Re: Powerful Extropian Memes

Anders Sandberg (
15 Mar 1999 21:40:19 +0100 writes:

> Michael S. Lorrey, <>, writes:
> > Well, yeah, but I've already got a solution for that too. Thermal superconductors
> > built into the sturcutre of sky-hooks will conduct excess heat out of the
> > atmosphere and allow it to be radiated away in space.
> Is there such a thing as a thermal superconductor? I've seen references
> in SF but I don't know if such things really exist.

I think they are a myth, caused by Larry Niven in _Ringworld Engineers_. He seemed to assume that electrical superconduction imples thermal superconduction (and did some fun stuff with that idea), but I'm fairly sure he is wrong.

I wonder if there are thermodynamic problems with thermal superconductors? Somehow I get the feeling that disordered phonons cannot be transferred without causing secondary phonons in the material. But it is not obvious to me.

> I suppose you could
> use a heat pump, in any case. How much heat could you really pump out
> in this way though? A sky hook is pretty small compared to an atmosphere.

Actually, waste heat might be a small problem since the increased temperature will cause more radiation to escape into space. The reason the greenhouse effect is so important is that it alters the amount of IR-energy retained within the atmosphere; more heating will likely just be a local problem.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y