Issue 1: November 1996
From the BridgeEdit
I’m afraid I am reminded again of the joke about the turtle who was mugged by four snails. When the police asked him to give them the details of the attack, he replied, “I just don’t know – it all happened so fast!”
Our Aquarius project seems to be rushing forward at a snail’s pace. We are still evaluating several sites for Aquarius Rising, now in the Cayman Islands – but we have not driven the first spade in the ground yet. Phil (“Chief Engineer, Scotty”) Kopitske keeps all the details straight, and William Gale, Janyce Wynter and many others are working hard, day by day, to make the engineering dream a reality. The dedication of our engineering team to the Aquarius track is inspiring.
On the other hand, building the First Foundation, both in cyberspace and with real people, is going very well. Kail (“Rom”) Andersen is a dynamic and tireless leader in developing the chapter system and in recruiting members. And Scott (“Thor”) Halberg reminds me of Medusa with two hands full of writhing wire Internet snakes – he’s always willing to create another e-mail list, another web page (or 50), another electronic discussion group… And Jamal Wills, Dave Cunningham… and many others – too many to mention all their names – are working tirelessly day by day!
The camaraderie and coordinated surge of mental energy at the conclave was inspiring.
We have humanity’s greatest dream before us, and when I see the amazing group of people who have come together in the FMF and the surging tide of ideas and energy that is being created day by day, I know there is no stopping us.
We shall reach the stars!
The First Millennial Foundation is developing along two main tracks:
Track one: the Foundation This involves building public awareness of the crises coming upon us and the possibilities for solving these problems, and building a membership base for FMF. In addition to the vital leadership and coordination at FMF central in Rifle, this includes developing and expanding the chapter system and our evolving community and communication capabilities in cyberspace.
Track two: Aquarius We are establishing an integrated ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) facility, aquaculture resources and a compatible social system as a prototype for "colonizing" the oceans. Again this is spearheaded out of FMF central in Rifle. It is mainly the purlieu of the engineering group plus architects, with crucial financial and sociological (and political) strategic planning involved as well.
“The 2% solution”Edit
I'm anxious to get started on the political trail. I think we need a very broad and simple message to serve as our umbrella. "Space industrialization" and even "space colonization" carry the wrong connotations to the popular imagination, and are too narrow to encompass what we mean. We need a simple message that encompasses both aspects of the Millennial Project: The gold, which is the technological, masculine, pioneering aspect of human nature; and the green which is the ecological, feminine, nurturing side of human kind. Our umbrella needs to cover everything from "Mars Direct" to "co-evolution".
What I propose is "space as an environment”. An environment for civilization, and an environment for ecology; cities on the moon and forests on Mars. This is a banner broad enough to cover both green and gold and to attract new interests who may never have thought of space at all: gold movements like libertarians, and green movements like environmentalists.
To prime the pumps, I suggest a "2% solution.
This would be an allocation of 2% of federal budgets approved for space related projects like military satellites, telecommunications bandwidth auctions for satellite broadcasts, any space weapon systems, etc. This is analogous to programs that allocate 2% of construction funds on public projects to art. These funds would create a pool to nourish the space environment movement. This program would ensure that projects fostering the space environment at the grass roots have a source of funding and that the final frontier does not become the exclusive domain of the military-industrial complex.
NASA's 2% allocation could automatically be dedicated to them, but the 2% from military and commercial funds would be split between two civil commissions, one dedicated to fostering space civilization and the other dedicated to fostering space ecology. The commissions should be made up of blue-ribbon advocates representative of their respective domains: writers, visionaries, organizers, academics and celebrities should be the choices. The commissions should be foreclosed from undertaking any projects themselves, and should operate strictly as grant awarding foundations.
Huge amounts of money have been spent, are being spent, and will be spent to militarize, commercialize, and industrialize space; virtually nothing has ever been spent to civilize or space, and these are efforts on which the future of humanity, if not of life itself depend.
It's high time destiny got its worth.
Over the course of the 1996 Conclave (August 2–4) we were able to work out a plan of attack for reconfiguring the Aquarius Rising Project. As you know if you've been following this thread the past year, we were working on a project for a site in St. Croix. The nature of this site shaped the agenda as the project scope evolved. The scope that eventually emerged was dominated by tourist amenities needed to generate the cash flow necessary to fund the project. This was one of the project's greatest shortcomings and was the subject of intense criticism and debate. As the project grew and evolved to meet the exigencies of site and economics, the tourism development became the dog and the OTEC-powered prototype colony became the tail.
Loss of focus always plagues innovative efforts like ours. After all, no one has really set out on the path to sea colonization, let alone space colonization, before. The St. Croix project ran a real risk of overwhelming our fragile mission and causing us to lose touch with the message we are tasked to convey to our fellow humans. The loss of the St. Croix site has forced me to pause and reflect on the true purpose of this initial project. The result will be a much more tightly focused Aquarius Rising.
Another of the problems we faced at the St. Croix site was the eternal conundrum of an OTEC start-up – how much power do you produce? Our initial choice for Aquarius Rising had been the island of Little San Salvador in the Bahamas. After a lot of thought, discussion, and some cost estimating, it was decided that we must site this initial project somewhere with existing infrastructure and an existing market for the OTEC power and co-products like air conditioning and fresh water. St. Croix met the infrastructure requirements admirably; there was a good international jet airport, a developed and populated island with ready access to supplies, materials and contractors, and most importantly, there was a new cruise ship pier close to the project site. What the site did not have was any ready market for power, AC or water. This was part of the underlying rationale for establishing our own tourist amenities at the site. The hotel, condominium time-shares, golf course, theme park, etc. would absorb part of the OTEC's products. The total demand for power, AC, and water was, however, only equivalent to the output of a one- or two-megawatt OTEC. The minimum economic scale for OTEC is probably around 10 megawatts. We were bound to have a lot of excess power and water that we would then have to find outside markets for. Since there was very little other development on the west end of St. Croix outside the town of Frederiksted, we would have been dependent on making a deal with the local utilities or big consumers elsewhere on the island, like the oil refinery. In any case, the disposition of our excess products was a big unknown.
Now that we have moved beyond the St. Croix scenario, we need to derive a project scope that is more tightly focused and which is not so site-dependent. The scope for Aquarius Rising as it exists now is as follows: ⦁ a 10 megawatt, shore-based, closed-cycle OTEC ⦁ a floating Aquarian-style prototype sea colony sized to accommodate 100 adults plus their families, 20 paying guests, and a large stream of visitors ⦁ high intensity cold-bed horticulture facilities, either floating or land-based as economics and land-availability dictate ⦁ a large-scale mariculture operation, expandable to use all water flowing from the OTEC
Construction of this project will require the deployment of either pipes or tunnels to reach the needed cold water at a depth of 1000 meters. It will require the construction of a floating Aquarian platform. And it will require the installation of many acres of mariculture ponds.
The ideal site for Aquarius Rising will be an island in a warm-water zone with steep offshore topography giving close access to deep water. The site should be in sheltered waters, at least behind a barrier reef and preferably inside a placid lagoon. The sheltered water should be extensive, with at least 1000 acres available for mariculture expansion. The island must have a fully developed infrastructure and be accessible by air, preferably with direct international connections, and it must have a dock or pier capable of accommodating cruise passenger ships. The greater the preexisting tourist base, the better. The island should also have large markets for power, air-conditioning chill water, fresh water, as well as for fresh produce and seafood. These markets should be as close as possible to the project site.
Although these are a lot of variables to bring together in one place, such sites are not so rare as they might seem. Some examples are Nassau in the Bahamas, Jamaica, possibly some Mexican resorts, perhaps Bermuda, and many other islands in the Caribbean and Pacific.
At present we are looking at Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. If you want a closer look at Grand Cayman link to this location on the web: http://www.webcom.com/earleltd/cy/cym.html. Grand Cayman is ideal in many respects. It is a highly developed island with a population of around 30,000. It receives a million tourists per year who stay mostly in the large hotels along Seven Mile Beach. It possesses a spectacular shallow lagoon that provides around 26 square miles of potential habitable space for sea colonization and large-scale mariculture. All these features are relatively close to one another.
The business climate on the island is nearly ideal. The Cayman Islands are an autonomous member of the British Commonwealth. They are politically stable and are well disposed to business development that fits within the picture of their long-term development goals. Grand Cayman is a tax haven where a lot of offshore money ends up in the several hundred banks on the island. There are no taxes, property or otherwise, in the Caymans. The government is funded through a 20% duty on all imported goods, and a 7% surcharge on real estate transactions. Approximately 90% of all commodities are imported.
The one regard in which Grand Cayman is less than ideal for Aquarius Rising is perhaps the most crucial – accessibility to deep water. According to British Admiralty charts, we would have to extend our cold water pipes or tunnels a distance of 8.5 km. in order to bring water into the lagoon from the west. At other points on the island there is very close access to deep water, approximately a nautical mile in some places. Depending on the capital costs of getting access to deep water, we may not be able to use Grand Cayman, or we may have to create an alternate development scenario.
The preferred development at Grand Cayman involves building a floating prototype colony inside the lagoon, just behind Seven Mile Beach. This location puts us in sheltered shallow water where construction and maintenance of a floating habitat will be orders of magnitude easier than they would be in the open ocean. It also puts us in close proximity to the large power, air-conditioning, and water markets of the hotels and businesses on the island, and gets us as close as possible to the main flow of the island's million annual tourists. Development of this scenario would involve tunneling or trenching out to a depth of around one hundred meters for the cold-water intake pipe and the mixed-water discharge pipe, and then deploying the cold-water intake pipe along the slope of the bottom to a depth of one thousand meters. Cold water will be pumped up the pipe to the OTEC plant located on shore fronting the lagoon. For a 10-MW plant, the cold water pipe will need to be something on the order of two-to-three meters in diameter. Additional water will be brought up for the AC plant to provide chill water for sale to the hotels. Warm water will be sucked into the OTEC from the lagoon. Mixed warm and cold water will be discharged from the OTEC into the lagoon where it will be contained in a series of raceways constructed of impermeable fabric walls supported by posts anchored in the bottom of the lagoon. The mixed warm and cold water will sustain a bloom of algae nourished by the nutrients dissolved in the cold water. The algae-rich waters will then pass through a series of raceways holding shellfish, crabs and other mariculture products. The water will finally pass through raceways populated by kelp and other seaweeds which will cleanse the water of ammonia and other metabolic products. The clean water will then be discharged at a depth of about one hundred meters where it will be in equilibrium with the surrounding water and below sensitive environmental and recreational zones.
