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Cogito, ergo sumthin'
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A solar sail uses the pressure of sunlight to fly a space
vessel through the pressure of solar wind. An M2P2 solar
sail is made using a powerful magnetic field supporting a
plasma which interacts with this flow of particles (over
95% of the particles in the solar wind are electrons and
I suggest that an M2P2 solar sail could also be
used to focus or filter sunlight for large-scale climate
modification. (The field deflects particles from the solar
wind.) One way to counter global warming?
This technique might be a way to counter ozone
depletion on Earth (somehow zapping atmospheric cfcs
with filtered sunlight), to say nothing of cooling Venus or
warming Mars, Europa, etc. The reason it is an
interesting idea is that, like M2P2 solar sails, it doesn't
rely on a big mechanical array for a sail. That has been
a stumbling block in space mirrors as well as in solar
sails--purely mechanical items this size/mass are
awkward to deploy.
Basically, my idea is to use luminescent ionizing gases
to filter, spindle, lase, bend and otherwise mutilate
sunlight for terraforming purposes, in this case using a
stable M2P2 array. For that matter, might this
technology also be useable for a large-scale space
telescope? That is, a neon (or plasma) lens, in effect?
Since the opacity of plasma can be varied, a large
enough bubble might be used to focus light... I also
wonder if there is a purely electromagnetic way to lase
sunlight...Might come in handy to know, for any stray comet
headed our way. OK, in truth, I'm not certain one could use
M2P2 to focus light, but I can't see any reason why some
kind of magnetic field holding particulate matter in
place couldn't be used to that end. Ferrous glass or
commercial diamond beads, for instance, could float in a
very large telescopic array using a magnetic field...
(Finally, a use for all that lunar regolith?) Or
even ice crystals, if you could find a shady spot
somewhere...I guess the ideal would be an optically
useful superconducting material. Maybe a series of
overlapping M2P2 fields could interact to form a focus.
(Or, if you're terraforming closer to the sun, use that
solar energy to power a particulate M2P2 fresnel lens to
dissipate the solar energy instead.)...I know it's silly
(and I'm not a scientist) but the structural lines of (for
instance) a fresnel lens and magnetic field force lines
are superficially alike enough for me to consider an
analogy. Reverse fresnel followed by a halo, then a half-
nelson and the champ is pinned... If the particulate
matter that made up the lens could somehow include a
solar-powered positioning device, then I suppose the
problem would be solved. For all mankind. But coming
in little pieces.
Mini-Magnetospheric Plasma Propulsion
M2P2 background [cloudface, Oct 17 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]
Brief overview of Fresnel lenses [cloudface, Oct 17 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]
||You'd have to remember to align the spong flanger and calibrate the plumnambulator.
||Space mirrors and shades have already been proposed as a mechanism of climate control, both here and in the real world. I'm not sure your approach adds anything significant at this hypothetical stage.
||Filter, maybe... but I'm not sure I see how. The spectrum of the light coming from the plasma is an "emission" spectrum - which would suggest to me that the energy is absorbed and re-emitted. This will not be biased toward a single direction. Thus, you can scatter the energy, but not concentrate it.
||I don't think the refractive index of a magnetic field will be any different from unity - you may be able to polarize the light, but not bend it.
||So, I believe you would have something decorative, but not functional. You have given me an idea, however, that I will soon post with appropriate cred to you, [cloudface].
||The field deflects particles from the solar wind. Maybe you could concentrate more of them into a volume than normal and use them as a lens.