Monday, November 19, 2012

The Price is Right: the cost of starships

Torch ship by David

Creeping, crawling, toddling, walking - or is it sprinting - technology. In the late 1950's and 1960's it would have cost about 100 billion dollars to build a manned starship. In the 1970's, I estimate a larger, much better equipped, faster and more comfortable manned starship would have cost 100 billion american dollars - and this is in spite of inflation. I estimate that the cost of a ship will remain at 100 billion  through the 1980's and even through the 1990's, with continued inflation the cost will remain at about 100 billion dollars for the first manned (of reasonable size) starship.

The technology available to the people of Earth isn't creeping ahead, it is Sprinting! The predicted catastrophic famine, megadeaths, resource and energy exhaustion for the 1970's was an ill-tempered fantasy. What really happened was an increase in life expectancy of about 1.2 years/per year in the 3rd and 4th worlds, coupled with dramatic decreases in disease, and upward surges in standards of living ranging from 500% to better than 2000% for some.

Technology in the so-called western and eastern worlds is growing explosively and includes; better transportation. power, communications, computers, robots, even cheaper food and clothes; and dear-to-my-heart space technology.

Almost unnoticed
Almost unnoticed , all the infrastructure needed to support interstellar expeditions is being built and emplaced. Manifestly unnoticed is the building here on Earth of every sub-system needed for a starship. In the very near future the components will be put together, manned, launched, and mankind will move out to fulfill his truly manifest destiny.

NOT science fiction by Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Generation Ship

The Generation Ship is a timid concept. It is brave, and at the same time anguished, hesitant, and fearful. The Generation Ship can succeed, it can carry huddled masses in enormous arks across frontiers into new lands, onward to new and better lives.

I know all too well the timidity that plagues most people, the hesitation and the fear of venturing into new lands across distant horizons into frontier regions. Such people may be compared with the masses huddled within a multi-Generation Ship.

I have so often seen what appears to me as a “Huddled Masses” syndrome. I am (old?) enough to remember the introduction of the horseless carriage (the automobile “car”, or as in Sweden, “Bile”). It was resisted. I remember the resistance to locomotive (the iron horse) by a combination of entrenched businesses, ill tempered bellicose savants, and varied holy men. The use of electricity was a surprise. Its implementation swift, practical, economic, and wonderfully beneficial.

And yet, even the most timid will venture a little. Then a little more, and yet more: growing ever stronger, wiser, and more competent. Many have died, and many more will die in the future; some quietly, modestly scarcely seen, many variously struggling, and some magnificently, as the Greeks and Thermopylae in the east, and Syracuse in the west stood fast to change worlds history.

How different are the maps of coastal navigators and those who sail the great Mediterranean out of sight of land. How different again are the maps of sailors who challenged the mighty oceans of the world – the Atlantic, and a vast Pacific. How different were their ships.  The proud (sheer and lap-straked) Viking ships which could surge through the frightful seas and storms of the north Atlantic.  They are as different from the lesser Umiak as the proposed Echo-lance starships are from the interstellar multi-generation arks.

The magnificent Viking ships evolved into the unparalleled Yankee, English, and the European Clipper Ships.  I have sailed under canvas in an American Clipper ship, it is, it was, wonderful; superlatives fail me.  I can imagine the races between greyhound’s of the sea such as Thermopylae, the Cutty Sark, and others across the world.  Lance-like ships will - and must - evolve into equivalents of the Boeing 747.  The Clipper Ships were at home in, and sailed well in all oceans, as does the beautiful Boeing 747 in the air.

I have smelled the tar and oakum, listened to the musical tink, plinck, and resonant thump of mallets as men’s swarmed over the hull the clipper, caulking it.  I briefly work at it; how good lunch tasted then. I have walked in sailing lofts where women, children, and a few men stitched, hemmed, and edged, etc. the sails which would soon challenge the winds of Cape Horn. They created the sails upon which the lives of fathers, husbands, brothers, and friends would soon depend.  And often, the man who furled, hauled, tied, sometimes beat at sails with fists to loosen them, knew who had staged, cut, and even woven the fabric.  The sailor’s a knew who had made their ropes on the today forgotten rope-walks.  Quite often in old bath Maine a sailor would have been on a trip importing hemp and tar, worked on a rope-walk, and helped rig his own ship.

