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The challenge of the next-generation spacecraft hinges on a few primary issues. First and foremost, of course, is cost. Lowering the cost of space flight primarily means reducing weight. Each pound trimmed is a pound that won't need propulsion to escape from Earth's gravity. Lighter spaceships can have smaller, more efficient engines and less fuel. This, in turn, saves more weight, thus creating a beneficial spiral of weight savings and cost reduction.

Right : This fully-loaded Saturn V moon rocket weighed 6. It was heavy and expensive to launch. The challenge is to trim weight while increasing safety, reliability, and functionality. Just leaving parts out won't do. Scientists are exploring a range of new technologies that could help spacecraft slim down.

For example, gossamer materials -- which are ultra-thin films--might be used for antennas or photovoltaic panels in place of the bulkier components used today, or even for vast solar sails that provide propulsion while massing only 4 to 6 grams per square meter. Composite materials, like those used in carbon-fiber tennis rackets and golf clubs, have already done much to help bring weight down in aerospace designs without compromising strength.

But a new form of carbon called a "carbon nanotube" holds the promise of a dramatic improvement over composites: The best composites have 3 or 4 times the strength of steel by weight--for nanotubes, it's times! Typically nanotubes are about 1. Copyright Prof. Vincent H. Nanotubes were only discovered in , but already the intense interest in the scientific community has advanced our ability to create and use nanotubes tremendously.

Only 2 to 3 years ago, the longest nanotubes that had been made were about nanometers long 1 micron. Today, scientists are able to grow tubes as long as million nanometers 20 cm. Bushnell notes that there are at least 56 labs around the world working to mass produce these tiny tubes. Still, nanotubes are our best bet.

Beyond merely being strong, nanotubes will likely be important for another part of the spacecraft weight-loss plan: materials that can serve more than just one function. The holder can be an integral, active part of the system. Imagine that the body of a spacecraft could also store power, removing the need for heavy batteries.

Or that surfaces could bend themselves, doing away with separate actuators. Or that circuitry could be embedded directly into the body of the spacecraft. When materials can be designed on the molecular scale such holistic structures become possible. Humans can feel even the slightest pinprick anywhere on their bodies. It's an amazing bit of self-monitoring -- possible because your skin contains millions of microscopic nerve endings as well as nerves to carry those signals to your brain. Likewise, materials that make up critical systems in a spaceship could be embedded with nanometer-scale sensors that constantly monitor the materials' condition.

If some part is starting to fail -- that is, it "feels bad" -- these sensors could alert the central computer before tragedy strikes. Molecular wires could carry the signals from all of these in-woven sensors to the central computer, avoiding the impractical bulk of millions and millions of today's wires. Again, nanotubes may be able to serve this role. Conveniently, nanotubes can act as either conductors or semi-conductors, depending on how they're made. Scientists have made molecular wires of other elongated molecules, some of which even naturally self-assemble into useful configurations.

Your skin is also able to heal itself. Believe it or not, some advanced materials can do the same thing. Self-healing materials made of long-chain molecules called ionomers react to a penetrating object such as a bullet by closing behind it. Spaceships could use such skins because space is full of tiny projectiles -- fast-moving bits of debris from comets and asteroids.

Should one of these sand- to pebble-sized objects puncture the ship's armor, a layer of self-healing material would keep the cabin airtight. Meteoroids aren't the only hazard; space is filled with radiation, too. Spaceships in low-Earth orbit are substantially protected by our planet's magnetic field, which forms a safe bubble about 50, km wide centered on Earth.

Beyond that distance, however, solar flares and cosmic rays pose a threat to space travelers. Right : A solar flare blasts energetic radiation into space. Scientists are still searching for a good solution. The trick is to provide adequate shielding without adding lots of extra weight to the spacecraft. But these alone won't be enough. It consists, in part, of very heavy positive ions--such as iron nuclei -- zipping along at great speed.

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The combination of high mass and high speed makes these little atomic "cannon balls" very destructive. When they pierce through the cells in people's bodies, they can smash apart DNA, leading to illness and even cancer. When a galactic comic ray hits a metallic atom, it can shatter the atom's nucleus -- a process akin to the fission that occurs in nuclear power plants. The secondary radiation produced by these collisions can be worse than the GCR that the metal was meant to shield.

