Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Stairway to heaven

Forget about towers, build a ramp!
  (+11, -4)
(+11, -4)
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Dismantle some of the moon (or a bunch of asteroids) to form a long, gracefully curving ramp. Length is the key here, because we're aiming to have the Earth's gravitational pull on the ramp be balanced by the ramp's centripetal force. Once the ramp is completed, gently push the earthbound end into place. Then it's just a matter of driving(!) up the ramp to reach space.

Mind you, we'll need some fairly strong materials...

phoenix, Aug 23 2001

Space Elevator http://www.spacesci...ast07sep_1.htm?list
Mentions materials you could use. [Pallex]

Ribbon to the Stars http://www.sciencen...g/20021005/bob9.asp
Added 16 Oct 2002 | A recent article on the possibilities of building an elevator to space.
Includes the history of the concept, which dates back more than a hundred years. [Pallex, Aug 23 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Ribbon to the Stars http://www.sciencen...g/20021005/bob9.asp
Added 16 Oct 2002 | A recent article on the possibilities of building an elevator to space.
Includes the history of the concept, which dates back more than a hundred years. [bristolz, Oct 16 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Debate on destroying the moon http://groups.googl...t.iastate.edu#link1
Um, vaguely relevant? [pottedstu]

Stairway to heaven http://www.theatlan...es/92mar/feeley.htm [pottedstu, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Stairway to heaven http://www.theatlan...es/92mar/feeley.htm
[mrthingy, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

[link]






       As much fun as it would be to drive into space, how does your car work without an atmosphere? Better yet, what do you do when you run out of air? And your windows explode? And someone breaks into your house and steals everything while you're gone? Of course, you COULD murder them, but then you'd go to prison for a long time. If you're in Texas, you could get the death sentence. I think I'd choose lethal injection, since you'd be all peaceful-like.
AfroAssault, Aug 23 2001
  

       Might interfere with with the esteemed gt gravitational pull energy space yo-yo.
thumbwax, Aug 23 2001
  

       [AfroAssault] You crack me up. Of course you needn't drive, and you needn't drive a car (but you could to a certain point).
phoenix, Aug 23 2001
  

       Any idea which starts with "Dismantle some of the moon..." gets a croissant from me. You'd need to remember to put sturdy barriers along the edge of the ramp to stop vehicles from plunging over the side and crashing back to Earth 1000's of kilometres below when the driver falls asleep at the wheel or swerves to avoid low-orbiting satellites.
Skinny Rob, Aug 23 2001
  

       "Better yet, what do you do when you run out of air? And your windows explode?"   

       Drive one of those SUVs that are so popular round these parts. Bigger capacity = more air to breathe, and they've probably got reinforced windows to boot.
-alx, Aug 23 2001
  

       You would have to have service stations or petrol dispensers periodically along the ramp, driving upwards for hours will eat some petrol. Anyway, pfft. What's there to see in space?
sdm, Aug 23 2001
  

       "[w]e're aiming to have the Earth's gravitational pull on the ramp be balanced by the ramp's centripetal force."   

       I don't understand this. Aren't these forces oblique?
bookworm, Aug 23 2001
  

       [sdm] Earth. And depending on how much moonstuff we take (and how far around the equator the ramp extends), you might *have* to get closer to see the moon clearly.
phoenix, Aug 23 2001
  

       //Forget about towers, build a ramp!//   

       No, forget about the ramp: I'd like to SEE a stairway to heaven...and see people try to climb it. [+1]
iuvare, Aug 23 2001
  

       Obligatory fun-killing <do your physics homework> post.
snarfyguy, Aug 23 2001
  

       Hello Ron - not THE Ron Hamel who used to advertise Alpha Beta Grocery Chain with - I believe - Suzanne Somers so long ago?
Take note of the 'link' button beneath the 'Idea' for links you wish to provide. This allows for a cleaner interface of said links.
thumbwax, Aug 23 2001
  

       [zippyanna] When you get to the end there's an 'Under Construction' sign so you have to turn around and go back (fortunately there are at least two lanes).
phoenix, Aug 23 2001
  

       Only if he has a firepole for the return trip.
The Military, Aug 23 2001
  

       [alx] Sending an SUV up there is a great idea! At this point Ford and Firestone could really use the good publicity. They would show the Explorer going up to the top to _prove_ that their new design modifications make the Explorer 'safe' -- what a cool car commercial. Any volunteers to drive?
pathetic, Aug 24 2001
  

