Will Someone Please Design A Better Space Elevator?
Over a century ago, a Russian scientist dreamed up the idea for a space elevator. It was an audacious scheme for a cable to connect the Earth to space allowing us to access areas beyond our atmosphere with nary a shuttle mission.
Arthur C. Clarke's 1979 work, The Foundations of Paradise, introduced the idea to a broad audience, and when work with tiny but strong carbon nanotubes took off in the present century, more scientists took the idea seriously. Now, two theoretical physicists hatched a whole new way to make it work—have the space elevator rotate.
The standard way scientists have dreamed up such a contraption, like the vision that came out of a 2000 NASA workshop, interprets the phrase "space elevator" about as literally as one could: it's a car much like an elevator car, propelled by electromagnetism, ferrying people or goods to a space station or some other counterweight about 50 kilometers above Earth's surface.
An alternative version that physicists Leonardo Golubović and Steven Knudsen of West Virginia University have drawn up involves no elevator shaft at all. Rather, long looped strings rotate to create a centrifugal force that conquers gravity. Golubović explains it's like stirring a couple of coffee—if you stir too vigorously, you create too much force and the coffee flows up out of the cup. The rotating strings in this theoretical model would provide enough force to lift objects up the elevator on their own. Not content with merely creating an elevator to space, the scientists' rotating engine could even blast satellites or spacecraft into orbit. In theory.
The space elevator is one of the great dreams of the sci-fi camp that cause the dreamers to pour hours into figuring out how it might become reality. But unlike the time travel that J.J. Abrams obsesses over, a space elevator defies no theoretical physics—it's just damn hard to engineer.
Still, scientists are taking the idea seriously. A proposal to geoengineer the Earth to arrest climate change (pouring aerosols into clouds to thicken them) could be achieved via a space elevator. However, until somebody gets the audacity and permission to string carbon nanotubes out beyond our atmosphere, designing a space elevator will remain the stuff of imagination.
Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen discusses whether our society should always defend free speech rights, even for groups who would oppose such rights.
- Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen understands that protecting free speech rights isn't always a straightforward proposition.
- In this video, Strossen describes the reasoning behind why the ACLU defended the free speech rights of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, 1977.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Going back to the moon will give us fresh insights about the creation of our solar system.
- July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — Apollo 11.
- Today, we have a strong scientific case for returning to the moon: the original rock samples that we took from the moon revolutionized our view of how Earth and the solar system formed. We could now glean even more insights with fresh, nonchemically-altered samples.
- NASA plans to send humans to a crater in the South Pole of the moon because it's safer there, and would allow for better communications with people back on Earth.
Pugs and bulldogs are incredibly trendy, but experts have massive animal welfare concerns about these genetically manipulated breeds.
- Pugs, Frenchies, boxers, shih-tzus and other flat-faced dog breeds have been trending for at least the last decade.
- Higher visibility (usually in a celebrity's handbag), an increase in city living (smaller dogs for smaller homes), and possibly even the fine acting of Frank the Pug in 1997's Men in Black may be the cause.
- These small, specialty pure breeds are seen as the pinnacle of cuteness – they have friendly personalities, endearing odd looks, and are perfect for Stranger Things video montages.
Jokesters and serious Area 51 raiders would be met with military force.
- Facebook joke event to "raid Area 51" has already gained 1,000,000 "going" attendees.
- The U.S. Air Force has issued an official warning to potential "raiders."
- If anyone actually tries to storm an American military base, the use of deadly force is authorized.