The prototype colony and perhaps the OTEC and mariculture ponds will be configured for expansion. The initial colony will accommodate 100+ people. It can then be expanded to accommodate as many as 1000. Ultimately, it may be possible to supply the entire island's power and fresh-water needs from OTEC, a demand load of 50 to 60 megawatts. At this size, the total area of mariculture production will be over 400 hectares.
The principal job now before us is to develop competent cost estimates for each of the Aquarius Rising project components. We know that we can purchase a shore-based 10-megawatt closed-cycle OTEC from Sea Solar Power for $40 million. This price includes the cold water pipe, but does not include the premium required to reach as far off shore as we would need to go in Grand Cayman. To address the viability of the preferred Grand Cayman scenario, we must accomplish some preliminary engineering trade-off studies.
The first item we need to address is the cold water pipe. We need to look at a couple of ways of skinning the cat to get cold water from 1000 meters up into the lagoon. One option we should look at, though it will almost certainly be the most expensive, is directional drilling or tunneling to get the cold water. This would involve sinking a shaft 1000 meters into the island and then drilling or tunneling out to the edge of the drop-off. While not a likely scenario, this is an approach that is amenable to straightforward cost estimating. In support of this and other scenarios, we will also need to acquire detailed geologic information regarding the island and its history. The island proper, that is, that portion that is above water, is all limestone from ancient reef formations. Below this, however, is a geologic uplift that is probably volcanic in origin. This will impact directly on the viability of any drilling or tunneling operations.
The more likely development scenario involves the deployment of a pipe along the sea floor. This pipe must be rigid to withstand the pressure differential needed to draw water up from the depths, a head differential of about six meters. Various materials may work in this application, but it will almost certainly wind up being a pipe made of fiberglass. The diameter of the pipe, two or three meters, means that the pipe will have to be constructed by the same means and probably the same manufacturers who build fiberglass gasoline storage tanks. A preliminary handle on the cost-per-foot of such a pipe can be obtained quickly by getting cost estimates for fiberglass storage tanks of roughly the same diameter.
The deployment of the pipe is altogether another question. The upper lengths of the pipe could be assembled in place on the sea floor, but the lower lengths of the pipe present a very thorny deployment problem. Perhaps the whole pipe can be assembled at sea, floating at or just below the surface, and then the whole pipe sunk into position. The logistics of this operation, taking into account the vagaries of weather, currents, traffic, and other problems of the open sea, make this a significant headache also. I hope that our group, blessed as we are by people with wild imaginations, will come up with some innovative solutions to what is certainly the biggest technical obstacle to shore-based OTEC development.
A significant amount of work also needs to be done with regard to the prototype colony construction. There are some good technologies available for building large floating platforms. We need to get access to the existing body of knowledge from projects like the floating airport in Japan, and other sources. Once we know how we are going to build the floating structure, we can begin to get a cost estimate on the prototype Aquarian habitat.
A lot of legwork also needs to be done with regard to the mariculture facility. We already have a good start thanks to Phil Kopitske's nitrogen-flow spreadsheet that sets OTEC power output at one end and generates tonnages of shellfish and other products at the other. We need to determine our mariculture-facility sizing from the OTEC flow rates and published turnover times for mariculture with deep-sea water. Once we know how big the initial sea farm is going to be, we need to derive a conceptual design and cost estimate for the materials and installation of such a facility.
On the income side, we need to gather information regarding electric power, fresh water, produce and seafood prices that prevail in Grand Cayman. We then need to estimate our production of these commodities and come up with gross figures showing annual income. Data also need to be gathered on tourist numbers, demographics and projections for Grand Cayman. We need to come up with a viable plan for a small visitor's center and the flow of tourists through the OTEC facility and the prototype colony that will not interfere with the operation of these facilities.
The end result of the operation should be a detailed project scope, a fairly accurate cost estimate and projections of gross and net revenues for the project. Once armed with these crude tools, we can begin to flesh out the development scenario and the project's economics. We will gather our data, write a coherent business prospectus and then go hunting for project funding. If you will throw your shoulder to the wheel and help with these tasks, we should have a completed prospectus and be prepared to seek funding by the time of next year's Core Conclave.
I will continue to send you updates as the project evolves. If Grand Cayman has not been ruled out as a potential site by then, I will be going down there to spend a couple of weeks scouting around in February.
The end result will eventually be the advent of Aquarius Rising, a gleaming symbol of humanity's hopes for the future, afloat in the turquoise waters of some tropical lagoon, producing abundant streams of clean energy and cheap food. Once we succeed in building AR, we will have created an icon of hope for the future that will galvanize a huge number of people throughout the world to join us in our efforts to attain humankind's destiny among the stars.
—Phil Kopitske, Chief Engineer
We are exploring the feasibility of several sites for Aquarius Rising.
For each site we evaluate, the first thing we need to know is the history of any previous OTEC proposals near the proposed site, who each proposal was presented to and how, what its power and water production capabilities were, and how it was received by each person who was asked to analyze it. We should also review any local newspapers for articles on OTEC, to see how the press and public received the idea.
The second thing we need to address is the potential demand for our co-products in the area – mariculture, fresh water, electric power and air-conditioning chill water – in that order, because their value decreases in that order. We need to know how many tons of seafood are imported into the area per year, and how much is caught locally, and also what food items are in demand. We need to know how each of the local hotels purchases seafood, and what their specifications are (number of rooms, room-cost per night, average length of stay, electric load, food consumption, and location with respect to our potential sites).
The third issue is connecting any facility we propose to those consumption sites. We need to know where the power and fresh water distribution lines run, where the production sites are located, what the existing production plants for water and power originally cost to build and what they cost now to run, when they were built, how they were financed, and what the projected growth in demand is for their output. We may be able to sell the idea of our 10-MW OTEC as a cost-avoidance to the local water and power authorities if we can accommodate the projected growth in demand for these needs.
We also need site-specific details related to soil characteristics (depth to rock, compression strength, and cost of trenching). We need to know existing utility easements, and power, communication, water, and sewer-line dimensions and locations on each proposed site, the method for reaching cold water and the likelihood of being able to run our cold water pipe directly into the OTEC via surface trenching. Also the proximity to potential large air-conditioning chill-water customers, including hotel, residential, business and industrial consumers.
For recently completed hotels in the area, it would be good to know who the prime contractor was. We might float our plan to major construction companies. We could begin with those having recent experience in the area, as well as those with sea floor, tension-leg construction experience, drilling experience, or oilrig construction experience.
So here are the relevant help-wanted ads, in other words, this is the kind of help we need:
OTEC Project Manager Develop specifications, design documents and prepare detailed cost estimates for the installation of a 10 MW net open cycle Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Plant. Develop and manage the team of volunteers and the gemstar node associated with the OTEC part of the project.
Mariculture Pond Project Manager Develop specifications, design documents and prepare detailed cost estimates for the installation of a 120-acre, lagoon-based mariculture pond. Develop and manage the team of volunteers and the gemstar node associated with the mariculture part of the project.
Research Facility Project Manager Develop specifications, design documents and prepare detailed cost estimates for the installation of a floating, eight-story habitat and research facility in the center of the mariculture pond designed for 100 mariculture and sea-cement researchers. Develop and manage a team of volunteers and the gemstar node associated with the research facility part of the project.
Sub-Sea Habitat Facility Develop specifications, design documents and prepare detailed cost estimates for the installation of a sub-sea habitat facility dedicated to developing and testing closed-loop life support systems. Develop and manage a team of volunteers and the gemstar node associated with the sub-sea habitat part of the project.
Tourism Office Develop specifications, design documents and prepare detailed cost estimates for the integration of tourist amenities into the above facilities. Develop and manage a team of volunteers and the gemstar node associated with the tourism part of the project.
