Superstrong and superlight Graphene

Researchers at MIT have developed techniques for creating 3d graphene materials that are incredibly strong and lightweight. With tested strengths as much as ten times higher than steel while having only 5% of the weight (density).

The materials make use of structures called “gyroids”–a kind of sponge-like arrangement–to create three-dimensional structures with potential applications for building components for vehicles and other machinery.

Graphene has been known as a high tensile material for quite a while, but only in single-atom thick sheets that have limited practical uses. This new development could make it’s adoption far more widespread. It also may avoid some of the flaws caused by imperfections that naturally occur in such thin sheets.

The exciting thing here though is the potential for use in rocket and spacecraft design. When it comes to launching anything into space, the limit is always a case of the mass (weight) versus the thrust available. Simply put, the lighter the object you’re lifting, the easier it is to launch. So materials such as this could revolutionize space systems.

More than that though, the gyroid structure can be applied to other materials too, enabling the creation of lighter weight versions of things like actual steel, concrete, and others. With the world’s resources limited, it is only sensible to be as efficient as we can wherever possible.

We seem to be on the threshold of a whole new world of materials science where we can control and build materials down to atomic (and smaller?) levels–an exciting time for engineers everywhere as well as those of us who dream of seeing humans spread to other worlds.

Space Town

I live in a small city called Sudbury in Northern Ontario, Canada. How that came about is a bit of tale in itself, but not the subject of this post. Needless to say it’s often seen as an eccentric choice by many when they hear about it. (“You’re moving to where?” Said the immigration officer at Pearson Airport in Toronto.)

SudbThe Big Nickel, Sudburyury is what a lot of people would call a “working town.” The main industry here and the reason the town exists is mining. In the past they mined gold and diamonds, but the real mineral power houses have always been nickel and copper–produced here for well over a century.  On the west side of town stands a giant Canadian Nickel as testament to the wealth hard-rock mining  has brought to the area and many areas and streets around town are named after mining and mining companies. Even Edison got in on the act and moved to Sudbury as a prospector in 1901, discovering the key Falconbridge ore deposit.

The legacy of such endeavors isn’t always Continue reading “Space Town”

The Making of Ben

When I’m writing a story I build up a collection of images that act as references for what’s in my head.  Much of the time these are things I find on the web, but as I write science-fiction sometimes I just can’t quite find anything that looks right. Or sometimes I want to work through how something might work if it were real.

When that happens I often build the object in 3D. This allows me to get more of a feel for the object in question and can help solidify my ideas and furnish me with details I otherwise might not think of. Many times very little of this detail makes it into the actual writing–it’s really background for myself. But sometimes these designs see the light of day in my book covers, such as the Three Lives Of Mary cover and the additional “character image” of Ben.

With Ben I had something very deliberate in mind Continue reading “The Making of Ben”

Three Lives Of Mary-Cover Reveal

Today, I’d like to reveal the cover and description for my forthcoming short-story Three Lives Of Mary. Click the image to see a bigger view.

Mary is part of an elite CySapient team, surveying planets looking for potential worlds to colonize. Her partner, Ben, is a total conversion sentient spaceship—and her husband.

While investigating the surface of a rare, potentially habitable planet, Mary encounters a strange plant-animal hybrid that threatens to destroy her despite her near invulnerable Continue reading “Three Lives Of Mary-Cover Reveal”

My God, It’s Full Of Stars!

Recently I’ve been researching and world building for an upcoming novel and came up against an interesting problem. If you’re writing science fiction that’s set in a galaxy “far, far away” then you can just make up any setup you want, but my novels are intended to be more realistic than that and so I need to reference real star data.

If it was just a case of setting the story on another planet around another star, this also wouldn’t be too much of an issue. There are numerous very good star charts and Continue reading “My God, It’s Full Of Stars!”