Blast off!

Chat about anything you like - within reason!
FZeroOne
Posts: 419
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 1:42 pm

Blast off!

Postby FZeroOne » Fri May 14, 2004 3:27 pm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3713119.stmIs it just me, or is there something just so very "Thunderbirds" about that picture?!
"The power of bakers, the power of artists; even the power of witches! It must be a power given by God... sometimes we suffer for it."- Ursula, Kikis Delivery Service.

AndyThomas
Posts: 1657
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2001 12:42 am
Contact:

Blast off!

Postby AndyThomas » Fri May 14, 2004 5:19 pm

Yes, it's clever isn't it? It took me a while of looking at the images here:http://www.mojavebooks.com/mhv/040408-1.htmlto realise that it's two independent units - I'm assuming the carrier element is piloted independently but I haven't read up on that. It seems to be using a similar concept to the way they launched the X jets back when they were first going supersonic - use one aircraft's fuel to get up to a decent height then disengage the secondary craft and kick in the afterburn... very nice... I'll take two ;-)
Andy Thomas - SFXB Webmaster and Forum Moderator

FZeroOne
Posts: 419
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 1:42 pm

Blast off!

Postby FZeroOne » Fri May 14, 2004 5:48 pm

As far as I'm aware, yes they are both piloted independently, though I guess GPS/computer control is an option for the future - the rocket-ship part (that really seems to be the only suitable term!) is designed to carry passengers, an important part of the X-Prize conditions.Now I think of it, the first time I actually saw a concept like this was......Thunderbirds...!It also raises the interesting idea that, in future, these things could be individually owned... ..."I want to be a spaceman, the fastest guy alive.... "
"The power of bakers, the power of artists; even the power of witches! It must be a power given by God... sometimes we suffer for it."- Ursula, Kikis Delivery Service.

User avatar
Crash
Posts: 1710
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2002 8:16 pm

Blast off!

Postby Crash » Fri May 14, 2004 8:25 pm

It does look to me a bit like the Thunderbirds Hackenbacker plane.
Dream big and bold and daring.

felice
Posts: 209
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2002 11:14 pm

Blast off!

Postby felice » Mon May 17, 2004 1:16 am

Quote (FZeroOne @ 14 May 2004,18:48)It also raises the interesting idea that, in future, these things could be individually owned...Oh, I'm sure you'll be able to pick one up for a song in a couple of decades. Of course, it won't be much use since we'll be well on the way to running out of fossil fuels by then. There needs to be a #### of a lot more research and investment done in to alternative, renewable fuels in the very, very near future, not to mention alternatives to all the oil-based products we use.

AndyThomas
Posts: 1657
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2001 12:42 am
Contact:

Blast off!

Postby AndyThomas » Tue May 18, 2004 10:38 pm

At the risk of getting drawn into one of Felice's famously deep threads (you remember the last one right?! ) I'd have to agree - fossil fuels are a finite resource. But we seem to be getting better and better at finding reserves despite some, ah, overly optimistic claims from big companies. I remember reading we were supposed to have run out by now. It is quite scary just how much we rely on oil derivatives in general mind you - not just on the fuel side of things. The keyboard I'm typing this on is oil derived...Personally, I've got my fingers crossed for fusion of the hot variety. Solar and wind will take us so far but fusion would be nice and clean if they could get it going commercially. Ditto hydrogen cells for cars.
Andy Thomas - SFXB Webmaster and Forum Moderator

felice
Posts: 209
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2002 11:14 pm

Blast off!

Postby felice » Wed May 19, 2004 1:45 am

Quote (AndyThomas @ 18 May 2004,23:38)At the risk of getting drawn into one of Felice's famously deep threads (you remember the last one right?! )8)Quote I'd have to agree - fossil fuels are a finite resource. But we seem to be getting better and better at finding reserves Finding increasingly small and inaccessible reserves, perhaps, but the value of such finds is rather limited. We're currently using oil several times faster than we find new reserves, and the gap can only increase - in other words, finding new reserves isn't helping significantly.Quote I remember reading we were supposed to have run out by now.It's possible we have reached the peak production point already. We won't just "run out"; instead there'll be a gradual falloff in production as it becomes harder and more expensive to extract the remaining dregs. But at the moment there's no sign of demand falling to match - quite the opposite - so we are (or soon will be) entering an irreversable crisis of oil shortages and soaring prices.Quote It is quite scary just how much we rely on oil derivatives in general mind you - not just on the fuel side of things. The keyboard I'm typing this on is oil derived...Exactly. We need alternative fuel _now_ so we can save the oil for other things.Quote Personally, I've got my fingers crossed for fusion of the hot variety. Solar and wind will take us so far but fusion would be nice and clean if they could get it going commercially. Ditto hydrogen cells for cars.Fusion worries me somewhat. Aside from the typical nuclear dangers, there's the global warming factor through adding new energy in to the environment. Harnessing the existing energy makes more sense. And hydrogen isn't a fuel source, it's just a new kind of battery - you still need energy to make the hyrdrogen from the raw materials (and natural gas is currently the main raw material - just as finite as oil). Biofuel seems like one of the more viable options, eg burning alcohol derived from crops. Cars can run quite happily on ethanol.