Ironically, light elements like hydrogen and helium are the best defense against these GCR brutes, because collisions with them produce little secondary radiation. Kelly writes for Adult Swim shows on Cartoon Network. I tell you this because that is very much what you get in this collection. Just like Adult Swim, this book is sometimes crude, rude and a bit raunchy but more often More Stories About Spaceships and Cancer is a collection of short stories written by Casper Kelly.

Just like Adult Swim, this book is sometimes crude, rude and a bit raunchy but more often than not, very funny. It is not all about the humor though. There is some really good story telling here also. My rating: 4. May 19, John Kupper rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction , short-stories. More Stories about Spaceships and Cancer is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time.

I was laughing from the table of contents to the acknowledgements and epilogue, without much of a break in between. This collection reads at times like a hilarious, more lowbrow Philip K. Dick and I mean that in the best, most complimentary way possible , and at others like episodes of the Twilight Zone if they had been given the Adult Swim treatment. But these stories are also surprisingly poignant and profound, which, since you're sort of blindsided, generates an even bigger impact.

More Stories about Spaceships and Cancer is one of those books that's bound to find a cult following. With all its raunchy humor, sci-fi conceits, campy horror, and postmodern tics, it's the type of book that you can't wait to recommend to certain friends because you know that they'll "get it. Nov 24, John McNee rated it really liked it. A mixed bag of uniquely absurd stories.

I was prepared for the hilarity and non-sequiturs, but there are some surprisingly original concepts and high degrees of poignancy to be found within these pages. Choosing a few specific examples, 'Frequently Asked Questions', about a murderous ATM, is about as perfect a short story as you'll ever find. The final story, incorporating several ta A mixed bag of uniquely absurd stories. The final story, incorporating several tales into one, is the longest and very nearly the best of all the stories in the collection, but I didn't care for the ending.

By turns hilarious, troubling, baffling but never not entertaining, this is a pretty damn fine book. After reading this book, I will not take the bathroom for granted again. There were some truly hilarious moments in this book, some thoughtful ones, and some downright strange ones. My favorites were "Sneezy", the "Altair 7" story, and the above mentioned " 2" story. The "Altair 7" story was a pretty deep set of ideas wrapped in an entertaining Philip K.

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Dick type package. The " 2" story was weird in the best way and very funny. I probably could have d After reading this book, I will not take the bathroom for granted again. I probably could have done without the "Haberdasher" story, possibly a joke drawn out too long. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to more from Casper Kelly.

Apr 19, Michael rated it really liked it Shelves: bizarro , favorites , kindle-e-books. It's hard to review a book of short stories. The only way to effectively review it is to base it not just on one or two stories but the entire collection. Sadly there's only one story about spaceships and none about cancer but these are entertaining stories and it's a quick read.

Some will make you laugh out loud while a couple are just ok. As a debut it works and is worth checking out. View all 3 comments. Jun 19, Zach Melzer rated it it was amazing.

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An imaginative, illusive, spiraling, and translucent read that chills the bones, all the while being outrageously funny. Terrific compositions by a very gifted writer. Highly recommended. Jun 07, Loveliest Evaris rated it liked it Shelves: sexual-themes , what-did-i-just-read , books-i-ve-won , humor , morals-and-lessons , metaphor-or-allegory , tongue-in-cheek , not-what-i-expected , self-aware , parody.

I didn't really know what to expect. I thought I would get maybe personal accounts by the author on his life, or maybe some ramblings about life and the current state of humanity with weird examples taken from obscure places. But this was a montage of short stories of varying lengths which dealt from everything from a world where technology exists that turns all of your waste into waves so you no longer have to use the bathroom to a unrequited love story of Sneezy pining for Snow White. Needless t I didn't really know what to expect. Needless to say, it was weird.

Good weird, but still weird. Between each story was an "intermission" where your "host" --that is, a talking skull with flesh hanging off of him--taking you the reader through the paces and making very self-aware comments about himself and everything around him, which entails breaking the fourth wall so badly that I thought this was a transcript to something said and done in actual real life. I imagine the host to look like FaceBones from Metalocalypse: The constant 4th-wall-breaking for the Intermissions made me uneasy. Simply because I'm not used to so much "official" tongue-in-cheek lampshade hanging look that up on TV Tropes if you don't know what it is , and to me it was like someone had written the novel equivalent of a movie.

To me it can't be done, and it was less believable what is there to believe anyways? But that's just me. I don't like it when it's constantly pointing out things like that, but I'm sure many others do.

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It's not you, Mr. Casper, it's me. I didn't expect it to be written like that, and I didn't enjoy it because it's just not what I'm into literature-wise.

