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View Full Version : BBC News has optimistic timescale for mega-engineering



Damburger
2010-Sep-10, 07:07 PM
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11218802


At the moment, clues like these tell-tale glint spots are vital to finding Earth-like planets because, at distances of 20 or 30 light-years away, astronomers are decades from being able to image the surface of these alien worlds.

"You would need to have a telescope that is absolutely humongous to make these kinds of measurements. It would have to be on the scale of the distance between Earth and Mars," Mr Robinson told BBC News

Dyson spheres in my lifetime! Woo!

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-10, 10:06 PM
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11218802



Dyson spheres in my lifetime! Woo!

There are definitely problems with that article. For only 20-30 lightyears, you can do quite a lot with smaller telescopes. Also, there are ideas for arrays of telescopes spaced out over very large areas. There are ways of getting higher resolution that way (though light gathering varies with the total surface area of the combined mirrors). That wouldn't be anything like a solid structure, just several telescopes spread out over a very large area. Coordinating telescopes over millions of miles is a rather significant challenge however. On the other hand, there has been astonishing progress in telescope related technology over the last 50 years.

Noclevername
2010-Sep-12, 12:14 PM
Mega-engineering is always optimistically time-scaled. I remember growing up hearing that by Present Day, we'd all be living in giant arcologies and domed cities, and have a transatlantic supertrain tunnel, space elevators, and a Moonbase.

novaderrik
2010-Sep-12, 10:04 PM
Mega-engineering is always optimistically time-scaled. I remember growing up hearing that by Present Day, we'd all be living in giant arcologies and domed cities, and have a transatlantic supertrain tunnel, space elevators, and a Moonbase.

and don't forget that nuclear fusion and the free power it promises has been 50 years away for about 60 years now..

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-12, 11:58 PM
Again, the article was unclear, but this isn't really about megaengineering, as many here think of it. It is more about an extension of space VLBI (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Very_Long_Baseline_Interferometry#Space_VLBI). You don't have a single telescope a million (or a hundred million) miles in diameter, but rather several telescopes in an array that are spread well apart, allowing higher effective resolution.

There clearly is a trend for building telescopes (including optical telescopes) that have components quite distant from each other. In the near term, there will be the LISA gravity telescope, with elements millions of miles (or kilometers, if you prefer) from each other.

Ara Pacis
2010-Sep-17, 04:40 AM
Mega-engineering is always optimistically time-scaled. I remember growing up hearing that by Present Day, we'd all be living in giant arcologies and domed cities, and have a transatlantic supertrain tunnel, space elevators, and a Moonbase.

Well, there's a difference between engineering difficulty and marketability. Some of those things could have been made if enough people wanted them.

publiusr
2010-Sep-28, 08:04 PM
Solar Foci missions are all you need:
http://www.tsgc.utexas.edu/archive/design/foci/
http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=785
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1979PhDT........13S
http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=49041

Or we could send this perhaps: http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=13861