Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"I realized there was a heavy-duty change coming in biology, and I could write a really compelling novel about catastrophic evolution, punctuated equilibrium."
- Greg Bear

Starwisp  
  An small interstellar probe using a light-sail for propulsion.  

Manufactured by Airbus-Cisco years earlier, the Field Circus is a hick backwater, isolated from the mainstream of human culture, its systems complexity limited by mass: The destination lies nearly three light-years from Earth, and even with high acceleration and relativistic cruise speeds, the one-kilogram starwisp and its hundred-kilogram light sail will take the best part of seven years to get there. Sending a human-sized probe is beyond even the vast energy budget of the new orbital states in Jupiter system – near-lightspeed travel is horrifically expensive. Rather than a big, self-propelled ship with canned primates for passengers, as previous generations had envisaged, the starship is a Coke-can-sized slab of nanocomputers, running a neural simulation of the uploaded brain states of some tens of humans at merely normal speed.
From Accelerando, by Charles Stross.
Published by Ace in 2005
Additional resources -

The basic idea for a starwisp was proposed by Robert L. Forward in 1985. The device would use beam-powered propulsion; a microwave antenna would provided motive power for the sail. Once a suitable speed was reached, the probe could simply cruise to its destination.

It is noteworthy that the force produced is proportional only to the power density, and is independent of the wavelength. Two practical choices for photon-pushed sails have been proposed: light-pushed sails [Tsander 1924, Forward 1984, and others], and microwave-pushed sails [Forward 1985]. The microwavepushed sail (“Starwisp”) has advantages, however, it has several disadvantages. Probably the worst of these disadvantages is the difficulty of scale, which is an unavoidable consequence of the larger wavelength of microwaves compared to light: The 20 gram, 1-km diameter “Starwisp” probe proposed by Forward requires a focusing lens of 50,000 km diameter-- a structure four times the diameter of the Earth! Constructing such a lens is clearly a significant engineering project. The “Starwisp” proposal also assumes that, to achieve low resistance, the aluminum mesh could be kept at 40°K.
(Advanced Solar- and Laser-pushed Lightsail Concepts [1999 pdf])

Thanks to Trey Palmer for the item and the quote.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 0 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Accelerando
  More Ideas and Technology by Charles Stross
  Tech news articles related to Accelerando
  Tech news articles related to works by Charles Stross

Articles related to Space Tech
Students! NASA Wants To 3D Print Your Tool Design In Space!
Flock Of Minisats Will Image The Earth
The Manned Maneuvering Unit Story
Bigelow's Inflatable BEAM Module Ready For ISS In 2015

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

More News

The Living Tree House
'There were trees comprised of a central columnar trunk and four vast leaves...'

Flying Defibrillator Ambulance Drone
'The death-reversal equipment is on its way...'

High Fidelity Produces More Expressive Avatars!
'They are the audiovisual bodies that people use to communicate with each other...'

Physicists Build Repulsor / Tractor Beam
'Brandon swung mighty tractor beams upon the severed halves of the Jovian vessel...'

Will You Upload Your Mind Anytime Soon?
And if so, how long will the copy last?

Students! NASA Wants To 3D Print Your Tool Design In Space!
'Mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Amazing ARES Augmented Reality Sandbox
'First he showed him where the input and output of his brand-new kingdom were, and how to program wars...'

'3D Light Sculpture' Projected Directly Onto Retina
'...projects directly on the retina of the eye…'

3D Printer Vending Machine Dispenses Dreams
'Nanofax AG offers a technology that digitally reproduces objects, physically, at a distance.'

Why Not Nurse Grandma With A Robot?
'She's made of a combination of springs, levers, acoustic instruments...'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.