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Magnetizing Mars

1. Build giant ribbon wires made of thousands of small wires, each with a thin coating of a high-temperature superconductor.

2. Send thousands of these ribbon wires to mars and connect them in a ring around the equator.

3. On one of the linkages, connect the conductors 1 off so there is one free conductor on each side, creating a superconducting spiral around the planet.

4. Connect a DC generator to these 2 free conductors

5. Continuously spin the generator using various sources of electricity, over time it should build up a magnetic field in the planet's iron core until it is enough to sustain an atmosphere.

The ribbon wires would need heat sinks to come out at night and mirrors to cover them at day in order to remain below the critical temp.

Does anyone else think this would work? (I'm not saying its feasible now but possibly in a few thousand years)

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    Aug 6 2013: I am confident it will work "in a few thousand years" because that will mean we extricated ourselves from the headlong rush to destruction in which we now abide. Since that will require accomplishments far more difficult than creating an atmosphere on Mars, I surmise it will be done by interns in a single summer. Get your patent applications submitted.
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      Aug 7 2013: Edward - "Fair winds & following seas - white hats off to the 'old crows.' "

      You make here, the most eloquent & succinct statement I've read on TED in quite a while.

      I deeply appreciate your point - and I agree! The biggest threat to civilization is not a natural disaster! The asteroid Apophis is not going to destroy us. Global warming will take at least a generation to threaten the worldwide climate. No, the most urgent National Security threat is what we are willing to do to each other & to ourselves.

      Your point here could not be more important to all of us. The physical sciences are great if you want to build a rocket ship. But until we reach the point where we can build the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) space vessel and escape to the stars - there's no solution there. The core science addressing these problems are Social science.

      There is too much going on yet, that we still don't have a handle on. And the window-of-opportunity to repair things is growing smaller w/each passing day. Think shipboard preventive maintenance. Fix it before it breaks.
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        Aug 7 2013: Standing astride the solution we gaze longingly at the stars and say, "The answer is out there." Ain't we funny? You are correct Juan, our concern ought to be disasters of social and spiritual content, not wind, water, and weather. God help us. Adelante!
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          Aug 7 2013: Adelante mi amigo! If things are really as bad as some Doomsday Prophets predict, the Communist State might be our only hope. They'll pass out the suicide pills w/shovels so we can all dig our own graves & then die. After the first million or so are dead, another million pick up the used shovels & check out in turn.

          Or, more likely, the Chinese bring back the 'Human wave' attack. They can overrun most of Asia before a realistic strategy to use Nukes to stop them can be implemented. What's the loss if your goal is population control in the face of greatly diminshed resources.?

          But I don't think it's really that bad! - (But it could get that bad!)
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    Aug 6 2013: Why would we want to do this?
    • Aug 7 2013: To increase the length of time life lasts. If all life on one of the planets is destroyed, it could be repopulated by the other planet. It is unlikely that all life on both planets would be destroyed at the same time if they were completely independent from each other.
    • Aug 7 2013: Also, there would be many other benefits here from the colonization of mars. New technologies and increased thought and innovation could transform our way of life. Technologies developed to overcome challenges are used for the good of all humanity. If we choose not to explore, all of life will go extinct.
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        Aug 7 2013: I'm confident that we won't be colonizing Mars. There's nothing on Mars that's not available to us in space itself. I highly recommend reading 'The High Frontier' by Gerard K. O'Neill and 'Mining the Sky' by John S. Lewis.

        Why colonize planets when we can colonize space itself? Once we've escaped the gravity well of Earth, there's no reason for us to settle into another one. All the resources we need are already in space: water and all the volatile gasses (comets), metals and hydrocarbons (asteroids), and unlimited power from the sun.

        Instead of colonizing planets, rather we will build space habitats such as Bernal spheres, Stanford tori, and/or O'Neill cylinders:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_torus
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernal_sphere
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O%27Neill_cylinder
        • Aug 8 2013: why not do both? also if we inhabit more planets and something makes people go extinct or causes all of our technology to fail, life is likely to survive on earth and terraformed planets, not of space stations that rely on materials they have to fly to. All of the resources needed for life exist on mars. People could also build the structures you mentioned but they could not be as long lasting or adaptable as the biosphere of an entire planet.
  • Aug 7 2013: Does Mars not have an atmoshere? Maybe not like earth, but what is there?
    • Aug 7 2013: Without a magnetic field an atmosphere capable of supporting life would get blown off by the solar wind.
      • Aug 8 2013: Mars has a magnetic field It's just less than ours. So I have some more questions. What is there? What can we do with it? Maybe we have to live in caves, but haven't we always done something like that? Answers wwould be much appreciated.
        • Aug 8 2013: I'm talking about increasing the strength of the magnetic field so that people, plants, and animals could eventually move out of the caves and inhabit the whole surface. By the time people are able to do something like this, there would already be many people living on mars and it could be built on mars. If only isolated caves and domes are habitable, it is more likely for all life there to go extinct, both because there would be less life there, and those systems keeping the caves and domes habitable are more likely to fail.
      • Aug 9 2013: True but it would require so much energy.
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    Aug 7 2013: It would be much simpler to live under domes on the surface.
    • Aug 7 2013: This wouldn't last as long as terraform the whole planet. People will live in domes before this happens but life in the domes would rely on electronic systems that could fail. An entire self-sustained planet would be much more adaptable and be able to support life much better than if all of the life was inside pressurized domes.