       This has been done. The ramp is located at the Earth's equator, and exists in perfect balance between gravity and 'centrifugal force'. The ramp is approximately 20.5 km high, but it is made of Earth-stuff and not Moon-stuff. Unfortunately the ramp does not reach into space, or even the stratosphere, because 'centrifugal force' also makes the atomosphere bulge at the equator. Darn.
Dog Ed, Aug 24 2001
  

       Unfortunately, escape velocity is escape velocity. There's no way around the fact that on Earth it's about 25000 MPH! snarfyguy is correct. Check out http://rax.arc.nasa.gov/activities/pofo/docs/space-environment/2-whats-escape-velocity.html
pob27, Aug 24 2001
  

       Note that modern building regulations would require the stairway to heaven to have a landing every 20 or so steps and an alternative means of access such as a ramp for wheelchair users.
hippo, Aug 24 2001
  

       pob27 - I read the article with some interest although frankly I'm none the wiser. But are we happy with Nasa committing such solecisms as "blast off of the other planet" in front our kids?
Gordon Comstock, Aug 24 2001
  

       [Gordon Comstock]: It's better than 'blast off from off of' which I heard on TV.
angel, Aug 24 2001
  

       this reminds me of the old joke:   

       why didn't the italians ever make it to the moon?   

       they ran out of scaffolding.
mihali, Aug 24 2001
  

       'twould be fun to ride back down on a bicycle (brought up on the roof of your SUV).
stupop, Aug 24 2001
  

       [stupop] That brings up another interesting twist: Instead of building the ramp out of moonstuff, build it out of water (ice) taken from comets. Attach the ramp near either the North or South Pole and charge admission for the world's largest ski resort.
phoenix, Aug 24 2001
  

       Actually, Rods (Pedant watch) the 'to' is incorrect if the structure doesn't actually reach the destination. It would be more correct to use 'towards'.
hippo, Aug 24 2001
  

       Also, I can't see any problem with the 'way' part of 'stairway'.
-alx, Aug 24 2001
  

       Sometimes words have two meanings
... also Manufacturers of the Comet. Coincidentally enough, Comet is also the name of a cleaning product which could be used to keep the rest stops clean.
thumbwax, Aug 24 2001
  

       Somewhere over New Zealand, so I'm told.
thumbwax, Aug 24 2001
  

       Alx: I like the idea of using it to drive SUV's and their owners into space...
StarChaser, Aug 25 2001
  

       I'm going into the road cone business, if this lark takes off - I'm going to make it big
po, Aug 25 2001
  

       I'd invest in the company that paints the lines on the road...
phoenix, Aug 25 2001
  

       perhaps we are all frogetting that the earth rotates there will be no one destination whether it be heaven, the moon, or detroit . the timing needed would be astronimical (oddly enough). so you see, unless we stop the earth from rotating, this "ramp" is impossible. AND if we did stop the earth from rotating china would be so pissed at us for sending them into eternal darkness (ok, not eternal but pretty dang long darkness)that the would no doubt destroy the ramp which caused them so much chaos. i mean, come on. wouldn't you?
spongeyguy, Aug 30 2002
  

       a year late with my croissant. apologies big p.
po, Aug 31 2002
  

       I think I'd be too busy hurtling off into space to notice that whole eternal darkness thing.
Lucky_Setzer, Sep 01 2002
  

       Can you take it down during hurricane season?
KindlyRat, Sep 01 2002
  

       Leave it up -- after exposure to enough ionizing radiation, the slurry that's left on high would be flowing down the stairway to a big puddle of mud. Hurricanes would only serve to wash the sludge away, and better that.
reensure, Sep 01 2002
  

       All we need to do to get into space is drill a large hole all the way through the centre of the earth (about 76.4339 kilometers in diameter by my calculations). The vast lode of molten iron at the centre of the planet will be forcibly ejected into space where it will aggregate into several new moons rich in iron and minerals. It will also significantly reduce the earth's gravity enabling us to get to the moon for next to no cost at all! What could possibly be simpler, I ask you? I can see no way in which this plan could possibly go wrong, its foolproof.   

       Yes, I'll make millions with this idea.
wossy, Mar 02 2003
  

       but the earth would become much colder
tazmase2, Jul 25 2003
  
      
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