An outline of topics discussed in the FMF-Social group
Social Q. Why create a new social system? Q. Why choose sovereignty? Q. Why not remain a part of a major national government? Q. What is colonialism? Q. Are we trying to create a utopia? Government Government Structure Q. What kind of government structure is proposed for Millennial colonies? Direct democracy proposals Q. What is "direct democracy"? Q. How will electronic debating systems be made open? Q. How will electronic voting systems be made fair? Q. How will electronic voting systems be managed? Q. How will electronic voting systems be made secure? Q. How will electronic voting systems be counted? Q. Will children be allowed to debate? Q. Will non-colonists be allowed to debate? Q. Will children be allowed to vote? Electronic voting and debate Voting fairness and management Civil vs. Business decision-making Vote counting Conflict resolution proposal Q. How will conflicts be handled? Q. How will cases be investigated? Q. How will cases be tried? Military conflict Q. How would an ocean colony defend itself? Population is the military Q. Will there be a military? Q. Who will serve as the military? Population is the police force Q. Will there be a police force? Q. Who will serve as the police officers? Punishment and corrections Q. What means will be used for corrections? Capital punishment Q. Should we use capital punishment? Terrorism and dictatorships Q. How will the colonies be protected from terrorism? Q. How will we handle relations with dictators? Diplomacy & foreign affairs Relationship to U.N. Q. Should we join the U.N.? Relationship to powerful protector countries Q. Should we ally the colony with power? Conservative, Liberal and Libertarian views Q. Is direct democracy liberal, conservative, moderate, libertarian or authoritarian? Law Q. Should law be simplified? Q. Can law be simplified? Q. Would a simple set of laws be robust enough to cover all colony situations? Meta law (or laws about laws) Q. What is meta law? Axiomatic law (or mathematical logic based law) Q. What is axiomatic law? Basic or simple law (pamphlet to paper-back size) Q. What is simple law? Q. What size should simple law be? Q. How is it kept to that size? Contract-law proposal (to cover special cases) Q. What is contract law? Q. How are contracts used? Constitution International law Q. What is international law? Q. What is international sea law? Q. How would it affect the colonies? Harm Q. Can the law be defined by not causing harm? Q. How can harm be defined legally? Rights Individual responsibility Social responsibility Free basic necessities: food, clothing, housing, education, etc. Q. Should ______ be free for all citizens? food, clothing, housing, property, education, etc. Free or shared property Q. Should property be free or freely shared? Age limits and responsibility Q. Should age limits be used to govern eligibility? Q. If age limits are not used, how can we determine eligibility? Voting age Q. Should there be a minimum voting age? Q. If so, what should it be? Right to work Q. If the colony is the government and the corporation can a worker be fired? Individual and colony rights vs. FMF goals Q. How do we make sure that the rights of the individual and the goals of the Foundation do not conflict? Copyright, pay-per-use, and info ownership Q. Is it a colonist's right to _____? use obscenity, gamble, engage in prostitution, use drugs, own a gun, be nude in public, express oneself freely, own property, inherit wealth, have any/no religion, display (enthusiastic) public affection, have privacy, use encryption, have personal choice in sexual preference, have privacy, etc. Business & economy Meaning of "colonialism" Q. What is colonialism? Comparisons of capitalism, communism, colonialism, feudalism, imperialism, etc. Q. How is colonialism different from (similar to) capitalism? Q. How is colonialism different from (similar to) communism? Q. How is colonialism different from (similar to) feudalism? Q. How is colonialism different from (similar to) imperialism? Corporate model Single colony corporation (e.g., Aquarius Inc.) vs. pure capitalism vs. an umbrella corporation Q. Should there be one company? Q. Should there be many companies? Q. Should there be one umbrella company over many companies? Contract capitalism Q. How could independent companies work with contract law? Jobs board or contract working Q. How would a single company pass out work? Land ownership Q. Can colonists own land or is it shared by the colony? Land-share proposal Q. Who owns the land? Infrastructure ownership Q. Who owns the infrastructure? Internal investment External investment Financing Aquarius Monetary systems Q. What kind of monetary system would best suit colony needs? Q. How many monetary systems would be in use? Local currency Foreign currencies Share-based currency Fixed-unit currency Commodities based currency (e.g., distilled water) Automated trading systems Gold-based currency Economy-based currency Selling islands for profit Q. Can we sell islands for profit? Q. Is it right to sell islands without restriction? Q. Is it right to sell islands with restrictions? Industry Automation Q. How would automation effect job stability? Q. What happens to workers in obsolete jobs? Telecommuting Q. Why is telecommuting important to the colonies? Consulting Q. Why is consulting important to the colonies? Bifrost Employment of natives Q. Why are natives the primary source of employment at Bifrost? Q. How will they be trained? Dealing with government Q. What will the Foundation's role with the host country's government be? Q. What will Aquarius's role with the host country's government be? Q. What will Earth-Light's role with the host country's government be? Protection from dictators, conquerors, terrorists, etc. Q. How will Bifrost be protected from dictators, conquerors and terrorists? Education Q. Should education be free for all colonists? FMF Virtual University Q. What is FMF Virtual University? Home schooling Q. Should home-schools be encouraged? Q. What benefits are there to home schooling? Public sports, labs, auditoriums, studios and other educational facilities Q. Where can sports events be held? Apprenticeships or early-age internships and child labor Q. Should children be allowed or required to work? Q. How would apprenticeships improve a child's work habits and education? Technology for education Q. How can technology be used to improve education? Internet Multimedia/WWW Virtual reality/MUDs E-mail, mailing lists Teleconferencing Artificial intelligence Curriculum Q. Should there be a core curriculum? Q. What should be the core colony curriculum? Teaching ethics, morality, responsibility, and culture in schools Q. Should ethics be part of the core curriculum? Q. How can morality, responsibility and culture be taught as part of the educational system? Life-long education and retraining Q. Why isn't the educational system divided into grades? Q. Why is the educational system life-long for all colonists? Q. How is progress measured in the educational system? Q. What steps are to be taken to ensure a quality education for all students? Technology Health/location monitors & smart environments Q. What are "smart environments"? Q. What benefits would they provide? Q. How is privacy protected? Q. Should citizens be required to wear communicators? Q. Should convicts be required to wear locators? Gemstars Q. What are "gemstars"? Family Parental control of education and control of curriculum Q. Should parents control the educational curriculum of their children? Inheritance rights and limits Q. Should parents be allowed to pass wealth to their children? Retirement Q. Should retirement be allowed? Q. Should it be mandatory? Q. Should there be an age limit? Q. Should it be personal choice? Population control Q. How will colony population be controlled? Q. How can ocean colonization help relieve Earth's population problems? Q. Can space colonization relieve Earth's population problems?
Funding Biosphere Research as EntertainmentEdit
Small, closed ecosystems (biospheres) are important subjects for research, but such research is often difficult to fund. This article suggests that research on biospheres might be funded through their entertainment value.
In Florida, a greenhouse-like biosphere can be built to use solar energy. This allows light to enter so that no extra energy is needed for the crops. In addition, tourists can easily see in. The facility might need some heat pumped out during summer or in during winter, but energy transfers are legitimate for a biosphere as long as no mass is transferred in or out.
A small biosphere tourist attraction could be built in Florida for under $200,000. This would include: ⦁ 1.62 hectares (four acres) of land for $20,000 ⦁ fence & parking for $6,000 ⦁ a restaurant for $100,000 ⦁ the biosphere itself for $50,000 ⦁ biosphere monitoring and measurement for $10,000 ⦁ a model of the biosphere for $5,000.
It is reasonable to assume that the restaurant could carry itself, since that is a well-known business.
The remaining investment of $100,000 should have a pre-tax profit of $20,000 per year, and revenues of about $670,000 per year if the pre-tax profit is to be three percent of revenues. If half the tourists come in a peak three-month period, that would require $330,000 income in three months, or about $3,700 per day. This could be realized from 370 visitors spending $10 each, or about 50 people per hour. This seems realistic during a peak tourist season.
The wages paid from this project would be about 20 percent of revenues, or $134,000 per year. That would pay 4.5 people an annual salary of $30,000.
The $200,000 figure is a minimum starting amount. More should be proposed for funding other entertainments related to space or ocean colonization research. Moon-delay and mars-delay teleoperation exhibits would be possibilities.
International Space Exploration and Colonization Company (ISECCo, see http://sedona.uafphys.alaska.edu/~isecco/new/) is attempting to build a biosphere. However they are trying to do this in Alaska. Their biosphere is to be buried for protection against the Alaska weather, so it would be a poor tourist attraction. Also, it needs $3000/month to pay for artificial lighting to grow the plants needed. When thinking of building a biosphere as entertainment, Florida seems a likely place. There are many tourists, and the weather is warm year-round.
The ISECCo outline suggests 75 square meters as garden space to support one person. The proposed Florida biosphere is designed to have 150 square meters and to support one person inside. The extra 75 square meters would allow a safety margin and possible non-garden uses that could help stabilize a small biosphere (such as a large tank of water which, just by being there, would smooth out temperature variations).
If built as a square, the proposed Florida biosphere would have each side 12.2 meters (40.03 ft) long. A key proposal in order to keep the cost low is to make the actual biosphere barrier be .508 mm (20 mil) clear PVC, which would be totally sealed with soil and air enclosed. Then to protect the barrier a structure of acrylic (Plexiglas) panels mounted on a wooden frame is built. Since 12.2 meters is a fairly extensive span for wood, a square building may not be the most feasible structure. Consider three possible approaches to the design.
First, the interior could be a clear span. The Rockett Lumber warehouse (http://cwc.metrics.com/cstudy_2.html) built in Ontario, Canada had clear spans of 10 meters by 15 meters, and cited a cost of $60/square meter, or $9000 for 150 square meters. This included trusses and columns (and possibly other structural elements). With this kind of supporting structure, the biosphere barrier could be a single bag. Thirty centimeters (one foot) of dirt would be excavated, and the bottom of the bag buried. The top of the bag could be made at the factory and attached after the shielding structure was in place. In these small quantities, .508 mm (20 mil) PVC costs $2.15/square meter ($0.20/square foot) so the bag would cost less than $1,000.
Excavating the area for the biosphere and burying the bottom of the plastic should cost less than an additional $1,000.
Another approach would be to make a long, narrow building (with the long side to the south) which a single piece of lumber could span. Again, the PVC barrier could be a single bag.
A third approach would be to make modules 2.62 meters (8 feet) by 12.2 meters (40 feet), placing five of them in a row, with their long sides adjacent. The 12.2 meters would then not be a single span, but would be supported by posts approximately every 3 meters. The PVC barriers between adjacent modules would be cut out between at least some of the posts. The two PVC surfaces between the posts would be removed, and the edges around the cut would be rejoined to restore a continuous barrier for the total biosphere.
These designs would have different costs and different biological implications. All this would need to be considered carefully in arriving at a design.
The most expensive item appears to be the acrylic panels. These are planned as 1.22 m (4 ft) by 2.44 m (8 ft) panels, which are available from Ridout Plastics (see http://www.sddt.com/clients/plastics/files/plexprimer.html). They can make it any thickness, but they suggest at least 6.35 mm (0.25 inch) for a flat roof panel. Another site (http://www.hammondaudio.com/plastic/enclose.html) gives prices for small quantities of acrylic sheet as $193/square meter ($18/square foot) for 19.1 mm (0.75-inch) thick, and $161/square meter ($15/square foot) for 12.7 mm (0.50-inch) thick. Since this is for audio use and in small quantities, an estimate of $129/square meter ($12/square foot) for 6.35 mm (0.25-inch) thick Plexiglas seems reasonable. At this price, the 2.98 square meter (32 square feet) of a panel would cost $384. A 12.7 mm (half-inch) panel might be preferable for extra durability from tourist wear and tear. This would cost $480. The various design options appear to cost between $40,000 and $50,000.
A problem in working with Plexiglas is its rather high coefficient of thermal expansion. A 2.44 m (8-ft) section would change in length by 8.01 mm (0.315 inch) in going from -6.67 Celsius (20 degrees Fahrenheit) to 37.8 Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) (Ridout's plexprimer gives the coefficient of thermal expansion for Plexiglas as .0000738 mm/mm/Kelvin [.0000410 inches/inch/degree Fahrenheit]). However, the panels are only needed to shield the PVC, not to be airtight. Thus the panels can be attached to the wood by aluminum batten strips over the panel edges. This not only allows the Plexiglas to expand and contract but also holds all the edges firmly in case of high winds.
While we depend on tourists, they are the greatest source of damage. There should be a low fence four to six feet from the biosphere to dissuade tourists from approaching the building closely. By using Plexiglas rather than glass, the occasional stone-throwing kid should not be a disaster. 12.7 mm (half-inch) Plexiglas on the sides might be desirable for greater protection.
The restaurant is priced at $1070/square meter ($100/square foot) for 93.0 square meters (1,000 square feet). It should include a small gift shop (perhaps just shelves behind the cash register) selling biospheres and other mementos.
The fence is priced from a report (http://gnv.ifas.ufl.edu/~alachua/fence.htm) which lists the materials cost for 1.61 km (1 mile) of woven-wire fence with one strand of barbed wire (with posts spaced ten feet apart) as $1,790/km ($2,876/mile). If the fence required is 50 percent longer than the length to enclose a square of 1.62 hectares (four acres), then it is about 0.8 km (half a mile) long. Installation is estimated as equal to materials.
