Hanging Out in Analemma Tower
March 30, 2017 5:42 AM   Subscribe

 
Great thought experiment.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:55 AM on March 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


It's always interesting to me to read these sorts of projects and see which issues have, and have not, been addressed. Remarkably, in this one they do not talk about either wind, or sway. Given that these are major challenges in our current tall buildings, I think they they'd be at least discussed. Also, what about the scenario where the "tower" catches on the transfer station and drags the asteroid out of orbit on that cable?

On the other hand, this would make a terrific setting for a Snowpiercer sequel where the social castes are divided by levels on the tower, and maybe don't even know if there is still human life on the ground below.
posted by meinvt at 5:56 AM on March 30, 2017 [7 favorites]


What a crazy pendulum to go swinging wildly out of control in!

But even setting aside the physics, why would anyone pay to put their dead loved ones in the "Funerary" section? Wouldn't this thought experiment end up as the least convenient place for a cemetery possible? besides, if we could make something like this work, wouldn't the industrial applications end up far more valuable than any conceivable residential ones? Just think of all the aluminum that could be smelted for cheap in the vacuum of space.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:01 AM on March 30, 2017


I'm puzzled by the references to "devotional activities" that take place at the upper levels, which are large sections labeled as "Funerary," "Reliquary," and "Worship." And the designated locations in the figure-8 loop called "Venerate," "Exalt," "Dream" and "Inurn".
posted by beagle at 6:02 AM on March 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


yeah this will be totally do-able 100 years after we get the first space elevator up and running
posted by ryanrs at 6:09 AM on March 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


For example, while there may be a benefit to having 45 extra minutes of daylight at an elevation of 32,000 meters, the near vacuum and -40C temperature would prevent people from going outside without a protective suit. Then again, astronauts have continually occupied the space station for decades, so perhaps it’s not so bad?

Well, if the rest of this plan has as much rigor as went in to that statement, sign me up.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:10 AM on March 30, 2017 [15 favorites]


Analemma Tower is a proposal for the world's tallest building ever. Harnessing the power of planetary design thinking, it taps into the desire for extreme height, seclusion and constant mobility. If the recent boom in residential towers proves that sales price per square foot rises with floor elevation, then Analemma Tower will command record prices, justifying its high cost of construction.

Also we will need improvements in cocktail napkin estimate technology.
posted by thelonius at 6:11 AM on March 30, 2017 [26 favorites]


CTRL-F "damocles"
0 of 0 results

See, this is why you need a robust classical education.
posted by Etrigan at 6:11 AM on March 30, 2017 [45 favorites]


I'm puzzled by the references to "devotional activities" that take place at the upper levels

Oh that's just a little joke us guys at PricewaterhouseCoopers came up with. No, those levels are always in international airspace, so they'll be mostly full of Google, Facebook and Amazon servers - so any sales that go through them won't be charged to any Earth taxes. So: the "Funerary" level is where the morals will be buried, the "Reliquary" level is where we store the money, and the boardrooms are all on "Worship".
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:13 AM on March 30, 2017 [21 favorites]


There has been a cable experiment a few years ago. About a quarter mile of cable was extended from the shuttle, worked fine physically but the unexpected result was from gasses and micro-particles -- a static differential occurred, kind of like rubbing a balloon against a wool sweater. Only it was in the millions of volts. Zap.

I'm totally pro space and we need to get building stuff out there and the elevator will be built, but there will be surprises.
posted by sammyo at 6:15 AM on March 30, 2017 [19 favorites]


See, this is why you need a robust classical education.

Also, science fiction. See "The Cloud Miners," Zardoz, The Time Machine, Metropolis. Heck, even Atlas Shrugged, and Towering Inferno+Airport (for when the only two suspended supertowers collide).
posted by jabah at 6:17 AM on March 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


... a static differential occurred, kind of like rubbing a balloon against a wool sweater. Only it was in the millions of volts. Zap.

