Posted May 4, 2000
I guess the total mass of everything we've lifted into space so far is what? a coupla thousand tonnes?
Spread over the surface of the Earth (and then some!) that's a pretty low density so I guess the chances of any of it hitting something, say, 100metres in diameter would be pretty remote at first glance.
But then if the Earth is rotating wouldn't the tower also be passing through the orbital paths of all the bits and pieces up there? Seems to me that every piece of junk up there has to intersect the equator once in every orbit, at a different point each time. Sooner or later that point will contain the elevator.
Even if I've got that wrong there's still Murphy's Law to contend with. ie a collision is a dead cert.
Ping Pong balls don't have a lot of mass so you'd have to fire an awful lot to divert a moving satellite by gravitational effect, but wouldn't that be fun? Sooner or later the balls would probably hit the tower too - necessetating yet more defences.
Perhaps a better way, as we'd be manipulating matter at the sub-atomic level by this time, would be to fire lumps of super-heavy neutronium. You'd only need a few to create the gravitational effect necessary to 'pull' your satellites off course then.
Posted May 7, 2000
Why bother chucking any mass about at all? Just use the higher density
air from down at ground level in great jets in all directions to blow
away any junk that comes near!(It'd have to be balanced or you'd blow
the lift over...8^D )
Posted May 8, 2000
Hmmm.. I think air is too precious a material to waste. Remember, you are above the atmosphere if there are orbiting satellites (drag brings them back down).
We'd be safe from geosynch satellites, anyway. But everything else...