Wednesday, September 10, 2003

The goal is elevation

Arthur C. Clarke is going to lend his vision to an upcoming Santa Fe, N.M., event on the Space Elevator. Yes, the Space Elevator, a cable to the stars featured in some of Arthur C.'s stories. Nanotubes are going to give us the lift.

Sci-fi aside, there's real research going on here. Scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas have created fibers that are 20 times tougher than steel wire and got them to clump and fall in line. Also, the idea was given a "conceivable" stamp of approval in a recent German government report (PDF) on space nanotech, a NASA division is working on it and a company called Liftport is at least getting some publicity over the idea (T-minus 5420 days, 9 hours, 43 minutes, 49 seconds until the April 12, 2008 "Lift," according to the Bremerton, Wash., company.

Before you dismiss the notion as more nano silliness (a la "Jake 2.0"), remember that it was Arthur C. Clarke who, in 1945, wrote a preposterous story in which extraterrestrial relays enabled instant worldwide communications. Today, some of you are reading this Weblog using satellite-enabled Internet connections.

My luck, I'll be on the one with the kid who pushes the buttons for every floor.