That's kind of a fascinating echo of the problems with capacitance they hadn't anticipated in early trans-Atlantic telegraph cables (Faraday found a fix, iirc).
posted by thelonius at 6:19 AM on March 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


Actually - I think this design (possibly even name) came essentially straight out of "seveneves".
posted by jkaczor at 6:20 AM on March 30, 2017 [11 favorites]


By placing a large asteroid into orbit over earth

OK STOP RIGHT THERE
posted by Theta States at 6:22 AM on March 30, 2017 [7 favorites]


snark aside, this is a really beautiful architectural fantasy
posted by thelonius at 6:23 AM on March 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


It does seem like the sort of thing where, once you have the ability to create such a thing, you don't have any particular need to.

That said, I'd love to see the Neill Blomkamp re-imaging of The Raid featuring this dealio.
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 6:25 AM on March 30, 2017 [5 favorites]


This thing is basically a space elevator, minus the elevator.

Minus factors:

* Nobody can get a goddamn tether to work in orbit yet; there's a lot of speculative dynamics here that needs to be figured out (never mind the ultra-high-tensile-strength material you'd need to support such a tower — or a space elevator, for that matter).

* orbital debris impacts are going to seriously ruin a lot of folks' days if they happen. (Everything below the impact point breaks off and falls down. A long way down.)

* The emergency evacuation stairs are going to be a real pain in the knees. (Okay, parachutes ... with pressure suits. Felix Baumgartner time for all!)

* Anyone else remember The Towering Inferno? Yes? Now remember the climax when they deluge the fire by releasing the contents of the water tank in the upper floors? Yes? Now think what happens to a pendulum dangling from a table under tension, when you do that ...

* Missing out on a huge revenue model, i.e. providing orbital lift services. Why not stick it on the equator and simply go all the way from ground out past GEO?

I'm not saying this is a totally bad idea and if we ever get space elevators we'll end up with vertical cities that make the Burj Khalifa look like a bungalow, but HooBoy if I was looking for a 22nd century SF disaster novel setting, this would be top of my list of candidates!
posted by cstross at 6:36 AM on March 30, 2017 [13 favorites]


Nice idea, too bad no-one will be able to breathe unless it is a sealed spaceship.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:44 AM on March 30, 2017


What about the solid part sewage? They say the idea is to recycle water in a closed loop, but will it rain the solids down on all those below?
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:47 AM on March 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


Geosynchronous orbit only works if it isn't constantly losing energy. Anything in orbit attached to something touching the atmosphere would lose energy very quickly. Then down comes the asteroid. Anyone remember what happened last time an asteroid crashed into Earth?
posted by BentFranklin at 6:48 AM on March 30, 2017 [7 favorites]


What about the solid part sewage? They say the idea is to recycle water in a closed loop, but will it rain the solids down on all those below?

Same as it ever was.
posted by nubs at 6:52 AM on March 30, 2017 [7 favorites]


Massive drag.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:02 AM on March 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


I used to be in favor of this sort of initiative, until reading what happened after the space elevator was cut in Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars. Now, I'd want to always be extremely far away from its path...
posted by Wordshore at 7:06 AM on March 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


Still trying to wrap my head around an eccentric geosynchronous orbit (what is that?!?) that traces that analemma path once a day. Looks like roughly an 8,000 mile circuit, so the bottom is going 333 MPH relative to the ground underneath it.
posted by achrise at 7:07 AM on March 30, 2017


That's a real groundscraper. Literally so, if the mountain in the illustration at the bottom of the page is any indication. I appreciate that they were thoughtful enough to reserve a whole 20-floor segment for the reliquary district; it's rare to see that kind of forward thinking in this kind of speculative architecture.
posted by sfenders at 7:11 AM on March 30, 2017


This looks right for our forthcoming Mars colony. Land a conscious Artificial Intelligence powered by a compact nuclear fusion plant on one of the moons, and just 3D print your base down to the planetary surface. Twenty years, thirty at the outside.
posted by Segundus at 7:11 AM on March 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


but will it rain the solids down on all those below?

