3001: The Final Odyssey picture
October 28, 2004 5:39 AM   Subscribe

In Arthur C. Clarke's novel, "3001: The Final Odyssey", he postulates the idea of a "ring around the world", an artificial ring surrounding the entire globe, sitting in geostationary orbit, connected to the Earth with four space elevator towers at 90 degree intervals.

Has anyone ever rendered or painted what this would look like from space, or on Earth?
posted by Mwongozi to Media & Arts (18 answers total)
Halo (the videogame) has a picture of this.


posted by sleslie at 5:51 AM on October 28, 2004

Response by poster: I'm aware of Halo, and the world seems to be more like Larry Niven's Ringworld, where a really (really) big ring sits around a sun, rather than a planet, and it spins so that you can live on the inside.
The idea is somewhat similar, but still different.
posted by Mwongozi at 5:57 AM on October 28, 2004

right right.... sorry about that, its been a couple of years since I played Halo.
posted by sleslie at 6:02 AM on October 28, 2004

Try a GIS for "Ringworld"
posted by Meridian at 6:03 AM on October 28, 2004

In the game Escape Velocity: Nova, the Earth has such a ring called the "Kane Band." There's a few pictures of it in the game, which I'll post when I get home this afternoon if nobody beats me to it.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:08 AM on October 28, 2004

The Ambrosia Software space game 'Escape Velocity: Nova' has their image for the planet Earth surrounded by a large ring connected to the planet poles of a sort. I forget the term the game uses for it, it's got some scientist's name attached to it as if some character in the game's scifi history had come up with it.

But it sounds exactly like this ring of Clarke's, save for the fact that the things connecting the ring to Earth are portrayed as being roughly as thick as the ring itself--I doubt Clarke's elevators would've been that large.

I don't have a screenie available, but it's nothing too impressive, just a small 2D element.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 6:12 AM on October 28, 2004

Also the covers of some Iain M. Banks novels:
* Consider Phlebas
* Look to Windward
posted by Meridian at 6:13 AM on October 28, 2004

Hah, beaten by Johnny! That will teach me to hit Preview and then read another thread for four minutes :D

I'd go snap a screenie now, but I no longer have the game installed. Ah well.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 6:21 AM on October 28, 2004

Pedant alert: Clarke actually comes up with the idea at the end of The Fountains of Paradise.

Halo -- a smaller ring-habitat than a Ringworld, set in orbit around a star rather than being a ring around it -- is basically an Orbital lifted from Iain M. Banks' Culture novels.

It's an elegant solution. Find the size of ring so that spinning it one rev per day generates one g of "gravity" and plop it into the right orbit. Lots more living space for the same amount of material.

Halo more-or-less explicitly references the Culture novels a few times. The snarky drone that leads you around, ships with odd or jokey names *ahem* stop looking at me, etc. ISTR interviews where the authors made it clear that this was intentional.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:23 AM on October 28, 2004

Halo references to Banks' Culture.
posted by biffa at 6:38 AM on October 28, 2004

I've been wondering about something similar to this. Does anyone know of a good image of what it would look like from earth if we had saturn-type rings?
posted by GeekAnimator at 8:52 AM on October 28, 2004

fastening this thing to the poles wuldnt work, would it? it would need to be equatorial, i think.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:00 AM on October 28, 2004

MobyGames has a screenshot from Escape Velocity: Nova with the Earth in it. It doesn't seem far enough out to be in geosynchronous orbit, though.
posted by zsazsa at 9:06 AM on October 28, 2004

The Spaceward Foundation is working on bringing a real space elevator into being in the near future. But the founder told me only one of these can be built per planet (though its capacity can be sufficient to handle extremely large volumes) due to extremely small possibility that if one were snapped it would destroy the other(s).
posted by billsaysthis at 9:56 AM on October 28, 2004

There's actually nothing in the middle of the ring in Halo - it circles one of the stable Lagrange points that orbits a gas-giant planet called Threshold ahead or behind of one of its moons.
posted by nicwolff at 12:44 PM on October 28, 2004

Oh, this was telling...

I'm currently reading "Against a Dark Background" by Iain M Banks and I came across this passage:

"The Lazy Guns had not had a happy history; they had turned up during the Interregnum following the Second War, seemingly products of Halo; the vast Thrial-polar Machine Intelligence artifact/habitat destroyed by whatever mysterious weapon had been fired from - and which appeared to have obliterated - the moons of the giant gas planet Phrastesis."

So Halo is a machine AI? So far it has been the only reference in the book.

Gee, since the Halo is kind of a giant weapon ... ... ... that's what all of those crackling pillars are in the game ...

Thanks, I haven't read any Ian Banks before and now I need to.
posted by SpecialK at 8:31 PM on October 28, 2004

Well, the game Halo draws from Banks' books about the Culture, a ``nation'' of hedonist commie do-gooders from space and the hyperintelligent scheming AIs who love them. Halo is an Orbital, 343 Guilty Spark is a drone, Pillar of Autumn is sort of a wussed-out ROU and Cortana is a dipshit of a Mind.

Against A Dark Background, while it might mention something called Halo, is emphatically not a Culture novel.

If you want to try Culture novels, I recommend starting with The Player of Games. Not the best necessarily, but the most accessible IMHO followed by Consider Phlebas. Use of Weapons, Excession, Inversions, and Look to Windward are all Culture novels. You should read CP before you read UoW.

Against A Dark Background, Feersum Endjinn, and The Algebraist are SF books that aren't set in the Culture. The collection The State of the Art is partly Culture, partly not.

He also writes straight fiction and slipstream stuff. Highlights include The Crow Road, The Wasp Factory, The Bridge, and Espedair Street. TCR has the second-best opening line EVARRR... ``It was the day my grandmother exploded...''

If you try Banks SF and like it, you might also like Ken MacLeod's books in the Fall Revolution setting (The Star Fraction, The Stone Canal, The Cassini Division, The Sky Road) or the standalone Newton's Wake. Or you might try Revelation Space and successors by Alastair Reynolds, or Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise by Charlie Stross.

I'll shut up now and stop being the drooling fanboy.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:16 PM on October 28, 2004

I second the recommendation of Alasdair Reynolds. I haven't read MacLeod or Stross; thanks for the recommendations.
posted by salmacis at 10:42 AM on October 29, 2004

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