downtoearthCh.2

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As Science Fiction adventures

"It's Down to Earth" 

By James E. D. Cline


Chapter 2


Awakened by the signal that their spaceraft had been fully loaded with the requested fine-grained lunar dust, John and Donna used the recreation facilities there, exercise equipment along with coffee awakening them up fully.  John reset the facility controls back to 'hibernate' and they were soon in the spacecraft, being given the boost along the tracks from the stored energy of their landing, before they ignited their reaction engines. After a few seconds into the curved trajectory, Donna activated the dust feed to the engines, supplying the cheap reaction mass to the oxygen-hydrogen engines.


The Lunar surface rotated more rapidly above them, their spacecraft being inverted for the spectacular view, and eventually earthrise occurred, always an impressive sight. After a day of coasting in the vast starry night with Moon shrinking behind them and Earth growing in front, they decelerated to dock back at the Clarke Belt main construction port site, and gave instructions for the unloading of their humble but essential dusty cargo.


'How did the designers of this place make it so easy for us to carry out this task, interfacing with that huge array of complex systems of which we had no prior training in usage?' Donna asked. 'It was almost as if the designers had anticipated our arrival and needs.'


'Yes, that's correct.' John replied, 'The philosophy used in the design recognized the system complexity far beyond what people can learn in a lifetime of education, so the system interface was designed so as to respond to questions and requests by those people with little familiarity of the systems, knowing only what they needed to make happen.' ''User-friendly' was the root term, an attitude of design found quite effective in a complex ever-changing world, if they wanted their products to be accepted for very long by the public. The principle of designing to be user-friendly then became a prime principle from then on, and has saved people from countless errors up here in the Clarke belt Cities, where almost everything is new and unfamiliar yet even little mistakes could be disastrous. It works great. Remember that principle when you design things up here, and you surely will do that sooner or later in this ever changing world.'


Back home in their condominium high on the rim of one of the 700,000 wheel-shaped cities forming the Clarke Belt city ring, they entered their couple-version of the Holoterminal, that gave them a level of intimacy so delightful yet essential for a fully ever-functioning relationship. They each seemed converted to light of vast intertwined complexity, there in the Holoterminal, as was everything else in and around their condominium, even to the furthest reaches of the Clarke Belt if they were to direct their attention that far.The Couple version of the Holoterminal enabled them to go as a pair while into the light-being adventures far and wide and deep into the essences of everything of interest. 'Here is teh reference to the user-friendly philosophy of all interfaces between man and machine' he showed her, then let her explore that by herself to some extent while he went exploring. After she had re-surfaced from the learning experience about user-friendliness, John's essence was there waiting, and led her to the archives of history. 'Donna, look what is here in the history, you are in it. You are more han just another post-menopausal Haremmate sent to be still useful as a bombpilot. See, Donna Bulguarde was the name given to you by your mother, Artesiana, while she was temporarily captured and bred before escaping to become essential to the building of the KESTS that enabled all this to be built. You were then given to a surrogate mother for a couple of years before you were put into the harem's school complex. And Catalie was your grandmother! Your grandparents were the ones who had been the key people during the building up of the first space transportation structures and wheel-shaped space station, all essential in the path to the making of this place we are, and the life we live. You would be famous if fame were something of any interest anymore. And it is amazing, you almost destroyed the work of the dreams of your direct ancestors. You have much of their competancy and ability to dream although also some of the tougher qualities of your father.' Donna was motionless for a long time, as she took this news in, and then went on via the Holoterminal to explore the archives in her light-personage.


She spent all her free time for the next few weeks after that, in the Holoterminal, getting familiarized with the overall situation facing their gigantic home up here, and the increasingly desolate planet below them, the Mother Earth that had given birth to humanity and all of life that had been there. The deep ego-driven urge of greed lurking within the mind of man seemed to have finally managed to destroy itself along with all the constructed works of the people who had overcome the ego's attempts to compel. Even she had almost been involved in terrible destruction's success. She could see the similar brutishnes of her father still engraved into her deep psyche, a lurking powerhouse that she intended to ever have harnessed and guided by a better way. A better way that was not only driven by loving kindness for all life here and on the planet below, but also because, well, all this was making life really a lot of fun and interesting for her. And she was determined to do what it took to fix the big problems, just as were her Mom and grandparents determined.


She had been just as determined to solve the big problems as a bombpilot, of course; but now she realized it was all in the definition of what the problems were, and what one allowed oneself to do to resolve them. The same determination could make a big mess of things, so she now realized that responsibility to the larger system was the key to a better source for decision. And the holoterminal was utterly honest by intrinsic nature, a fantastic source of data for making decisions. She went exploring, learning and exploring more, via the Holoterminal.


In the vast light-world accessed via the Holoterminal, there was a meeting place, a message board kind of thing, where the concerns of others were integrated into patterns of intensity and connectiveness. It was there, one evening with John exploring together the Holoworld, that Donna came to the conclusion that since the Lunar materials were lacking in some resources essential to the survival up here in GEO, like carbon and nitrogen for examples, that they were going to have to get them from Earth below unless they wanted to try for possible asteroidal sources which were still quite beyond early usefulness. So she remarked to John that they were going to have to build a new KESTS to access the resources on the earth below.


