Monday, May 26, 2008

Retro science fact

A two million ton aircraft carrier -- made of ice and concrete. Proposed by kooks? No. Supported by Winston Churchill. (Hat tip: Al Fin)

Pykrete was made famous by wealthy industrialist and financier, Geoffrey Pike, Sir Winston Churchill was one of the earliest promoters of using Pykrete for building large ships in WWII. The hull for a giant Pykrete aircraft carrier would have been 40 feet thick or more, and almost impossible to penetrate with the torpedoes of the day....

What we are talking about, is a custom-built, reinforced iceberg, of incredible strength and toughness. In a polar environment, the structure should last almost indefinitely, with minimal loss to melting and sublimation. In a temperate environment, a large Pykrete structure could last for decades or more, with minimal shading, insulation, and interior refrigeration.




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12 Comments:

Blogger NahnCee said...

I take it Winston had never heard of "global warming" ...

5/26/2008 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Thief said...

More here - "Project Habbakuk".

The only reason it was never built was because the Allies developed longer-ranged planes that could better patrol the North Atlantic, as well as Allied bombing of the U-Boat docks themselves in France and Germany

5/26/2008 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Befort said...

Geoffrey Pyke wasn't a "wealthy industrialist and financier." He was what G.M. Fraser would have called a "paid-up head case" -- which is not incompatible with genius. Read his biography on Wikipedia.

5/26/2008 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Jeff Burton said...

You also left out the comical part about Mountbatten nearly killing some very senior admiral or general when he demonstrated the strength of pykrete by shooting at it with his pistol.

5/26/2008 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Katchoo said...

I think Churchill also cooked up the idea of having pre-fabricated docks floated over the channel and set up so they had an instant sea port on D-Day. I guess he was a Limey Thomas Edison or something.

5/26/2008 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger newscaper said...

Back in engineering school in the late 80s I took senior-level mech engr course on refrigeration.

The prof was an adjunct, a practicing engineer with his P.E.

He told us about the time he and his consulting team submitted an unconventional proposal -- the footings of a bridge were subsiding, unstable due to groundwater and the type of soil (don't remember the exact details). The normal procedure involved excavations, pumping concrete underground etc. Lots of $$ IOW.

His group proposed instead running lines down to pump refrigerant and *freeze* the layer. All the numbers lined up with a great safety factor, including a slow melt time should there temporarily be problems with the refrigeration system up on the surface.

Every body agreed it made perfect sense, and was an elegant, highly cost effective solution, but were passed over -- too scared of the lawyers, of course.

5/26/2008 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

I wonder how it would work for levees. I know a place that could use a few, assuming it was cheap enough to keep them frozen.

5/26/2008 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

They built a prototype for testing.

The remains of the skeleton lie underwater in a lake outside Banff, Alberta.

5/27/2008 05:50:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Newscaper: Every body agreed it made perfect sense, and was an elegant, highly cost effective solution, but were passed over -- too scared of the lawyers, of course.

Such a repair would be dependent on the local government to allocate funds for maintenance. It would be like launching yourself to Mars for three years, and then hoping Congress can override a veto at the eighteen month mark when the President thinks your resupply ship with food and air would cost too much.

5/27/2008 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Dear Friends at Belmont Club,

It is becoming increasingly clear that the "open-architecture" basis of a certain well-known online encyclopedia is extremely vulnerable to manipulation by politicized pressure groups, who in some cases resort to shameless and deliberate slander and bald-faced lies to promote their points of view, and to smear anyone who publicly disagrees with their views.

This is obviously NOT the intention of the founders of the open-architecture online encyclopedia, but it does mean that we need to be extremely circumspect in taking any information from that source at face value, without finding independent confirmation.

I am embarking on a 12-step program to wean myself from quoting the "W" source, or clubbing readers over the head with any "facts" gleaned from that source, unless I can verify those facts from other independent sources.

----------------------

About the current thread: The huge advantage of an iceberg-derived floating airbase is that there is no size limit, and its thermal stability increases with size. it would be vulnerable now to a thermo-nuclear weapon, because the same mass that makes it a great thermal makes it extravagant to accelerate it. On the other hand, imagine a Nuclear Powered set of turbine-driven screws for a five-thousand-acre landing field.

You could probably change the entire economic structure of the Persian Gulf by making one just for peaceful purposes, steering it past the Straights of Hormuz, and parking it next to Dubai. Sell the water as it melts, dismantle the nuclear power plant, and either take it home or sell it.

5/27/2008 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Mad Fiddler: I am embarking on a 12-step program to wean myself from quoting the "W" source, or clubbing readers over the head with any "facts" gleaned from that source, unless I can verify those facts from other independent sources.

Here's an alternative Wiki, just for you: Conservapedia. It's closed architecture and they quickly sniff out and ban any editors who come, shall we say, from the left hand of the spectrum.

For a taste of Conservapedia, surf to their article on homosexuality. It leads off with a half-dozen bible verses condemning it, and then gets worse from there.

5/27/2008 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Hey, I'm neither defending nor trying to steer other folks to any particular source.

Just saying we gotta maintain healthy skepticism. The greatest danger seemingly is in trusting sources that CLAIM to be utterly objective, like, oh, the MAINSTREAM alleged Newsmedia, which have been increasingly abandoning any attempt to disguise their preferences for a particular political philosophy.

There is no sin in having nor in vigorously expressing a specific point of view. It is delusional at best, and evil at worst, to PRETEND to be devoid of any preference, free of all pre-judgment and partiality in all matters. Sorry, there is no such thing among humans.

So, at the end of the day, you get a better understanding of events by looking at a number of sources, each of which enthusiastically advances its own views. This at least forces the reader to consider and weigh the logical arguments and evidence offered by the opposing writers.

5/27/2008 04:45:00 PM  

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