The model of the biosphere is something to take tourists into. It can be smaller, built with a tougher .762mm (30 mil) PVC layer for more abuse, and without the bottom layer actually being there. In fact, since the PVC is a minor cost for the biosphere, .762 (30 mil) might be used there too. However, for the biosphere the light transmittance would have to be traded off in making a thicker skin. The model biosphere would have a copy of the small personal quarters of the larger biosphere; tourists will be curious about that.
The biosphere itself would be the main attraction, and it can be made more attractive by having the resident fitted out with a light-weight telephone-operator's headset so that he or she can talk to the tourists while going about regular tasks. The biosphere resident will need to have both good gardening skills and an outgoing personality. There would be only a few outside headsets that would transmit, but any number that could listen in. These would be rented (charging more for the transmitting ones) to tourists during some hours of the day, which could be cut short by the resident with a little notice. This would give the resident some privacy control.
The biosphere will be run by "muddle through”. We won't hesitate to terminate a run, but we will put up a sign that reads "Biosphere in continuous operation for (23) days”. And probably one reading, "Run #1: 3 days, Run #2: 5 days"… One of the main lessons Peter Warshall drew from Biosphere 2 ("Lessons from Biosphere 2" by Peter Warshall, published in Whole Earth Review, spring issue, 1996, pp. 22–27; also available at http://www.enews.com/magazines/edge/current/960501-003.html) was that a complex biosphere was not something we have the capability of designing. As a corollary, he suggested building a biosphere slowly, over several years, starting with microorganisms and working up. While we do not have the luxury of waiting years, we can at least plan on multiple runs – even abortive starts – not necessarily having things right the first time. We should not try for longer stays than we have experience in handling. Thus the first stay may be planned for just a few days. Rather than build slowly from simplest organisms, we will attempt to build slowly from experience with a complex system.
One of the main points that Martyn Fogg makes about small biospheres (Terraforming, Engineering Planetary Environments, published in Warrendale, Pennsylvania, by the Society of Automotive Engineers, 1995) – and he means anything smaller than a planet – is that the turnover of gases is necessarily high, and that there are not large buffers for essentials such as heat and carbon dioxide. This leads to rapid rises and drops in essential variables, which can destabilize the biosphere, or to catastrophic failures if the variables move too far from normal conditions. He quantifies the effect by how much energy must be used to maintain stability. A line of research is thus to devise passive, or at least low-energy, devices that can do the required buffering.
Clearly, a biologist interested in biospheres should be involved. It is not clear that the project can support a market-rate consulting fee, but a clear lead role in experimental design and first access to all the data that the project made available might interest a competent consultant.
Another problem of Biosphere 2 noted by Warshall was that its design only let in half of the incident sunlight. The transmittance of 15.9 mm (.625 inch) acrylic sheet is 0.86 (http://www.sunroom.com/com_spec.htm). Since we would plan to use at most 12.7 mm (half-inch) thick panels, this is a low estimate. The frame and roof trusses would block a few percent more. The transmittance for .508 mm (20 mil) clear PVC should be high, at least initially. However, its transmittance might be significantly lower after being in the sun for a year. This design would thus be expected to have a transmittance of over 0.80. Transmittance at the specific energies needed for photosynthesis should be measured.
The biosphere interior will be about 7 kPa (1 psi) above peak atmospheric pressure in order to (a) keep the PVC bag pressed against the frame, and (b) to verify containment. There might be something that looks like an airlock, but for low-budget operation, one would just cut a slit in the PVC and step through. This slit would need to be sealed again, which can be done with clear strapping tape (Mylar), so repressurization can be started immediately.
The oxygen level, temperature and carbon dioxide content in the biosphere need constant monitoring. This chore can be sold to tourists; the more real dials (pressure, temperature, humidity, etc.) there are, the better. Automatic alarms should also be installed. Chart-type recorders in a different location should be read regularly by outside staff; how often is an important safety question.
For nighttime security, it would be desirable if some of the outside staff were to sleep in quarters in the model biosphere and in the restaurant.
It appears that research on biospheres could be financed by deliberately making it entertaining. This might also be true for other research needed for the colonization of space or of the oceans. Suggestions for additional research-as-exhibits would be useful.
The Kibbutz in One Easy LessonEdit
Editor's note: Colonizing the oceans and colonizing space present daunting challenges – and not just technological ones. The social and psychological challenges will be formidable. Some of Biosphere-2's worst problems, for example, came from unanticipated social disruption and emotional stress. But over the past 50 to 100 years the people of Israel have "colonized" a harsh and hostile land. Their experience, the kibbutz, holds some valuable lessons for the FMF.
A kibbutz is an egalitarian, voluntary cooperative. There are usually only four elected offices: Business Manager, Social Manager, Treasurer and Work Coordinator. All other business is taken care of by various committees with elected heads but with volunteer staff. This means that anyone who really wants to sit, let us say, on the Education Committee can just go and do it. Important matters are decided in the monthly town meetings and each member has the right to vote on all issues. Even candidates for membership and visitors often vote on matters that directly concern them, but they cannot make community policy. Children also vote on matters concerning them, but they cannot override the rulings of the town meeting. There is no law enforcement on a kibbutz. Doors are left unlocked; children roam about freely, safe from criminals, motorized traffic and other dangers.
A kibbutz grows from a "seed”, a group of people who band together to form what is known as a "garin" or community nucleus. Historically the kibbutz evolved in harsh lands and dangerous times where individuals and single families would not have been able to survive on their own. But the kibbutz has more than survived – it has thrived. Kibbutzim make up only three percent of Israel's population, but they contribute much more than three percent to the agricultural and industrial output of the country. A large percentage of Israel's citizen-soldiers are also from kibbutzim.
The word kibbutz is a modern term for a certain type of cooperative community, but the roots of the word are over 3,000 years old. The prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel foretold that the Children of Israel would be scattered over the world. Then, in the days before a new era, they would be gathered up and brought back to their own land. The term for this in-gathering is Kibbutz Galyu-ot, "the Ingathering of the Exiles”.
The modern idea of the kibbutz is actually over a century old. The first communities were started by refugees from Russia and Eastern Europe. These pioneers fled from government campaigns to kill and drive out Jewish citizens. When they arrived in Turkish Palestine, they found a frightened and decimated indigenous community, terrorized by Bedouin bandits and heavily taxed by absentee Turkish landlords. The population survived in fortress-like communities. Settling outside the walls of a city was tantamount to suicide.
The Palestinian Jews of that day approached this problem from two directions. The indigenous Jews saved enough money to extend the city walls and added a new "quarter" to many existing cities. The refugees from Europe built their own walls of lumber and barbed wire. This method became so streamlined that a "tower and stockade" settlement could be erected and made defensible in a single night. Many modern kibbutzim started in this way.
The socialist roots of the refugees had some effect on the form of the kibbutz, but necessity and environment had even more influence. Primarily started as agricultural communities to reclaim the neglected land and raise food for the famine-haunted Levant, kibbutzim became military outposts, refugee rehabilitation centers, fledgling industrial parks and even tourist attractions as time and circumstances demanded. To give a few examples, Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, steeled with experience in self-defense, held off the entire Egyptian army for six critical days during the 1948 War of Independence. Another kibbutz, Kibbutz Beit Yitzhak, was the site of the first modern canning, fruit-processing, and jam-making plant in the Middle East. On the other hand, the best guesthouse in Israel is on a kibbutz near Jerusalem. And several Galilee kibbutzim have banded together to become the "Silicon Valley" of Israel. Finally, the drip-irrigation system was first developed and manufactured on a kibbutz near Beersheva.
The kibbutz was expected to replace the conventional family, but in an unexpected turn of history it became a greenhouse for that venerable institution. Children living on a kibbutz go home from the children's houses to the sort of cookie-baking, walk-taking, play-on-the-floor parents that have almost disappeared from other parts of the modern world. Why has traditional family time become the common pattern? Because the time from four o'clock in the afternoon until bedtime is reserved exclusively for the children. Dinner is served in the communal dining room, laundry is done centrally – no domestic chores interfere with those special family hours. Although the first community arrangements had all the children sleeping in the children's houses, now, by common consent, most kibbutz children sleep in their own homes.
My community, Kibbutz Ketura, was founded in 1973, the first new community to be established after the Yom Kippur war. Ketura was founded in the Arava desert, one of the hottest spots on Earth and one of the most desolate. I came to Ketura four months after it began and found a huddle of six prefabricated buildings, 25 confused but determined young people, 13 small sick trees, a parakeet, a cat and three dogs. Like all nascent communities, we spent a ridiculous amount of time arguing about how to do things rather than doing them. It took several years for the community to take root and begin to grow.
After 23 years we have over 150 members, about an equal number of children, and a population of temporary visitors which often numbers 100. We have started a college for environmental studies. We run a desert research station affiliated with Ben-Gurion University. We have a computer service and gardening service for the neighboring area. We grow dates, pitahayas, mangoes, pomelos, melons and a variety of vegetables and herbs, and we raise dairy cattle and turkeys. Several doctors, teachers and lawyers live in our community – we even have five PhDs. It is a true case of turning "nothing" – a few acres of desert declared to be uninhabitable – into "something" – a thriving, self-sustaining community in the wasteland. This makes me believe that some of the things learned on kibbutzim might be transferable to the next frontiers – to colonizing the oceans and then outer space.
A Super-Kibbutz on the Waves
The kibbutz is a peculiarly Israeli way of doing things, but a colony in the Aquarian league might be similar in several important ways. 1. It would have to be a voluntary democracy. The techniques of cultists (and the kolkhoz) would be worse than useless in attracting the sort of people who could build a colony on the sea. 2. It would have to be able to defend itself and deal with emergencies. The idea that most adults can act as militia or medics in a pinch is an important and valid one. 3. The colony should start from a "seed" – an OTEC facility and a group of determined people – and grow to whatever size is decided on by the members of the colony. (The largest kibbutz has 3,000 members, the smallest only 50. An OTEC-based colony would probably have to be quite large in order to justify the financial investment. Perhaps organizing by neighborhoods or clans might bring such a large Aquarian society down to a comfortable human scale.) 4. The colony should be organized into production "branches" all working synergistically to help the colony grow. 5. Colonists must be equal in their rights and duties. Absolute equality is a dangerous mirage, but all members of the Aquarian league should be peers. Unpopular work should be shared out as a community obligation so that no one would have to make a career of cleaning drains or washing dishes. 6. Temporary people must have a charter assigning them agreed-upon rights and duties to make sure that an underclass does not come into being. 7. There should be no religious, political or outside-imposed social pressures, and no law enforcement outside of the agreed-upon community rules. Disagreements should be settled within the community. 8. Food, shelter, clothing, medical care, education and other basic needs should be supplied by the community. 9. Education, cultural activities, artistic talents and hobbies should be encouraged. Strong communities are made of strong, talented and educated individuals. 10. Provision should be made for new projects, research, innovation and experimentation by setting aside an agreed-upon amount of the yearly budget to look to the future.
