelengths gets reflected and passed in. It's more complex than tat, of
course, but you get the idea. The idea was not to see in or out, but to
illuminate the colony with free natural light from the sun rather than
artificial light, which would have to be generated and maintained at some

It might even be possible to make the skylights out of blocks of water ice
-- at that temperature it would be just as solid as quartz glass, though
certainly not as durable. Onthe other hand, water ice is pretty tough
stuff when kept well below the melting point, witness the Sapporo ice
sculptures, Inuit igloos and that tourist resort in Norway that they build
anew every winter.

We may be on to something here. Does anybody know the Mohs Scale value for
water ice?


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