Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Live in the sky

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This is a very large airship floating high above the clouds, with living quarters for thousands of people. Solar-heated air inside the airship would keep it aloft; solar panels would provide power for propulsion and everything else. It would contain hydroponic farms to grow food. It might initially be a platform like the International Space Station, with people visiting it from the ground for several months at a time, but should become a permanent living place with residents being born, living and dying on board. At this point it will have its own Government and will be an entire society in microcosm. This environment will prepare people for migration to other planets, as well as providing an alternative place to live should the Earth's surface become uninhabitable.

There is a small risk that this sky-based colony becomes a band of pirate renegades, hijacking passenger jets with huge nets to gather a haul of spirit miniatures, half-bottles of wine and other bounty.
hippo, Apr 23 2019

So, a UN Citizen(Air)Ship? SS_20UN_20CitizenShip
I can get behind this (or under it, or on top) because...Pie! [Sgt Teacup, Apr 24 2019]

Cloud Nine https://en.wikipedi...(tensegrity_sphere)
[xaviergisz, Apr 24 2019]

I have the moon https://genius.com/...ave-the-moon-lyrics
[calum, Apr 24 2019]

What this would look like from the ground - artist's impression https://media.wired...ogue-One-Poster.jpg
[hippo, Apr 26 2019]

[link]






       Hmmm. Needs maths.   

       So, I'm assuming that this thing has a rigid hull, and relies on its vastness to give it the volume-to-area ratio necessary to float.   

       What altitude will it float at? If it's much above about 12- 15,000ft, then it's either going to need an oxygen-enriched atmosphere, or it'll have to be pressurized which will seriously impact its buoyancy.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 23 2019
  

       Sky pirates, [+].   

       // should the Earth's surface become uninhabitable //   

       Parts of it already are; have you been to Essex ?   

       "You have to be clever to refrain from doing it when you knew how easy it was. There were places in the world commemorating those times when wizards hadn't been quite as clever as that, and on many of them the grass would never grow again." (Terry Pratchett).
8th of 7, Apr 23 2019
  

       Will there be pies served?
xenzag, Apr 23 2019
  

       //Will there be pies served?// - a very important question (that's not to say [Max]'s question about the maths of keeping this airborne isn't also important, but, you know, priorities...). I think the answer is 'yes', but I know inquisitive minds will want to know whether the on-board farms contain livestock to supply, for example, a really good steak and ale pie, or whether the pie will be based on soya-based protein meat substitute products.
hippo, Apr 23 2019
  

       Obviously, the pies will have to be real pies. Also, what you really want is steak-and-kidney. Now that's a pie. Sturton once tried to get drunk on steak-and-ale pies, and it didn't end well.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 23 2019
  

       If there were an Academy Award for Understatement, that remark would win it in perpetuity. The mess was ... indescribable. And the smell ... ye gods, the smell ...
8th of 7, Apr 23 2019
  

       Didn't R. Buckminster Fuller or somebody like that propose this?
notexactly, Apr 23 2019
  

       No, steak-and-ale pies were around long before his birth.
8th of 7, Apr 23 2019
  

       No, I'm pretty sure they're mine.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 23 2019
  

       I can see one possible issue with this whole scheme.   

       In order to fly, this thing is going to have be very big. I haven't done the calculations, but I'm guessing it's going to come out somewhere between huge and immense. It's also going to be floating at somewhere between 10,000 and 27,462ft above the ground. That means it's going to cause a local night as it passes over, which may annoy some people on the ground.   

       One solution is to have it fly only over the sea. Another would be to have it fly only where it's already night (which it could do, if it were fast enough). Another other option would be for it to be partially transparent (I'm guessing 30% would do it), for instance by having all of its roads see- through. This would have the added advantage that it would look incredibly cool from inside the bubble.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 23 2019
  

       Pie in the sky it is then!
xenzag, Apr 23 2019
  

       hmmm one gigantic three or four story wing in a shape which will allow for later adding as many of the same as you want, like Penrose tiles, which wraps unneeded light around it fiber optically causing no more shade on the ground beneath it than a wispy cloud. You could then use changes in altitude to both catch trade winds and provide passive motive power.   