It is a great sight, a great moment, when a new launched ship, fully-found, is under the hand of a master mariner headed for blue water.  The devoted work of hundreds, for years, in the hands of one man – who in whole and/or in part holds their work, toil, hopes, hearts, and many of their lives.

The rollout of a new airplane is a treat.  It is even more delicious if you are part of the community that built it, for somewhat, but not quite like the sailing ship, the airplane is yours.  There are so many things to know and to be done in building an airplane.  At its best it demands care, great skill, and love, yet it is different from the Clipper Ship – perhaps the difference lies in the nature of the voyages.

I think it is the Starship – not the Generation Ship with its huddled legions - ships like the Echo-lanc, moving almost the speed of light, with small, proud, independent crews, that will be most like the Clipper Ships.

Imagine the ships companies and passengers of an eight ship fleet “parked” near a source rich, inhospitable, landfall near an alien sun.  Can you, in your mind’s eye, see them?  Men, women, and every child bending their backs to the tasks of refueling, repairing, refurbishing, refitting, rebuilding, and even building a new?  I can.  I have already seen it along the coasts of New England and Europe.  For them the Dragon Ships of the Vikings and the Figureheads of the Clipper Ships are a heritage.

Lance-ships, or whatever we will call the Beam-Ship, might be  compared with  Viking Ships. They are not designed to slowly carry generations across the seas of interstellar space. The Torches and Lances are designed to move across the voids, safely past any shoals between stars.  In our pictures the ship’s companies have much in them of the Vikings: healthy, competent, dressed attractively, handsomely magnificent in their proud swift ships. And yet, limited. I wonder what interstellar vehicle will be a parallel of the Clipper Ship?

Archaeo-photo-geology: A Very Similitude

Bogland is a circum-planetary belt of vegetation. Actually it is one of two such belts. One roughly girdling the northern areas of cold tundra, which grade through pattern grounds, and thence into snow and ice fields. A second Bogland girdles the southern polar regions, in the center of which stands glaciers and vast snowfields. The bog-zones are vast, they are emerald green when seen from orbit. The bog-zones are distinctive - hence the planet's name "Bogland."

The equatorial, subtropical, and stemerate (tepid"?) zones are quite similar, one to the other. Soils are blazing white in the plauas, then yellow, and generally russet-red, ocher  or dull red. There are few mountains anywhere on the planet. Lakes, bitter, salty lakes, are occasionals in the dry, clear, wind-swept desert lands between the green bog-rings.

The ANPs hover at about 22,000 feet, three aerospace planes hover in formation. One will launch explorer planes, the other two are there to give young pilots practice in atmospheric reentry, and planetary departure. Powered gliders are launched from the hovering ANP-carrier. A total of four are set on course. The fleet of three ANP vehicles will move to two more locations, at each location the flying carrier will launch a flight of four more powered gliders.

Expeditions include four powered gliders, each of which carries four to six persons. Typically each aircraft is operated by a pilot half-way through his training. Each aircraft includes one beginner pilot. Each aircraft includes two pre-teen apprentices both boys and girls. Each expedition of four gliders includes on experienced fleet pilot. Equipment is precious in the fleet, and jealously cared for; however, the fleet is almost a living thing, so training at all levels, of all age groups, is a never ceasing effort.

The ships company of star-fleet Drakensholm has been well paid to land on the planet Bogland. They will be further rewarded by Earth when Bogland's signals reach Earth.
The youngsters on the landing expeditions are wildly enthusiastic, for on this landing, anyone, or perhaps all of them,  may become fabulously wealthy. This is their great chance.

Erosion is along sunflower geomorpological patterns as is deposition. Careful search of "petal edges" can unearth the most sought after, most interesting fossils known to mankind. These are fossils of leaves. On planets like Bogworld plants have been found in the desert belts which are exceedingly rich in silicates.

Such plants are often leafy, and like most leaves, develop lenses on the sunward surfaces, unlike the terrestrial leaves, these do no move, and in addition upon their deaths they fix images of their surroundings.