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This is a very good book if you like snarky 4th-wall-breaking and weird stories full of humor and "oh yeah! I just didn't enjoy it as much as people who like that stuff would Jan 18, kcb rated it it was amazing. This book has been on my to-read list for a couple of years, found either by accident or recommendation, I don't really remember. It wasn't until Too Many Cooks that I was reminded to pick this up, which is unfortunate because I should have read it when I first discovered it, but fortunate because I got to read it now, and not in some foggy past.

Reading is usually a huge chore for me, and I typically avoid it, but More Stories About Spaceships and Cancer is a really accessible, fairly relatable This book has been on my to-read list for a couple of years, found either by accident or recommendation, I don't really remember. Reading is usually a huge chore for me, and I typically avoid it, but More Stories About Spaceships and Cancer is a really accessible, fairly relatable book. In fact, it kept me wanting reading it, and I finished it pretty quickly. The stories are varied, and handle weirdness well- it doesn't feel forced or too in-your-face, but plays out naturally and organically according to the logic of the stories.

This sort of Authentic Weird is important to me, versus the "isn't this random and weeeeird, lol" that has been cropping up quite a bit lately. Between the stories are intermissions that often had me laughing. I couldn't read this book at work because it would have been too obvious that I was reading a funny book and not actually working. While likely not for everyone, if you already knew Kelly's work from Adult Swim, or you just discovered him through Too Many Cooks, and you're literate, you may as well read this book.

Dec 05, Hilola rated it it was amazing Shelves: first-reads. I just finished the book and ehm.. Well let's start with this. I got the book through goodreads giveaway and thank you to the author. I have no idea why I entered this giveaway as I am not a short story person. As author or rather Professor Badbones puts it, to me they are 'out of fashion'. It is a bit like a Ray Bradberry style but crazier! It's creepy and fascin So.. It's creepy and fascinating.

Every story is in its own way, nothing repetitive. I got thrown from a horror story to an unrequited love story, from science fiction to shrink's sofa and back to science fiction again. I could not imagine what the author was going to come up with next and was taken by surprise every time. May 19, Benjamin rated it it was amazing Shelves: giveaway-books.

First, this book is not for the timid. There is language and subject matter in this book that many people would find very offensive. That said, this has to be one of the most creative books I've ever read. Casper has a very readable writing style, a great sense of humor, an amazing understanding of human psychology, and writes stories so far out of the box that I've forgotten where the box is.

This book was thoroughly enjoyable, made me laugh and really made me think. I will be keeping an eye out First, this book is not for the timid. I will be keeping an eye out for future works by Casper Kelly! Nov 10, Oliver Clarke rated it it was amazing. I came to this after seeing Kelly's wonderful viral video 'Too Many Cooks' and enjoyed it enormously. It's a collection of short stories, which I guess you would call science fiction, but that label isn't particularly helpful. The stories are all extremely funny and inventive, surreal but engaging. I loved it.

Jan 22, Brad Nagel rated it really liked it Shelves: great. Very good short story collection that manages to be clever, funny, and poignant in places you wouldn't expect to find poignancy. I borrowed this from my Kindle lending library, but now I think I'll have to pick up a copy to keep. Not only did I love this book, I'm pretty sure I blurbed it, too!

This bizarre collection of short fiction by Caser Kelly was mind-blowingly entertaining to say the least! Casper Kelly had me laughing and scratching my head going "huh?

I read this completely in a few sittings as it was so absurd that I had trouble putting it down. Kelly's style reminds me of a favorite author of mine, Grady Hendrix. Though Kelly doesn't specialize in horror like Hendrix, the writing styles are quite similar if you like this s Wow!

Could Black Holes Made of Light Power Our Spaceships?

Though Kelly doesn't specialize in horror like Hendrix, the writing styles are quite similar if you like this sort of thing. I would LOVE to find other authors that write in this style. Unfortunately, I'm sure this is a niche that is too far from the mainstream to attract the typical "pajama people," as musician Frank Zappa would have called them. I am not typically one to read for humor. I prefer gritty story telling and a good deal of horror and suspense.

But this read was quite a treat! Fair warning: The language and subject matter in some of these stories will highly offend many people due to a bit of graphic, sexual humor. If this type of thing offends you, don't bother picking this one up. This book is a train wreck that you can't look away from Nov 07, Eric T. Voigt rated it it was amazing Shelves: fall-fifteen.