In other matters, each colony on the sea must find its own way and build its own community character. This is true of kibbutzim; each community has a flavor or set of idiosyncrasies derived from the people who choose to join it. Our neighbors to the south, for instance, are well-to-do from a thriving dairy industry; their kibbutz is neat, suburban and a little stuffy. In contrast, our neighbors to the north seem wild and woolly. They do not even have a formal work list – everyone works where he or she wants to. But somehow the work gets done in both places. My own community is unique in that secular and religious people live together. We have a heady mix of native Israelis, ideologically oriented Americans and Soviet refugees.
Will Aquarius be able to use the kibbutz experience and transform and translate its lessons into a futuristic colony on the waves? I honestly don't know. True, the last century has given us many examples of communal societies that did not work. Time and circumstances have swept them away. The kibbutz has endured, perhaps because it can change to meet new challenges.
An Aquarian society will have to be flexible, forward-looking and focused from the instant of its conception. The kibbutz developed in response to a hostile environment. The empty sea and even emptier reaches of space are indifferent and unforgiving. They demand that a new kind of society be born. If I did not believe that new society would be Marshal Savage's sea-lotus, Aquarius, I would not be writing this article. I hope that time will prove it is so.
Blasi, Joseph R. The Communal Factor: The Kibbutz and the Utopian Dilemma. Boston: Norwood, 1980. Curtis, Michael E., ed. Israel Social Structure and Change. New Jersey: Transactive Inc., 1975. Larkin, Margaret T. The Six Days of Yad Mordechai. Haifa: Keterpress, 1965. Raynman, Paul R. The Kibbutz and Nation-Building. Jerusalem: The Judaica Press, 1978. Yadin, Yigael, et al. The Forgotten Generations: The Enduring Jewry of Palestine. Haifa: Keterpress, 1953.
Implementing ARCS: An Information Technology Plan for AquariusEdit
Editor's Note: As described in The Millennial Project, the Aquarius marine colony, as well as the planned space and planetary colonies, will rely heavily on information technology both in the daily operation of the colony and as a source of revenue through information services and through software and hardware development.
Introduction The demands on Aquarius' computer systems will be great. They must automate a vast array of systems managing the complex's environment and mariculture, must provide a large diversity of communications services for its inhabitants, and must aid in the replacement of a vast array of consumable information media, paper in particular. Ideally, Aquarius should use technology that can be developed and manufactured in the colony itself rather than imported. This will both reduce the costs of the technology and create products which can be exported. However, in the beginning Aquarius must make the most of existing off-the-shelf technology, using it in novel ways and building from it an infrastructure supporting the development of these new and independent technologies.
In this report we will look at a plan for developing Aquarius' digital infrastructure based on a novel new computing paradigm that can be implemented with existing technology and yet offers vast future potential for new product development. We will see how, using a simple and little-known chip technology available today, Aquarius can achieve an enormous improvement in computing performance and versatility well beyond what existing computer products can offer. We will lay out the plan for a digital infrastructure capable of meeting The Millennial Project's computing and communications needs for many decades to come.
To begin, what are the essential tasks and services Aquarius' digital infrastructure must support? These fall into several categories: 1. maintenance systems 2. automated utilities 3. communications 4. public/private multimedia systems and entertainment 5. research/engineering computing 6. medical information systems 7. business information systems 8. financial services
Let's look at each of these in turn, listing specific applications.
1. Maintenance Systems
These are the various systems responsible for maintaining the physical environment of the Aquarius complex and the agriculture/mariculture facilities. They consist primarily of simple control systems designed to monitor elements like time, weather, energy use and the local environment, and to respond by activating various simple machines. They would also be used as emergency detection and alarm systems.
The complex's air conditioning is a prime example of this type of system. The maintenance system would sense temperature, humidity and air flow in the complex's rooms and ducts, and activate various components in the air conditioning system in response to environmental conditions. As Aquarius grows, every cell in the complex could have a control system engaged in these functions, monitoring and controlling individual air conditioning and ventilation systems in each cell. For agriculture and mariculture these systems would manage devices such as irrigation systems, circulation and effluent pumps, nutrient feed systems, and automated harvesting machines. Ultimately, this may also include the control and management of robotic repair and maintenance systems. Initially, this would be limited to lawn-mowing and street- and window-cleaning robots. Later, more sophisticated robots could be developed to handle structural repairs, replacement of modular utilities components, and underwater maintenance tasks.
2. Automated Utilities
These are systems which use automation in some form to provide various public utilities. Examples are the conveyor system which moves items from place to place and automated transportation systems which move people around the complex. As Aquarius refines its technologies, this may eventually include systems of automated platform construction and manufacture-on-demand systems providing customized fabrication of products to customer specifications within minutes – a technology which is likely to replace manufacturing as we know it today. Other possible automated utilities include things like household robots, household food-preparation systems (food processors), child-monitoring devices and robotic entertainment and recreation devices such as robot toys and puppets (cyberpets and cybermuppets) and robot sports opponents.
Communications services will be one of the most demanding applications for Aquarius' computer systems. They will have to integrate a wide diversity of information mediums. The communications services will fall into several categories: a. personal b. public c. corporate/industrial d. finance e. operations f. emergency communications
3a. Personal communication is that sphere of services supporting private person-to-person communication. This will include telephone, videophone, voice and video mail, e-mail, personal digital conferencing and personal data file exchange. These are likely to require both cabled and wireless mechanisms. FAX is likely to be obsolete on Aquarius (and elsewhere on the globe), replaced by simple digital image exchange.
3b. Public communication concerns those services designed to provide mass communication for purposes of advertising or public information. This includes devices such as electronic billboards and public information kiosks which will be located around the complex' interior, and also travel information displays in the complex's transportation centers.
3c. Corporate/industrial communication concerns those applications dealing specifically with business and manufacturing. This includes local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN) systems, telecommuting systems and factory control and automation networks.
3d. Finance communication is related corporate communication but it is distinct. It involves digital communications in support of Aquarius' electronic currency system, international banking and digital securities exchange.
3e. Operations communication concerns the communications carried out in the day-to-day operation of the complex. This includes digital communications between the complex's control and maintenance systems and also ship and aircraft communications, radar, and sonar. Later, this would also include surface-to-space communication and telemetry.
3f. Emergency communication concerns crisis management and emergency response. This includes alarm systems based on weather and complex structural monitoring, security systems, police, fire, and ambulance response systems, and public access alarms systems like fire boxes and 911 phone emergency service. On Aquarius these public access systems are likely to be based on the public information kiosks which will be in each home and in many public places. Residents simply use the touch screen to press an alarm button and indicate the type of emergency response needed from a menu. Then the terminal automatically transmits the location to emergency services.
4. Public/private multimedia and entertainment This relates to personal communications but concerns particularly those systems designed to provide a diverse range of information media for education, work and entertainment. This includes electronic books and magazines, video and music on demand, video games and networked, interactive multimedia, shared virtual reality (VR) environments, immersive VR entertainment, public multimedia art and entertainment, and many more things yet to be imagined. One of the most important of these will be a system supporting Aquarius' massive digital public library with books, video and music content. Second to this will be Aquarius' video networks dealing with video broadcast feeds from the rest of the globe as well as Aquarius' own domestic entertainment and news programming. An interesting aspect of the video services will be time-independent programming where, thanks to video-on-demand technology, television programming is used by the public like magazines, picked up any time after it is released rather than at a specific broadcast time during the day. Only special programming will be live and time dependent, with the viewing a participatory event. Aquarius' broadcast services will also dissect the real-time video feeds it gets from the rest of the world into this time-independent structure.
The most sophisticated of Aquarius' multimedia services will be VR which will be introduced as a means of presenting The Millennial Project's plans during the Aquarius Rising stage and will later develop into a robust educational tool as well as a form of public entertainment. VR will be important for Aquarius because it will satisfy the residents' desires for casual recreational travel and for self-expression. VR will be used in several ways: there will be wearable VR systems, small immersive VR rooms in homes, and large VR chambers in public Animation Galleries.
5. Research/Engineering Computing This will be the area most demanding in raw computing power, the one area where supercomputing performance will be necessary for many tasks. It basically comprises all the information systems used in the process of scientific research, engineering and product design and development. Because The Millennial Project is shooting for the stars, Aquarius will be engaged in some of the world's most advanced research and development. Critical to this will be the pursuit of CBM (computer based manufacturing) and manufacture-on-demand automation – a technology which will sweep across the globe after the turn of the century and radically transform the economic and industrial landscape of the planet. Aquarius will ride this wave since this particular technology will be critical to its needs. With this focus we can expect the extensive use of VR for design and scientific visualization and a drive toward development of increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence to support these new forms of automation.
6. Medical Information Systems Key to creating a high quality of life on Aquarius will be advanced medical facilities using the latest in treatment and technology. Medical information systems will be critical in meeting this goal. Unlike current medical information systems, Aquarius will take advantage of its ubiquitous digital communications infrastructure to integrate management information systems (MIS) into the stream of daily life in order to support programs of preventive health maintenance. On Aquarius, doctors will make house calls by telepresence, using diagnostic systems which everyone can keep at home or obtain through the complex's conveyor system. Complete life-long medical records for Aquarians will be open for all doctors, available on-line. This will also allow medical researchers to perform statistical health analyses that are impossible today. Likewise, inhabitants will themselves have ready access to their own medical records ending the cult of secrecy that has long dominated the medical profession.
7. Business Information Systems These are systems used in the day-to-day operation of businesses. In general this will be much like business systems today except for two important differences. On Aquarius businesses will rely on a paperless information environment and will make extensive use of telecommuting. These two differences mean radical changes in the landscape of the corporation. Companies will be defined more by their network domains and contract associations than by their physical facilities. The typical corporate office will be little more than a place where the company's computers are stored and where meeting facilities will be provided for those few meetings that can't efficiently be conducted by teleconferencing. The traditional office desk will be a fading memory, replaced by office consoles and PADs which present the office worker with a large flat interactive display that immerses the user in an information environment of paperless documents. Agent software will find extensive use in this environment as business executives rely on them to perform many of the mundane tasks secretaries are stuck with today.
