Monday, July 4, 2011

The hanging gardens of space

I've been thinking about how things would be arranged to make the best use of the room inside a Stanford Torus. The depictions that we get in books promoting space colonies usually show something similar to suburbia, but without the cars, but when it comes down to it, those designing the internal layout are going to do it based around the requirements imposed by the loads and properties inherent in the physical structure of the colony. On Earth, everything we do, we do from the ground up, whereas in a Stanford Torus everything, everything will hang from the axis of rotation. It will make far more sense to support structures and surfaces as directly from that axis as is possible, as that'll reduce the amount of weight required, both because it's a more direct way of transferring loads, and because structures built under tension are far lighter than structures built under compression.

So rather than the boring flat geography we usually see depicted, perhaps the inside of space colonies will be steep, with lots of nooks and crannies, with winding paths through a landscape covered with wild vegetation to hide the engineers suspension cables.