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Interviews: Ask Freeman Dyson What You Will 181

Famous for his work in math, astronomy, nuclear engineering, and theoretical physics, Freeman Dyson has left his mark on almost every scientific discipline. He's won countless awards, and written numerous books on a wide range of topics both scientific and philosophical. One of his biggest contributions to science was the unification of the three versions of quantum electrodynamics invented by Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga. 10 years after moving to the U.S. he started working on the Orion Project, which sought to create a spacecraft with a nuclear propulsion system. STNG exposed the idea of a Dyson sphere to the masses, and his hypothetical plan for making a comet habitable with the help of genetically-engineered plants is a personal favorite. Mr. Dyson has graciously agreed give us a bit of his time in order to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
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Interviews: Ask Freeman Dyson What You Will

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Thursday April 18, 2013 @11:51AM (#43484011) Journal
    When weighted against population, it appears that there are fewer "Renaissance men/women" than there have been historically. I've heard many regular people opine about how fields require more depth and learning to make progress in them but, as a polymath yourself, what is your opinion on it?
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Thursday April 18, 2013 @11:52AM (#43484023) Journal
    Why did you take a fellowship at Cornell and stay in the United States? There's plenty of world renowned institutions in the United Kingdom and you were a pilot in the RAF -- what appealed to you about the United States? Do you have any comments or opinions on H1-Bs and the United States' current stance on immigration?
  • Global Warming (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Spy Handler ( 822350 )

    In the past you've been cited as a noted skeptic of man-made global warming. Has any of the recent events made you change your mind? Events such as the Arctic becoming completely free of ice, or Britain having snow-free winters?

    Okay those events haven't actually happened yet, but eminent climate scientists have ran computer models and they say these things will happen very soon. Are you alarmed enough to change your stance on global warming?

    • by Glock27 ( 446276 )

      Please cite your sources on "the arctic becoming completely free of ice" and "Britain having snow-free winters" with both happening "very soon".


    • I believe you answered your own question.

    • He's not a skeptic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by alexander_686 ( 957440 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:27PM (#43484391)

      I like the idea of this question but I think we need to reword it. Dyson is not a skeptic of global warming – he does believe we are having an impact. IIRC he holds the following views:

                You can drive a mac truck though the holes in current models – but that is o.k. because Climatology is a young science and is still developing. What it does mean is that the error bars should be set way further apart and the long term impacts are uncertain.

                Because the models are poor, it is hard to come up with specific advice and course of actions. For example, should biomass be encouraged as a energy source? The fuel itself is carbon naturel but production often takes places on marginal lands – where farming could increase greenhouse gases.

                So, current plans are huge, expensive, and of unknown value to solve for a future problem with unknown costs.

                The future will offer better models that will give better specific advice. Future technology will lower the cost of implanting a fix.

                Balance that against current problems with known impact and known costs to cure – for example – world poverty (poor education, unclean water, etc.)
      The answer therefore is to wait (If I understand what Dyson has been saying I agree with most of what he says – expect that I think that the future costs will grow faster than the advance of future technology so we should start now – but I am not an optimist).

      • I heard him give a talk a few years back and he struck me as pretty skeptical. He did not say that more atmospheric CO2 would not increase temperatures, but the gist of his talk was that the extra CO2 that we were putting into the atmosphere should be pretty easily absorbed by green plants and oceans, so we did not need to worry about warming. I doubt that he would give the same talk today.

      • You views, which are nuanced, have been simplified in the public press into a anti-climate change position. What is your view on man-made global warming? What specific areas of research or course of action do you recommend?

        I think this works better as a question - more open ended.

      • by alexander_686 ( 957440 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @02:41PM (#43486137)

        (So, the above question got me to thinking on how science is communicated, and since only a single question is allowed per post.)

        Often society is faced with technically complex, nuanced issues. In cases where the evidence is incomplete, technical experts have yet to reach a consensus, yet broad public support is needed. Is there any practical course of action you would like to see? Better science education? Depolarizing the issues by delegating authority to blue ribbon panels staffed by experts?

