Sunday, February 04, 2007

The space hosepipe

Now, you've all heard of the space elevator, a proposed structure anchored to the surface of the Earth, extending upwards through the atmosphere and into space? (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevator) Well, now comes the space hosepipe, suggested by Jeremy Clarkson as a means of mitigating rising sea levels: www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-2580397,00.html. Jeremy suggests that if we had a giant hose dipped into the sea at one end, and extending up into the vacuum of space at the other end, then the pressure difference would cause the water to be sucked up the pipe, against the force of gravity, and expelled into space. I haven't worked out if the pressure difference would be sufficient to overcome the force of gravity, but it's surely worth a go isn't it?

10 comments:

Clare said...

Definitely - as long as he tests it out first. That might keep him quiet for a bit.

Neil Forsyth said...

Could'nt we just pull the plug instead?

Gordon McCabe said...

We could pull the plug that lies at the bottom of the Atlantic, Neil, but the water would just rush down the pipe through the centre of the Earth, and shoot out the other side into the Pacific.

I notice in New Scientist this week, Clare, that the well-known aerospace company, Audi, is sponsoring a competition in which the prize is to become an astronaut. All you have to do, in 250 words, is to say what you think the world's best patented invention is. Clarkson knows an awful lot about inventions, so maybe he'll enter that competition and win it!

Brian Dunbar said...

This came up on our Forum a while back - except that the poster wondered if it would be a viable means to send water or other liquids to a space station.

I don't remember why (I'm a computer guy not an engineer) but it's not doable.

Neil Forsyth said...

I see. Just a thought. Best invention of all time? Has to be the fridge magnet. The simplest ideas are always the best. Pure genius.

Gordon McCabe said...

A quick search on Wikipedia reveals that "the first refrigerator magnet patent was obtained by William Zimmerman of St. Louis Missouri, in the early 1970s. Zimmerman patented the idea of small, colored, cartoon magnets to be used for decorative diplay and convenience."

Could be your passport to space Neil.

Gordon McCabe said...

I should explain, Brian, that Jeremy Clarkson was not serious when he made this suggestion. However, it is interesting to analyse why it wouldn't work.

What you would obtain is really just a water barometer. The water would rise up the evacuated hollow pipe until the point at which the weight of the column of water balances the atmospheric pressure on the ocean. The water would rise about 30 feet.

Brian Dunbar said...

Ah - the page 404'd so I had no reference.

That and my exposure to pop culture in the UK is sadly limited. Be nice to rectify that. Perhaps if Sir Richard (I'm kidding of course) buys our small company I can spend more time over there.

Neil Forsyth said...

Crap - would I need a passport? I think mine's expired. I had better stick a note on the fridge...you see, invaluable.

Gordon McCabe said...

The Times were giving their web-site a make-over, Brian. One day on, their 'Windows Live' search facility still isn't working.