People will evole to deal with it. See: Ringworld, flying cities, ghouls.
posted by Splunge at 7:14 AM on March 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


worked fine physically but the unexpected result was from gasses and micro-particles -- a static differential occurred, kind of like rubbing a balloon against a wool sweater. Only it was in the millions of volts. Zap.

Unexpected?! We get lightning from a bunch of water chilling in the atmosphere. Why wouldn't we expect some electrical phenomenon when running a long, long wire through the atmosphere?
posted by explosion at 7:18 AM on March 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


The design is very square, which seems kind of odd for a hybrid spaceship. I would expect round to work better. One of the images is of the base of it, from the ground. You know it would be covered in ads, the whole thing would likely be covered in ads, kind of a traveling Blade Runner skyline.

Cynicism aside, if one could visit the top, it would be so cool to get a glimpse of space.
posted by theora55 at 7:35 AM on March 30, 2017


On the other hand, this would make a terrific setting for a Snowpiercer sequel where the social castes are divided by levels on the tower, and maybe don't even know if there is still human life on the ground below.

Do catch the recent film adaptation of Ballard's "High Rise", w. Tom Hiddleston. It is basically exactly this.

The proposal calls for Analemma to be constructed over Dubai, which has proven to be a specialist in tall building construction at one fifth the cost of New York City construction.

Isn't a large portion of Dubai's low construction costs due to the fact that they use de facto slave labor?
posted by FatherDagon at 7:43 AM on March 30, 2017 [12 favorites]


Good thing there's nothing up there to run into.
posted by ecorrocio at 7:48 AM on March 30, 2017


Some day I will get to Zalem.
posted by rocketman at 7:52 AM on March 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


listen, if you build space towers, you're practically inviting quasi-demonic space kings to invade and take them over
posted by clockzero at 7:52 AM on March 30, 2017 [5 favorites]


Still trying to wrap my head around an eccentric geosynchronous orbit (what is that?!?) that traces that analemma path once a day

Oh, this is a thing! I was reading about it while learning about the satellite Mentor-6 for this fantastic astrophotography post. (A fascinating spy satellite; it has a radar dish 100 meters in diameter!) You can see details on its presumed orbit here. Basically if you put a satellite at the right altitude it's geosynchronous, hovering over roughly the same longitude all the time. If it's at the equator it's geostationary, a fixed point in the sky. But geostationary slots are very rare and expensive, so you can also incline the orbit a bit and then you get an analemma. Which is apparently where we're parking our enormous spy satellites.

One problem for a space elevator like thing is you need to not only clear the orbital spot itself but all the space underneath it, too. This building is an enormous navigation hazard to aircraft and satellites. Then again, that's one of the simpler problems to solve. I laughed out loud when I saw his drawing of all the little cables connecting the asteroid to the building's foundation.
posted by Nelson at 7:54 AM on March 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


listen, if you build space towers, you're practically inviting quasi-demonic space kings to invade and take them over

So it's win-win, is what you're saying.
posted by Etrigan at 7:55 AM on March 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


Was this proposal leaked a couple of days early?
posted by plastic_animals at 8:07 AM on March 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


That'll be a challenge to build a wall against.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:08 AM on March 30, 2017


Dear Architects: Keep your footings on the ground, and stop reaching for the stars.
posted by ulotrichous at 8:09 AM on March 30, 2017


Relax, people, we are in no danger. It says clearly at the bottom of the proposal, "Type: Speculative"
posted by etherist at 8:15 AM on March 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


So maybe I'm crazy here, but it seems like the biggest problem here is the fact that objects have to be travelling at around 7 km/s in order to orbit the earth. Is this thing really gonna be whizzing around in excess of two thousand miles an hour? And people are going to be okay with that? Atmospheric drag isn't a problem? I don't see how their nifty dynamic "transfer station" thing is going to work at even half that speed.

from article: “The proposal calls for Analemma to be constructed over Dubai, which has proven to be a specialist in tall building construction at one fifth the cost of New York City construction.”