'Malaysia', she went on, 'has equatorial plane access, and is far from the influence of the possible remnants of the pirate alpha males who consider they own the planet now. Remember the solid-KESTS hoop that links the Moon's farside site with L-1, its eccentric hoop encircling the Moon, held up by the stretch of centrifugal force as it spins along itself all around the Moon? Let's see if we can build one of those, attaching to the ground in Malaysia, since the Cayenbe site in Ecuador is such a mess now.'


John pondered this a minute then replied 'Malasia is indeed far from Ecuador and the American continent so ruled by your father's brutal ilk. But it also is far from all possible sources of technology to build a KESTS type of structure. And besides, the reason a solid-KESTS works in the Lunar environment is because the Moon has no atmosphere with which to erode the meteroric velocity such a hoop would be spinning at through the atmosphere.'


She replied 'there is an aerodynamic difference between something punching through the atmosphere at meteroric velocities, and something that is merely following something at meteroric velocity already going through the air. Think of the boundary layer along such a continuous high velocity band, once established, ought to act like an air bearing set of layers. And it would only be dragging on the structure where it is within the atmosphere, so the majority of the structure's time would be spent high in space within a hard vacuum environment, just dipping down through the air once a revolution. So it would just take more energy input to the KESTS at the ground terminal accelerator, that's all.'


'So how are we gong to get the special materials down there in Malasia to build this spinning hoop up from there, and get the accelerators built down there to power the spin of the hoop?' John asked. Her reply was that the hoop was not going to be launched from down there, it would be launched from up here at the high point of its trajectory, not from the ground site. Up here it can be made of the finest materials and techniques. The fun was going to be down there on the ground, capturing the roaring dragon as it sizzles through the atmosphere past them. 'Past ... us?' he noticed; she replied 'Yep, it is up to you and me to do this thing. It is our responsibility. We are heading for Malasia, as soon as we can get the solid KESTS material built up here, along with a launcher port facility that will create an intersection with wherever we choose the ground terminal to be in Malasia.'


John was beginning to think that mating Donna Bulguarde was going to be a wilder ride than he ever imagined could be. And the imagined adventure of it all had captured his dreams. They were going to do it, yeah.


They moved their residence to a Clarke Belt City that was in GEO high above the east coast of Brazil, which was not only opposite the globe from Malasia but also happened to be where telescopic observation of the Cayenbe terminal site's wreckage was visible, reminder of what can result when things go wrong. People-stuff things going wrong, in that case. As if technical problems were not enough challenge, the egos of people were ever a potential loose cannon in the progress of civilization.


Maybe the huge powerful obnoxious egos of people could be brought into partnership, she wondered. She recalled that people once had ridden horses for transportation, the horse being a huge beast with a kind of mind of its own that could be quite unruly and dangerous to its rider and all around; horsemanship involved letting the horse's mind and physical prowess deal with the nitty-gritty of the terrain to be crossed, while the rider dealt with the overall logistics and purposes of the trips, a mutually beneficial partnership. Maybe the human ego could be like the horse, becoming a worthy partner instead of a lurking obstinate huge potential master of the situation. But also, she recalled, there was an old saying, something about bringing the horse to water, but being unable to make him drink the horse not comprehending the long waterless trek ahead they both must start upon now. And remembering that her own father's ego was one of the masterminds of what had become the present disaster, one of the pirate alpha males that had made such a mess of civilization's struggle to survive and revive the planet that bore it. How much could she count on her inherited ego to cooperate in wholesome partnership with her, and through her partnership with civilization in dire stress? 


And her now unlimited access to knowledge through the Holoterminal brought to mind the unfortunate discovery about the old kind of higher educational systems, that the popular idea of the educated person in science becoming a 'mad scientist' who seeks to invent a machine of vast destruction so as to enable the 'mad scientist' to 'rule the world,' was actually not the person educated in the natural sciences; but it was the person educated in the social sciences such as in politics and business, who were far more likely to use their education-acquired knowledge for purposes to manipulate the society in which they lived, to try to 'rule the world.' People who were focused on the natural sciences like physics and biology, usually had little interest in controlling other people; and the thought of the responsibilities of 'ruling the world' would be abhorrent to them. It was the bullies that acquired an education for the purposes of learning people-control techniques, that went for becoming 'mad social scientists' bent on 'ruling the world' or ruling as much of it as they could manage; and having little thought of it involving 'responsibilities' for that which was ruled. It was the ego-thing again, so powerful and diabolically insidiously clever, ever lurking, that could cause the devastation via the hand of man, if it was left untamed to rule its owner. She felt uneasy about her own powerful ego, her inner partner mostly lurking watchfully concealed from her conscious sight, would it always remain a cooperative partner with her rational, loving mind? The responsibility for keeping that ego harnessed civilly, was hers alone, and it worried her.


Meanwhile, John was busy getting the cargo of lunar dust distributed to the various sites in the Clarke Belt that had the oxygen-hydrogen thrusters installed, and coordinating modifications to those engines so as to inject lunar dust into the engine's combustion chamber to give it much more passive mass to thrust with. This ought to greatly conserve on the water that was being sacrificed to make the thruster's fuel being used to maintain the Clarke Belt City ring around the Earth from shifting position, lacking a KESTS structure anymore to mechanically couple position directly to the earth's rotation. Yet it still always involved some loss of the precious water from their reserves; they already had to shut down several of the pre-built Stanford-Torus cities that would have supported another 10,000 people each as their population grew, simply to extract the water from the mothballed city's stored supplies, to replace the water lost elsewhere, including that from use in the spin-boosting reaction motors.


Go to Ch.3

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