        I am asking because I see your view on climate change being simplified to the point of distortion. You also experienced J. Robert Oppenheimer, security hearing in 1954, where there is speculation that the inquire was triggered not because of security concerns but by rival scientist.

        • by owski ( 222689 )

          yet broad public support is needed

          I believe you're begging the question there.

          • I am not sure I am following your reasons. Can you explain? This is where I am coming from.

            There are a lot of public policy questions that don't require broad support. Consider the difference between supporting the Apollo program (10 years, a significant chunk of our nations GNP) verse the International Space Station – a very small part of the budget which is kept alive by a few space nuts (and I would like to send out a thank you to those space nuts! Thanks for keeping the dream alive.)

            People always

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      In the past you've been cited as a noted skeptic of man-made global warming.

      Freeman Dyson is NOT an AGW skeptic! He has been quite clear about this. He accepts the evidence that it is happening. But he also believes that many of the policies and proposals for dealing with it are misguided and poorly prioritized. I tend to agree with him. We are pouring tens of billions into subsides for solar and wind technologies, but poor countries, that are generating an increasingly large fraction of CO2, cannot afford those subsidies. We would be far better off if we spend that money on

    • by tp1024 ( 2409684 )

      I would be much more interested in the role of convective heat transfer in the climate models he inspected. It is clear that this is much more important on the surface than radiative transfer and I'd certainly like to know whether they can make a decent job of modeling it or not.

    • Surely, someone who thinks a Dyson sphere is a useful appliance is a firm believer in the goodness of global warming.

  • Eduication (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flogger ( 524072 ) <non@nonegiven> on Thursday April 18, 2013 @11:57AM (#43484063) Journal
    How has your education helped or hindered you? You are the "ideal" educated man. In our (American) culture, we don;t seem to be producing people devoted to learning, discovering, thinking, inventing, etc. What in your opinion can an educational system do to foster what you've become?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    A crowbar, or a gravity gun?

  • I notice that you've long had an interest in climate studies and have proposed novel ideas [] for removing carbon dioxide. Are there any good texts on the current state of engineering solutions to the symptoms of the problem of anthropogenic global warming? Also, in regards to engineering fast growing plants to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, wouldn't these be a scourge on the land and interfere with crops and food sources much like algal blooms and kudzu?
  • Eco mass histeria (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:01PM (#43484101)

    Are you saddened by the fact that fears in the general populace prohibit the use of nuclear technologies for space exploration?

    • by Glock27 ( 446276 )
      I think that "fact" will change - it's a matter of how long it'll take...
    • I don't think the fear comes from the use of nuclear technologies ONCE they are in space. A more likely fear scenario centers around the fact that the nuclear power plant needs to be bolted to the top of a huge firecracker that essplodes its way into space.
      • by deimtee ( 762122 )
        This is Freeman Dyson. Look up the original Orion rocket. The nuclear power plant is not bolted on top of a firecracker.
    • This really wont be a problem once we start manufacturing outside the Earth's gravity well.
  • by manonthemoon ( 537690 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:07PM (#43484189) Homepage

    Given that we finally seem to have a vital and growing private space industry, what do you think the likeliest successful target for long term space industrialization/exploitation/habitation is? The Moon, near earth asteroids, Mars?

  • by Charles Lloyd ( 2884369 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:09PM (#43484199)
    What scientific theory do you believe despite the lack of evidence?
    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:30PM (#43484447)

      I think you are mistaken about how theories work.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sorry about the nitpicking, but since this site is fairly science oriented I think it is in order to do so. And since most readers come here to learn, why not learn from me?

      In all other areas of life the word theory is interchangeable with "hunch", "idea" and "guesstimation".
      In science theory has a much more specific meaning. As I've understood it (swedish being my native tongue where the meaning of similar words differ a bit) you start out with an "idea" coming from thin air or a small amount of evidence,

    • if there is no evidence it is not theory but merely an unsupported hypothesis.

