-Z- (Z@Gundam.Com)
Fri, 09 Jun 2000 19:27:18 -0700

At 10:47 6/9/2000, you wrote:
>>It's less of a problem than you might think. The Earth and Moon are
>>gravity wells that literally pull rocks out of the sky. A colony is just
>>another rock, minding its own business. The odds of two rocks running into
>>each other is vanishingly small.
> Since the colonies are at Lagrange points, won't the rocks gather
>around these areas be a problem? But then again, if the rocks are travelling
>at sufficient speeds to threaten a cylinder, it's probably going to move out
>of the Lagrange point and get pulled to the Earth or the Moon.

Ah, but the colonies are NOT at the Lagrange points. They're in halo
orbits AROUND the Lagrange points, from 45,000 km (28,00 miles) to 90,000
km (56,000 miles) away from the actual libration point.

> Speaking of which, was the Correigador (sp?) Shoal region at a
>Lagrange point?

THE "Shoal Zone" is the remains of Side 5 (L1), destroyed in the Battle of
Raum on 15 January 0079. There were other, lesser shoal zones around Luna
2 and Solomon in the novelization, which is where the name "Corregidor"
(after the Philippine island at the entrance to Manila Bay, a Spanish
stronghold acquired by America that was captured by the Japanese early in
WW2) is used for the only time of which I'm aware. My books are stilled
packed away, so I can't say to which shoal zone it referred.

>>The farmsats WANT the solar radiation, all they can get. They deal with
>>surplus by polarizing the glass, which is already near opaque to
> I didn't mean light, though I can understand the confusion. =)
> I meant the solar radiation that can cause mutations within the food
>or livestocks within the farmsats. Since the farmsat doesn't have an ozone
>layer to deal with it, and it doesn't seem to have the mass to shield itself
>from it, how does the farmsat avoid the problem?

Louvers. Although the "windows" are always drawn as being open to the
light, the actual design called for them to be covered with periscopic
louvers, thus:

| | | |
  \ \ \ \
   | | | |

The angled pieces are mirrored on both sides. Light gets bounced 90
degrees to one side -- here to the right -- then 90 degrees back to its
original vector. Diffraction grids and other filtering screens stop
particles and ionizing radiation while letting visible light go through.

A similar system is used in the face plates of space suits. Gold is a very
good filter material. It's backed by quartz glass, which absorbs UV but
passes visible light. The gold coating is laid on like the silvering of a
one-way mirror and works on the same principle. The layers of offset gold
strips are only a few microns thick and only a few millimeters wide, so the
entire plate is only a half-centimeter thick.

Colony window glass is probably a meter thick and the louvers are the size
of Venetian or Levolar blinds.

> (Granted, the mutations may be harmless, but the chance of something
>going wrong cannot be simply ignored, plus the fact that the workers may
>also be exposed to high levels of radiation too..)

On Earth, we have tornadoes, typhoons, heat waves, blizzards, killer smog,
floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, lightning, sinkholes, acid rain, red tides,
plagues of locusts, and vast stretches of desert. I think the colonists
can count themselves as lucky that they only have to worry about hard
radiation, hard vacuum, and hard water. (^_^)

>>The first step to a colony of any size was the solar power station
>>which was what O'Neill was really trying to sell.
> Forgive me, but I take it that O'Neill wasn't a good salesman and
>the idea failed to take off totally?

Once the Energy Crisis abated, alternative energy was put on the back
burner and the cost was deemed prohibitive with no immediate or quick
return on investment. That, and Nixon had already effective scuttled the
space program, so we'd've had to ramp the whole thing up from scratch. As
it was, it took nearly ten years to get the "Space Truck" off the ground.

>>Imagine if the space shuttle had been developed as a shuttle to
>>geosynchronous orbit, not low Earth orbit.
> One small step at a time..
> In your opinion, how long will it be before we actually can call the
>habitats up there as colonies?

There's been a revival of interest and even some solid commercial
proposals, but unless someone just goes ahead and does it on their own
initiative, it won't be done. It's not in the interest of any government
on Earth to colonize space and every reason for them to block it, as they
have done my nationalizing every program ever proposed.

But if, instead of lobbying or pushing for government funding, someone were
to just go ahead and do it, every government on Earth would scramble to get
up there and take over -- they can't afford to let anyone put a Sword of
Damocles over their heads.

We're approaching a technological singularity that will put all of the
necessary capabilities into the hands of mere mortals like you and me, just
as the microprocessor and the Internet have given us computing power that
no government has ever had. It could happen in our lifetimes, but only if
someone like you or me Just Does It.

>>A sphere would be best only if you
> Uhm.. the rest of your mail got cut off at this point..

A sphere would be best only if you made it large enough to have gravity and
built your habitats on the OUTSIDE.


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