“The British, the British. Their Boffins are the Best…July 6, 2010
…I wouldn’t give tuppence for all of the rest”
(A Song of Patriotic Prejudice, Flanders and Swann)
This slightly amended expanded post was inspired by American inquiries as to the latest on the Mini-Magnetospheres experiment that made the Space Blogs abuzz (2) (3) almost two years back:
Rather than derail the thread any further 😉 I decided to post this update/ reply/ sloppy piece of partisan hyperbole here.
Alas no new news from Rutherford-Appleton. Which may be good news! The original paper was proof of concept. With funding (the magic word!) the next stage is a working model (1) and more importantly a facility to test it. Generating a solar strength plasma is in IMHO the REAL challenge! From what I understand the team reckon about 5 years (say 10) to turn the working prototype into space capable hardware. Then we would need to test it, BEO, on mice and (then) old men.
I say (handwaving) that the 2020 timesale fits. (Solar Max is around 2022 so bad solar flares 😦 but less GCRs 🙂 Swings and Roundabouts.
As for details? Sorry this is British Boffinry. Like the Jet Engine, Apollo Fuel cells, …Skylon. This is one of the disruptive technologies we will invent. Only to have our Government: ignore it. Then underfund it. And then fail to capitalise on it commercially. Then slap a D-Notice on it stating “National security.” And then hope that everyone else ignores it too.
Why? Because it is Science and our Politicians don’t do Science because they are Stupid. This especially true with Space Science. To understand even a smidgen about Space Science you have to be really really clever. At about the level of your 7th Grade. This embarasses our Polititians as they are just not that clever.
I would add that although we British do not have a space program per se. We like to think that our under funded, under resourced under appreciated boffins do our bleeding edge ‘bit.’
Examples: Ion engines on GOCE; impact penetrometer and an accelerometer on Huygens (Titan lander) and the super conducting magnets in VASIMR! (4) Also our MilComSatNet: “Skynet” 😉
I would add that we have our ‘bits and pieces” on Planck.
I thank you for your tolerance 🙂
This post acts as a prolog to the next: Why Solar Flares are good for us.