Amusing - according to Wikipedia, egg albumin is used as a binder. Oops, not so vegan after all!
Yes, metals are bad. Water (source of hydrogen = protons) is the best shield, or so say Those Who Know Such Things.
That doesn't work. You don't have orbital velocity at that elevation. You essentially have 0 velocity relative to the Earth, until gravity starts to pull you down. So you'd still have to have some large amount of thrust to get you moving at 7-9km/s horizontally. Now you _could_ go to say, 2x LEO and start falling while you accelerate. But that's still a lot of fuel etc.
I'll just note that the X-window system was designed and built for systems much more powerful than the ones it was built on. The designers knew the capabilities would be available 'soon'. That's not a great example but indicative. Doing thought experiments of this kind is not stupid, just hopeful. Leonardo Da Vinci designed a simple airplane that was proved to be workable in the last decade or two. Da Vinci couldn't have built it because there were no motors to drive it at that time.
This provides a perfect excuse for an experiment / prank I've always wanted to do - hang a roll of toilet paper out of a plane and let it spin out and fall. Today's version would be to take a balloon to the top of the atmosphere and drop a ribbon to the ground, then let the top go. Make it out of something fish can eat, and do it over the ocean, so it doesn't pollute too much and you don't have to worry overmuch about wrapping it around someone's house 50 miles away.
I like coilguns. I especially like the idea of a coilgun in Ecuador, running up the Andes. It's not an ideal 45 degrees, but it'll do. 100 km coilgun with 3G acceleration, gets you to around 2500m/s (5600 mph) IIRC, which is about 1/3 orbital velocity and essentially replaces the entire first stage of a rocket stack. Exit altitude is a bit low for that speed though.
You do trigger an important thought - the terminus at geostationary orbit should be quite massive (eventually) compared to the mass of the ribbon and the counterweight. This would help prevent the system from dragging itself off into space (or a higher orbit) too quickly if the lower section got cut off, and vice versa if the upper section got cut off. If that terminus had enough thrust (and fuel), it could maintain station until repairs could be made.
He's also the one who first wrote about geostationary satellites.
I forgot to say - their estimated cost is under $1 billion. Also they are running some climber experiments this summer, I believe.
Yep, all designs I'm aware of are tapered, the fattest point is in the 'middle' (where the middle is depends on the counterweight mass.)
I'll just add that the Liftport folks are now focusing on a lunar elevator, which doesn't require exotic materials. It doesn't use the Moon's rotation (since it only rotates once each revolution), but runs through one of the LaGrange points, either L1 or L2. This means a much longer ribbon (60,000 km IIRC) but much less required strength. It would be anchored to a triangle of points on the Moon.
Kenya has a space program. I think Ecuador also. I'd love to see someone build a magnetic launcher up the slope of the Andes. A 100 km launcher could provide about 1/2 the necessary velocity to orbit at around 3G, essentially replacing the entire first stage, and cost a few dollars in electricity. This could cut the cost of space launches by 70% to 90%, for all equatorial launches.
Fear not, do not despair. Instead check out SpaceTechExpo, NewSpace2014, Space Frontier Foundation, International Space Development Conference, and others. Go to some of the conferences. There are a lot more people working to make commercial space happen that you could imagine, but they don't get much press. My associates are working on financial tools to support companies that are building space-related stuff. Check out Nanosatisfi, making cubesats for educational research; look up cubesats, several of which are now getting launched from the ISS with almost every supply mission, doing interesting experiments. Zero Gravity Solutions is a biotech company using microgravity to help develop new biologicals, and has run six experiments on the ISS (disclosure: I have a small position in ZGSI).
The ISS is now a designated National Laboratory, just like NIST, Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, etc. and has designated an independent organization (CASIS as the gatekeeper for ISS-based research. If you have a reasonable proposal and can build an experiment (and jump through the necessary hoops), NASA will fly your experiment to the ISS and will run the experiment, free. (It will still cost about $100K to build your experiment, qualify it, etc.) With the advent of private ISS delivery vehicles, the turnaround time for experiments has dropped from three years to a few months, allowing much faster and more productive research. Numerous companies are beginning to take advantage of this opportunity, and I will be surprised if this does not result in a huge number of new products and technologies. I have some hope that it will be as productive as the R&D tax credit of the early 1980s, which was instrumental in creating Silicon Valley.
In the longer term, economists have done the research and concluded that commercial space development has the potential to improve the standard of living of everyone on Earth by a factor of 10. Others are less optimistic, but few deny the potential is there. Two somewhat belabored examples: space solar power (which I myself am somewhat skeptical of for various reasons) could replace every power plant on Earth; and (a bit more interesting) Planetary Resources hopes to reduce the cost of platinum group metals by a factor of 100, from the $1000+ per ounce level to $10+ per ounce. These metals have a huge array of industrial uses that are presently impractical due to cost. There are many other examples, these are just two.
Bottom line: There are perhaps 30,000 people around the world presently working full time or nearly so on making space development happen. Another, larger group are working in general space and most of them are advocates in one form or another. Several million at least are 'fans' and subscribe to space-related activities, magazines, etc. And not least are the huge numbers around the world - I'll guess at least 500 million - who are inspired and encouraged every time they see a news story about a space success. My associates are working hard to provide a way for these folks to participate in making it happen, through financial vehicles. Would you invest $1000 in space, and let it ride for 10 years or more? We hope to make that a possibility. That 10 year thing is one of the biggest roadblocks - most space startups have timeframes to first profits (or even revenues!) of 10 or more years, while few VC funds are willing to wait that long for an exit.
True story. A coworker bought a scissors and couldn't get it open without a scissors, but there wasn't a scissors in the office which is why he bought one.
Scissors is an interesting word. Apparently derived from the latin word for chisel => a pair of chisels.
The noun "scissors" is treated as a plural noun, and therefore takes a plural verb ("these scissors are"). Alternatively, it is also referred to as "a pair of scissors". In American English, "a pair" is singular and therefore takes a singular verb ("this pair of scissors is"). In British English, "a pair" does not take the singular ("this pair of scissors are"). The word shears is used to describe similar instruments that are larger in size and for heavier cutting. Opinions vary geographically as to the size at which 'scissors' become 'shears', but this is often at between six to eight inches (about 15 to 20 cm) in length.
And yet, Wiktionary says
(countable, plural in form, usually with a plural verb) A tool used for cutting thin material, consisting of two crossing blades attached at a pivot point in such a way that the blades slide across each other when the handles are closed.
Those scissors are sharp. (indicating singular or plural scissors)
That scissors is sharp. (less commonly to indicate singular scissors)
Scissors are used to cut the flowers.
Use a scissors to cut them if you don't have proper shears.
Considering all the atmospheric forces on the cable, plus the length, having the anchor point even 100 miles from the equator probably wouldn't make a significant difference. That 100 miles is the short side of a very long triangle. In fact I could see having two (or more) cables anchored a hundred or two hundred miles apart, converging above the atmosphere somewhere. If each is strong enough to hold the thing together in an emergency, then even if one is damaged by something the other(s) can take up the slack, prevent the entire thing from falling down/apart, and provide continued service to allow repair machinery and materials to continue to be transported. In normal times the multiple cables would provide additional capacity.