Swamptop, a planet orbiting a dull red star, is light years from earth and 135 light years from the fleet. Drakensholm was the first location at which photo-geology was proven to be a science.

After  a century of study and amazing picture gallery has been assembled from Swamptop. The micro-pictures span over a billion years of the planet's history. Already in a few areas the record covers 1,230,000,000 Earth years without any breaks longer than five Earth years.

Swamptop's seasons last but three weeks, and its years only three Earth months. The photo-geological record on this planet now covers five billion of its years, the longest gaps in the record being only twenty of its years (or 5.31417 earth years). Geologically it is the best understood planet in the galaxy. In  addition, it has revealed many cosmological secrets. The least of these is its recording of super novac in the milky way for the last billion years.

The sisters Hiska and Tina Bannier will land at longitude 120o west of Bogworld, Greenwich meridian, and 42o north latitude, near a broad white plaua surrounded by vast pediments, cut by dongas, wadis, and extensive canyons with depths that reach over a thousand feet.

The rules have been broken. Sisters, also the only children in a family, are not only on the same expedition, but traveled on the same ANP, then compounded the risks to themselves by landing on the same glider. They will be punished when they return. Rules guiding the behavior of the ships companies have been broken.

The (Ducted-fanjet) Plutonium powered glider lands. In moments three others land beside  it on the hard, smooth, caliche at the edge of the snowy white plaua. They are at about 120o W. longitude and 42o N. latitude. Wheels are chocked, wings and tails are tied down. Pop-tents are set up, and the exploring party is ready to work - well, not quite, first they will eat. The cook will have to prepare for eighteen people.

Hiska, walking along the base of a bluff exclaims:  "sister, look, little leaves fixed to the Earth."

Tina runs over, looks carefully as she kneels, with a hand lens. She states: "It''s like Swamptop pictures of leaves. They are tiny, don't move, and there are clear bright spots all over the tops."

Crushing a leaf with stones the sisters find they are quite oily. Tina stands with one knee behind the other. "Hiska, let's go back. With two sweaters, a windbreaker with a hood, and heavy shoes and socks I am cold. And I am so heavy on a planet."

 "Tina, lets' go back and sleep. Perhaps tomorrow we will find out that all expeditions have found photo-plants.

"Hiska, will the people building the transmitter win a prize too?"

"Yes, Tina, everyone will, we hope, win a prize. Just think, we might send an ultra probe! That is something we have never done since I was born."

Decades ago an old engineer in the LEEE Journal wrote an article which considered the possibilities of acoustic archaeology. He ventured that potters' wheels might record in clays the sounds about the potter. He considered that distortions of metal swords did indicate the sounds of ancient clashes and crashes. I venture that skid and crush marks upon and within pavements indicate the time amplitude and the nature of ancient sounds, such as the gladiatorial combats in the old Circus Maximus.

Photographs taken through leaf-lenses are tiny, but when enlarged are spectacularly detailed.

Is there anywhere on Earth a fossil that acted as a camera? If a single one is found, no matter how poor, a colossal search will ensue and science of all types will be significantly enhanced.

It is extraordinary indeed, that by far the majority of geologists of all nations believe what they read and not what they see. Carbon today is deposited in enormous quantities in peat bogs, not in tropical forests, or in the thin soils of the tropical jungles.

Jim Bede, an old friend of the writer, was the first to both realize and design about the potential of a powered glider. Now if a glider were driven with a ducted fan jet, and if its fuel were PU238, its range would be unlimited. It could fly for years without refueling.

Paying star fleets 60 light years from Earth may seem improbable; but, fleets step out of the normal time-stream for centuries at a time, so if a destination is known, a packet ship can be waiting for it, of course the packet ships are unmanned robots.

An ultra probe is a packet sent back to Earth, or out from Earth, at almost the speed of light. It is only a few feet long, it is accelerated at between 100,000 G to 1,000,000 G, so at best it can reach a speed of 6000 mil/sec in one second, and closely approach the speed of light in thirty seconds.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Vignette about longevity

Oh Hear Ye, Hark to the 
Old Town Bells
Peal Like Sobs and Echos
Everyone Knows But
None Dare Tell
Only the Old Town Bells

Is it really obvious? Or is it only a rare minority who look at much of anything. The evidences have been in the public domain for decades. Some saw it, then incredulously recoiled. A handful tried to act. A few of these were successful, upon which they disappeared. 

