[ExI] Step at a time was economic parable

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Fri Oct 10 05:06:22 UTC 2008

I wrote:

>> >> For me, the biggest question not adequately addressed has to do with
>> >> the extended ramifications of essentially single-point dependency on a
>> >> particular geopolitical power in control of a major energy source.


>> Of course there are multiple possible failure modes, and if you'd
>> included sabotage it might have hinted in the direction of my
>> concern...


>> My point was to the more subtle and insidious effects of,
>> e.g., ostensibly unforeseeable "denial of service" events when a
>> single agency holds the keys.  Space is presently a militarily
>> strategic "higher ground" which I don't imagine being easily
>> surrendered to the "electric companies."


Keith wrote:

> You have put your finger on one of the more interesting problems.  Oddly
> it's one that military people are most reluctant to discuss.  Kind of like
> the 800 pound gorilla in the room nobody will mention.
> What may be the second least expensive way to get cargo into space is "pop
> up and push" with an ablation laser. Energy wise a 4 GW laser is equal to 1
> ton TNT/sec.  It would boil 480 gallons of water/sec.  At 240 pounds per
> person and 8 pounds to the gallon, there is enough power in a 4 GW beam to
> boil all the water in 16 people in a second.  At least you don't have to
> worry about eye protection!
> Used for propulsion the beam power would be focused in about 8 sq meters or
> a power density up to boiling 60 gal/sec/m^2.  A standing person considered
> as a 2 meter tall block massing 200kg would have an area of 1/10 square
> meter.  So the beam would boil 6 gallons off the top of this block or 48
> pounds.


> Any one of hundreds, then thousands, of multi GW power satellites can be
> converted to powering such a laser.

Thanks Keith for a fascinating glimpse into your mind!

- Jef

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list