I had my Chemistry 130 final exam just now. I wasn’t hard after all. I should have concentrated on Calculus instead of Chemistry. Well, hope I’ll get an A for my Chemistry.
I haven’t sleep since last night. I’m still awake but slowly losing my consciousness to oblivion. I wonder if I’ll miss my Friday prayer. Today may well be the last day of Ramadhan and the possibility of tomorrow being announced as first Syawal is an acceptable assumption but being the person I am, I don’t really care about it. Back in Malaysia, I have never been excited about First Syawal. To me, it’s just another normal day with some celebration that I don’t really care much. The only thing about it is getting a few hundred Ringgit from my parents and wearing my Baju Melayu.
I am falling into the abyss of slumberland. I won’t allow myself to fall into the abyss alone. I will try my best to drag you with me.
Have you ever heard the term “Space Elevator”?
It was first introduced to the world by a Russian scientist back in the 60s (I think). It’s a fantastic method of transportation to space but has been ignored and regarded by the world community as science fiction. Space Elevator is, much as the name suggested, an elevator. A huge elevator, with a ground base on Earth, connected to a synchronous satellite orbiting the planet. The main reason that make the idea is not feasible at the moment is because of the connector. The connector that needs to be built must be strong enough to withstand against any gust of wind and more importantly, the stress exerted on it. At the present time, there is no such material that is strong enough to make the construction of the Elevator possible. While the connector is an integral part in the construction of the Elevator, the ground base will be the main attraction of activities. The ground base will act as a station, much as a railways station. The ground base must be built on a highland near the equator in order to make full use of the Earth’s magnetic field. (This part, which is starting to go into advanced Physics, it is too complicated for me. Therefore, I will not try to explain it further.) The rationale behind building the Elevator on a highland is that the connector that needs to be built will be shorter, thus cutting down cost dramatically.
Meanwhile, the synchronous satellite will act as a another station in space. This satellite may serve dual purpose. One, as a railways station and two, as a space station. With this dual ability, the need to build many space stations such as the Skylab, Mir and the ISS will be eliminated.
Although the building of the Elevator will consume billions of dollars, the long-term benefits far exceed the cost and the liability of the construction. Imagine, a near 100% efficient kind of transportation that use little electricity to be operated, a vehicle where its energy source comes mostly from kinetic and potential energy and, limitless inter-space traffic… Space will be ours for certain.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke wrote a critically acclaimed book about the Elevator. The title of the book is The Fountain of Paradise. Read it. It’s a good layman introduction to Space Elevator.