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RE: starship-design: scoops and sails and something to push against.
This is pretty much what Timothy and I were discussing. To clear up a few
points for the rest of the list...
In order for an electromagnetic scoop to work, the particles that it
"scoops" must be charged, or ionized, you cannot scoop a neutral particle.
The most common method proposed for creating charged particles is to beam a
laser "fan" ahead of the ship. The photons impacting the interstellar
hydrogen will create a hydrogen ion with a negative charge which can then be
attracted to a positively charged scoop field.
In this much at least your idea is good. It removes the mass of the lasers
from the ship and you could actually use an uncollimated solar mirror which
is much simpler.
However, the density of the scoop field and the energy required to generate
it are still enormous. On board power generation would probably have to be
several times larger than a small city's supply.
How do you generate a field with a sharp boundary?