  • I don't know if you are familiar with Louise B. Young's book The Unfinished Universe, or the convention of capitalizing the term Form as biologists once capitalized Life, but could you speak to the notion that "life" in cosmic contexts is often speculated about in terms of being "seeded", i.e., that the Earth was set on its path of evolution by an asterioid, and not a phenomenon that might be spontaneous and by terms yet discovered, such as organisms attending smokers on a sea floor?
  • by manonthemoon ( 537690 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:12PM (#43484229) Homepage

    Elon Musk seems to be someone with big dreams who then makes them happen. But the biggest and most difficult dream seems to be his desire to colonize Mars. In what realm of possibility would you put his goal of a self-sustaining Mars colony starting with 10 and scaling to 80,000 people?

  • by rotenberry ( 3487 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:12PM (#43484231)

    Professor Dyson

    I had the pleasure of listening to you speak at Caltech in the 1980s about the Nuclear Freeze Movement. You were a supporter even though you indicated that since the number of nuclear weapons was decreasing (at that time), keeping the current number of nuclear weapons was not desirable.

    Thirty years have passed. Do you think this movement accomplished any of their goals?

    Thank you.

  • by zlives ( 2009072 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:13PM (#43484239)

    What are your thoughts on social engineering as it applies to near future changes in human relationships.
    In your considerable opinion, does this allow for species change in a positive or negative fashion when relating to extra planetary exploration?

  • Awesome! (Score:4, Funny)

    by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:15PM (#43484261) Homepage Journal
    I loved you in Terminator 2 and your vacuum cleaners are second to none
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:19PM (#43484311)

    Consciousness is unlike anything I've encountered in any of the sciences. How should we direct our efforts in explaining this glaringly evident fact in the world?

    • This. It would be interesting hearing what someone obviously very clever thinks about consciousness. My own mind mostly gets nowhere when trying to understand it. Related:
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:20PM (#43484317) Journal
    Your book The Sun, the Genome and the Internet [] was published in 1999. In the past 15 years, what specific progresses have been made towards your vision of a future in this book? Have we taken any divergent roads? Have there been any unexpected blockers that have arisen in that time? Are you still that optimistic about our future?
  • by SixDimensionalArray ( 604334 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:27PM (#43484403)

    In my understanding, the concepts of nuclear pulse propulsion that were investigated in the Orion Project had the highest real potential for generating enormous energies required for "faster" travel in space than anything we have, even today. I have always felt that it is a tragedy that this research couldn't be taken further into our modern realities of exploration.

    Today, we have NASA exploring the potential (on a very small scale) of faster than light (FTL) travel using ideas such as the Alcubierre drive []. In common discussion, we now hear about things such as: dark matter, quantum teleportation, FTL particles in the form of cosmic rays, the likely discovery of the Higgs Boson, spacetime, etc. These appear, to the layman like myself, to be serious discussions, with new realities and new possibilities being discovered every day.

    The entirety of the NASA space program as we know it has developed within the last 60 years.

    Given the advances in technology we have made in such a short time, the laws of physics, and the realities of the politics of our world, do you think it is feasible that we will develop the ability for very fast, near or faster-than-light travel in the next 60 years, and which direction seems the most feasible to you?

    Thank you for your contributions to science, I am humbled to be able to ask this question of you!

    • There is nothing that can exceed the speed of light. The speed of light may be 299,792,458 meters per second but that is a profoundly, profoundly misleading soundbite, because if you could travel at the speed of light you could go anywhere in the universe without aging even a microsecond. Light speed is actually instantaneous travel... from the traveler's point of view. The *problem* is the rest of the universe, including your point of departure and your destination, will have aged quite a bit. So when peo
      • Even with nuclear power, getting "near light speed" is still quite difficult. Basically, to accelerate a mass to an appreciable fraction of the speed of light, you need to expend on order of the same mass equivalent in energy (equivalently, moving at relativistic speeds means your kinetic energy is similar to your rest mass energy).

        Nuclear processes, either fission or fusion, only actually "convert" a small fraction of the "fuel" mass to energy. This is a huge amount of energy compared to chemical reactions

        • by HuguesT ( 84078 )

          You are perfectly correct of course, however these are pesky engineering problems :-) At least it is not theoretically impossible.