Consider the evidences: 

1 - It is easy to take living brain tissue and transplant it from one human to another.
2 - An adult's neuron patterns are relatively few, but hard-wired in neat logical patterns.
3 - An infant's and a child's brain have vastly more circuits but most are unconnected.  They wait for imprinting of environmental engrams upon basic patterns - basic patterns wait to receive language, customs, motor actions by the cranial nerves. (note: a child will not, even cannot, pump a swing with his legs before a certain age.)
4 - Only a thin disc, perhaps with the extent of a silver dollar, is needed from a frontal lobe of an adults brain to maintain a personality.

Consider the rewards: 

1 - Surrogate mothers do, in this century, bear children for a fee. It is not simple, nor yet is it particularly difficult to probe an infants brain, an infant purchased from a surrogate mother.
2 - So who will "bell the cat?" who will say it? An aged modestly wealthy person can consider having a thin disc, like segments from his frontal lobes, transferred into a fresh young body. Imagine looking again through wide, healthy, child-like eyes, remembering a previous life, molding the pliable new brain with the "wise old" hard-wired disc of tissues.
3 - Who will talk? The animal surgery is quite easy. The grafts took easily without trouble. Only a minority of the animals were epileptic. Neurons from disc-transplants grew into the surrounding brain, the young brain's blood vessels grew into the discs to support them.

Now, have humans been worked upon? Who would tell. The price is enormous.  Imagine a 75 - 90 year old in 1985, given another eight decades of life - most of it young and healthy life.

What reporter or interviewer could gain such a story? Probably none.

Excursus Concerning Immortality

These notes are accompanied by a newspaper article titled "Evidence for the Recessive Nature of Immortality." No name or date on it. Enzmann wrote this a couple of decades ago, at least.

It has long been suspected that something of the nature of a "death hormone," and/or death, is programmed into the genetic sequence of all Metazooans. It has been know for about a generation that normal mammalian cells only divide a fixed number of times, after which they cease dividing and eventually die.

And hauntingly,  mysteriously, some strains of what seem to be pathological cells are, as far as is currently known, immortal.

Everyone in biology who was alert realized when gene transplanting became possible that it should - in theory - be possible to hybrid immortals, both single cells and humans. And last, and most surprisingly, no part of the media has noticed. At last single immortal cells have been nurtured; most important, the immortal cells are normal. Hitherto-fore, immortal cells have  been cancerous, varieties such as the Hela strains.

It is interesting that immortal cells have been created, and that the characteristic of immortality is recessive. Imagine the struggle that is going on in the laboratories of the world to prepare immortal strains of all human cells. Could such cells be given to persons with techniques as the Swiss cellular infusion technique?

Manifestly researchers have their own cells in hybriding experiments. Have any researchers prepared immortal lines of their own cells? If they have, have they infused themselves with such cells?

I find the idea much more wholesome than infusing embryonic animal tissue, and vastly more wholesome that the alleged use of human embryo tissues for infusions, or the guarded, whispered rumors that for a hefty price an old male can conceive a tissue-matched child, to be sacrificed for the preparation of"rejuvenation" of human tissue infusions. No wonder people feel that biological experiments should be monitored and some prohibited.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Notes on Engineering Goals of Starship Designers

Distinctiveness of starship travel:

1. Preception that it is possible, such as writing, flying, radio, water pipes, telegraph

2. ISP specific impulse demand fission, fusion, or devolution of matter and the conversion these energies into momentum

3. Either a long trip on a slow boat, or a long-passage on a fast ship. There is no escape. Starfilight is unique in that, unlike travel across the Earth (which in the writer's time shortened from six weeks to cross overland from Manchuria to Poland on a very pleasant train, to hours on a jet) travel cannot be equaled for travelers between stars. Starflight is extraordinarily unique in that: time for the traveler can be shortened. This is the nature of the long-passage.

The possibility of (FTL) faster than light ships would end both long trips and long passages.

