Ted forwarded the 70-page Master Document my niece Laria‘s team presented to NASA, for which they won first place in the international Space Settlement category for ninth graders. I’ll share some quotes from it:
Explanation of name
Convolution means something twisted around, as is the helical shape of the habitat. In mathematics, it means a third function created by two functions f and g. This is how the shape of the helix is generated, by moving the Cassini curves in the standard circle, but also while moving it up the axis.
Convolution is an orbital space settlement located at L5 in the Earth-Moon system. Its most unique feature is its unusual shape: a double helix, which combines the advantages of the traditional torus and cylinder and is also expandable, thus making the design very sustainable. Convolution’s two helices are two time zones and always opposite from each other in the day-night cycle.
Convolution is lit with natural lighting through a mirror system. A parabolic mirror which rotates according to the habitat’s angle from the sun directs and focuses sunlight to a half-sphere which diffuses the light across the habitat. Most interior lights do not require electricity and are run on bioluminescent algae, which also help control CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
For less friendly types of electromagnetic radiation that don’t lie in the visible spectrum, Convolution employs both passive and active shielding, using a magnetic field and a physical layer of absorptive materials.
Energy is generated through multiple means, namely a thorium molten salt reactor, piezoelectricity, and solar panels. Piezoelectric crystals are found in tiles on sidewalks and inside shoes, allowing people to plug electronics into their shoes to recharge them. . .”
The meat of the paper refers to “rotating Cassini ovals,” a “helical habitat,” magnetic fields with a cutoff of “2 GeV/nucleon,” “centripetal acceleration,” “angular velocity,” “parabolic mirrors,” and “algae lamps.”
They go on to discuss everything proposed for this space settlement, from politics (power structure consists of a council of experts in various fields) to pets (okay for first generation of colonists, not for tourists), from currency (Pecunia) to correctional measures (“Jail time on the settlement is not brutal and isolating, but instead full of correctional measures. . . There is no death penalty on Convolution.”) from water (“water purification unit that uses a system that incorporates distillation, centripetal forces, filtering, use of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria.”) to waste (“Corpses must be recycled and made into compost. This can be achieved by freezing the corpse in liquid nitrogen, pulverizing the corpse with specialized sound waves, putting the powder in a vacuum chamber to remove water (which would be purified), and then burying the dry pinkish powder to make a patch of fertile soil.”
Me to Ted, responding to this last: ‘Dry, pinkish powder’? Did they practice with a real corpse to determine this?
Ted: Laria turned a little coy when I asked her that, and I really didn’t care to press it.
Maybe they didn’t have to. Reading through their bibliography, I found:
“Green Burial: How To Turn a Human Body Into Compost.” MNN – Mother Nature Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
I feel embarrassed posting something so technical and scientific right after my dumb little observation about parallax. Makes me feel like Charlie Brown with his friends, lying on their backs watching clouds pass:
Linus: Well, those clouds up there look to me like the map of the British Honduras in the Caribbean….That cloud up there looks a little like the profile of Thomas Eakins, the famous painter and sculptor…and that group of clouds over there gives me the impression of the stoning of Stephen…I can see the Apostle Paul standing there to one side….
Lucy: Uh huh…That’s very good… What do you see in the clouds, Charlie Brown?
Charlie Brown: Well, I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsie, but I changed my mind.