Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Spaghetti Drive

Using a long noodle to propell an interstellar spacecraft by pushing against a planet or a moon, or perhaps a massive asteroid.
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Spaghetti drive works by using the Earth or another large inert body of mass to push against, with a factory of a noodle situated on the body.

Rationale: we have difficulty to lift large amounts of matter into space, but we have surplus of electricity power all the time (as it's produced continuously by electric power plants, but consumed irregularly) and abundance of matter (the whole Earth of matter here) of making one long noodle that extends to the stars. For example, assuming distance to Alpha Centauri is 4.24 light years, for a Noodle of cross-section area of 1 mm^2, we would need approximately 40 112 640 400 cubic meters of material to make such noodle, which turns out to be only 3 423 square kilometers of Earth's matter.

You may think that there would be problem of compression due to Earth's gravity, but that's not true, if we accelerate it before releasing it.

At the top of the Noodle there could be the probe with camera, etc. The noodle itself could be used for direct communications.

Inyuki, Oct 14 2012


       As they say, that's using your Noodle! I find this is a rather saucy suggestion. I was wasn't surprised to see it didn't get pasta autoboner, though. Will it be durum or semolina?
Canuck, Oct 14 2012

       Why only famine relief? Should be cheaper for individual households to take delivery this way, cuts out the retail middlemen.
pocmloc, Oct 14 2012

       [Canuck], you bet it, it will be metallic, but still, steering indeed poses a problem.   

       The whole idea relies on the fact that unlike gravity, the electromagnetic forces within solid state matter are repulsive upon squeezing.
Inyuki, Oct 14 2012

       I do think that an octopus could push 8 times harder than a noodle...just sayin'.
xandram, Oct 15 2012

       Under the theory that this might actually, somewhere at it's base, have been a serious idea, buckling would be a bit of a problem.
MechE, Oct 15 2012

       Well don't use a buckle then, tie the ends together with laces. There is always a solution if you just have a positive mindset!
pocmloc, Oct 15 2012

       [MechE], as unserious as it may sound, it is possible to take the idea and begin experimenting (with non-astronomical distances) immediately, and think of ways to improve performance. I bet [bristolz] would have a nice illustration.
Inyuki, Oct 17 2012

       Buckling load is far from the only problem, it's just the one that will cause failure first. For this to work, energy transferred to the base of the noodle has to be transmitted to the tip. This can only occur at the speed of sound in the noodle, and the required load as the noodle increases in length will rapidly exceed it's compressive strength.
MechE, Oct 17 2012

       His noodly goodness is not going to be pleased.
neelandan, Oct 17 2012

       Oh, and I forgot to mention the fact that your base point isn't stationary. Asuming you used a body with a modified locked orbit, you're still going to have significant side loading from that orbit in fairly short order.
MechE, Oct 17 2012


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