Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Making Space Relevant: It's The Energy Stupid! Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? ~Amos 3:3

During this holiday season, one may find it quite easy to strike up conversations with strangers regarding snow, caroling and which toys to buy for their kids (make sure that they are safe).

One could easily discuss the current war in Iraq, or even politics with their neighbor, as they (like Santa) are stuck on everyone's mind.

But when it comes to talking about the final frontier, you may find people's eyes either glaze over in confusion, or scoff at the idea of wasting billions more in sending people to the moon.

So how do you, the average space enthusiast, engage an audience more interested in Nintendo Wii's than exploring the cosmos?

Answer: You avoid all the excuses to justify human space exploration, and instead convert its reason for existence into "common cents."

If someone were to ask you why humanity should spend a $100 billion to put yet more men on the Moon, you should quickly reply "because its the energy stupid!" (note: you might want to tone this down, but you should get the point).

Instead of explaining the benefits of becoming a space faring species, instead enlighten individuals about the potential energy that lies beyond our atmosphere. One example that could be used is helium-3.

While the vast majority of the public may have never heard of helium-3 (or its potential for energy), many people are very familiar with the word oil, due in part to the rising gas prices.

By simply explaining that one tone of helium-3 is potentially worth 20 million tons of oil, you will not only perk people's interest in space, but you also justify the government spending money for exploring the Moon.

After all, if we do not harvest the Moon for ourselves, we may end up literally paying for it later from Russian hands.

While other examples such as solar power satellites could be cited, by making space relevant energy wise, you may end up converting a "few souls" towards your solar cause.

Note: Due to lack of time images will be inserted later.

Update: Images inserted!

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Darnell

    Helium-3 is currently pretty useless because we don't have fusion reactors that can burn it and we won't have for a few reactor generations if ITER is the best we can do. It will burn D+T and do that just barely. A D+He3 reactor requires... well currently it requires "magic" according to present thermonuclear fusion dogmas. No tokamak can burn the stuff and that's where all the ITER money is going - into a tokamak.

    Robert Bussard's fusor designs might be able to burn it for net power, but that's yet to be demonstrated even for D+T reactions. The hot fusion physicists think Bussard's approach is barking up the wrong tree, but the US Navy is funding the next two Polywell fusor experiments by Bussard's successors, now that he is no longer with us.

    I really hope his design works - firstly because it's the only design that can burn advanced fuels, like D+He3, Li6+Li6, He3+He3 and so on. Secondly because it will be safer and cheaper than tokamaks if it can burn such fuels. Even if it only burns D+T it will still be cheaper and safer because it doesn't require a huge magnetic field energy stored up in its coils.

    If it does work then selling people on the idea of energy from space will be a lot harder, I think, because we'll have lots of possible fusion fuels here on Earth. But it will also make getting into space a whole lot cheaper too. Check out the papers by Bussard at (look for the New Technology section, sub heading IEC fusion.)

    If Bussard fusors can be actualised then colonising the Solar System becames a feasible goal - and that's what we need to sell.


You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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