This is stuff about the space elevator! Just type a URL in and it will create a page if it doesn't exist.
I set this up because I don't want to wait on installing a bunch of software on another domain, etc. If we don't create some pages here, there is no point in having another domain yet...
I believe we could have had driverless cars decades ago. I also believe we could have had a space elevator decades ago. You come to your own decision about how long it will take, but understand that the difference between 5 years and 20 years is big. I believe if I could wiggle my nose and put 1,000 people on it today. People will think you are crazy anyway, so why not give them something hopeful. You have many examples. Why is Boeing able to build a 787 in half the time of the 777? Ultimately you don't have to talk about time because you are simply talking about tasks, and they can go at whatever speed we decide. But you should provide hope.
You should also say that you are the only person who has a real Mars strategy.
Organizing real (not toys) research, revising, soliciting funds, investigating software, making a business plan for an institute or foundation, etc. ought to be things you work on.
At the same time, think about what things this institute should do. You should use your brand to bring on people and money. People -> money and money -> people. However, if you are going to bring people on, you need to offer a bunch of things to do and a bunch of things to do them with.
If you can find little tasks for others to do for 5-10,000 then we can hire them. If you can get college kids to do things for free then even better.
You should network. Go to Intel.com and see what you can find. I can scour my network if you want, but I think you should make some "formletters" you send around. I'll bet you could have someone show you around a fab plant and hook you up with some employee who you could entice to help you. You should also be talking to the nanotube people at NASA. (Srivastava)
I presume it will take a 1 billion dollar device to make nanotubes. It is the long pole, but you don't have the money and tools to attack it, except on a theoretical basis.
Let's not work on building toy climbers. Let's try to do real science and engineering. Let's write some software. Build a wiki to organize people. Boeing does their engineering on computer. How could you build a climber by computer? What about particle simulations? Did you check any of those things out?
What about if you maintained a wiki of problems? You'd be surprised at how universities around the world would start attacking them. I see it in the free software world all the time. Some random free open source codebase has students working on it -- because it is better than starting from scratch.
What about a space elevator simulator? Only build something we can learn from and exposes problems, not something that is only marketing. It will become good at marketing if it becomes good at science -- you will have lots of complicated things to show. You could write code for fractional load packing analysis / simulation.
Book Revision work
We should do everything in OpenOffice.org. It is free, uses a good XML file format, runs on all platforms, has spreadsheets you can embed in a document, math, writes to PDF, etc. Having everything in one tool helps to keep things organized, make it easy to get translated, etc.
I propose a 100 ton daily payload elevator. 10 tons a day is not worth it. You might not understand it now, but you will! How much does the elevator in your building support? Figure out costs for 1 ton, 10 ton daily and 100 ton daily. Focus on powers of 10: 1, 10, 100.
We need up and down ribbons. It will be built that way whether you put it there or someone else does. :-) You go on about how we could throw away climbers, and that is a bad idea. A lot of your examining of why bad ideas won't work is good, but this is not one of them. Somewhere early, you need to build bi-directional into the designs.
You need to solve the 200 mph situation. What about a big spool? We need a solution for humans, even if it is rockets.
Keep pushing the boundaries between good ideas and bad. The purpose of your book is a "back of the envelope" proof.
Leaving the planet has new data and stories, better pictures and better editing, but it is not a "proof."
Anyone who goes to the trouble to read such a book will want a proof. You can make such a book readable by everyone. I am doing it with my book. Your 2003 book is almost there, but it sometimes has too much math inline:
"We could have the shipping capacity for space ships from 46 tons to the 200 ton ribbon to the 116 ships on the 500 ton ribbon if we stay within the FLP traffic size climbers; and up to 350 ton ships using max ribbon limit"
Two problems with above: 1. That sentence has no new information. You've given people this data in many forms already. 2. The idea of using the max ribbon limit instead of using FLP is bad and you shouldn't advocate it throughout the book. You should discuss this idea in your book as it is an interesting concept, then assume it will be implemented as you suggest throughout the rest.
Making your book 2x better will make you sell 4x more copies. I meet so many geeks who know about the space elevator who would read your book. I think they could read it as-is, and your primary challenge might be marketing, but you should make a book so good that friends demand their friends read it, and one that Oprah could read. Your 2003 book is very close to that level!
What about the space station and the moon station? Also, we need something that takes 1 week to go to Mars.
You need to think about whether we really need atoms from other asteroids in the form of knives. Are we really running out of atoms here? That strikes me as one of the things people might look back on in 20 years and laugh that we'd bother to get iron from random places. How about we just put the existing iron to better use? With carbon nanotubes replacing steel, that will free up lots of iron.
You need something near land, a big electricity grid, etc. Pick as close to land as possible. Location, location, location.
Some of these things are hard to get right. I might say no laser power beaming to earth, but it would provide energy for the moonbase. It might end up being the reverse. Don't go to deep on things that aren't core to your case.
I think that you should hire someone to create some 3-d models, in a free format, for others to check out. Do you know someone you could supervise? I'll pay for it by the hour.
This supports an open format known as collada, which means you can build something and use it in other places. You could build this using other software as well...
We will be using a video game engine that supports that format. I could get one of my programmers to throw that model into a world and have it move around.
You could build all the basic parts as a 3-d model, then get people improving on all of them in parallel. What really does a climber need to look like?
If you create a starting point, and list the next set of problems, people will jump in and help out. Your goal is to give a good starting point, and a good problem, to college kids.
And that is just one problem to attack. I haven't heard from you about the particle simulation but that is a whole nother way to go to attack certain problems. And I have other ideas as well...
Software gives you a concrete virtual world to work in :-) The simulation is as good as you want it to be.
The physics engine we will use is likely this: http://www.ode.org/
PDF intro: http://www.ode.org/slides/parc/dynamics.pdf
API overview: http://www.ode.org/ode-latest-userguide.html
There are .Net wrappers we will use so we can program in C#. (keith, give C# book to brad) http://sourceforge.net/projects/odedotnet
Imagine you built a simulator so that when you added weight to the climber, the ribbon dimensions got bigger. I will figure out how to build that in a video game. If you create a spreadsheet which has the calculations, which boiled down to some simple formula, I could put that formula in. If someone improves the spreadsheet, they can put in a new formula.
Your math shouldn't just go into your book, it should go into spreadsheets you post on your wiki.
Even if you violently disagree with some of what I am saying, do not worry -- I am just writing thoughts as they come to me and I have no emotional attachment to them. I look forward to discussing things with you!
We will soon have running physics engines, graphics engines, etc. We could set you up with somethings you could play with, or supervise others on. If you can specify things, I can get them implemented.
P.S. Here is a list of people who will build models for sketchup. http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/cldetails?mid=c9bd5e6d5b511d0e6c58fbbbefee0599
P.P.S. I just found a few space elevator models: http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/search?q=space+elevator&btnG=Search&styp=m&reps=1