Writing Research: Fun Stuff

As Tom Lehrer said in a another context: I’d like to take you now on wings of song, as it were, and try and help you forget perhaps for a while your drab, wretched lives. How? By sharing fun stuff I’m digging up doing some basic research for the novel that perhaps soon will have a working name.

Note: I’ll assume that the pros or even any dedicated amateurs already know about all this, as it is readily available on the web, findable with even my meager searching chops. Nonetheless,  it remains cool, so here we go:

Space Settlement Basics.  It seems NASA wrote up this friendly little paper around 2004 to summarize the thinking behind the Stanford/NASA Ames Space Settlement Studies of the 1970s.  It helps me achieve the right mindset for appreciating this paper if, while reading it, I envisions something like the image below :

Image result for 1970s fashion
Scariest thought: I can’t swear I never wore anything remotely like this, as feverently as I’d like to deny it….(1)

No, really – there are links to 1970s space colony art, such as:

Trippy, man. The people live in the cylinder? 

My favorite passage:

People who wish to experiment with very different social and political forms could get away from restrictive social norms.

I love it when clueless science geeks try to slip in a little something risque or brave into their geek-spews. To sum up: it’s no big deal to have several trillion people living in millions of space colonies, and they will get to experiment with ‘very different’ social and political forms once they get away from restrictive social norms.

I’m thinking child sacrifice, cannibalism and harems of women bioengineered to serve only my pleasure! Oh, those restrictive social norms that prevent such a paradise here on earth!  They can’t mean experimenting with things like socialism and free sex, right? Not only has Captain Kirk already been there and done that, so has everybody else in the West. Wait – could I go to outer space to get away from socialism and free sex? Hmmm…

Anyway, it’s a rah-rah piece that contains more than a few remarkable passages:

Great views from Earth (and eventually other planets). Space colonization is, at its core, a real estate business. The value of real estate is determined by many things, including “the view.” Any space settlement will have a magnificent view of the stars at night. Any settlement on the Moon or Mars will also have a view of unchanging, starkly beautiful, dead-as-a-doornail, rock strewn surface. However, settlements in earth orbit will have one of the most stunning views in our solar system – the living, ever-changing Earth.

So, even though developing the taiga forests or Antarctica or even the Marianas Trench present fewer logistical problems than building a space colony, our real estate mavins are going to build space colonies – for the view?

Weightless recreation. Although space colonies will have 1g at the hull, in the center you will experience weightlessness. If you’ve ever jumped off a diving board, you’ve been weightless. It’s the feeling you have after jumping and before you hit the water. The difference in a space colony is that the feeling will last for as long as you like. If you’ve ever seen videos of astronauts playing in 0g you know weightlessness is fun. Acrobatics, sports and dance go to a new level when constraints of gravity are removed. It’s not going to be easy to keep the kids in 1g areas enough to satisfy Mom and Dad that their bones will be strong enough for a visit to Disneyland.

And we’ll sign up to go because it’ll be more fun than a visit to the Mall of America? Hmmm – could we couple, so to speak, weightless recreation with shedding those restrictive social norms? Or maybe Thunderdome? The mind reels… (Hope Disney paid some product placement dollars to NASA, there.)

Anyway, overall, it’s fun. Next up, we have

Theory of Light Sail Acceleration by Intense Lasers: an Overview. This is a much more technical paper, much of it over my head (not hard to do), but still a font of info on propulsive lasers as they stand now (well, 2014, but close).

Roundtrip Interstellar Travel Using Laser-Pushed LightsailsAnother oldie – 1984 – and also mostly over my head, but some fun stuff.

Finally, I’ve shared this before, but, c’mon, it is so cool. I especially like the multi-star systems toward the bottom.

  1. And the fairer sex did not escape the ravenous maw of the Idol of 1970s Fashion:
Image result for 1970s fashion
Although these might just be space aliens in feeble disguises. Space Princesses, perhaps? Space Princesses are inevitable, after all. 


Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

2 thoughts on “Writing Research: Fun Stuff”

    1. I have – very good book. Reviewed it here: https://yardsaleofthemind.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/book-review-the-wreck-of-the-river-of-stars/

      Flynn uses magsails, huge loops of superconducting Hobartium that, once charged, create a huge – many square kilometer – magnetic field. Any charged particles/magnetic fields one encounters can be used for propulsion/braking. These function differently than lightsails, which, first off, have to be of some solid reflecting material. The technical difficulty with magsails is the non-existence (yet) of a fairly high temperature superconductor one could spin out into miles of the cable you’d need for a magsail; the problem with light sails is that there’s (yet) no material light enough such that the gravitational attraction of the sun would not be stronger than any propulsion you might get from the the sunlight it produces. Lightsails can be (theoretically) used with lasers in lieu of in addition to sunlight. I suppose magsails could be used with ion cannons of some sort – shooting a stream of charged particles through the magnetic field would, I suppose, transfer some momentum. But that won’t cause the high temp superconductor to become reality…

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