4. Self-sufficiency and true independence, not just ideally but quite necessarily, must be attained. If this is not so a ship might reach its destination only to be marooned for generations.

5. Motivation to go: Profits - commercial, information, entertainment. Power - possibility of a nation being itself, developing itself, throwing off shackles of superpowers, of international organizations. Freedom - of religion, of regulation of all aspects of life, to be an ethnic group, to develop science. Adventure - self explanatory.  Immortality - of the long-passage travelers.


1. Political hostility of those in power. Contending strongly for power. Planning confidently to gain power over other people.

2. Hostility toward gains in wealth, in education, in access to utilities of all middle and lower classes.

3. Ignorance of possibility or feasibility of profits. Credibility in non-existent hazards and costs. That a spectrum of options exists when it does not.


1. Long trips from the solar system are possible with a combination of chemical fuels. Gravity sling, and gradient boost. Velocities of about 1000 or even more per second can be imagined costing a traveler about 180 years per light year traversed.

2. Abbreviated long trips and perhaps even long passages could be accomplished with fixed first stage propulsion. The concept of driving interstellar sailing ships with lasers as considered by Philip Norem (1969)  and Robert Forward as either the primary method of propulsion or an auxiliary means of propulsion.

3. Long passage departures from the solar system with technology that exists or can very reasonably be expected to be available in the immediate future must rely on fission, fission-fusion, and fusion power. An unmanned interstellar probe could have been built and launched int eh 1970's. I have the rankling personal impression that all such work was stopped, all  media coverage ended or turned deceptively negative, and all engineering enthusiasts were driven out of the profession by massive opposition coming from "liberal" academicians, the "liberal" media, "liberal" politicians, "liberal" sources, "siphoning" of funds, and "liberal" activists leading street mobs.

4. Acceleration with and without stress by G-force. Acceleration out of a gravity well. Acceleration against the inertial continuum: how much force should be endured by the body? Can  a person be placed in a liquid filled suit? Can his lungs be filled with liquid? Even cells have their limits; at 100,000 G, components of cells - RNA, ribosomes, mitochondria, etc.- separate. Suppose the cells were rotated in a 100,000 G centrifuge; that would be equivalent to an acceleration of 3,200,000 ft/sec, or about 640 miles/sec, which, if applied linearly, would bring a particle to the velocity of light in an hour. Gravitational slings may be used to accelerate or decelerate masses.

Gradient boost, I believe first considered by Hermann Oberth of Transylvania ca 1925, makes it possible to exploit the divergence of the solar gravitational field  by developing an approach, then a recessional hyperbolic path relative to the sun. The physics of the maneuver is quite subtle, and as difficult to grasp as the Newtonian principle of action-reaction (usually appreciated only as an incantation).

Warping of space to accelerate masses is mentioned by powers, Robert M 1981 "The Coattails of God - the Ultimate Spaceflight - the trip to the Stars" (Pub. Warner Books. He only mentions it, he does not advocate it.) I consider talk of warping space, and the frantically relativistic algebras purporting to derive the Lorentz equations (written by Voigt years earlier) as patent nonsense. I offer my trivially simple derivation which treats the temporal effects as a consequence of aberration. I intuitively suspect it was known the to Greeks ca 400 BC, for they talk "that way".

"Stargates" in a star cluster especially one with white dwarf stars, and most wonderfully where small dense stars are  in close orbits with one another. Extra ordinary accelerations are possible in very short times: this is accomplished by using combine sling accelerations and at the same time gradient accelerations. This might, for example, make it possible to conduct trade and organize migrations between globular clusters.

Liquid-filled space suites, including a filling of the occupants lungs with oxygen-rich "artificial blood," could make it possible for humans to endure the force for many days. At 10 G, near light speeds can be reached in about a month. At 100 G, near light speeds can be reached in about 4 days.

Faster than light speeds are in no way mysteriously precluded by "Einstein's alleged equations,"  the entire content of so-called special relativity is the so-called Lorentz equations. It is about time that someone spoke out concerning relativity.  One gains the impression that Einstein was much abused for his views Nothing could be further from the truth. He received support in the form of a tidal wave of publicity, and that publicity has never ceased to flow.