8. Financial Systems These are systems concerned with three essential tasks on Aquarius: electronic money, electronic banking and digital securities exchange. Aquarius will rely on a cashless monetary system where, if inhabitants need to handle money at all, they will use a plastic card. Aquarius' banking infrastructure will be founded on this monetary system and will use much the same type of computer technology used for business information systems but with a higher degree of reliability and data security. The typical Aquarian bank will be a data storage vault with telecommunications links to the world. A securities exchange system will be founded on Aquarius, the Aquarius Virtual Exchange (AVE), and exchange services will be operated by individual companies with connections to the securities markets of the rest of the world. Through AVE Aquarius will be able to establish a completely digital exchange system based on a digital switching center that affords a virtual market floor as large as all the world's exchanges combined and open to anyone with a personal computer and a bank account. This can make Aquarius one of the most powerful financial centers in the world and will offer ready access to financial resources in pursuit of The Millennial Project's objectives.
As we can see, Aquarius by itself will require a digital infrastructure on a par with that of any major western nation. It will need to implement technologies that are only experimental at present. Still, as challenging as this is we can already plot a relatively simple course of development founded in current technology.
Starting in the next section we will begin looking at four basic phases of digital infrastructure development, each founded on the development of technology and concepts which can serve as a functional cornerstone of Aquarius' overall computing environment.
For related information, the author suggests you may want to check Virtual Computer Corp. at http://www.vcc.com, or by writing them at 6925 Canby Ave. #103, Reseda, CA (phone: 818-342-8294; fax: 818-342-0240)
Bifrost II, the Aquarian SupercolonyEdit
By the middle of the 21st Century, both the Bifrost Bridge and Aquarius-style colonies will be mature technologies. The number of floating cities will be in the hundreds, and there will likely be more than one Bifrost Bridge in operation. At this point, the need will exist for a far more powerful version of the Bifrost Bridge. Bifrost II could be a synthesis of then-mature Aquarian and Bifrost technologies.
To accomplish this, I propose building an Aquarian colony on a truly immense scale. Instead of using a mountain on land, we would build our own at sea. As we shall see, there are many reasons to embark on such a vast engineering project.
1. Shortage of suitable mountains. As the Millennial Project progresses, the need for more and more powerful launch facilities will become acute. Unfortunately, there are not many mountains which are suitable for Bifrost-type launch systems. Any candidate mountain must be on or near the equator, at least 4,000 meters tall, and in an area which is both geologically and politically stable. There are only a small handful of mountains which are acceptable by all these criteria. While fine for the short term, natural mountains will not be enough to meet the long-term needs of a growing K1 civilization.
2. Proximity to OTEC power. For land-based launchers, power must be transmitted from an Aquarian colony to the launch site. This introduces a host of problems. Either the energy must be converted into liquid hydrogen and shipped, or submerged power lines must be used.
Conversion to hydrogen, liquefaction and subsequent combustion introduces losses at each step. Furthermore, LH2 is a highly explosive, cryogenic fluid. Shipping it is fraught with dangers; the measures needed to transport it safely will add further expense and inefficiency.
Direct transmission of electricity has its own problems. Submerged power lines are notorious for attracting the unwanted attention of sea life, especially sharks. Sharks are extremely sensitive to electricity, as they home in on the electromagnetic fields generated by their prey's nervous systems in the final stages of a strike. As a result, they have a troublesome tendency to chew on submerged power lines. Such lines need constant maintenance, an expensive and dangerous task, especially since they are shark magnets. Dealing with these problems will introduce numerous difficulties in the transmission of power to Bifrost. In the early stages, this should not be much of a problem, but as the demand for launch services grows, these power-transmission bottlenecks will become serious impediments to the further development of land-based facilities.
This is where the advantages of a sea-based Bifrost Bridge become evident. Power is generated and used on site. No conversion losses drain away valuable power, and there are no tasty submerged power lines for Jaws to nibble on. Furthermore, the huge size of this colony means that it will have a massive OTEC core. Such a colony could easily handle multiple launch tubes operating in unison. (I'll comment more on that later.)
3. No Tunnels. One major expense in the building of the first Bifrost launchers will be the drilling of the tunnels. Even if this cost can be minimized, it is still time-consuming and potentially dangerous work. The launch tubes of Bifrost II can be made the same way the colony itself is built: electrical accretion. This saves time and money, and possibly lives as well.
4. Autonomy. What if there is a coup or some other political disaster in the host country? Considering how few suitable mountains there are, the loss of even one land-based facility could severely crimp access to space if there are no sea-based systems. By the time the Bifrost II Colony is built, the original Bifrost Bridge will be decades obsolete. So a new dictator in Kenya decides to confiscate the Bifrost facility there? He's welcome to it; it will barely be missed if one or more Bifrost II Colonies have been built. Of course, it won't do him much good when Commonwealth Aquarius shuts off the juice the day after his little revolution!
5. Practice, practice, practice. The Bifrost II Supercolony will be an enormous engineering project, yet it will be puny compared to some of the constructs we will ultimately need to build in order to colonize the Solar System and beyond. Some of the ideas discussed in Marshall's book involve macroengineering on a truly gargantuan scale. By building huge Aquarian colonies, much can be learned about the problems involved in scaling up systems, and how these problems can be solved.
So it seems there are compelling reasons to consider sea-based Bifrost launchers. What might such a system look like? First of all, we will need to define a few terms.
1. Supercell. A Supercell is a hexagonal collection of accreted cells the size of the Aquarian colony illustrated in Marshall's book. For present reference, a supercell consists of 217 Aquarian cells each 100 meters in diameter for a total size of 1.7 kilometers. For the moment, the Supercell is just a convenient metric; Part II will cover supercells in greater detail.
2. Light Gas Gun. This is a gun using specialized combustion chambers and venturis to achieve muzzle velocities matching or exceeding those of an electromagnetic mass driver. The downside is that the G forces involved are truly fearsome, easily exceeding 100G. Twenty-ton slugs of reinforced ice can be supercooled and launched using Light Gas Guns. Lasers would then take over when the slugs exit the muzzle. For sending water into space, these guns could offer greater efficiency as the load is all cargo; no waveriding vehicle is used.
3. SSTO. An acronym for Single Stage To Orbit, this is a class of vehicles intended to offer inexpensive access to space by reaching orbit without shedding stages. They are good for lofting delicate cargo, such as humans, (especially those unable to tolerate high G forces) and for transcontinental suborbital hops. However, they are not adequate for high-volume shipments of non-g-perishable resources.
Anatomy of the Bifrost II Colony
Superficially, this giant colony will resemble a conventional Aquarian city, but on a far grander scale. Like the more traditional colonies, there will be a hexagonal central structure surrounded by a hexagonal breakwater. The breakwater, unlike Aquarius, will have its sides parallel to those of the central structure. The central city structure will lie directly astride the equator with corners pointing East-West. There will be four main structural components to the Bifrost II colony: the core, the spokes, the breakwaters and the junctions. I will describe each of these in detail below.
The Core This is the central structure of the colony. It will consist of ten concentric rings of supercells. The result is an Aquarian island with a diameter of 35.7 kilometers. The central spire is proportionately taller than that of a normal colony, about 6 kilometers, but it is not so steeply sloped. A cross-section of this structure would resemble a bell-shaped curve. This is the artificial mountain we will use to support our launch system. The central spire will house a massive OTEC core, possibly further augmented by fusion reactors. The spire will also contain forty sets of free electron lasers (6 lasers plus 1 spare per set), seven light gas guns, sensors, vacuum pumps and all other equipment needed on sight to operate the launch system. All muzzles (mass driver and light gas gun) will emerge from the summit of the spire. This area is three supercells wide, and is raised slightly to protect the lasers and sensors on the next rings of supercells from the sonic booms and (in the case of light gas guns) combustion gasses associated with payload launch. The spire will also represent the industrial heart of the colony. With a power source hundreds of times more powerful than that of a typical colony, and with abundant floor space, many types of manufacturing will take place here. One Bifrost II type colony, with over a terawatt of electricity at its beck and call may well exceed the industrial output of most medium-sized countries. Also housed in the spire's vast interior will be residences, hospitals, and other emergency services; vast educational and recreational facilities; and the whole scope of services Aquarians will have come to expect, but on a monumental scale. Ten million people could easily live in the spire alone with huge amounts of room to spare. Since this colony will become a major spaceport and industrial center, it is possible that several tens of millions of people will live and work in the core alone.
The Spokes These structures connect the corners of the core structure with the corners of the breakwater. They are three-supercells wide and 120 long. This yields a length of 204 kilometers. Like conventional Aquarian colonies, the spokes have a central "spire”, but in this case, it would be more aptly described as a ridge. All six spokes have OTEC facilities dating back to their accretion; these generators now provide electricity to the colony's power grid. The spokes carry utilities, mass transit and other services to and from the breakwater, as well as providing residential space and mariculture-processing facilities. In addition, the spokes on the west side of the colony carry the Bifrost launch tubes. At least six (and perhaps as many as nine) launch tubes will fit into each spoke. Since the eastern spokes have no tubes, the extra space can be dedicated to residential, recreational or industrial uses as needed. The six huge cold-water reservoirs, like their counterparts on the smaller colonies, will yield vast amounts of food and other valuable products.
Breakwaters The breakwaters are very similar to the spokes in basic construction, being three-supercells wide and having a central ridge. These breakwaters are mostly residential, parkland, and recreational areas with a little light industry thrown in. At each corner is a junction node where a spoke connects the breakwater to the core.
The Junction Nodes At each corner of the breakwater is a junction node. These specialized structures superficially resemble large Aquarian colonies seven-supercells wide. Unlike most Aquarian structures, however, the junctions are mostly flat with only a rudimentary central spire. The extensive recreational and parklands typical of an Aquarian colony will be almost completely absent, as will most residential zones, since these structures will be dedicated almost entirely to commerce and industry.
The westward three junctions are huge, combination air, sea and space ports. The vast, flat expanses of the junctions support a world-class airport capable of handling everything from the smallest Cessnas to jumbo jets and SSTO vehicles. The outer edges will have large artificial harbors and seaport facilities rivaling anything on land. Deep inside the junction are the entrances to the Bifrost launch tubes. Each junction will support at least six launch tubes. Quite likely, nine tubes will be installed with six in use at any one time, while the other three are down for routine maintenance to insure maximum safety. Due to the extensive laser facilities at the core and the colony's vast generating capacity, one launch tube on Bifrost II will be able to fire at least twice as frequently as the original Bifrost Bridge, and perhaps far more often than that.
The eastern junctions will differ greatly from the western ones for a couple of reasons. First, they will have no launch tubes because they would point in the wrong direction. Second, these junctions and the approaches needed to reach them will be downrange of the launch tubes, making a port of entry there an impossibility. As safe and reliable as the launch system will be, mishaps will inevitably occur. In a worst-case scenario, a disintegrating waverider could shower the downrange area with high-velocity debris; this is not something airline pilots are going to want to have to deal with. Even in the more optimistic case of an aborted launch due to faulty magnets, failed lasers, etc, the airspace will need to be kept relatively clear to allow the waverider to make an emergency landing. Furthermore, if the waveriders use detachable magnetic sleds as is currently envisioned, the sleds will pose another hazard to air and sea traffic east of Bifrost II. All this points to one thing: the air- and sea-lanes east of the colony must be restricted.
