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Paul Birch and Mass Stream applications for the real world
I think the biggest real world reason is that our current space infrastructure is very much built on rockets and on operating in a very conservative manner. Mass-beam based systems would be a very substantial departure from the current 'direction' of space development, even if we include beanstalks in that direction, and require a pretty substantial up front investment that probably only becomes justified if the builders are already pretty sure that there is going to be demand for the level of ability before they even start. There's also issues of trusting large, expensive structure to be supported by inherently unstable systems. Probably gives people pause at this point in history.

As far as the tech being discussed in scientific circles or in sci-fi....

Birch's papers were originally published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, and were also referenced by Robert L. Forward in his book Future Magic (revised and reprinted as Indistinguishable from Magic) and in his novel Starquake (which includes a space fountain built on a neutron star!). Frederick Pohl also included Lofstrom Loops in one of his HeeChee Universe books (The Annals of the HeeChee).

Note that these works all mostly date from the 80s and 90s. Since the start of the 21st century (and for whatever reason), I've noticed a substantial drop in the level of 'new' ideas in spaceflight, let alone 'big and new' ideas in spaceflight. The focus seems to have shifted to biology/medicine and cyberspace, even in pro-space publications like Analog SF. Which I find kind of disappointing really.


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RE: Paul Birch and Mass Stream applications for the real world - by Drashner1 - 02-23-2014, 12:40 PM

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