Saturday, 24 March 2012

Dramatic Weight-Loss!

I've just been reminded of the existence of 'Aerogel' - otherwise know as 'frozen smoke' - a substance which is somehow made by replacing the water element of a solid with gas... so I am told.

It's inventor has made an omelette using the same technique, and claimed it to be the lightest one ever, being 99.8 percent air. Beat that. I think I would need to eat about 99 of them before I had enough.

NASA has taken it up in a big way for the obvious advantages of a substance which is ethereally light and extremely strong. They have also started to develop a new carbon material called (I think) 'Graphine' which is wafer thin but strong, transparent AND electrically conductive.

I have heard talk of the building of a 'ladder' made - possibly - of these two materials, but this would be no ordinary ladder.

I think the idea would be to start building it at the top of a mountain in - say - Hawaii, where there is already loads of astronomical telescopes, and keep going up until you get out of the atmosphere, then build a platform on top of it which would be the gravity-free launch-pad for whatever new bit of junk you want to chuck into outer space. The idea is that - once up a certain height - the structure would hold itself up like the old 'skyhook' that we used to say we would use for lack of a helicopter, when asked to do an impossible task.

The other technique would be to build it in space, then lower it down until it hits the top of a mountain. Now that really was lateral thinking, except that you would have to blast the materials up there with a rocket.

Today - saturday - I am going to go and do some work. This is a rare thing for me on a weekend, but I need to finish something off, and I have spent far too much time writing blogs when I should have been beating stone into shape.

Bloody stone. I have already said once (or more) what a fleeting joy it was to build a 12 foot high model out of polystyrene, and have the whole thing finished in a day.

The next maquette of any size I make is going to be in Aerogel.

15 comments:

  1. When I was about 14, I remember seeing, on Tomorrow's World, a type of thick water that would flow uphill. At the time they did say that no-one yet had any use for such a product, and I've never heard the stuff mentioned since. Reminds me of Frozen Smoke.

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    1. p.s. Very feminine finger nails; very masculine hairy arms.....?

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    2. 'Tomorrow's World' - the kiss of death. Not THAT hairy - all your boyfriends must shave theirs.

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  2. Well have fun with that stone beating... and I thought I had it bad splitting wood.

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  3. Stone beating sounds preferable to John Gray's attack on weeds on this glorious day Tom. As for the stuff you describe - I am only a woman and the whole thing floats above my head!

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    1. Ever carved stone? It floats over my head too.

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  4. Ah! Man at work -- very nice...

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  5. Ah yes, I heard about that on Radio 4 today, though I still don't quite understand its usage.

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  6. Looks a bit ethereal. Just been reading up about it on Wiki - 2 grams of Aerogel can support a 2.5 kilo brick. Might be handy.

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    1. That's not impressive - 2.5 tonnes, maybe.

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  7. Building a stairway to heaven, then. Hmmm. Cue Led Zepplin.

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    1. I can play that on a wobble-board, you know.

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