Footnotes: Stark Draper, my guest at the N. Y. A., considered guidance of interstellar ships. Dr. Taylor and others considered the Orion vehicle. It is very interesting to consider the ambiguous results of the experiment suggested by Maxwell then performed by Michelson and Morley. One diagram suggests that the results are ambiguous because: Aberration and beam-topple cancel the geometric effect. While the time effect is cancelled by the Voigt-Lorentz description of aberration. Doppler of approach cancels Doppler of recession.

THE ABOVE NOTES are only part of the massive amount of material written by Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann. - Michelle

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Starships Now!

Torch Ships - Duncan-Enzmann

Engineering Goals of Starship Designers

By Robert Duncan Enzmann

1. Basic requirements:

Perception that it is possible – such as writing, flying, radio, water pipes, and telegraph.

(ISP) specific impulse demand fission, fusion, or devolution of matter and the conversion of these energies into momentum.

Either a long trip on a slow boat, or a long passage on a fast ship there is no escape.

Star flight is unique in that unlike travel across the earth which in the writer's time shortened from 6 weeks to cross overland from Manchuria to Poland (on a very pleasant train) to hours on a jet, cannot be equaled for travelers between stars.

Star flight is extraordinarily unique in that time for the traveler can be shortened. This is the nature of the long passage.

The possibility of (FTL) faster than light ships would end both long trips and long passages.

Self-sufficiency and true independence, not just ideally, but quite necessarily, must be attained. If this is not so, a ship might reach its destination only to be marooned for generations.

2. Motivations to go:

Commercial profits, information, entertainment.

Power of a nation being itself, developing itself, throwing off shackles of superpowers, of international organizations.

Freedom - of religion, of regulation of all aspects of life, to be an ethnic group, to develop science.

Escape dissent, crime, war.


Off-planet species survival.

Immortality of the long passage travelers, of mankind.

Notes on air and water

Recycling the Circulating Air

It is most important to control an atmosphere. Without air men die quickly. Perhaps the simplest way of proportioning O2 and CO2 is through plants. About 60 ft of leaves are needed to convert one human’s CO2 exhalations into O2 and Carbon in a plant’s tissues.


Illumination at the correct wavelength and of sufficient intensity is needed to cause plants to “inhale” CO2 through their stoma, and exhale O2. One of the most important mini-factories on the ship would manufacture and/or refurbish light bulbs, fluorescent tubes and such.

Recycling and purifying the circulating water

Filtering, clathrating (as with zeolites), evaporation of distillation, then finally filter cleaning and zeolite reactivation should suffice to keep drinking, cooking, washing, toilet, and other circulating waters sweet and clean.

Plants can enter the cycle by digesting mineral residue left after water, or watery substances, are respectively distilled or heated to dry ash.

Thermal and or electrical energy is needed to recycle water. It would be abundant – indeed – overly abundantly available.

Recycling of human, animal, and plant wastes or remains

Recycling of wastes and remains may be accomplished by a combination of bacterial digestion or thermal incineration. In both cases the remains would be fed to plants.

In the case in which all plants died catastrophically waste could be in incinerated and the ash stored, and/or dumped.

Food could be plentifully available as garden products including carrots, radishes, potatoes, beans, peas, lettuce, bonzi, lemons, oranges, lines, pears, apples, potatoes, rye, wheat, sorgum, barley, rabbits, chickens, catfish, snails, shrimp, and octopus.

Raising the food, maintaining seed stocks, caring for special plants such as bonzi citrus groves, would be hard, painstaking work, But perhaps rewarding for a lonely voyager.

Space to live in

Space would not only be ample for the retired explorer-engineer on a one-way retirement mission to the stars, it should, and certainly would be, interestingly comfortable. Somehow a frank Lloyd Wright of architectural layout and interior decorating will appear among humankind’s legions of skilled educated people who will design such quarters as a labor of love.

A sphere of 30 feet in diameter would accommodate four decks. This would be a vast region for a lone person.

Footnotes: CO2 (carbon dioxide) will be scrubbed out of the habitats atmosphere chemically as is done on Trident submarines. Hopefully the green plants will make the use of scrubbing unnecessary, and ideally the scrubbers will forever be on standby.