2
$\begingroup$

Suppose we stack coaxially, vertically a large number of rings, made of some high temperature superconducting material, and start a current through each of the rings in alternate directions (e.g. the 1st ring CW, 2nd ring CCW, 3rd ring CW, etc). Each ring will repel the rings adjacent to it, but since the repulsion is inversely proportional to the distance between rings to the 4th power, the effect on non-adjacent rings should be very minor. Using some simple mechanical restraining to keep the rings from sliding away horizontally from co-axiality, we should be able to see the condensed stack starting to rise up and each ring hovering above the one below it. Then, once such a tower is erected high enough, there could be various ways to attach "climbers" so as to use it as a space elevator.

The lower rings may require some cooling but above a certain altitude the low ambient temperature should make various materials superconducting without any additional cooling. Alternatively, extremely strong and lightweight conducting materials such as carbon nanotubes could be used so that the reduction in weight requires less current to hold up the tower.

What are the flaws in the above reasoning? (I presume there are many...)

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ It's kind of an engineering question, but I am not voting to close it. If we don't have an answer to a similar question, already, I would actually like to see some ideas, links etc.. $\endgroup$ – CuriousOne Sep 12 '15 at 21:18
  • $\begingroup$ It's a great, (nikola tesla-like:) exciting idea, as least to my limited knowledge, but the Coriolis effect, power consumption, high winds, keeping it vertical (but constantly adjusting the power in each ring might sort that out), hmmmm, delete this post, and get down to your patent office:) $\endgroup$ – user81619 Sep 12 '15 at 22:18
2
$\begingroup$

The problem is that the system of one ring balanced on another is an unstable equilibrium. The rings will slide sideways and fall off. You've spotted this and you state in your question:

Using some simple mechanical restraining to keep the rings from sliding away horizontally from co-axiality

But your mechanical restraining would be far from simple. You'd need some form of tower either running through the centres of the rings or running around their perimeters, and this tower would have to be rigid even when it was so long it reached out of the atmosphere. Making a long structure resist bending stresses is generally far harder than making it resist compressive stresses, so if you could build a tower like this it would probably stand up on its own and you wouldn't need the rings.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.