Nobody Cares! (Science & Tech Edition)

Dakota Tebaldi

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This, I think, is one reason people are so worried about the implications of GM crops -- things don't always work out the way they're expected to, since unexpected consequences are a thing.
I think "may have made them stronger instead" is a little irresponsible since there's nothing to suggest that happened, especially given this line in the same article:

Having initially been suppressed by the arrival of the gene-edited mosquitoes, the local population bounced back to nearly pre-release levels. Some suggest this can be explained by mating discrimination against the mutated males, but this is still just speculation.
That's "still just speculation" that deserves a disclaimer, but other speculation like "may have made them stronger instead" is good enough for an uncritical headline?
 
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Argent Stonecutter

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That's "still just speculation" that deserves a disclaimer, but other speculation like "may have made them stronger instead" is good enough for an uncritical headline?
Yeh, the headline is super overblown, but that's how they sell papers.
 
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I think "may have made them stronger instead" is a little irresponsible since there's nothing to suggest that happened, especially given this line in the same article:



That's "still just speculation" that deserves a disclaimer, but other speculation like "may have made them stronger instead" is good enough for an uncritical headline?

Schwarzenegger and Nietzsche both knew whatever didn't kill you makes you stronger. Though, Heath Ledger who played The Joker in one of the batman movies thought what didn't kill you simply made you stranger.
 

danielravennest

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I'm sure Daniel can detail many more problems with their sexy design --
Based on the size of the SpaceX Starship parked at the center, I make the station's radius to be 150 meters. One RPM rotation is judged to be reasonable based on testing people on the ground (nobody has tried anything that large in space). So that would generate 1/6 gravity, approx the same as the Lunar surface. This is probably enough to prevent spacesickness.

We figured out how to assemble large objects without significant leakage on the Space Station project. The joints between two modules are machined flat, and have two rings of rubbery seals (I forget exactly what material, probably a silicone rubber). They had 16 half-inch bolts that are driven by electric motors. The bolts pull the flat surfaces together and compress the seals. Afterwards, astronauts apply a sticky secondary seal over the joint where the modules meet. If for some reason something starts leaking, there are hatches on both sides of the joint which can be closed. This seems to have worked so far, and I see no reason to change it.

The SpaceX Starship is expected to have an operating *cost* on the order of $20 million per launch once they get the bugs worked out. We don't know what the *price* will be for customers, that hasn't been announced. Let's say $40 million. The Station looks like it would take about 100 flights to assemble. The front third of the Starship docked in the picture is the cargo area, and I estimated number of pieces visually. So like $4 billion to launch, plus whatever the hardware costs to manufacture.

I don't think there is a viable market yet for something this big. Bigelow Aerospace has been testing a 330 cubic meter inflatable module that should fit in the Starship's cargo hold. You can start a station with *one* such module and add from there. When a demonstrated market for private stations is in place, *then* you can think about larger ones.

 
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Dakota Tebaldi

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I've always thought it's kind of a shame that we still haven't innovated past the heavily restrictive "sausage link modules connected by tiny round hatches" era of space station construction by now. I mean, I appreciate the economics of going with what works. It just seems like we should've evolved by now, and moved on to....well, structures made up of more "normal" human spaces.
 

danielravennest

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I've always thought it's kind of a shame that we still haven't innovated past the heavily restrictive "sausage link modules connected by tiny round hatches" era of space station construction by now. I mean, I appreciate the economics of going with what works. It just seems like we should've evolved by now, and moved on to....well, structures made up of more "normal" human spaces.
The Station hatches are more squares with rounded corners, and bigger than you may realize. They open like van side doors - pop out a few inches then roll sideways on rails. The soda can-like shape of the modules is driven by the payload area of whatever they are launched on, and the fact they have to hold 14.7 psi internal pressure.



In the future, we can build large seamless living spaces, much bigger than what they are launched on. Carbon fiber is very strong, but not airtight. There is something called "metal matrix composites", where the spaces between the fibers is filled with metal. So you start with a spool of carbon fiber, and a spool of filler metal, like aluminum. You wrap the fiber around a large hollow form, and use a plasma spray to coat and fill in with aluminum. The form rotates, which is easy in zero-g, and you keep adding layers of fiber and metal until you get the thickness and strength you need. Then you can disassemble the form from the inside, and remove it, and use it for the next piece.

We just haven't needed anything that big yet, so pre-made metal cans or inflatable modules can do the job.
 

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We just haven't needed anything that big yet, so pre-made metal cans or inflatable modules can do the job.
Doesn't debris also become a problem the larger you get with space objects? Since little chunks of space tea could easily penetrate the hull?
 

danielravennest

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Doesn't debris also become a problem the larger you get with space objects? Since little chunks of space tea could easily penetrate the hull?
Space debris is one of the reasons the Space Station has all those hatches. In case a module gets punctured, they can close hatches to avoid losing all the air. The other reason is during assembly, there is nothing on the other side of the hatch, so it keeps the vacuum out.

The Station also uses what are called "Whipple shields" for protection. These are thin layers of metal spaced a little ways off the pressure shell. At the speeds that space debris runs into things, both the debris and whatever it hits gets vaporized. The plume of vapor spreads out, and when it hits the pressure shell, it doesn't have the force to penetrate. This isn't total protection. A large enough object will just go right through both layers. But small bits of debris are the most common hazard.

For something really big, like a city-sized space colony, you would have multiple shells of protection, and compartmentalize the shells in the sideways direction, like ships and submarines. You can use those areas for storage or other low priority activity. Human-made debris is mostly a problem the first ~800 km above the Earth. But the rest of the solar system has natural objects ranging from dust on up to sizeable asteroids, and we can't yet find the smaller bits. Play this at quarter speed to see the action more clearly:

 
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