So the eastern junctions won't be international ports of call. What will they be used for? The airfields on the eastern junctions will be used for special-purpose aviation. This includes search and rescue aircraft, sled retrieval, police and military aviation. The same can be said for eastern port facilities. The fact that these facilities are restricted offers an extra measure of safety to general aviation and sea traffic. The airports on the western junctions are likely to be very busy. A stricken aircraft in need of making an emergency landing will readily be routed to an eastern junction where air traffic is sparse.
This still leaves an enormous amount of capacity unaccounted for. Since the eastern nodes have no launch tubes and have far smaller air and sea ports than the western junctions, heavy industry can take the place of port facilities on the east side. More precisely, the eastern junctions can be configured to manufacture Aquarian colonies. With their large size, massive electrical supply and access to the open sea, these three junctions could mass-produce cities up to one supercell in size. More likely, they would produce large numbers of "seeds" about five cells across and send them out to blossom into full-sized Aquarian colonies. Working like an assembly line, each eastern junction could easily spawn one or more colonies a month once the pipeline is operational.
What's the Big Picture? The economic and industrial might of these colonies will be nothing short of astonishing. Massive OTEC and fusion power plants will allow near limitless access to space. The launch system on the supercolony will be to the old Bifrost Bridge what a Gatling gun is to a flintlock rifle. The vast amount of excess electricity will allow the colony to produce new Aquarian islands at a breathtaking pace. In short, it will become a hub of commerce and industry against which any terrestrial supercity will pale by comparison.
How many of these super colonies should there be, and where should they be built? I propose that four be built, one each in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and two in the Pacific. They will be built in very deep water, at least ten thousand feet deep, and of course, on the equator. Placing them on the abyssal plains will make for extremely efficient OTEC operation, and will aid in the further expansion of deep-water colonies. With four of these aquatic metroplexes in place, our access to space will be secure and almost limitless, and we will have the resources at our disposal to support massive migrations into the Solar System. The bottlenecks will be no more.
In Part I, we had an overview of what the Bifrost II supercolony is and why it should be built. In this section, we will take a closer look at how such a huge colony would be constructed.
Going from conventional Aquarian cities to a supercolony several thousand times as massive is quite a leap indeed. Much like the original Aquarius project, this is not something which can be done in one step; it will need to be done in phases involving the construction of progressively larger cities.
Of Stress and Supercells Stress. The static and dynamic stresses we will have to contend with for Bifrost II are likely to differ greatly from those of Aquarius. It is well known that things which work on one scale can fall apart on another. The human frame is a good example. If you scaled up a normal man by a factor of 20, he would collapse under his own weight. Major changes to the structure, density and composition of the bones would be necessary. While these changes may not be visible from the outside, they would literally be a matter of life and death for our hypothetical giant. The same can be said for Bifrost II.
1. Structural Loading. With cells thousands of meters tall instead of a few hundred, it is unlikely that the degree of reinforcement common in conventional colonies will work for Bifrost II. It's much like the construction of a terrestrial building: you don't build 100-floor buildings the same way as 10-floor ones.
2. Currents and storms. Large structures are affected differently by currents and winds than are small ones. It is unlikely that a small engineering model of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge would have suffered the disastrous low-frequency resonances which destroyed its larger cousin. While Aquarius is hardly what most people would consider small, it is puny compared to Bifrost II; a mere suburb next to a vast metroplex. While what is learned building Aquarius will be a valuable starting point, much will need to be relearned for Bifrost II.
3. Tides. All large structures are subject to distortion by tidal effects. In even the largest current-day engineering projects, however, these effects are so tiny as to be nearly undetectable. Even in Aquarius, tidal flexing of the colony is likely to be at most a minor engineering nuisance. Not so for Bifrost II. At almost five hundred kilometers in diameter, this supercolony is so large that tidal stresses could have a disastrous effect if not properly taken into account. Instead of fighting the tides, it may well be necessary to design the colony to be at least slightly flexible. We are, of course, talking about flexibility over distances of tens of kilometers. The person on the street will not notice this any more than you notice the land tides the Moon pulls on Earth.
More on supercells. In Part I, the supercell was just a metric to convey the scales on which Bifrost II will be built. There may be reasons, however, for the supercell to be more than a unit of measure. Building Bifrost II out of large supercells as opposed to comparatively tiny cells may well afford an extra level of structural strength.
Anatomy of a Supercell. A supercell is composed of cells just like an ordinary Aquarian colony. Its edges, however, are heavily fortified, making it an individual structural unit. This should give Bifrost II added protection against large-scale stresses such as currents and tides, especially if the links between the supercells are flexible.
Building Bifrost II When considering how a supercolony would be built, two considerations become immediately apparent. First, Bifrost II cannot be built like a traditional Aquarian colony. It would simply take too long to accrete it in the same way as a normal colony. Clearly supercells will need to be made elsewhere by an existing base of hundreds of colonies and assembled on site. Second, as was stated earlier, a learning curve will need to be climbed before the first Bifrost II colony is built. This will involve the construction of progressively larger prototype colonies until the needed skills are in place.
One of the primary skills which will need to be learned is how to build with supercells. Conventional Aquarian colonies will vary greatly in size; some will be significantly larger than a supercell. But they will still not be made WITH supercells. They will still accreted on site, not constructed of components built elsewhere (and as a consequence, in parallel).
Stage 1: A Minimal Supercell Colony. The first stage of the Bifrost II project will involve the building of a comparatively small colony. Composed of seven supercells, this colony may not even be as big as some of the largest conventional cities. Nevertheless, it will provide valuable experience in the coordinating of construction and transportation of supercells among many colonies. Also, techniques of anchoring the supercells together can be tested on a small scale. Likely, several of these first-generation supercell structures will be built before the next step is undertaken.
Stage 2: A Larger Supercell Colony. Now we are ready to build larger colonies from supercells. These prototypes will measure between five and nine supercells in diameter. The skills used in the construction of the smaller colonies will be further refined, and the previous generation of supercell colonies will assist in the construction of the larger colonies.
Stage 3: Trusses and Spokes. Up to now, the only part of the colonies built of supercells will have been the central island; breakwaters will have been built using conventional cells. The colonies of stage 3 will be small-scale models of Bifrost II, having all the structural elements of the supercolony, but on a much smaller scale. A central island, perhaps eleven-supercells wide, will be surrounded by a breakwater one-supercell wide. At each corner will be a small junction three-supercells wide. Spokes one-supercell wide will join the junctions to the corners of the central island. The total diameter of one of these colonies will likely not exceed 50 kilometers.
Stage 4: Scale Models. After we are comfortable building long structures out of supercells, we will build several "scale models" of Bifrost II. These will range from 1/4-to 1/2-scale, and will culminate with a 2/3-scale model of Bifrost II. Unlike earlier colonies, these will have experimental launch tubes. The smaller ones will only sport simple, light gas guns with free electron lasers to boost their ice projectiles to orbital velocity. While not very efficient, these early systems will yield two very important advantages: we will learn much about how to operate the lasers at sea, and the growing Asgardian and Elysian colonies will have a new source of water. At the end of stage 4, a 2/3-scale colony will be built incorporating all the aspects of the full Bifrost II colony, including a working Bifrost launch system. Though somewhat inefficient, (due to the smaller "mountain") and with too-high G for all but the hardiest travelers, it will serve as the proof of the concept for Bifrost II.
Stage 5: Bifrost II. Now the construction of the Bifrost II supercolonies can begin in earnest. Not only have the skills needed been developed and honed, but large numbers of supercell structures have already been built. These early colonies, some of which souls be considered supercolonies in their own right, will now be able to contribute their formidable industrial might to the construction of the first Bifrost II colony.
Terraforming Mars: What Is Best for Our Little Brother? —Ron Garrison
Note: In the spring of 1994, Marshall Savage sent me a stack of notes by Robert Parke, a materials scientist from Victoria, Australia. Mr. Parke has some novel ideas about methods for terraforming Mars, and Marshall asked me to prepare a summary of them. What follows is the result of that effort. I would be pleased to discuss these ideas with anyone who is interested. I will also gladly share, on request, the many references in Mr. Parke's notes.
Behold Mars, a frozen and hostile world with temperatures below those of an arctic winter, lacking all but the wisp of an atmosphere. Is it only an impossible science fantasy to turn such a remote and alien landscape into one that will support human and other Earth-born life? Actually, there are good reasons to believe that this process, called "terraforming”, will become technically feasible in the next few decades. In fact, terraforming techniques may be highly developed by the time other circumstances allow us to use them, and the hard part may be to choose the best plan from many possibilities. Mars may end up being one more of those "post-scarcity" situations that are so characteristic of our era.
In The Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps, Marshall Savage suggests diverting a comet to a collision course with Mars. Explosives (probably nuclear) would be used to break it up just before impact since many small collisions would yield a much better result than one big impact. Peppering the surface with a shower of small meteors would liberate water from the icy comets and carbon dioxide (as well as water) from the Martian permafrost. These gases would fortify the thin Martian atmosphere and initiate a rampant greenhouse effect, producing – over only a few decades – surface temperatures above the melting point of ice and an atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide, ready to support earth-derived plants for oxygen production. (Keep in mind, however, that nitrogen, also needed by all life for protein synthesis, is significantly lacking in the Martian atmosphere and soil. In the long run, nitrogen could turn out to be the most critically scarce commodity on Mars.)
Robert Parke, a visionary materials scientist from Victoria, Australia, has raised several interesting questions, and has suggested several clever alternatives. He notes that substantially raising the temperature of Mars would require very high levels of carbon dioxide – in excess of ten millibars – which would be poisonous to all life (or at least to all animal life as we know it and to most plant life as well). Even if the carbon dioxide were tolerated initially to warm the surface and melt the water now held in permafrost, we would need to scrub it from the atmosphere to allow humans and animals to breathe. Can plants do that, or will we need artificial means? At present, no one knows. But Parke suggests several technologies for scrubbing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, should artificial means become necessary.
Parke also notes that, to promote the greenhouse effect, gases other than carbon dioxide might be used. Several chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are candidates for the same reason that they are notorious contributors to the greenhouse effect on Earth: they absorb infrared (IR) radiation well. But the high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation in the present Martian atmosphere would destroy CFCs quickly. Carbon tetrafluoride, for example, has a half-life of thousands of years in the atmosphere of Earth, but less than thirty hours if released over Mars.
