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On Fri, 6 Jan 1995, Timothy van der Linden wrote:

> Timothy replies to Zenon:
> >clearing the matter and see the whole forest instead of only trees
> >(as Polish saying goes).
> We have the same saying in Dutch...

Interesting, in english we say it the other way around:

for example,

"He can't see the forest for the trees"

Now, for another drive proposal 
(you didn't possibly think I'd give up did you?)

Consider the following Gedenken <sp?> experiment: (inspired by actual events)

you are standing on ice skates on very smooth ice (not completely 
frictionless, but then the ISM is not completely empty either) several 
hundred of your (friends?) throw snowballs at you, you catch them in a 
device that compresses a spring as each one is caught.  Of course, as 
Steve teaches us, you begin to move across the ice.  your friends 
continue to pelt you with snow balls, until you are moving with the speed 
of a thrown snowball (let's call it B).  Halfway across the ice, you 
realize what will happen when you get all the way across the ice (and run 
out of ice) so you begin to throw your snowballs (using the energy stored 
in the spring) until you come to a nice stop on the far side of the ice.  
looking in your snowball holder, you notice that you still have some 
left, since the friction from the ice slowed you down a little.  Of course, 
some  of the snowballs may have melted, or small bits of snow could have 
rubbed off on the device, but I think you get the idea.

Now, consider the the following engine design:

Sol sends out a maser beam, and the "Asimov" absorbs it, turning it into 
electricity (let's say 80% eff)  This gives the Asimov a nice 1 G accel.  
The energy is stored (if I knew how, I wouldn't need you guys  ;) ) and 
later, at the halfway point, the beam from Sol stops.  The "Asimov" gains 
some deceleration out of friction with the ISM (until you get down to 
about .90 C) and then releases the stored energy in the form of a maser 
beam generated by the "Asimov" and directed toward TC.  Various transfer 
losses would probably leave you with some velocity even after you 
expended all of the stored energy.  But I think that the velocity you 
would have left would be within the stopping range of a fusion engine.
Once the antenna array was done absorbing the maser beam, it could be 
used for ISM drag chute, and we don't really care that it erodes away 
because by the time it's gone, we're below the speed where we get any 
useful drag. 

much better if a way can be found to hold the maser in a "mirrored box" 
and let it out with out needing conversion to electricity.  I wonder, can 
Quantum mechanics help us here?  can the wave be put in a box that allows 
only one harmonic to exist?  

Return trip is done the same way.

Very simple timeline. all times relative to ship.

0 years -- leave earth

5 years -- arrive at TC, Send message informing earth.  Begin assembling
           maser array for return trip.

5-15 yrs-- exploration / refuel / rebuild /

15 years-- maser array at TC finished.  Send radio message informing earth

20 years-- arrive Sol

eagerly awaiting responses. 

(esp. Steve and Tim -- renowned throwers of ice water)   :)