BUT, one of the biggest stumbling blocks for the space elevator has been a lack of cheap methods of making nanotubes which would be used extensively in the construction of the elevator. It looks like Motorola might have cracked it! IAC, we could be seeing TVs with the technology very shortly.
Re: space elevator.
Nanotubes aren’t the toughie here. It’s figuring out how to shrink people down so they can fit in those tiny, tiny, tiny, tubes.
Woohoo! Cheap nanotubes are here! Finally! I’ve been saying for years, “What this country really needs are cheap nanotubes.” None of this expensive nanotubes bosh. It’s the cheap ones that’ll really kick this country in the ass and get it moving!
What’s a nanotube?
It’s carbon atoms arranged in a tube shape. It’s another extension of buckminsterfullerenes (aka “buckyballs”). More info can be found here.
All I can say is, Shweet.
Super cool. I would love to be working in nano-technology.
Soon, nanotechnology will be working in you!
It’s an interesting reversal in how technology is developed. We spent decades trying to kick-start the space age, but eventually dropped that. However, it did leave us with space blankets, communications satellites and consumer electronics. Which is a bit of a shame really, because mobile phones are all very nice, but they’re not anything like as inspiring as “boldly going where no man has gone before”.
Now, the mobile phone guys are giving us the technology to cheaply go where we’ve been before at great expense. Unfortunately, they’ll probably just use space elevators to launch more damned mobile phone satellites and to build the first McDonalds, Starbucks and Club Med on the Moon.
mmmm Club Tranq … I am there already.
If that’s what it takes then tattoo the Golden Arches on my forehead and let’s get it done!
Well I’m all in favour of doing stuff just because we can and because it’s cool, but if the cost of it is to have rolling 3G mobile phone adverts projected onto the Moon then it’s just not worth it.
Besides, I like the Moon (http://www.rathergood.com/moon_song/).
But can we make monofilament wires a few inches long with these cheap nanotubes? Have they enough tensile strength to finally build a cheese knife that really works, or do I still need to wait for a portable laser cheese knife.
Ooh, monofilament wires. I want to be able to lop peoples’ heads off with my shoe laces…
The new Portable Laser Cheese Processing System, crisps as it cuts as it melts, from Ronco.
I thought yuou were talking about these nanotube yarns. Carbon yarn
The ability to make nanotubes on the order of an inch long has been around for a year, I believe. I think some groups are even starting to get half-foot or longer nanotubes. We’re still a far way away, though, from the stuff that would be needed to get into space – multi-kilometer single-walled nanotubes.
Actually, the real problem in building anything bigger than a micron out of carbon nanotubes is not making enough of them, but figuring out how to weave them all together. Imagine trying to weave a rope fifty feet in diameter out of a zillion two inch segments of human hair. It’s also not clear how the tensile strength of individual nanotubes will scale when you make ropes out of them.
So, for now, you’re still stuck on this godforsaken rock.
You might be right, Giraffe, but last I heard (and it’s been a while since I’ve paid much attention to nanotubes) was that it was difficult to produce them in mass quantities cheaply, and the resultant mixture was going to be chock full of carbon in various other forms as well as nanotubes. So, if Motorola’s found a way to mass produce nanotubes exclusively and at a low cost, this might get the space elevator here sooner. I sent an e-mail to the folks at Highlift Systems asking them about it. If I hear anything from them, I’ll post it.
A bump, because I just found this article which answers the question of weaving the tubes into a rope.
Note that this article predates Motorola’s announcement, so the price quoted in the article for nanotubes is higher than what Motorola’s talking about making them available for.