May 24, 2009

spilling coffee in the name of science

A space elevator is one kitchen mess closer to reality.
“The idea came by itself,” Golubovic told “I was thinking how to make things move easily and quickly up the traditional Tsiolkovsky-type space elevators. In my kitchen, I was mixing coffee in my cup too vigorously and the centrifugal force on the rotating coffee won over gravity to make some of the coffee lift and splash out the cup. This was my ‘eureka’ that lead to adding a similar conceptual feature to the old space elevator idea, the internal rotation. Indeed, much like the coffee would lift and splash out the cup if rotated fast enough, the climbers on our Rotating Space Elevator will be lifted up by the centrifugal force winning over gravity.”
[via Instapundit]


Aaron said...

Too bad centrifugal is fictitious.

In circular motion, net force points inwards towards the center of rotation. Perhaps Golubovic should refresh himself on Van Der Waals forces.

Jim Anderson said...

I was under the impression that "fictitious" means "shorthand for calculating purposes," not "exists only in H.G. Wells' imagination."

Anyhow, in the article's comments, the naysayers go after Golubovic's idea on other grounds.

Aaron said...

Centrifugal force is imaginary from the point of view of the object being acted on... so yes, it kind of only exists in Mr. Well's imagination, if Mr. Well was in a centrifuge.