Terraforming the Void



How about this, as an application for aerogels:

     Imagine a spherical shell ten miles or so in diameter, made of
the 
     lightest materials and mostly hollow; for this purpose the new 
     molecular materials would be admirably suited. Owing to the
absence 
     of gravitation its construction would not be an engineering feat
of 
     any magnitude. The source of the material out of which this would

     be made would only be in small part drawn from the earth; for the

     great bulk of the structure would be made out of the substance of

     one or more smaller asteroids, rings of Saturn or other planetary

     detritus. The initial stages of construction are the most
difficult 
     to imagine. They will probably consist of attaching an asteroid
of 
     some hundred yards or so diameter to a space vessel, hollowing it

     out and using the removed material to build the first protective 
     shell. Afterwards the shell could be re-worked, bit by bit, using

     elaborated and more suitable substances and at the same time 
     increasing its size by diminishing its thickness. The globe would

     fulfil all the functions by which our earth manages to support 
     life. In default of a gravitational field it has, perforce, to
keep 
     its atmosphere and the greater portion of its life inside; but as

     all its nourishment comes in the form of energy through its outer

     surface it would be forced to resemble on the whole an enormously

     complicated single-celled plant. 

This description of an idea for a space colony was written by J. D.
Bernal, in "The World, the Flesh, and the Devil," and, along with Olaf
Stapledon, likely directly influenced Freeman J. Dyson's "Dyson
Sphere" proposals.

http://www.student.nada.kth.se/~nv91-asa/dysonFAQ.html


It seems to me that such a project would necessarily involve geodesics
and tensegritics.

jmr




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