Stanford Torus

Mark A. Garlick:


There is no sense in which moving people en masse to off-Earth habitats (on Mars or in space) will solve ANY of humanity's extremely pressing environmental or social problems, but I still want to go live in the cool space donut 🥺

If we solve Earth maybe we can have a little space donut, as a treat

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27 Responses:

  1. Austin says:

    Please don't put roads or even mass transit trains on the surface of your space donut. The infrastructure should be hidden in the ring to maximize the utility of the surface for the trans-humans living there

    • Dave says:

      Yes! All kinds of stuff can be hidden "underground" in a structure like this, while remaining readily accessible to the inhabitants.

  2. Nick Gully says:

    We could have built seven of these for the money we spent on the "Global War on Terror"

  3. Rezmason says:

    Has anyone notably envisioned a war or conflict on a space donut?

    (Not Rama II. That's a donut hole, not a donut.)
    (Not Eon. The Way has too many holes.)
    (Not BttF. Plot holes don't count.)

    • Sammu says:

      The Prefect/Aurora Rising, though maybe that was an O'Neill cylinder. It was hard to tell

    • Andrew Klossner says:


    • 2

      In Iain M Banks' "Consider Phlebas" the Culture extravagantly evacuate and destroy Vavach orbital, a 14 million kilometer hoop, to prevent the enemy from capturing it or destroying it and its inhabitants. There's no warfare on the orbital itself, although some looters do some damage and let off a small nuke.

    • Rodger says:

      Babylon 5 shows an attempted terrorist attack and “diving out the rail in the low G centre with the bomb” as a season ended at one point, as well as various combat scenarios.

    • グレェ「grey」 says:

      機動戦士ガンダム (kidō senshi gandamu) aka Mobile Suit Gundam more or less begins with a space donut (OK, space cylinder aka Side 7 colony) being destroyed in a war.

      The whole series and many of that franchise's sequels explore the horrors of war, specifically wars in space.

      Not just, "oh no, someone broke something and oxygen is being lost, where is an airlock when you need one" scenarios either, but also: "faction released airborne poison into that space donut and everyone died" acts of terrorism horrors. It's incredibly grim.

      But what do you expect when the main protagonist was a child civilian who happened to hop in the experimental giant.mecha his dad was designing in the middle of a battle and then becomes a soldier who barely has time or eat or sleep due to the constant sorties he is deployed on while his crew struggles to just not lose more members? It's deliberately intended to depict war as horrible, because, it is. Being in space doesn't change that reality, it's not a Star Wars violence glorification as a mercenary industrial complex.indoctrination tool.

      • prefetch says:

        One of the more memorable scenarios being an entire space cylinder being dropped onto Earth as a shock-and-awe power play:

        A sobering series reflecting on how petty, prideful military mindsets consume all and sundry as they get passed down lineages.

    • jwz says:

      I have not read that series since I was very young, but I did love them at the time!

      However, I can absolutely vouch for Varley's Eight Worlds stories, love those to death. He's one of my favorite authors. The John Valley Reader is a great collection of his short stories to start with. Or if you want to just start on a reboot that hits the basic themes, Steel Beach is also amazing.

      • jwz says:

        Oh yeah, and in case it's not obvious Steel Beach is the sarcastic, socialist, hella gay, and yet still kind of fanboy-ish reaction to The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress that you hoped for.

      • david konerding says:

        Varley finally wrote a third book in the trilogy for Steel Beach but it was a bit off-topic and it was clear he had lost interest (to instead write books about mars colonization with antigravity paint, which was dumb).

        In this case, I guess somebody took those awesome 1970s space habitat illustrations and movie-ized it.  Would love to have an infinite generator of one of these.

      • Andrew Klossner says:

        For those of us buying our old favorites as e-books because our eyes can't read paperbacks anymore: the short-story collection originally titled "The Barbie Murders" is now titled "Picnic on Nearside". It took me way too long to figure out.

  4. Jonny says:

    I feel like low gee O'Neil tubes would have economic value as retirement homes one day - probably not in my lifetime.  We know that long term zero gee living isn't exactly healthy because your body really was built with an upside and a down side, but low gee might actually work out well.  You need enough gravity so that stuff that is supposed to go down goes down, but imagine if you were old but were carrying around 10% of your normal weight.  Even 50% less weight would be a huge improvement for a lot of older folks.  Your joints have to hold up less weight, your heart doesn't have to work as hard, you can move your self around with a lot less effort and force.  It's easier to stay upright, and even if you do fall, you fall with a lot less force.  You could maybe even imagine a cheese wheel like old folks home in space.  As you get weaker, you move up closer to the center where there is less gravity.  

    It's all hypothetical right now though.  We don't actually know what long term low gee does to a human, because there is no way to study it currently.  I hope we get a moon base sometime this decade so we can find out.  My inner sci-fi nerd wants to know the answer.  Probably won't be in time to do me any good, but I'd still like to know.

  5. apm74 says:

    I couldn’t get into either, but I’d be slightly more confident living on a CalTech Torus.

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