AndyThomas
Posts: 1657
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2001 12:42 am
Contact:

Blast off!

Postby AndyThomas » Wed May 19, 2004 10:48 pm

On a point of science - global warming isn't caused by additional energy in the environment. It's caused by the inability of excess heat to escape the Earth due to increased level of greenhouse gases. The vast majority of said trapped heat coming from the sun. Hydrogen, when combusted, generates - water. Not carbon derivatives, which are greenhouse gases generally, flowing from fossil fuels. Alcohol would certainly be more readily renewable than petroleum or gas, but it's still organically based and so the greenhouse gas issue remains. Basically the best bet would be to have loads more plants photosynthesising to take CO2 out of the atmosphere. Which is what rain forests used to do of course. Mmmm. Interestingly though, plankton etc thrive as it gets warmer so to an extent they'll counter excess CO2 as things heat up. But then again, we're poisoning the oceans, so perhaps the plankton won't do as well.All good fun eh?!
Andy Thomas - SFXB Webmaster and Forum Moderator

felice
Posts: 209
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2002 11:14 pm

Blast off!

Postby felice » Thu May 20, 2004 3:24 am

Quote (AndyThomas @ 19 May 2004,23:48)The vast majority of said trapped heat coming from the sun.At the moment, yes. But transforming nuclear material in to energy provides extra heat. I have no idea if this could conceivably be enough heat to make a difference, or could only ever be just a drop in the ocean compared to sunlight. Ditto with solar collectors in space beaming energy down to Earth.Any energy source produces heat, but traditional sources don't introduce _new_ energy, they just store the energy of the sun temporarily. Though in the case of fossil fuels, we're releasing millions of years worth of stored energy in the space of decades.Quote Hydrogen, when combusted, generates - water.Yes, it's the energy used to make the hydrogen that's the problem. You need to burn something else to extract the hydrogen from the water in the first place.Quote Basically the best bet would be to have loads more plants photosynthesising to take CO2 out of the atmosphere.Which is the beauty of crop-based fuels - the very crops planted from which to manufacture the alcohol soak up the CO2 that burning it produces. Unfortunately nobody is putting the necessary resources in to such projects now while we still can, before the collapse of civilisation in a few years time.Quote All good fun eh?!Not really. Frankly I'd much rather spend my time learning to make 3D Star Fleet models with Blender, but unfortunately the world needs saving.

AndyThomas
Posts: 1657
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2001 12:42 am
Contact:

Blast off!

Postby AndyThomas » Thu May 20, 2004 6:22 pm

Evidently I needed an ironic smilie on my "all good fun" comment... When you stop and think about it, the risk isn't so much the oil etc running out. It's what happens when the industrialised nations realise they're not in a position to play nice anymore. Consider for a moment how much high grade fuel military vehicles burn up during a major campaign and how frequently oil wells tend to get blow up in the process (which incidentally not only wastes oil but also increases soot in the atmosphere etc). The alternative of course being that everyone starts working from home a lot more. It's an interesting point about atom busting and increasing energy released - certainly short of an asteroid impact you wouldn't get mega-tonnage on that sort of scale naturally. But interestingly, for all the bad press nuclear gets, it doesn't produce greenhouse gases because the energy is used to turn water into steam to power turbines, which is then cooled back down again and recycled. So whilst fissionable material is quite literally hot stuff, it doesn't actually contribute to global warming by creating greenhouse gases. Equally, fusion, once started and controlled won't contribute to greenhouse gases and even better, doesn't (I believe) create radioactive waste. So you could the have clean energy creating clean energy cells. Question is, can we get there before we run out of everything else?
Andy Thomas - SFXB Webmaster and Forum Moderator


Return to “Everything Else”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron