The future is today: Force fields and underground lunar colonies in the news

posted at 8:41 pm on March 23, 2015 by Noah Rothman

It’s 2015, so where is your flying car already? Well, you might not get one any time soon. What’s more, global warming has not accelerated at a rate necessary to force us all into Mylar suits like those that were ubiquitous on the average 1960s-era science fiction television program. In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that the most futuristic aspect of modern life is the cellphone in your pocket.

But the future that we were promised by Robert Heinlein and Gene Roddenberry might not be as far off as the pessimists imagine. Just this month, two fascinating developments suggest that The World of Tomorrow could soon be a reality.

According to a presentation in delivered to an audience at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference last week, the prospect of creating self-sustaining lunar colonies might not require the vast infrastructural investments necessary to sustain such a venture on the moon’s surface. Instead, the prospect of massive volcanic pockets inside the moon might serve as promising space in which humanity could establish its first extraterrestrial home.

Philadelphia on the moon

“We found that if lunar lava tubes existed with a strong arched shape like those on Earth, they would be stable at sizes up to 5,000 meters, or several miles wide, on the moon,” [Perdue University graduate student David] Blair said. “This wouldn’t be possible on Earth, but gravity is much lower on the moon and lunar rock doesn’t have to withstand the same weathering and erosion. In theory, huge lava tubes – big enough to easily house a city – could be structurally sound on the moon.”

Blair worked with Antonio Bobet, a Purdue professor of civil engineering, and applied known information about lunar rock and the moon’s environment to civil engineering technology used to design tunnels on Earth.

The team found that a lava tube’s stability depended on the width, roof thickness and the stress state of the cooled lava, and the team modeled a range of these variables. The researchers also modeled lava tubes with walls created by lava placed in one thick layer and with lava placed in many thin layers, Blair said.

Only one other study, published in 1969, has attempted to model lunar lava tubes, he said.

In equally exciting news on the space geek front, the Boeing Company recently filed a patent that would make the force field technology that protects spacecraft from interstellar projectiles and energy weapons alike a reality… sort of.

“Just liking the luminescent shields seen in [Star Wars], Boeing’s ‘Method and system for shock wave attenuation via electromagnetic arc’ could provide a real-life layer of protection from nearby impacts to targets,” ABC News reported on Monday. “The downside: It won’t protect from direct hits.”

The system can sense when a shock wave generating explosion occurs near a target. An arc generator then determines the small area where protection is needed from the shock waves.

It then springs into action by emitting laser pulses that ionize the air, providing a laser-induced plasma field of protection from the shock waves.

“Explosive devices are being used increasingly in asymmetric warfare to cause damage and destruction to equipment and loss of life. The majority of the damage caused by explosive devices results from shrapnel and shock waves,” the patent says.

Image 2

The system appears designed to primarily deflect the blast radius from ordnance like roadside bombs or mortar fire away from vehicles like that shown above. It is, however, a step in the direction of Star Trek-like shielding technology.


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Comments

More pie in the sky dreaming. Nobody is going to be build any colonies on the moon. What country has a spare trillion dollars hanging around? They are all crying poor. And a trillion is just for the first day. The next day is another trillion. And so on.

No flying cars. No lunar stations. No trips to Mars. Not in this century.

HugoDrax on March 23, 2015 at 8:49 PM

If only some imam could instruct all Muslims to emigrate to the Moon, this might serve some good purpose.

Lunatics belong on Luna.

profitsbeard on March 23, 2015 at 8:53 PM

The system appears designed to primarily deflect the blast radius from ordnance
===============

Trophy – Active defence developed in Israel

Uploaded on Jul 22, 2006
*************************

The Trophy active protection system creates a hemispheric protected zone around the vehicle where incoming threats are intercepted and defeated. It has three elements providing — Threat Detection and Tracking, Launching and Intercept functions. The Threat Detection and Warning subsystem consists of several sensors, including flat-panel radars, placed at strategic locations around the protected vehicle, to provide full hemispherical coverage. Once an incoming threat is detected identified and verified, the Countermeasure Assembly is opened, the countermeasure device is positioned in the direction where it can effectively intercept the threat. Then, it is launched automatically into a ballistic trajectory to intercept the incoming threat at a relatively long distance.
==============================================

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62jzAupr044

canopfor on March 23, 2015 at 8:57 PM

Some folks shouldn’t dream past blog editing programs.

wolly4321 on March 23, 2015 at 8:58 PM

The system appears designed to primarily deflect the blast radius from ordnance
===============

Trophy:

Watch An Active Protection System Destroy An RPG Fired At Israeli Tank
7/23/14 1:15pm
**************

http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/watch-an-active-protection-system-destroy-an-rpg-fired-1609196170

canopfor on March 23, 2015 at 8:59 PM

I suppose the development of “force field” technology has genuine potential, but lava tubes on the moon ?
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listens2glenn on March 23, 2015 at 8:59 PM

One small problem… the moon has never had volcanic activity…

PointnClick on March 23, 2015 at 9:00 PM

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Shame the solar/alternative energy crowd laughed at Newt Gingrich when he suggested lunar colonies. The Moon would’ve been a great developement/proving ground for their theories and technology.

Mommys Little Darling on March 23, 2015 at 9:01 PM

One small problem… the moon has never had volcanic activity…

PointnClick on March 23, 2015 at 9:00 PM

Er…

The Earth’s Moon has no large volcanoes like Hawaii or Mount St. Helens. However, vast plains of basaltic lavas cover much of the lunar surface. The earliest astronomers thought, wrongly, that these plains were seas of lunar water. Thus, they were called ” mare ” (pronounced “mahr-ay”). Mare means “sea” in Latin. In addition, other volcanic features also occur within the lunar mare. The most important are sinuous rilles , dark mantling deposits ,and small volcanic domes and cones . Most of these features are fairly small, however. They form only a tiny fraction of the lunar volcanic record.

http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/oldroot/volcanoes/planet_volcano/lunar/Overview.html

Walter L. Newton on March 23, 2015 at 9:03 PM

[Perdue University graduate student David] Blair said.

It takes Noah’s special skills to have a typo in a blockquote.

sauldalinsky on March 23, 2015 at 9:07 PM

I want a light saber.

Oh and a web blog that doesn’t log me out while making it appear I’m still logged in.

rbj on March 23, 2015 at 9:07 PM

NEWT…..NO NO NO

PappyD61 on March 23, 2015 at 9:08 PM

The system appears designed to primarily deflect the blast radius from ordnance
===============

Trophy:

Watch An Active Protection System Destroy An RPG Fired At Israeli Tank
7/23/14 1:15pm
**************

http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/watch-an-active-protection-system-destroy-an-rpg-fired-1609196170

canopfor on March 23, 2015 at 8:59 PM

.
That be AWESOME ! ! !

Thanks for the link.

listens2glenn on March 23, 2015 at 9:10 PM

One small problem… the moon has never had volcanic activity…

PointnClick on March 23, 2015 at 9:00 PM

It could only becone round by being viscous at some point.

wolly4321 on March 23, 2015 at 9:11 PM

No flying cars. No lunar stations. No trips to Mars. Not in this century.

… says the supervillain bent on repopulating the Earth from a man-made plague launched from his very own space station.

You don’t get a monopoly on all the cool space-toys, Drax.

DaveatGarfieldRidge on March 23, 2015 at 9:19 PM

I like the pic of Newt for the post. My post after his “grand” announcement concerning space during the 2012 campaign:

“You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has moons. And those moons have to be used by men with panders. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Willard McRomney? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for sanity and you curse the Gingrich. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that sanity’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives…You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that moon. You need me on that moon.
We use words like destiny, retrorockets, tang…we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ‘em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very fanaticism I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I’d rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a space helmet and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!”

NotCoach on March 16, 2012 at 1:12 PM

NotCoach on March 23, 2015 at 9:25 PM

It could only becone round by being viscous at some point.

wolly4321 on March 23, 2015 at 9:11 PM

Gravity is a much larger driver in the shape of planets and moons. The moon is massive enough that gravity smooths out the extreme edges.

NotCoach on March 23, 2015 at 9:30 PM

canopfor on March 23, 2015 at 8:59 PM

.
That be AWESOME ! ! !

Thanks for the link.

listens2glenn on March 23, 2015 at 9:10 PM

listens2glenn: I stumbled on the system, a few years back!:)

canopfor on March 23, 2015 at 9:30 PM

I’ll settle for a gaussrifle.

clear ether

eon

eon on March 23, 2015 at 9:32 PM

We need a lunar base on Mars. Not the moon.

SpongePuppy on March 23, 2015 at 9:32 PM

What happened to the theory moon was hollow and base base for aliens.

RickB on March 23, 2015 at 9:48 PM

We need a lunar base on Mars. Not the moon.

SpongePuppy on March 23, 2015 at 9:32 PM

And a martian base on the Moon?

NotCoach on March 23, 2015 at 9:50 PM

High energy antenna directed micro wave.

Too

C-5 with mucho big micro wave generator
That can fry mucho computer processors .

APACHEWHOKNOWS on March 23, 2015 at 10:04 PM

It’s 2015, so where is your flying car already?

Well, I never had any serious thoughts about having a flying car by 2015, but there is a certain, current U.S. president who back in 2008 or so promised to have a million cars on the road by 2015 that would be getting 150 mpg.

Anybody see one of those yet?

Me neither.

parke on March 23, 2015 at 10:22 PM

One small problem… the moon has never had volcanic activity…

PointnClick on March 23, 2015 at 9:00 PM

Well, not for the last 4 billions years or so. But prior to that, it did.

iurockhead on March 23, 2015 at 10:34 PM

I think we are heading towards a boom in space exploration, with no thanks to NASA. Private companies will do the heavy lifting. There is more platinum in a football sized comet than on the entire planet. Space exploration may be astronomically expensive, but the potential returns, if privatized, are even greater.

On a separate science note. Rumor is CERN could be proving that the big bang theory is false using the large hadron collider, instead proving rainbow gravity – the idea that the universe has existed for infinite time.

eski502 on March 23, 2015 at 11:14 PM

Only a huge defense contractor like Boeing could get a patent on something as goofy as the “force field” shown in that cheesy drawing. But you can bet they would have a herd of lawyers on you in a heartbeat if you ever tried to sell something remotely similar, especially if it actually, er, worked.

platapapin on March 23, 2015 at 11:39 PM

colony on the moon/mars…..nothing to eat…nothing to breathe…nothing to drink

clandestine on March 24, 2015 at 7:49 AM

Stopped reading after the 4th word in the 1st sentence. I only read make believe stories to my grandkids.

Know It All on March 24, 2015 at 8:35 AM

No flying cars. No lunar stations. No trips to Mars. Not in this century.

HugoDrax on March 23, 2015 at 8:49 PM

If no apocalypse, all of them within 40 years.

Younggod on March 24, 2015 at 8:35 AM

So, the lava tubes on the moon is probably more realistic than force fields. At least the physics of the former is straightforward.

Count to 10 on March 24, 2015 at 8:57 AM

So, the dark patterns on the moon are all lava planes. That’s a fair amount of volcanic activity.

Count to 10 on March 24, 2015 at 9:00 AM