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Friday, July 6, 2007

He has the technology...

Families are funny things.

Funny, trying, frustrating things.

I have an Uncle B and we don't often see eye to eye. You see, B claims to be a genius, his IQ is in the,uh, 190's *cough*, and I think he's an idiot, and therein lies the friction. Every so often B pops out a comment to enlighten us poor intellectually challenged peons with acclaimed scientific fact and (occasional conspiracy) theory.

This week it's the awesome power of... (drumroll please) MAGNETS.

According to B, we have the power to fire shipping containers into space, just by harnessing the incomparable power of magnets! And not just any shipping containers, 450 tonne shipping containers. Specifically.
Apparently 'They' guard this secret closely, as no-one wants 'The Terrorists' getting hold of this technology and putting an end to us all. But, B, genius he is, has worked it all out.

Now, when a man says to me "We can fire 450 tonne shipping containers into space using magnets" without laughing the first question that comes to my mind is 'Why?'
Apparently the answer is the same as 'Why climb a mountain?", because it's there, because we can... because the voices in B's head say we should (Ok, that last one does not pertain specifically to the mountain question, but you see where I'm going).

Now, I'm no expert in the field of the science of space travel, or the science of magnets, or the science of shipping containers, even... but I spy some holes with this, well, it wasn't presented as a theory exactly, more of a statement of fact. And therefore I have some questions I would like answered.

1. As stated above, yeah, uh, WHY?

2.What kind of magnet would be required to reach the speeds required to break orbit?
I fancy electro-magnetic plates would be required in order to facilitate placing of said shipping containter into the magnetic feild area. Otherwise manouvering the containers into a position where they can be shot into space could potentially become nightmarish. I also imagine that the magnetic base will need to be quite large in order to be able to maintain some control over flight patterns and ascent. I've been told that magnetic fields do not run in straight lines, but waiver from side to side, and we wouldn't want the crate to go flying sideways and come down on an unsuspecting pedestrian in Outer Eastern Mongolia. We have also toyed with a Magnetic Rail kind-of theory, but, again (and please remember that our knowledge is limited in this area) we doubt that we would be able to break atmosphere, as I believe you can only launch something into space through places where our atmosphere is thinnest, thus the 'windows' NASA uses for its rocket launches. A rail would need to be too long and too permanent to acheive successful release into space, not to mention the technicalities of builing an earth based structure that high.

So fromthis point I assume we will employ the Electro-magnetic Plates theory.

3. An awful lot of power would be needed to magnetise the plates, where does this come from?

4. Do the plates need to be moveable or crazy huge in order to combat issues arising from the instability of the magnetic field itself and the Earths natural rotation?

5. If we can acheive the velocities required to break atmosphere, won't the shipping container melt?

6. What happens to the contents of said shipping container once it does leave Earth? There's a lot of radiation out there. It has been suggested that the container would need to be air tight and made of gold to avoid venting air and be proofed against the afore-mentioned radiation.

7. Assuming the electro-magnet is quite huge, say continent sized (to maintain stability and account for earth roatation). Won't this fuck with the Earth's natural magnetic field, throwing the earth off it axis and potentially plummeting us into ice-age, if not killing the planet and it's inhabitants entirely by messing with our own magnetic fields?

8. How do we get the shipping container back?

I know, I know, there are a lot more questions in there as well, but I grow weary of this game.. Let's just say, that until B brings me published sound scientific theory by noted scientists... I don't believe him.


Alan Curran said...

Now you have posted this “secret” the terrorists will be forming a master plan of magnetic proportions…

Anonymous said...

Ok, hate to say it... IT MAY BE POSSIBLE!!!
One idea that you haven't really considered is magnetizing the shipping containers. This way, rather then trying to push the object away, i.e. counteracting earths gravity with magnets placed on the ground, you would use earths own magnetic properties to counteract the gravity. Given that the source of these energies are in the same place, the relative effect of these should both diminish in relatively the same amount as you get further from the earth.

Ok, now I've put forward the grand statement, lets go into details:
For starters, I would assume that you would do this from one of the poles where the magnetic field and polarity is in the direction you want (away from earth) and easiest to coordinate.
Lets pretend that the earth is a magnet that has two ends (I know it's not an ideal analogy because it's a sphere), and you get another magnet and place it at the north pole. If you have the second magnet facing so it's own north pole is facing earth, it will push away, given that magnetic sames repel. So, essentially all you have to do is go to the north pole, get a very strong magnet and turn it so that the north pole of the magnet is pointing at the ground and it should push away... and towards space.

There are many complicating factors to this (such as keeping the magnet pointing the right direction and getting a magnet strong enough), but I just wanted to point out that it isn't totally impossible.

I also wanted to point out an issue with the comment about only being able to launch into space from where the atmosphere is thinnest. IF this is correct (and I suspect it isn't), it would be a requirement for rocket propelled spacecraft. If you have two equal and opposite forces applied to an object then it will keep moving the direction it has been moving and at the same speed. Therefore, if you are able to create a magnetic force that is equal and opposite the gravitational force then you could have it go off at a walking pace if you wanted. It would take a long time to get into space, but the atmosphere shouldn't impact it.

That's my 2c worth. I'd like to say don't poo poo the crazy mans ideas as, even if ALMOST impossible to implement, never know what could be used in the future!