Some challenges for the talented!

I would like to bring to the attention of my esteemed readership a few challenges they may wish to investigate further.  I can think them up, but can’t make them happen.

 

  1. Engineers & engineering students may well be interested in the Elevator:2010 challenge.  If so, drop by http://www.spaceward.org/elevator2010.html .  Surely someone wants to build a skyhook and win up to $4,000,000 in prize money.
  2. When I was visiting the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, I found there a NERVA rocket.  Fascinating.  I then reflected on the Orion Propulsion System another atomic design.  So my challenge is this:
    1. Redesign the NERVA System using today’s components, computers, etc. and bring it in at a cheaper price, more power, and less weight, lower collateral radiation.
    2. Redesign the ORION System using today’s components, computers, etc. and bring it in at a cheaper price, more power, and less weight, lower collateral radiation.

 I’m not suggesting either one be built, but “tested” on a big and nasty supercomputer as they do with nuclear weapons.   Either system could be used in space [not from Terra] and would cut down the time to Mars, The Belt, etc. and make it much more profitable to go there and bring back goodies. It would be an excellent Senior Project for Nuclear Engineering Students. 

  1. I’m given to believe, that Solar furnaces can focus on a reasonably sized area a temp of about 3000 C.  This is hot enough to reduce many items to a gas.  Why not use it to burn “waste” and fractionally distill the waste gases into their individual elements?  Much that would be left would be useless stuff like very heavy metals, you know PT, AU, OS, etc.  [This idea was the MacGuffin in Sahara by Cussler.]

 Is this easy?  No.  However, it may give rise to some very useful subsequent ideas and processes and make someone very rich. 

  1. How about a solar panel test farm?  A sunny desert within 10 degrees of the Equator might work out just fine.  I even know of an area in West Australia.  [Choosing Australia for such a test farm is merely being practical.  Find me a relatively stable country with a nice desert within 10 degrees of the Equator and use that as well.  I don’t think, there is any, however.]  It is even near the end of an abandoned rail line.  Nice place for Solar Furnace research as well.

 

Let companies and schools rent portions of the desert for their test bed.  [I have some ideas on this if anyone is interested.]  The power produced would power the research lab there [You really will want AC out there.] and excess power could be fed into the power grid. 

 

How you ask?  By using microwave transmission.  Work out transmission bugs on earth for a possible Powersat system. 

Olay, now make it so!

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