I will say, though, that I'm pleased the author has their priorities straight. There are a lot of architectural and physical issues to iron out, but we're already well prepared to utilize slave labor to get the job done. Just start sending 'em up now! - Dubai already accepts casualties in the triple digits on major construction projects, after all, so it won't be too much of a loss even if this thing turns out to be a massive mistake. Brave new world!
posted by koeselitz at 8:22 AM on March 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


Nelson, yes you're right! I'm doing a little more reading and now the only hole (note: not the only hole) in their plan is that statement that they are going to "build it over Dubai". I'm taking that to mean that it hovers over Dubai, which of course isn't possible since it's not on the equator.
posted by achrise at 8:25 AM on March 30, 2017


the unexpected result was from gasses and micro-particles -- a static differential occurred, kind of like rubbing a balloon against a wool sweater. Only it was in the millions of volts. Zap.

This was unexpected? Or were they only expecting the wire to be charged because it was cutting through Earth's magnetic field and not the static charge too?

I mean, this goes back to bad David Brin stories from the 70s or 80s?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:26 AM on March 30, 2017


Is this thing really gonna be whizzing around in excess of two thousand miles an hour?

No. The ground is moving under it in roughly the same direction as its orbit, so it doesn't have to move very fast at all. The proposed daily path from New York to the coast of South America looks to be about 15000km round trip, so its ground speed should average less than four hundred miles an hour.
posted by sfenders at 8:35 AM on March 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


Get Miyazaki on the phone.
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:44 AM on March 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


There has been a cable experiment a few years ago. About a quarter mile of cable was extended from the shuttle, worked fine physically but the unexpected result was from gasses and micro-particles -- a static differential occurred, kind of like rubbing a balloon against a wool sweater. Only it was in the millions of volts. Zap.

The experiment in question. The cable in question was actually designed to extract power from the Earth's magnetic field, and was realed out to 20 km. The problem was from a flaw in the cable design, creating a plasma about as powerful as an electric light bulb, which melted the cable.

Still is s demonstration that nothing is easy in space, and they'd going to be unexpected difficulties.
posted by happyroach at 8:47 AM on March 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


FatherDagon beat me to the elephant in the living room: Dubai's slave labor. Although the high concept of it is still pretty neat, the social reality of it would be a place for the I've-got-mine-Jackists to sink their money that wouldn't be affected by global climate change.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:14 AM on March 30, 2017


The tether experiment
posted by macrael at 9:32 AM on March 30, 2017


Still trying to wrap my head around an eccentric geosynchronous orbit

Geosynchronous means that it completes an orbit in one day. If you put it at the right location it will also be geostationary, which means that it hovers over one point on Earth.

That said, the orbital mechanics of this thing will be insane. For something that long you can't treat it as a point mass. Not even a little bit. This xkcd briefly touches on this (you weren't surprised that xkcd covered this, were you?).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:37 AM on March 30, 2017


sfenders: “No. The ground is moving under it in roughly the same direction as its orbit, so it doesn't have to move very fast at all. The proposed daily path from New York to the coast of South America looks to be about 15000km round trip, so its ground speed should average less than four hundred miles an hour.”

Thanks for the scientific perspective (mine is a pretty loose grasp on the whole thing, obviously). It seems better that it'd be under 400 MPH. I guess I'm... relieved?
posted by koeselitz at 9:50 AM on March 30, 2017


My architectural proposal is much cooler -- I have an infinite tower divided into endless five-story sections, each passing through a different plane of existence, so that visitors can marvel at the vast tedium of Limbo, the many-layered excitements of the Abyss, or the manifold fun of the Astral, with ease while residents may choose whichever planar environment suits them best!

Please to be giving me worldwide attention, thx.
posted by aramaic at 10:51 AM on March 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


There is some weird logic here. Author states that rents increase as a function of height - so a tall building is good because the higher floors command more money per square foot - but then devotes the top (and by his logic the most expensive real estate) to dead people?

But he has one bit right - about half of this insane structure is chalked up for religious use. That makes sense, because I can only assume that no one except some sort of reality-denying cult would try to make such a design.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:22 AM on March 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


"FatherDagon beat me to the elephant in the living room: Dubai's slave labor. Although the high concept of it is still pretty neat, the social reality of it would be a place for the I've-got-mine-Jackists to sink their money that wouldn't be affected by global climate change."

