Ever have an idea lurking about inside your head??? One that sounds crazy at first but might actually be useful if you share it with others??? Well, today I will be posting one of those ideas. I hope someone out there can take this to the next level.
I have been reading a book by Annalee NEWITZ - Scatter, Adapt, and Remember .... How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction. One of the ideas presented was the space elevator, to escape Earth's gravity. Outside the gravitational field space travel is easier and more affordable, in the use of resources. So, I started thinking about gravity and magnetism.........
This leads me to this post. What do we really know about magnetism?? How do we measure it?? Can we exploit the characteristics of magnetism to our benefit for Interstellar Propulsion??
I, personally, am not a scientist; however, I do remember a few things from science class. Like magnetic fields repel and opposites attract. A coil of wire can produce a magnetic field when a electric current is run through the coil, as well as, an electric current can be generated if a magnet is passed through a coil of wire. A compass can tell us which direction is North and an instrument called a dip needle can tell us a large deposit of iron ore is located below our feet. From these observations I will extrapolate my concept.
First, if we had the instrument to measure it, I predict that each planet in our Solar System has a magnetic signature unique to that planet. If that is true, I further predict that all Stellar bodies would also have a magnetic signature unique to that object.
Second, if we knew how to identify these signatures we could record, reproduce and recall them, sort of like dialing in a radio to a specific frequency. With the correct equipment, you can broadcast on a frequency in one part of the world and receive the broadcast in another. To be able to exploit magnetism for propulsion, we need to be able to identify and reproduce that exact field.
Third, we will need the means to generate large quantities of electricity to convert into magnetic fields of our choosing. Since Matter/Anti-Matter reactors have not been invented yet, we have Nuclear reactors at our disposal. Not the perfect source, but it can be made to do the job.
Fourth, we need to be able to escape Earth's gravity first before being attracted to another Stellar Body.
Fifth, we need the means to navigate in 3 dimensions. This will mean navigational charts that map all clear routes and identify hazards. Bonus challenge, many of these objects are in constant motion.
The "Flying Saucer" has many design features that lend it to be the first shape to try. The circular hull shape would aid in the use of making a coil/magnet system to generate and project a magnetic field. The shape would also allow for change of direction without having to re-orient the vessel to the new direction of travel. The larger size at the center of the craft would help balance it and provide space for living quarters & the Nuclear reactor.
This craft would not need to have the attributes of a lighter-than-air or conventional aircraft. It does not move by lift or need to be aerodynamic. However, the craft must have a self-contained atmosphere and the ability to re-generate oxygen and water. It will be a self-sustaining artificial planet. Albeit, a very small planet.
There would be two modes of travel. MagLift and InterStellar Attraction.
MagLift mode: To travel out of or into a planet's magnetic/gravitational field. This mode of travel will be achieved by matching the planet's magnetic signature. To lift off, the magnetic field of the craft will match the location the craft is at on the planet. Since like forces repel, the more intense the field created by the craft the higher/farther the craft will be repelled by the planet. Once outside the gravitational field, thus, in space the craft would switch to InterStellar Attraction mode. Landing on the surface of a planet would be similar, but reverse. The craft would slowly create the planet's magnetic signature - only this time it would be the opposite field and the craft would be attracted to the planet. The controls for the craft would have a safety system built in, so the "like" magnetic field could be generated very quickly to control the descent if the gravity proved to be too strong.
InterStellar Attraction mode would be used to get from point in the Solar System to another and back again. Once we had a frequency chart of all the Stellar object we have in the flight path we would plot a course to our destination. It may require a couple of "attractions" to closer Stellar bodies before we can establish enough velocity to head for our final destination.
With our current level of engineering and technology on our planet, this could be tested in the near future with robotic crafts before engineering crafts large enough to host human crews. Robots are fun & safe, but Humans are explorers and we will want to get out and explore our Stellar neighbourhood. When I was a boy, I believed by the time I grew up we would have base on the Moon and a colony on Mars. Instead, the vast majority of Humans are contently satisfied that we are using all of our technology and engineering know how to build bigger TV's and smaller cellphones. Facebook has replaced visiting our friends and neighbours and chatting face-to-face.
Til next time....Remember to dream BIG!!!