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Re: starship-design: assorted musings

> Subj:   starship-design: assorted musings
> Date:  Fri, Feb 5, 1999 8:34 PM EST
> From:  clmanges@worldnet.att.net
> X-From: clmanges@worldnet.att.net (Curtis Manges)
> Sender: owner-starship-design@lists.uoregon.edu
> Reply-to: clmanges@worldnet.att.net (Curtis Manges)
> To: starship-design@lists.uoregon.edu
> Greetings,
>  In his message of Jan 29, Ben Franchuk stated that "just a few" computers
> would suffice to design a starship. No offense, Ben, but this response does
> not display an understanding of the complexities of the problem. I read the
> article, and the guy who's wanting to do this is looking at, I think a
> whole century just to DESIGN it. Let's see why.
>  Let's say we need an actuator arm to open and close a ventilation louver.
> No-brainer, right? A simple bar with some holes drilled in it. But what if
> this ventilation louver is, say, about thirty feet across, as may be the
> case in a ship this size? At this size, it wouldn't be unthinkable for the
> mass of the louver blades to approach, say, half a ton. Now let's say that
> we may want to move them very quickly (well, you never know). Regardless
> how well balanced and lubricated these are, mass carries inertia with it,
> and this actuator arm will have to put up with the strain.
>  Back in the old days, a neanderthal engineer would have squinted at the
> device and said, "Well, I think such-and-such a size will do," and they
> would have just put up a hunk of iron on it, and if it broke, they'd
> replace it with a bigger hunk. But we want this starship part to work right
> the FIRST time, every time, for a verrrry LONG time. There are no
> non-critical parts on a generation ship, and at this scale, we find
> ourselves considering such esoteric design criteria as engineering
> materails (metal? plastic? wood? bone?), strength of materials, safety
> factor, stress fatigue, fabrication method (molded, cast, forged, stamped,
> machined, extruded, welded, laminated, or some combination), and possible
> special treatment (heat-treated, sress-relieved (thermal or vibratory),
> plated, coated, anodized, or painted).-----

I'ld like to mention that most of the things nessisary for such an enterprize,
have been designed already.  So while its true that "A" computer couldn't do
the work (in a usefull amount of time), There are many computers that have
done much of the work. 

>  On to the next thing . . .
>  I've been thinking about the recent dialog on the nature of any ET's who
> might be out there, and I have to say that I disagree that they'd be trying
> to wipe us out. Looking at the anthill analogy, would you be so quick to
> kick that ant-nest if you knew the ants might blow your foot off? I think
> that, if they are out there watching us, they would likely say, "These
> creatures are highly unstable and have nuclear weapons! Let's go somewhere
> else for a while." ===

Thats not how dangerous ants, or other life forms, are treated by us now.  For
example in Houston when I was there, there was a new species of ants, Fire
Ants.  They could be lethal, and had killed several people.  Mosqitoes also
have a long history of causing human death.  Far from a live and let live
attitude, we've prefered a preemptive strike attitude.  Destroying and
suppresing them to the limits of our abilities, within any areas we go in.

> Curtis Manges

Kelly Starks