       Someone tell Elon there will be pie...   

       I'm not convinced you can both make it transparent, and solar powered. But also, I don't think it should *be* solar powered, it should have a great big nuclear reactor on board for propulsion.   

       This would help discourage rival sky pirates / governments from attacking, as the fallout from falling out of the sky would be substantial.   

       An enormous double-glazed dome could sit over most of the city, with heated air pumped into it to provide part of the buoyancy. It would also help prevent residents from simultaneously asphyxiating and freezing to death. The remaining lift could be made up with great big propellers.   

       (makes mental note to watch "Laputa" again)
mitxela, Apr 23 2019
  

       [Max] The huge area of shade it casts on the ground is designed to reduce global warming. Also, it has to fly in the (local) day-time for the solar panels to work.
hippo, Apr 24 2019
  

       Will there be a hook?
xenzag, Apr 24 2019
  

       Probably - this living environment will have a fair number of disco/funk guitar and bass players on board.
hippo, Apr 24 2019
  

       So there's pie in the sky and a sky hook - we're all set then.
xenzag, Apr 24 2019
  

       It's a small matter of perspective and insurance.   

       Make the dirigible large enough and the question will be how to keep the Earth aloft in the realm of the dirigible.   

       The court case will show the Earthlings did not exercise due care which led to an avoidable collision with the stationary dirigible. The insurance payout will be huge. It could have been more but it was indeed lucky that all the dirigible dwellers were enjoying a mini-break on the other side of the Earth at the time and there was no loss of life.
DenholmRicshaw, Apr 24 2019
  

       So, some numbers.   

       Assume that the airship is spherical, and has a 1m thick wall with a density of 1 (possibly reasonable, assuming some sort of metal honeycomb structure). Assume also that the air inside the airship is 20°C warmer than ambient (and that ambient is around 0°C).   

       In that case, the structure becomes neutrally bouyant when its diameter reaches about 70km. Of course, you want to allow for some buildings, people and alcoholic beverages. So, if you go up to a diameter of 100km, you have a "cargo capacity" of about 2x10^13kg, or about 100,000 skyscrapers.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 24 2019
  

       That’s a good result - something that big is the right sort of size for a self-sustaining population, plus hydroponic farms, pie factories, etc.
hippo, Apr 24 2019
  

       At a pinch, we could ditch the hydroponics.   

       Oh, and ethanol is less dense than water, so it would be beneficial to have only spirits, beverage-wise.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 24 2019
  

       //it will ... be an entire society in microcosm//
//this living environment will have a fair number of disco/funk guitar and bass players on board//
I am now developing my understanding of the society that hippo wishes to render microcosmic and airborne. Let the record show that I approve.
calum, Apr 24 2019
  

       //Probably - this living environment will have a fair number of disco/funk guitar and bass players on board//   

       Disco sinners! Cast them from the heavens!   

       And so the word of the clouds reached the earth via the disco profits. The gods of the sky had rigid laws and the disco messiahs were keen that nobody made the same mistakes so they carved the dirigible do's and the dirigible don'ts in stone.
bigsleep, Apr 25 2019
  

       //And so the word of the clouds reached the earth via the disco profits// - this would happen if the sky colony's accountants were investing their disco profits in terrestrial stock markets, which would alert these markets to the riches to be realised in sky-based tax haven opportunities.
hippo, Apr 25 2019
  

       Very much like this, but concerned about the possible dangers from inhabitants of the surface. It would be much more romantic to be run in the ancient times, when the surface inhabitants don't have ways to remotely endanger the inhabitants of such a sky habitat. However, as an experiment to learn to live on other planet, -- this is a very good idea :) [+]
Mindey, Apr 29 2019
  
      
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