-Z- (Z@Gundam.Com)
Thu, 11 May 2000 19:07:56 -0700

At 22:30 5/10/2000, you wrote:
>1. Would trees grow straight up, or bend in a colony?

No one knows, because no one's ever grown trees in such an environment.

That being said, every bonsai artist knows that trees can be trained to
grow just about any way you want them to grow, provided you are
sufficiently clever and diligent in the training.

Non-living things, such as waterfalls, obey the Newtonian laws of motion
with predictable fidelity. Living things, such as trees, defy entropy by
their very existence and, although they usual obey a "path of least
resistance" rule in general, often display a contrariness even there,
witness the flower bursting up through tarmac.

Crystals would tend to grow in helical spirals, I think, but trees? I
wouldn't take any bets on anything with living cells behaving as expected
in such an Unnatural (dare we say "alien"?) environment.

>2. Would increasing the diameter of the colony lessen the weird
>side-effects of the rotation-induced "gravity"?

Yes. Extend the moment arm (the radius) and Coriolis effect becomes less
and less noticeable. You also reduce the rotational speed necessary to
produce a force equivalent to one gee at the end of the moment arm. A
Bernal sphere with a diameter of half a kilometer must rotate at 2 RPM to
produce one gee at the equator, while a Stanford torus with a diameter of
1.8 km gets the same effect with only 1 RPM and an O'Neill cylinder 6.4 km
across does it with only one revolution every two minutes or 0.5 RPM.

>3. How are the living spaces carved out of asteroids like Luna II,
>and A-Bau-A-Qu? I mean are the floors all stacked on top of one
>another, or are they all arranged so that the ceilings all point
>away from the center of the asteroid? A-Bau-A-Qu must have a strange
>gravity field considering it's shape.

In the cross-sectional diagrams that I've seen, it's pretty much the
standard stack of levels aligned to an arbitrarily decided local
vertical. It's also a standard three-dimensional Cartesian grid. I'd use
a geodesic arrangement of hexagonal cells, along the lines of the familiar
honeycomb, with a different local vertical for each of the six lobes, such
that the floor was always toward the center of mass, but that would be a
lot harder to draw, much less animate.

Luna 2, the largest asteroidal body on record, is only 244 km (150 miles)
in diameter. While its a thousand times more massive than any of the
colonies, it's still too small to possess much in the way of gravity. You
could probably obtain escape velocity with a running jump, had you traction
enough to run, which you wouldn't. A'Bao'A'Qu would be so close to "zero
gee" as would make no difference. Think of it as a big ship, adrift in space.


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