I’m a designer who is fascinated with Science.
Somehow as a complete amateur I believe that through obsessive consumption of sites like physorg.com and wikipedia I can train myself to spot solutions to man’s ever growing needs. Or problems. But that depends on how you look at things. And in an effort to remember my hair-brained schemes and with the view to possible feedback I’m going to start posting them.
MAD IDEA 1: Mouse Drive
An ion thruster can propel a space ship through space using tiny but consistent force to steadily increase velocity of said spaceship through a vacuum. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_thruster
Your limitation is how much gas you can put on board as fuel.
You can attempt to harvest the vast amounts of gas in space.
But it is a bit haphazard as to where these clouds are and at what density.
You use mice.
That turn wheels to get food thereby generating electricity to power the drive.
Droppings fertilize plants. Urine is distilled into water. Residue becomes fuel/fertiliser.
Plants make oxygen and food. Food is harvested. Food feeds mice as reward for turning wheels.
If perfectly managed the system could carry on for quite some time.
A micro version of the human condition really.
I don’t really want to make a mouse drive. And would have ethical issues with putting mice into space to live in a micro self sustaining environment. Even if it simulated the perfect mousey nirvana. it would be Cruel and Wrong.
Unless of course we could speak to mice. We brought it up as if in casual conversation. They got really really excited.
And the Mice volunteered.
I first read about ion thrusters many years ago so my knowledge was shaky to begin with. After reading the wiki entry myself it seems that grid degradation is more of an issue than fuel limit. So in addition to my above proposal I add spiders that weave new grids daily. And cockroaches to feed them. And that’s all I can think of for now.
copyright Simon Villet © 2010,