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  • Vacuum Ships of the Air

    Posted by Shannon Love on June 3rd, 2008 (All posts by )

    A Vacuum Airship

    I love this stuff.


    Lighter-than-air craft such as blimps and zeppelins float by reducing their total mass below that of the mass of the air they displace. Conventionally, filling a lightweight container with hot air or the low density gasses hydrogen or helium lowers the mass enough to raise the entire vessel. However, the theoretical best means of reducing mass would be to use a vacuum contained in a very lightweight container.

    This site is in russian but it does look like somebody put some thought into what such a vessel would actually look like. This is one of these ideas that makes ears of geeks perk up. It just seems so counterintuitive that you could use literally nothing to lift something into the air.

    IIRC, the actual efficiency you could get over helium would be only about 18% so no one is likely to build one for any reason other than to say that they did so.

    But hell, I would kill to be able to say that I did.

     

    6 Responses to “Vacuum Ships of the Air”

    1. Robert Schwartz Says:

      It would probably be cheaper and easier to figure out how to avoid hydrogen fires and use it, as it is half the density of and a lot cheaper than helium.

    2. david foster Says:

      Airships are very cool. If all goes well, you will soon be able to take Zeppelin rides in California.

    3. Tatyana Says:

      This guy (Mr. Levin) calls it “techno-fantasy”. The site houses his works on 3D modeling on 3D StudioMax, including actual projects in architecture and industrial design as well as fantastical stuff.

      What y’all might find interesting, however, is imbedded a bit further: a sub-site called Mannergeim’ Line: a very informative portal with maps, texts, links etc on history of Finnish-Soviet War and maps and descriptions of remaining bunkers (some with unexploded amunition, so there is a warning in fine print).
      That subsite includes author’s photographs and computer renderings on the topic. Tell me if you’re interested in any particular article, I’ll do my best to translate – with proper credit to Mr. Levin, of course.

    4. Lexington Green Says:

      It reminds me of the vacuum airships from The Diamond Age.

      Also, why props instead of jets?

    5. Jim Bennett Says:

      That’s a very high-drag design, Lex. No way it’s going to go fast enough to use jets efficiently. Probably you’d want gas trubines driving props. If it were a serious design it would have a smooth skin on the outside.

      There was at least one reasonably successful metal-skin arship. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZMC-2).

    6. Anonymous Says:

      Yah know if you could get a material with a high enough strength to weight ratio you could possibly get a “Vacuum” air ship high enough to get a reduced drag.