  • by BorisSkratchunkov ( 642046 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:27PM (#43484405) Journal
    Perhaps this has been asked already (throughout the various interviews, engagements, etc that you have had hitherto), but what are your general thoughts on the Singularity movement, transhumanism, and Ray Kurzweil's overall philosophy on human progress? Are these folks realistic, optimistic, or pessimistic? What are your beliefs about the current state of human advancement, and what we must work on as we careen toward the future?
    • I suspect you already know the answer to this one. Optimistic, of course.

      We all know Moore's Law can't last. Computing speed, like most improvements, follows an S-curve. At first, slow improvement as an idea becomes known and accepted, then rapid improvement as the easier stuff with big dividends is worked on, then diminishing returns as we reach for harder and more marginal improvements. It's that way in oil exploration and extraction, and automobile and engine design, and it will be that way in Tran

  • Ok, in a country that is smaller than some PARKS we have in the US, HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW your own cousins?

  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:33PM (#43484493)

    NASA has a small research project going looking at some fundamental aspects of a warp drive based on the theories of Miguel Alcubierre. [] Many people openly deride such an effort, others are merely skeptical, a smaller number curious, and even fewer cautiously optimistic.

    Where to do fall in this spectrum and why?

  • by dduck ( 10970 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:35PM (#43484519) Homepage
    It always seemed to me that you were positive about our future prospects and chances of surviving even during the darkest days of the cold war. Were you, and are you still? If you changed your point of view, what caused it to change?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 18, 2013 @12:45PM (#43484667)

    What do you view as the most realistic way for humanity to get its space legs (in a permanent fashion)? Drag an asteroid into orbit and use it to build cyclers? One-way Mars settlement missions? Something else?

    I've heard a lot of cool ideas about things we could do once we're in space (Dyson spheres, etc) but we lack anything more than a toehold on the lowest rung of a long, long ladder and it seems like a chicken-and-egg problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You've seen technology shift dramatically in your lifetime. Humanity had barely launched its first rockets when you were born, and you got to see humans walk on another planet (or at least, moon). What do you think I will be able to see before I die?

  • Fringe ideas (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PapayaSF ( 721268 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:05PM (#43484935) Journal

    The fringes of science are filled with all sorts of disreputable, crackpot ideas. Most are worthless, but every now and then one turns out to be true (e.g. Wegener's continental drift). Are there any such "cocktail party theories" that you intrigue you, and that you believe might deserve further investigation?

    • P.S.: If this question does get submitted to Dyson, would someone please delete that first "you"? Thanks, and thanks for the upmods.
  • There's this theory floating around that the universe is a simulation on a computer, and that computer could be in a universe that is also a simulation, etc. A never ending series of Matryoshka doll universes.
    So at first I thought it was just Will Wright saying this, and that he was off his rocker, but some actual scientific work is going to try and prove it.

    What are your thoughts? Wagers? Derisive laughter perhaps?
  • What do you see as the ultimate destiny of the human species? Where do you think will we be in a million years?
  • In your article The Question of Global Warming [], you make the point that the Earth's vegetation acts as a big carbon sink, and suggest that genetically engineered plants might do an even better job -- thus becoming the first person in history to make environmentalists angry by suggesting that top soil management is important. I have a few questions about this: (1) you mention the fanciful-sounding notion of "carbon-eating trees", but aren't there technologies that already exist that might do the job? There are claims that "no till" agriculture via the dreaded "roundup ready" plants reduce greenhouse gas emissions substantially. (2) A big part of the argument against immediate reductions in CO2 emissions is economic. Do the analyses you've seen really make an effort to capture all the costs and benefits associated with a move like banning coal burning completely? The annual deaths estimated from coal pollution seem big enough to make it worth doing even before you put global warming on the table.
  • Looking back over your career throught most of the 20th centruy and into the 21st, have you ever observed certain knowladge, techniques or disiplines fade away over time?

    Are there ways of doing or thinking about physics and mathematics which were prevalent in the past, but which are no longer common knowladge? How do you compare the abilities and backgrounds of modern professors and graduates to those of the past?