The realization that CFC breakdown by UV is rapid on Mars leads to one of Parke's most intriguing suggestions. He proposes manufacturing clouds of tiny bubbles of CFCs with each bubble (which he calls a "geomorph") encapsulated in a sturdy covering designed to shield its contents from destructive UV radiation. An ideal material for such bubbles might be the recently discovered form of carbon called "buckminsterfullerenes”. Another could be minuscule nanotubes of boron nitride, or other forms of carbon (variations on the fullerene concept). These substances, in addition to being hollow on the molecular level, are extremely durable and would resist oxidation and radiation almost indefinitely. They would also stand up well under the frictional wear and tear of the Martian atmosphere with its frequent dust storms and wind velocities far higher than those common on Earth.
Parke suggests four possible approaches to IR absorption. Each approach provides absorption in different wavelength ranges, so that they might be used in combination – perhaps at different latitudes or in different atmospheric layers – to provide optimal planet-wide IR absorption.
The first approach, described above, is to use trapped gases. This relies on vast clouds of tiny bubbles of CFCs, each trapped in a protective coating.
The second approach involves certain plastics, called piezoelectric polymers, that absorb IR well. Many of these, by the way, are polymers of CFCs. These polymers are now commonly used in pressure sensors, microphones, loudspeakers and various other devices for converting pressure to electricity.
Third, Parke suggests spiral microantennas that are structured ("tuned") to the IR electromagnetic frequencies to be absorbed.
Finally, it is possible to etch patterns onto transparent materials so that they reflect or absorb IR or other wavelengths selectively.
Each approach involves fabricating vast clouds of tiny particles having the desired IR-absorption profiles. Buoyancy would be provided by one of two means. Each particle could be accompanied by hydrogen, enclosed in its own bubble to prevent interference with the effects of the other components. Alternatively, new aerogel materials provide very strong cell walls with very light weight, making possible structures filled with gases at less than the surrounding pressure. This would make each tiny structure as a whole buoyant in the Martian atmosphere.
Manufacturing vast numbers of these microscopic IR-processing factories may seem like yet another fantasy, but such nanofabrication is just the kind of problem which modern materials science is beginning to master. Parke suggests, at least in theory, that they might be constructed as long tubules which would then be cut and have their ends sealed like tiny sausages. He also mentions that, as an alternative to purely artificial means of production, organisms such as algae and bacteria could be genetically engineered to produce suitable fluorine-bearing compounds. These organisms would be grown in large vats, dried and milled into powder, and then packaged for dispersion over Mars.
Parke also suggests another distinctly different biological production scheme, one which uses organisms that produce polysaccharides with pyran rings with greenhouse properties. This approach, like genetically engineering cells with special optical properties, lets nature do the manufacturing work. In this case, the IR absorption results, not from the geometric shapes of bulk materials, but from the shapes and properties of individual molecules.
Parke suggests some other measures that might accelerate the climate-engineering process. One of these is to cover the polar caps with objects like Ping-Pong balls to trap heat locally and accelerate the melting of the polar ice caps. Another is to detonate underground nuclear explosions to release large reservoirs of water and gases from carbonate minerals. These proposals put the spotlight on a very obstinate problem for Martian terraformers: there is a lot of frozen water on Mars and there is a lot of energy available from sunlight to melt it, but how does one get the energy into the ice when that ice is spread throughout deep layers of rock? There may be no workable solution to this problem other than using nuclear devices, but if they turn out to be the best answer, appropriate measures must be taken to keep the radiation underground. The techniques must be carefully designed to couple the source of heat to the permafrost and minimize the gross nuclear yield required.
However, using nuclear explosions may still be an overly heavy-handed approach. Buckminster Fuller proposed the "dymaxion" concept with a central directive, "do more with less”. Kevin Kelly, the head of Wired magazine, predicts that future technologies will closely imitate biology. I suspect that Martian terraforming will turn out to be an illustration of both of these principles.
Robert Parke's main goal, which I share, is to stimulate analysis and discussion of the widest possible range of alternatives that might be used in bringing life to Mars and to other planets and satellites of the solar system and beyond. To this end, I invite responses from any and all interested readers.
Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) —Richard Crews
Much of the Aquarius phase of the Millennial Project will involve underwater activities – construction, repairs and research. A pilotless, battery-powered underwater vehicle has been developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that can dive to 6,000 meters and travel up to 1,000 kilometers at 3 knots. Called "Odyssey”, the vehicle is equipped with video and a variety of sensors for taking oceanographic measurements. It is 2.2 meters long, weighs 195 kilograms and costs about $50,000. (Reported in Technology Review, Oct. 1, 1994, p. 46.)
More Evidence of Global WarmingEdit
The ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) and mariculture activities of several hundred Aquarius colonies should produce a significant carbon sink and work toward reversing the greenhouse effect and global warming. Those still not convinced that global warming is very real and very much under way may want to look at an article in the July 11, 1996 issue of Nature. New measurements indicate that the growing season in the Northern Hemisphere has lengthened. The drawdown on atmospheric carbon dioxide now begins about one week earlier, on the average, than it did 20 years ago.
Another article in Nature (August 29, 1996) reports that the unique habitat confinement of Edith's checkerspot butterfly allows precise analysis of microclimate shifts and provides "the clearest indication to date that global climate warming is already influencing species' distributions”. (This latter reported in Science News, Aug. 31, 1996, p. 135.)
A More Efficient Working Fluid for OTECEdit
The Millennial Foundation plans to tap into, use, and make available for world-wide distribution the enormous, pollution-free energy resources available from the temperature differentials between cold, deep-ocean water and warm, surface water. Volume 14 of Modern Power Systems published in October 1994 reports (p. 12) the use of a mixture of ammonia plus water as a working fluid for a closed-cycle ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) facility to "increase the vapor temperature”. The tests (which also increased the number of turbines from one to two) were performed by researchers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Saga University in Japan. They showed increased power-generation efficiency (with temperature and other significant factors held constant) from 3.9 per cent to about 5.5 per cent, with an output capacity of 4.5 kilowatts.
Tube-Chain Conveyor for Moving SlurryEdit
Several industries on Aquarius, such as Spirulina farming and deep-sea mining, may require the transportation of slurry or powder. Traditional solutions, such as pumped pipelines, have problems with worn pumps and spillage.
A German company has patented a system called the "tube chain conveyor" that overcomes many of these problems. The system consists of two parallel pipes containing a loop of chain-linked discs driven by a single sprocket. The powder or slurry is fed into one end of the pipe and is carried along the pipe by the moving chain of discs. After the material is deposited at the end of the pipe, the chain returns along the other pipe. A clearance is allowed between each disc and the pipe wall so that the chain can be driven easily, though the gap is small enough so that an effective labyrinth seal can be maintained. The system can drive a tube of up to 50 meters in length and can lift material up to 30 meters. (Reported in Eureka, July 1995, p.9.)
Profitable Spirulina ProductionEdit
One of the principle mariculture products of Aquarius will be algae, including the remarkable Spirulina. Cyanotech Corporation, which produces Spirulina using the nutrient-rich effluent from the ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) plant at Keahole Point in Hawaii, again reports increased sales and profits (a first-quarter net income of $413,000 compared with $161,000 in the first quarter of 1995). Cyanotech has worldwide markets for nutritional and medical diagnostic products derived from marine algae. Magnetic Levitation Will Allow Land-Based Speeds up to Mach 9 —Richard Crews
Launching people, equipment and materials into orbit is, at present, very expensive and dangerous. The Bifrost Bridge phase of the Millennial Project contemplates using surface-based accelerators rather than the present ground-to-air rockets. The U.S. Air Force is building a 10.7-kilometer rocket-sled test track which is expected to let a land-based vehicle attain speeds of Mach 9 (11,000 kilometers per hour). Friction and vibration are greatly reduced by levitating the sled 3 or 4 centimeters above a guide way using superconductor magnets. (Reported in Popular Mechanics, March 1996, pp. 26-27.)
Computer-Aided Mathematical Proofs of Circuit DesignsEdit
It is likely that the Bifrost Bridge project will rely heavily on complex digital hardware and software. Faulty hardware or software designs can lead to expensive and dangerous – even fatal – accidents (such as the Arianne rocket explosion in 1996). Traditionally, both hardware and software designs have been verified by manual testing; however, this is both laborious and error-prone.
A British company spun off from Brunel University has developed a computer-assisted design (CAD) package for developing digital electronic designs that are mathematically proven to be correct. The package uses a formal language called LAMBA that restricts the designer to creating circuits that match a given specification. The designer can modify the design later and still be confident that the circuit meets the specifications. Plans exist to extend this formal technique to software, though it is admitted that this is a much more difficult problem. (Reported in Eureka, July 1995, p. 27.)
Safety-Critical Programmable Logic ControllerEdit
Some projects undertaken by the First Millennial Foundation will need safety-critical systems to reduce the risks of expensive or dangerous accidents. A company in Germany has developed a new programmable logic converter (PLC) designed specifically for safety-critical applications that reduces the cost of existing designs using standard PLCs. The company also claims that designs using the new PLC are safer than standard industry solutions.
The PLC contains three different microprocessors manufactured by Intel, Siemens and Motorola that execute safety-checking software at different clock speeds. The results from each block are synchronized and compared, and are only passed if they all agree. If they don't agree, or a "danger" input has been received, the PLC will go into a "halt" mode. This reduces the possibility of a "danger" signal being missed due to internal faults within the PLC or from errors within the software design. Other features of the PLC include self-diagnosis at regular intervals and a special "fast reaction" mode that can respond in less than 3 milliseconds. (Reported in Eureka, December 1995, p.31.)
Terraforming Mars: Photosynthesis without OxygenEdit
The Millennial Project's proposal to create a hospitable atmosphere over a thawed Mars by bombarding the planet with an asteroid or two to release frozen carbon dioxide and water and trigger a greenhouse effect might result in a planet warm enough to support life and with a thick atmosphere, but there would be no free oxygen. Photosynthesis, as practiced by plants on Earth, requires some ambient oxygen for metabolic purposes. According to the long-accepted "Z" scheme, the oxygen produced in photosynthesis from the photosystem I (PSI) process cannot be used by the plant for growth. Photosystem II (PSII) must also be operational.
However, an article in the July 19, 1996 issue of Science reports that a mutant of Chlamydomonas, a green alga, that has only PSI (no PSII) can not only photosynthesize in the absence of oxygen but it can grow as well – in fact, it performs photosynthesis less efficiently in the presence of oxygen. So the Millennial Project's Plan A for terraforming Mars may still be on track.
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