If climbing a stairway to heaven sounds like too much hard work, then a conference of 70 scientists and engineers opening in Santa Fe, New Mexico, yesterday may offer hope of a more leisurely way into space. \nIn two days of discussions, the scientists aim to turn into a reality an ambition that has been around for at least a century: the creation of a space elevator that would deliver satellites, spacecraft and even people thousands of kilometers into space along a vertical track. \nEngineers say that recent advances in materials science -- particularly in the development of carbon nanotubes -- mean that such a system, which first gained widespread attention when the science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke described it in his 1979 novel Fountains of Paradise, is no longer pure science fiction. \nClarke -- who once said a space elevator would only be built "about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- was due to address the scientists at the Santa Fe conference yesterday by satellite link from his home in Sri Lanka. \nThe American space agency NASA is no longer laughing. It is putting several million US dollars into the project under its advanced concepts program. \nAt the heart of a space elevator would be a cable reaching up as far as 100,000km from the surface of the Earth. The earthbound end would be tethered to a base station, probably somewhere in the middle of the Pacific ocean. The other end would be attached to an orbiting object in space acting as a counterweight, the momentum of which would keep the cable taut and allow vehicles to climb up and down it. \nA space elevator would make rockets redundant by granting cheaper access to space. At about a third of the way along the cable -- 36,000km from Earth -- objects take a year to complete a full orbit. \nIf the cable's center of gravity remained at this height, the cable would remain vertical, as satellites placed at this height are geostationary, effectively hovering over the same spot on the ground. \nTo build a space elevator, such a geostationary satellite would be placed into orbit carrying the coiled-up cable. \nOne weighted end of the cable would then be dropped back towards Earth, while the other would be unreeled off into space. \nMechanical lifters could then climb up the cable from the ground, ferrying up satellites, space probes and eventually tourists. \nNo scientist has yet succeeded in making a material, which many expect will be made out of carbon nanotubes, strong but light enough to make the cable, but Rodney Andrews, a carbon nanotube expert from the University of Kentucky will tell the conference: "Until some of the basic science concerning how to connect nanotubes together and transfer load between them in a composite is understood it will remain elusive, but a lot of progress is being made."
AT WASHINGTON SUMMIT: The agreement between the US and 14 Pacific nations came half a year after the Solomon Islands struck a security deal with China The Solomon Islands has joined 13 other Pacific nations in signing a wide-reaching US-led partnership agreement, after early indications it would refuse. The 10-point US-Pacific Partnership deal was announced by the White House on Thursday evening, following the first-ever meeting between a US president and the leaders of every major Pacific nation. It includes commitments for increased action on climate change, economic development and security cooperation. Earlier, US President Joe Biden committed more than US$810 million to a new Pacific initiative. “A great deal of the history of our world is going to be written in the Indo-Pacific over the coming years
‘DEVOTED GUARDIANS’: A Chinese foreign affairs official said his nation’s diplomats would not ‘sit and do nothing while our country’s interests are being harmed’ China yesterday signaled no letup in its combative approach to foreign policy in a third term for Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) as leader despite criticism from many Western diplomats that the so-called “wolf warrior” stance has been counterproductive. As relations with the West have soured over issues from trade and human rights to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese diplomats have often been confrontational on the public stage, including on social media, a stridency that some critics see as intended for a domestic audience that nonetheless hurts its foreign ties. “We Chinese will not capitulate. We will not sit and do nothing while
ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER: Most of the escaped gas is methane, the second biggest contributor to climate change and a ‘potent greenhouse gas,’ an oceanographer said Denmark on Tuesday said it believed “deliberate actions” by unknown perpetrators were behind big leaks — which seismologists said followed powerful explosions — in two natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany. European leaders and experts pointed to possible sabotage amid the energy standoff with Russia provoked by the war in Ukraine. Although filled with gas, neither pipeline is currently supplying it to Europe. “It is the authorities’ clear assessment that these are deliberate actions — not accidents,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. However, she added that “there is no information indicating who could be behind it.” Frederiksen
LANDING INCIDENT: A plane with 63 passengers was shot at by ‘terrorists’ from an ethnic minority militia, state news reported, although militants denied responsibility Myanmar’s military government accused rebel forces in the eastern state of Kayah of firing at a passenger plane as it was preparing to land on Friday, wounding a passenger who was hit by a bullet that penetrated the fuselage. Rebel groups denied the allegation. Myanmar state television MRTV said the Myanmar National Airlines plane, carrying 63 passengers, was hit as it was about to land in Loikaw, the capital of the eastern state of Kayah, also known as Karenni. It cited junta spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun as saying the shooting was carried out by “terrorists” belonging to the Karenni National