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starship-design: more assorted musings

Curtis Manges wrote:
> 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.

  Got your pad and pen ready for more creative replies?

  Star ship design is a complex problem but it still see the design for a space
craft still being designed with no more than a pad and paper and a calculator
for the level of design that is needed here. That is not to say a mark IV vulcan
computer is needed for the inter-plasma antimatter converter design.<grin>
  Computers and electronics and fusion power will be needed in starship and MUST
be able repair and redesign all the components in the space craft since people
using them can't call home for a easy fix.

>         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.
  I think a good in-house single stage to orbit shuttle is a better
design chalenge.

>         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).
>         Oh, and try not to go over budget.

 F**K with the budget. This is a global project that reflects the best of
mankind. Oh I forgot this project is only for the very rich gready people
that get rich quick?  This project will never be economicly feasable in the
near future because our economic system is based on making money not
on the true value of food,shelter,the earth,knowlage,social togetherness,
and population control. Only with this system will the cost seem reasonable.
The space craft mechanical design is only about 1/4 of the total design.
A whole new human/wildife/earth infro-structure needs to be developed because
like the earth a space-craft can't be exploted for a few rich.

>         Just for kicks, try designing this exact part at home, on your own
> computer. Use an arbitrary number of louver blades, and when you're done
> with that, sit back for a moment and give some thought to the motor and
> transmission that will have to move it. Now you're looking at motor power
> supply (electric or fluidic), motor control, transmission designs,
> lubrication, overload cutout and reset, position sensor, and control
> telemetry and alarms, to name a few. Now, multiply this complexity by the
> umpteen-to-the-bajillionth other details of a starship (or any project of
> this size). It's enough to make you dizzy.

 Well it is a BIG project.
>         I fully agree that people are necessary to such projects for our
> problem-solving ability, and our creativity and insight, but really, this
> is going to take as whole lot more than "just a few" computers (especially
> considering the tweakiness of the ones we have now).

 Computers and the net give us the opertunity to see the BIG picture
and see the designs overall web of complexity. How ever for writing this 
email I am only using 10% of my computer.

PS. I think computers needs to be redesined to something a lot simpler 
and slower for space ship design. Other than the fussion reactor design
a 386 size pc could be usefull for most use. Contact me for hardware
details of a ibm pc clone sized computer.

>         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." I wouldn't be surprised if we are now under quarantine.
> Besides, starships and their crews are very expensive, and I don't see a
> successful star-traveling race as being rash enough to risk them at a
> long-distance war, especially when they already have the means to find
> other places to go.
>         I rather think that they would have a lot in common with us (Aliens are
> people too!). The evolutionary forces which drive a species to supremacy
> tend, I think, to narrow the choices. Yes, they will be aggressive and
> inquisitive, and in search of the best resources and new discoveries, but
> they'll be cautious as well.

Very good point.