Monday, January 01, 2007

Go Solar!

SoH encouraged jIH tlhej HoS Daq wIj qa'.
You encouraged me with strength in my soul.

(click for podcast)

Here's the problem with space travel - everything you carry requires more fuel to propel it. AND that fuel is one MORE thing to carry. Which requires more fuel to propel it..

If you have a one-ton rocket in orbit, and you want to take it to, say Venus, it would take at least 3 tons of fuel. If you needed to add tanks to hold that fuel, well, there you have more mass to propel, and it will need fuel for every bit of mass added. It gets complicated, and it is necessary to come up with elegant - sometimes complex - solutions to reduce mass of a ship.

Now - imagine for a moment that you could propel your ship without fuel. Once in orbit, you'll add no more mass to your payload - even if this magic cost you time in the journey, it would be worth it, since you could have a regular shuttle carrying supplies back and forth to your destination - say an outpost on Mars or station around Venus.

This isn't a fantasy, at least not if you use what is called a solar sail to power your spacecraft (

Solar sails (also called light sails, especially when they use light sources other than the Sun) are a proposed form of spacecraft propulsion using large membrane mirrors. Radiation pressure is small and decreases by the square of the distance from the sun, but unlike rockets, solar sails require no fuel. Although the thrust is small, it continues as long as the sun shines and the sail is deployed.

Once built a sail propelled ship requires no fuel but the sun to move. And, unlike terrestrial winds - there is no "weather" - the wind is steady and reliable

SoH encouraged jIH tlhej HoS Daq wIj qa'.
You encouraged me with strength in my soul.

David encourages us in this psalm by assuring that, in answer to prayer, God will give strength. The Hebrew word is oz and appears over 90 times in the Bible. From a word that means strength in various applications, it is translated in the KJV as boldness, loud, might, power, strength, strong.

This is a good match for the Klingon word,HoS, which is both a verb (to be strong) and noun (strength, energy, power). Strength is a valued factor in Klingon life - it is one of the four ideals of behavior (accuracy, straightforwardness, and aggressiveness are the others.).

And God's promised strength is a powerful theme in Scripture as well. Though some may see prayer as nothing but a sanctified Santa's wish list - the promise of scripture is the power to get through our trials.

St. Paul reminds us in Philippians

jIH laH ta' Hoch Dochmey vegh Christ, 'Iv strengthens jIH
I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Phil 4:13

David tells us in Psalm 28

joH'a' ghaH wIj HoS je wIj yoD. wIj tIq ghajtaH trusted Daq ghaH, je jIH 'oH helped. vaj wIj tIq greatly rejoices. tlhej wIj bom jIH DichDaq tlho' ghaH.

The LORD is my strength and my shield. My heart has trusted in him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart greatly rejoices. With my song I will thank him. Psalm 28:17

How this strengh works may be a mystery - as St. Paul found when, despite prayer he was not healed, but assured by God:

" wIj grace ghaH sufficient vaD SoH, vaD wIj HoS ghaH chenmoHta' perfect Daq weakness."

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor 12:9)

Remember the solar sail? That fantastic contraption that promises to reduce the cost of travel through our solar system? It is based on the premise that the ship doesn't need to contain all the power it needs to travel - it opens up and takes advantage of the sun's power.

For our travels through life, prayer is like that sail, opening up our lives to God's power to move through the orbits of our lives. When we presume that our lives, our achievements are completely dependant on the our own abilities, we are in the predicament of the space traveler who must carefully measure each ounce every gram of cargo and carry fuel and more fuel to reach our goal.

SoH encouraged jIH tlhej HoS Daq wIj qa'.
You encouraged me with strength in my soul.

The Bible reminds us that we don't stand alone, that God is ready to help us, give us power to reach our goals. Turn today in prayer, for the HoS, the power that you need.


jaericho said...

I really enjoy your site and I look forward to your posts. I wanted to leave something for all the other readers. It is a little off topic, but check out: Magnetic Sails they look to be really interesting.

Joel said...

I agree - mag sails are another interesting idea... reminds me I've got to go back and finish The Wreck of the River of Stars some day...

Joel said...

Oh - and thanks for the nice words! Always nice to know someone is listening.....

E. Louise said...

I also still pop in now and again, and your blog makes me smile.

Joel said...

Thank you! As always, it is cheering to know someone is listening.....