Monday, November 08, 2010
Freeman Dyson is a British born American physicist, inventor of the concept of the Dyson Sphere & advocate of building a laser launch system & encouraging individuals to use it. He considers himself proud to be a heretic on some scientific matters, something which all scientists should be willing to be & few are, particularly the catastrophic warming scare. Jerry Pournelle, whose opinions I have made clear I hold in high regard has himself in a similar way expressed a high opinion of him as one of the world's great physicists.
He was also involved as a young member in the Orion nuclear bomb powered rocket designed to reach "Mars by 1965, Saturn by 1970" of which I have written & although I understood he was no longer enthusiastic I sent him links from my blog on the subject & on the subject of radiation hormesis which, if correct, makes nuclear pulse rockets safe as regards atmospheric pollution. I am more than gratified to have his reply which, with his permission, I here reprint, though we differ on whether the cost in irradiated land is worth it & I think there are projects, mainly space industrial ones, which would benefit from, or indeed only be possible in the near term, with massive payloads.
Just a brief reply. It is true that I do not expect or hope for a revival of Orion. Even if you believe in hormesis (which I find quite likely) the problems of radio-active contamination caused by Orion missions do not go away. And we have done remarkably well using modern instruments and modern communications to
explore the solar system with small payloads. As a scientist, I see no great advantage today arising from thousand-ton payloads.
But, as usual when I disagree with people, I would be delighted to be proved wrong. I am delighted that somebody like you is still excited by the vision that inspired our efforts fifty years ago. If you can prove me wrong and I am still around to enjoy it, I will be happy to celebrate the first launch.