-Z- (Z@Gundam.Com)
Thu, 09 Mar 2000 01:40:40 -0800


At 00:18 3/9/2000 -0800, you wrote:
>WooJin Lee writes,
>
>>One of the main problems I have with the all century idea that Turn A
>>promotes is this: If future generations lost the ability to travel into
>>space and then regained it a number of times, which is what this all seems
>>to suggest, then shouldn't there be traces of Space Colonies left in space?
>
> You know, I started pondering this, and ended up wondering what the
>operational life span of a colony cylinder really is. These things are
>pretty fragile anyway, what with the impossible physics of the mirror
>panels and a steady rain of meteor fragments. Throw in wear and tear,
>declining maintenance, and the hazards of the post-F91 "space age of
>warring states," and I'm not so sure they're sustainable in the long term.

I don't think that O'Neill was all that serious about the colonies, but
rather held out the prospect of "suburbia in space" to entice backing for
solar power satellites, the "first step" toward space colonization and, not
coincidentally, an achievable solution to the then-current Energy Crisis.

The colonies have a lot of technical problems once you get past O'Neill's
lofty visions and sweeping generalities and start doing some real
engineering. I've cited a number of them on my Gundam High Frontier page,
but the biggest problem is the most basic: the rotation needed to provide
pseudo-gravity.

It's one thing to build a 32-kilometer (20-mile) by 6.4-kilometer (4-mile)
cylinder in free fall and quite another to maintain that same cylinder once
you've started spinning it. Anything that breaks off of the outside of the
cylinder will be thrown off into space with a linear velocity of 644 KPH
(400 MPH) and the spinning cylinder is going to react with the solar wind
like the rotor of a dynamo, generating a tremendous electrical
potential. The equator of the cylinder will be under a terrific amount of
torque, enough to cause the cylinder to mutate into an egg-like shape over
time.

Stability of the cylinder is increased by the spin -- gyroscopic action
will lock it solidly into orientation with the Sun -- but what about all of
those people and vehicles going every which way inside? Don't even get me
started on the likely outcome of blowing holes in the hull and flying MS in
and out....

> So if they fall apart after a few centuries, where did the debris go?

Two words: "Shoal Zone!" (^_^) Seriously, the debris will migrate over
time to the stable L4 and L5 Lagrange points -- that's why those points
were chosen for the colonization plan in the first place. Anything with
sufficient momentum to escape the cislunar system will do just that;
everything else will drift about until they come to "rest" in a halo orbit
around one or the other of the Lagrange points. A certain small percentage
will impact the Moon or the Earth, probably in clusters, resulting in a few
extra craters on the former and some "meteor showers" on the latter.

>Well, considering the pinnacles of nanotechnology we see in G Gundam and
>Turn A, it's possible that it might simply have been recycled.

Just like the plot lines...?

> One last comment on this. Many months ago, a friend relayed a rumor
>from the Japanese side that the Turn A was actually an existing Gundam
>under a new guise. Given the latest revelations about its history (from
>the BomBom serial), I'm developing my own suspicions as to its identity...

Let me guess. The RX-78-2?

>Oh, and one general comment. With the debut of Wing on U.S. television,
>our little corner of fandom has the chance for a huge influx of
>newcomers. The protestations of UC-bigotry that have been cropping up on
>this list are just plain silly. Welcome the newcomers and show them our
>ways; I'll lay odds that fans whose first exposure to Gundam is by way of
>Wing will find lots to like in the rest of the saga.
>
> For quantification, I note that site traffic on the Gundam Project has
>more than tripled since Gundam Wing debuted on Monday. These are the
>Gundamaniacs of tomorrow, people. Get with it or get left behind.

I second that emotion!

-Z-

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