  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @02:12PM (#43485795)

    While space travel is important for human survival in the long term, the more I think about it, the more it seems that developing a human style, scalable, artificial intelligence has for more potential to provide humans with rapid access to a much larger set of useful answers in the general domain of practical, solvable problems.

    The investment should be, relatively speaking, trivial, and we already have 7 billion or so working models, so I think it's fairly certain that this can be done.

    Given a choice, would you advocate more resources be allocated to space travel, or AI?

    • While space travel is important for human survival in the long term, the more I think about it, the more it seems that developing a human style, scalable, artificial intelligence has for more potential to provide humans with rapid access to a much larger set of useful answers in the general domain of practical, solvable problems.

      The investment should be, relatively speaking, trivial, and we already have 7 billion or so working models, so I think it's fairly certain that this can be done.

      Given a choice, would you advocate more resources be allocated to space travel, or AI?

      I hear there's this computer called Deep Thought... programmed by a bunch of mice.

  • What do you see as our greatest threat and conversely our greatest hope?

    Inside of this question, there's a poorly defined question space, and it's dancing around something like "Do you see the technology and the thinking that gave us technology as the source or our current woes?, the solution to our current woes?, both? and what should we be paying attention to that we aren't paying attention to inside of the charging juggernaut that our technology has become.

  • As I watch all the disparate technologies competing for the emergence of a new kind of sentience, what do you see as the probable winner, inorganic (current digital technologies) or organic (biotech - synthetic biology.) As we have begun to tinker with our own genome, how long do you think it will be before we break out of the strict barriers of our special limitations?

  • As someone who has made major contributions to multiple areas of knowledge, which has been your favorite, and why?

    PS - I thought "Disturbing the Universe" and "From Eros to Gaia" were magnificent - thank you!

  • Why are you pretending that you have expertise in an area you provably do not- climatology- and making dramatic pronouncements which are directly counter to what people who DO have the requisite educational and research specialization are making? It's great that you have cultivated an impish, child-like , authority-resistant public persona, but science is not really interested in any of that. Science is science and this is a branch of science over which you have no legitimate claim of expertise. So are you
    • by owski ( 222689 )

      So are you planning on at least just stopping talking about climate change?

      Why do I only ever hear this asked of certain non-climate-experts? It seems there's a correlation between opinions on climate change and worthiness to discuss the topic. For example, Tim Flannery is a biologist and Bill Nye is a mechanical engineer yet I never hear people ask them to stop talking about climate because of their lack of expertise.

      You don't need to answer, it's a rhetorical question, I already know the answer.

    • by doom ( 14564 )

      Why are you pretending that you have expertise in an area you provably do not- climatology-

      You need to review Dyson's bio a little more closely. He was one of the first physicists to work on global warming at all, and I would venture to say that a lot of the experimental work that's been taken place in the last 20 years has happened because of his prompting.

      and making dramatic pronouncements which are directly counter to what people who DO have the requisite educational and research specialization are m

  • by tedboer ( 232504 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @04:47PM (#43487373) Homepage

    In 1993 you participated in the dutch VPRO television series 'Een schitterend ongeluk' ('A glorious accident'), with a very long, interesting and openhearted interview and an encounter with 6 top scientists of different disciplines. I recently watched the series again, and it totally lived up to the fond memories I had from 20 years ago. I can't remember any other non-fiction television making such an impression on me!

    What recollections do you have from the interview and the encounter? Did it have some impact on your (scientific) views?

