dirtballmagnet t1_je0rp8r wrote

This is how I would tell it to myself:

After the impact, the vaporized surface material would begin to cool and condense, pretty much like raindrops form in clouds. And there would be a cloud of volatiles and other stuff that wasn't yet condensing.

We can imagine that just before the rock cooled off enough to start changing phase, the water was freely intermixed with it. Then as it crystallized it would push out the liquids and gases, but sometimes the lattice would form like a tent around that pocket of gas, and trap it. Some of the trapped stuff would be water.

It seems a no-brainer to set up a giant magnifying class and start sintering lunar regolith. Focus sunlight, melt the rock, open the lattice holes, cook off and capture the volatiles and water, now you have a little water, tons of oxygen, and a stupid amount of titanium-rich slag that you might be able to use as feedstock for a 3d printing system.

Now you don't have to monkey around with the poles and their finite-over-human timescale-water supply. Just sinter layer after layer of rock that you've already excavated for your construction.

... Is my relatively uninformed opinion.


dirtballmagnet t1_jd6c1kh wrote

Historically it appears to have been responsible for some pretty notorious indiscipline in any army that passed through the Valley of Virginia in the American Civil War. Like ill behavior beyond the usual drunken ill behavior.

I think weather permitting applejack to be made on the Blue Ridge and the forcible conscription of volunteers whose enlistments were running out led to a small revolt in early 1862, where an infuriated Stonewall Jackson sent an artillery piece to start firing solid shot into the mountainside where the revolting rebels were holding out.

One wonders if it had a hand in the dissolution of Hunter's army after the battle of Lynchburg, 1864, the surprise achieved at Cedar Creek later that year, or the intensity of the destruction of the Shenandoah Valley thereafter.

The source for the mini-revolt would be likely found in D. S. Freeman's Lee's Lieutenants, Vol. I. but I don't have it at hand.


dirtballmagnet t1_ja1jx22 wrote

You tie a long rope to one camel and toss it over to your guy who ties it to the other camel. The camels wander a little and fight each other for more line, cutting through the rock in a few days. Now others do it and the bottom gets hollowed out. Then, as the columns of support get dangerously narrow, they start packing them with more rocks or other things to keep it from cutting through, while still using it as an animal parking lot.


dirtballmagnet t1_j72uhh9 wrote

So the way around the radioactive accident problem is fairly well solved now. A reactor would be assembled and activated on orbit after the parts were carefully shipped to that the components could not easily disintegrate on launch.

Others here have taught me that he urgency here comes out of the undefined acronym, which was "Solar Gravitational Lens." That is a point--the focus of the lens made by the sun--somewhere 3 times farther out than our current farthest spacecraft, the Voyagers. It's taken them almost 50 years to get that far so they'll want to reach that focus ten times faster than our current vehicles, then it has to slow and maneuver around that point.


dirtballmagnet t1_j6stnq3 wrote

Yes, it wasn't properly abstracted, but others have explained that the urgency here is that the point in space they're trying to reach is half a trillion miles away and to return science in the lifetime of the scientists they want to try to reach it in 15 years. Get it done in my lifetime sort of urgency, heh.


dirtballmagnet t1_j6qyvgt wrote

Man, I just looked at one of the project abstracts and felt like I came in fifteen minutes late to a science fiction disaster film. Do what now?

>To address the urgent need for advanced propulsion solutions, we propose
the development of a nuclear fission fragment rocket engine (FFRE) that
is exponentially more propellent efficient than rocket engines
currently used to power today's space vehicles and could achieve very
high specific impulse (>100,000 sec) at high power density
(>kW/kg). ... NIAC work will provide detailed mission analysis of fast transit to SGL
for direct imaging and high-resolution spectroscopy of a habitable
exoplanet at a distance of up to 100 light years. The FFRE propulsion
system could provide delta-V to reach the SGL in less than 15yrs and
provide the slowdown and maneuvering capability at SGL.

A hundred thousand second Isp, you say? Let me just plug that into Kerbal Engineer Redux.

And sorry, I don't know what the urgent need is. Nor do I know what SGL is, or why you'd want to floor it to get there.


dirtballmagnet t1_iydg6xt wrote

It was long ago and probably garbage when I read about it, but it's worth looking into plutonium. It's apparently deadly in many more ways than mere radiation.

It's also a heavy metal and can cause heavy metal poisoning. But it's also apparently a super-deadly toxin on its own, like arsenic. According to the throwaway article I read in Parade in about 1986, a handful of it properly distributed could poison all of humanity.


dirtballmagnet t1_iugdrt6 wrote

Here he is invoking his PhD and calling out the studio for almost failing to convey the significance of Pazuzu, the Baalic version of Satan, in the film The Exorcist:


Peter Weller don't sleep on Pazuzu.