It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
List of criteria: We need a black hole which
1. has a long enough lifespan to be useful,
2. is powerful enough to accelerate itself up to a reasonable fraction of the speed of light in a reasonable amount of time,
3. is small enough that we can access the energy to make it,
4. is large enough that we can focus the energy to make it,
5. has mass comparable to a starship.
A black hole with a radius of a few attometers at least roughly meets the list of criteria. Such BHs would have mass of the order of 1,000,000 tonnes, and lifetimes ranging from decades to centuries. A high-efficiency square solar panel a few hundred km on each side, in a circular orbit about the sun at a distance of 1,000,000 km, would absorb enough energy in a year to produce one such BH. The family of BH solutions has a “sweet spot.”
Four Machines for Implementation These devices are far beyond current technology, but we think they are possibly capable of being implemented ultimately if a future industrial society were determined to do so.
1. The black hole generator A SBH (Schwarzschild Black Hole in a quiescent steady state - a black hole that does not rotate ) could be artificially created by firing a huge number of gamma rays from a spherically converging laser. The idea is to pack so much energy into such a small space that a BH will form. An advantage of using photons is that, since they are bosons, there is no Pauli exclusion principle to worry about. Although a laserpowered black hole generator presents huge engineering challenges, the concept appears to be physically sound according to classical general relativity. A nuclear laser can convert on the order of 10^−3 of its rest mass to radiation, we would need a lasing mass of order one billion tons to produce the pulse. This should correspond to a mass of order 10 billion tonnes for the whole structure (the size of a small asteroid). Such a structure would be assembled in space near the sun by an army of robots and built out of space-based materials.
2. The drive For a SBH to drive a starship. We need to accomplish 3 things. Design requirements for a BH starship
1. use the Hawking radiation to drive the vessel
2. drive the BH at the same acceleration
3. feed the BH to maintain its temperature
Item 3 is not absolutely necessary. We could manufacture a SBH, use it to drive a ship one way, and release the remnant at the destination. However this would limit us greatly as to performance, and be very disappointing in the powerplant application discussed below. The most optimistic approach is to solve requirements 2 and 3 together by attaching particle beams to the body of the ship behind the BH and beaming in matter. This would both accelerate the SBH, since BHs “move when you push them” and add mass to the SBH, extending the lifetime.
3. The powerplant This has already been proposed by Hawking. We simply surround the SBH with a spherical shield, and use it to drive heat engines. (Or possibly use gamma ray solar cells, if such things be.) This would have an enormous advantage over solar electric power in that the energy would be dense and hence cheaper to accumulate.
The 3 machines here really form a tool set. Without the drive, getting the powerplant near Earth where we need it would be very difficult. Without the generator, it would require the good fortune to find a primordial SBH to implement the proposal.
4. The self-driven generator The industry formed by our first 3 machines would not yet be really mature. To fully tap the possibilities we would need a fourth machine, a generator coupled to a family of SBHs which could be used to charge its laser. Assuming we can feed a SBH as discussed above, we would then have a perpetual source of SBHs, which could run indefinitely on water or dust or whatever matter was most convenient.
A civilization equipped with our four machine tool set would be almost unimaginably energy rich. It could settle the galaxy at will.