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Ken Gettys

Semi-retired, Volunteer computer instructor at local Senior Center

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How high can we build on Earth?

The Experiential High Altitude Platform Organization (www.XHAP.org) is proposing to build Earth Tower One (ET1) which will be 20 miles high and 40 miles wide. ET1 will be a tribute to humanity, built with open source architecture, and based upon the long standing structure of pyramids and mountains!

The reasons to build ET1 are numerous:
* If built above deserts (1/5 of the Earth's surface), the base area within the open framed pyramid can be slowly transformed from desert to farm land by providing shade and by diverting moisture from upper atmosphere to the base.
* Wind turbines and solar panels can be constructed on movable platforms that rotate toward the wind or sun or away from the high winds of hurricanes and tornadoes into protective shells. This can provide power for remote areas.
* Hundreds of Weather stations, Air Quality Monitors, Weather and Aircraft Radars, Cell Towers, Ham and Public Service radio transmitters and repeaters, and Internet routers and access points can be installed within ET1.
* The high altitude platform on top of ET1 can be used to launch Solar Sails and other objects into space using Space Cannons mounted long the top of ET1.
* Telescopes built near the top of ET1 will have a clear view than surface based telescopes.
* Laser beams installed near the top of ET1 can be used to disintegrate space junk then Solar Sails can be used to sweep up the dust and bring it into the atmosphere to burn up.
* If ET1 is built off shore from major cities, it can help protect those cities from tsunamis.
* If ET1 is built in areas of tornadoes or hurricanes, ET1 can be used to create 200 mph wind streams and releasing reverse winds into the paths of tornados or hurricanes to counteract their destructive forces.
* ET1 will be the tallest pyramid on Earth and a tribute to humanity not just tombs to ancient pharaohs.

So the question is: "How high can we built on Earth" (not "Should we built tall Earth objects")?

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    Jul 27 2012: Thank you Feyisayo and Barry,Feyisayo, there is probably a limit to how high we can build, as we don’t want to interfere with satellites as Barry suggested including the Moon! And I doubt the mass of ET1 would be any greater than the tallest mountain on Earth since ET1 will have a hollow core. And at 20 miles high, ET1 will not be anywhere near the height of satellites, nor of sufficient mass to move continents although if we could move continents with tall structures perhaps there are some land objects worth moving? Such as if ET1 were to be built upon a massive iceberg and ET1 fitted with sails, perhaps the iceberg could moved back towards the poles and slow it’s melting.

    Of course, Barry, the building materials would come from Earth… too expensive to import materials from elsewhere :-). And yes, if metals or even carbon nano tubes are used to construct ET1, it would require huge quantities. However to compute a Return On Investment (ROI) you must consider the benefits along with the cost of a project. Consider just one purpose of ET1 and that is if we could build ET1 and use it to launch thousands of Solar Sails in all directions and each carrying just a small telescope, a radio transmitter, and a small package of scientific measure equipment, imagine the tons of data regarding the objects around the solar system that these Solar Sails could be transmitted back to Earth!

    To address your comment Barry about “unintended consequences”: ET1 is using open source architecture and produced by the not-for-profit Experiential High Altitude Platform Organization (www.XHAP.org). By using open source architecture we hope to gather information from all types of people in all walks of life to add to the scientific method of expecting the unexpected to build a solid, durable, and safe ET1.

    Barry, I will respond to your Hubris comment in another reply as I am out of room for this comment.

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