    Thank you

  • You can either complete a piece of scientific work that will benefit all of mankind for eternity, or, you can use your final hours to be with your loved ones. These two choices are mutually exclusive. What say you?
  • by werepants ( 1912634 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @06:01PM (#43487889)
    The early to mid 20th century was one of the most dynamic times to ever happen in physics, with massive shifts in thinking and incredible applications of science that led to some of the greatest achievements of mankind. For a variety of reasons, it seems as though progress recently has been more incremental, collective, and focused on confirming the big ideas of previous thinkers. What attribute do you think is most needed in the upcoming generation of physicists to usher in the next era of scientific progress?
  • What is your educated guess on whether NP=P, or not.
  • NASA is currently conducting experiments to see if they can make microscopic warps in space-time sufficient to be detected by an interferometer. What technologies do you see expediting interstellar travel a few centuries from now, and what technologies do you see as being dead ends.
  • Before my question, I'd like to express some gratitude for the influence of your work on my life. My first experience of your ideas was through your book Infinite In All Directions which I purchased when it was newly published (circa 1990). On the front cover my edition there is a blurb from the Washington Post Book World which reads:

    The bedazzled reader emerges feeling like he's been in a metaphysical Maytag on spin cycle—his perception on man, God and the cosmos permanently altered.

    That's not how

    • I've always had a harsh relationship with terminology that subtly obscures. As such, I hated the term "junk DNA" from the moment I first encountered it long ago, instinctively reading it as "when sequenced, consumes huge amounts of grant money for results I can't publish". It struck me as ludicrous on its face that a combinatorial system engaged in adaptive "tuning" would eschew linearity where it could inject some on the cheap. We now know that much of the noncoding DNA is under heavy selection pressure

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @08:34PM (#43488851) Journal

    Dear Dr. Dyson,

    You're obviously a person who knows how entice yourself into doing something - even when that something has become boring and routine

    Would you mind sharing with us in what way you encourage yourself to carry on in what you have been doing, and in overcoming fears of the unknown when you are about to do things that you have never done before (facing new challenges) ?

  • by smaddox ( 928261 ) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @11:01PM (#43489687)

    I am of the opinion that without economical fusion, humanity will not last more than a few thousand years. I am also of the opinion that most fusion research funding is targeted at projects with little or no application to economical fusion (I see no evidence that tokamaks or inertial confinement will ever be economical. In fact, all evidence seems to suggest they will never be economical). What are your views on the current state of fusion research? Is funding misplaced? Disproportionately allocated?

    Thanks! I 'man aspiring scientist, and you're one of my personal hero's, so it's quite incredible to have the chance to ask you a question (even if it only has a small chance of being answered).

  • Professor Dyson, you have been an actor and a witness of the huge expansion of hard sciences into everyday life. Thanks to scientific progress, particularly in the understanding of the basic physical laws, we have been able to improve our way of life almost beyond belief: energy, transport, and even exploration, now going beyond our planet all have been hugely transformed in the last 100 years.

    However in the last few decades, our understanding of physics has become good enough for "most" things, and physics

  • What, in your opinion, will be the effect on humankind if we do not develop economical, effective space travel? How do you think the species will evolve?

  • by ideonexus ( 1257332 ) on Friday April 19, 2013 @10:21AM (#43493903) Homepage Journal
    You're daughter Esther [] is one of the most incredibly inspiring women role models alive today []. Do you have any parenting advice for those of out here with kids of our own who would like them to become similarly active, positive, and brilliant adults?
  • Professor Dyson,

    In accepting the Templeton Prize for "an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works", you are marked for having a spiritual / religious side at a level of excellence/standing that is internationally recognised. What has this recognition meant to you, compared to your scientific achievements or insights?

  • Do you have any opinion on Larry Niven's Ringworld concept? It does seem to have the dual advantage of requiring less exotic techniques such as not requiring gravity generators, (although formidable enginerring problems remain), and seems overall less claustrophobic.
    • that little business of required tensile strength on the order of the binding force of atomic nucleons seems pesky, besides needing to convert many masses of 20 jupiters to energy to spin it up (or harnessing the total output of the sun for centuries)

      • that little business of required tensile strength on the order of the binding force of atomic nucleons seems pesky, besides needing to convert many masses of 20 jupiters to energy to spin it up (or harnessing the total output of the sun for centuries)

        I didn't say either was easy. But at least it has a basis in physics instead of relying on non-existent gravity generators. If you don't have those, than you have to spin the Sphere as well.

  • Did your son ever write a sequel to The Starship and the Canoe?

The trouble with computers is that they do what you tell them, not what you want. -- D. Cohen