I think artificial islands are where the mega rich will be investing their billions, as soon as we figure out a way to cheaply build them. You could chase good weather and float them around storms, join up with like-minded billionaires in island fleets, or separate at will and go your own way.

As for this tower, it's kind of nuts to imagine there'd be cost savings from using Dubai construction companies, since any human worker will require air, food, water and training. Robots are the way to go with massive construction projects in space.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:40 AM on March 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


I think artificial islands are where the mega rich will be investing their billions

That's an excellent point. If you're going to have a giant building swooping through the clouds at hundreds of miles per hour while tied to an enormous orbiting asteroid with rockets attached to counteract any atmospheric drag... why make the building shaped like a boring old office tower? Make it island-shaped, with a castle on it.
posted by sfenders at 1:41 PM on March 30, 2017


Anyone remember what happened last time an asteroid crashed into Earth?

Yes! A bunch of fake skeletons were buried underground to fool humans!
posted by anem0ne at 1:52 PM on March 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


Is there a word for this sort of time cube crossed with marketing executive thing? Like that pepsi gravity presentation a few years back, where there's a polished execution paired with schizophrenic barely-sequiturs like "DUBAI IS A LEADER IN TALL BUILDING CONSTRUCTION, THEREFORE THE TALLEST BUILDING EVER SHOULD BE CONSTRUCTED THERE" and quasi religious themes like that "INURN EXALT VENERATE WORK CULTIVATE DREAM" list.
posted by lucidium at 4:14 PM on March 30, 2017


I'm surprised no one else has commented on the fact that there is a tremendous amount of drag generated from air resistance moving this thing around at 300 MPH ... forever. If that amount of energy isn't put back in, it won't be geosynchronous any more. I'm not enough of a physicist to tell what will happen, but it can't be good.

Of course, it isn't a serious proposal, and I guess if we could make it we could work out some kind of thing where we run a current through it to generate force against the earth's magnetic field ... or something.

It will be expensive to put in the automatic doors to let the existing satellites through, too.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 4:52 PM on March 30, 2017


Put it in geostationary orbit, allow a massive dump pile to build up underneath it full of everything the inhabitants discard, and then you have totally saved all the money you'd need for the special effects to film Battle Angel Alita in live-action, which is clearly the actual goal here.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 4:55 PM on March 30, 2017


I can't wait to have a giant asteroid-tethered building for the ultrarich zoom over my terrestrial apartment building at 400MPH once a day.

Actually, the more I think about this project, the more it seems like veiled and quite pointed satire, right down to the note about building it in Dubai. My past experience with architects has generally not included them having a sense of humor about architecture, though...
posted by whir at 7:34 PM on March 30, 2017


They're pretty pictures but part of me feels this must be a joke because it's the most brain-dead, silly, ridiculous concept, like, ever. Is this supposed to compete with a space elevator, because the benefit of a space elevator, its whole raison d'etre, really, is to minimize the cost of getting materials into orbit. Every ounce carried up to the ISS needs corresponding rocket fuel to get it up there, and it's hard to do. Theoretically, a space elevator could do this essentially for free...once the infrastructure is in place, of course.

But this thing...all those materials to build the hanging tower have to get up there in the first place, right? The cost of that would probably be all nations' GDPs for a decade or two. And then there's the whole engineering miracle of getting a meteor in geosync orbit. And then there's this thing called "storms," specifically "hurricanes" and "typhoons" that would shake this thing around like a straw in front of a hairdryer stream.

Space elevators. Launch Loops. That's the future (if we make it that far). This makes for a nice undergrad design project, though.
posted by zardoz at 8:45 PM on March 30, 2017


FatherDagon: "Do catch the recent film adaptation of Ballard's "High Rise yt ", w. Tom Hiddleston."

Or just read the book. It's arguably Ballard's best.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:08 PM on April 3, 2017


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