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Magnetic fluid spacecraft

  1. Mar 18, 2003 #1
    A spacecraft whose bulk consists of magnetic fluid shaped by an internal magnetic field has several advantages over conventional solid metallic craft.

    1. It would better be able to absorb high-velocity space debris.

    2. It could change shape to the demands of atmospheric viscosity or for the constrution of shuttlecraft.

    3. It could more readily withstand internal stresses.

    4. Magnetic levitation could be utilized to assist in its flight.

    5. A naturally generated radio signal locates it.

    6. Its electrical power is generated through external charge flux.

    7. Its intial construction would incur less cost than that of conventional spaceships.

    A magnetic fluid craft might have to bypass strong magneto fields of planets and stars, but these could also be exploited for its efficient propulsion. It may have to be constructed in outer space to avoid large gravitational and inertial forces.

    Can you foresee any other advantages/disadvantages of magnetic fluid spaceships?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2003 #2
    My mind doesn't opperate on the level. All I can say is that it sounds like a very useful idea (one day, that is.)
  4. Mar 19, 2003 #3
    In all my days of dreaming up wacky sci-fi ideas I’ve never seen or even considered the concept of a magnetic fluid spacecraft. When you say “Magnetic Fluid” what type of material are you talking about?
  5. Mar 19, 2003 #4
    For the low-temperature application involved, I'd say tentatively mercury, or iron suspended in a hydrocarbon or fluorocarbon by appropriate surfactant.
  6. Mar 19, 2003 #5


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    I've NEVER heard of that technology.
    What is it ?

    "Does dice play God ?"

    Live long and prosper.
  7. Mar 19, 2003 #6
    Remember, drag, you heard it here first.

    Ferrofluids are a colloidal suspension of nanoscale ferrites that retain their liquid identity yet obey a magnetic field. Your stereo speakers may well utilize them near the voice coil to lessen field losses and dampen resonances.
  8. Mar 19, 2003 #7
    Can magnetic fluids intercept any radio waves or something?
  9. Mar 19, 2003 #8
    Yes, they kidnap little boys and make them travel through time.
    Honestly, have we learned nothing from the movie Flight of the Navigator?

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2003
  10. Mar 20, 2003 #9
    Surprisingly, this is the first thing I've ever seen you post that seemed, well...sort of nuts. I'm pretty sure (well actaully I'm just guessing) that any specialist in fluid dynamics would feel that trying to control a fluid like that would be impossible with our current knowledge and control of physics.

    That said, the idea of a ferro fluid to absorb impact seems not unreasonable. There is also work be done on self organising nanite technology which could potentially create a 'fluid' ship in the future.

    By the way, you can make a ferrofluid yourself check down the bottom of this page.

    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2002/23aug_MRfluids.htm [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  11. Mar 21, 2003 #10
    Are you referring to memory metals?

  12. Mar 21, 2003 #11


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    Greetings !

    Well, I'm still not entirely certain about this.
    But I will adress your "uses" points :
    1. Possible.
    2. Fascinating !
    3. And what if there's a power glitch ? :smile:
    4. Magnetic levitation ? You need something
    to cause the levitation. Or, in simpler Newtonian
    terms - something to push against.
    5. I don't follow this ?
    6. And that is some advantage ?
    7. Indeed.

    Possible disadvantages :
    1. First of all, can something like this remain in "liquid"
    state in space in different tempratures and radiation
    conditions ?
    2. It requires a permanent power supply !
    Including the construction stage (of additional "internal"
    stuff, not made from this material).
    3. Basicly, metal - a material that if strongly effected
    by EM fields and radiation is simply a bad choice
    for a spacecraft's hull.
    4. The construction must take place in micro-gravity.
    5. Can't it rust ?

    "Does dice play God ?"

    Live long and prosper.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2003
  13. Mar 23, 2003 #12
    No, I can't find it again at the moment but I'm talking about little robots that join together in different shapes. I think I might have seen it on a documentary. I think each one is quite large at the moment. Not really nanites.

    Just had a look, check this out


    Have a proper look through the site like this bit on digital clay


    Heaps o'stuff

  14. Mar 23, 2003 #13
    Also search for electrorheological fluids which are electrically forced to change in viscocity rather than magnetorheological fluids which do the same magnetically.

  15. Mar 23, 2003 #14

    Power would be generated by "skin effect," the potential which develops from collision with ions, or by internal nuclear reactor.

    Levitation would be used in conjunction with bodies having a large magnetic field.

    The skin effect would create a signature E-M signal, as would the interaction of the craft with external magnetic fields.

    Energy for "free" would be generated by the above skin effect.

    Temperature must be maintained for a liquid state in 2.73K space, or >1000K space near stars.

    Rust, or oxidation, does not readily occur in the vacuum of space.
  16. Mar 28, 2003 #15


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    That sounds pretty interesting, but I'm rather curious how you would go about making the fluid conform to an exact form. Perhaps you could use some sort of wire frame, or maybe there is a wireless way of creating a magnetic field that conforms to aerodynamics and such.

    Like, if the ship is to be shaped like a classic airplane, how would one design the em fields to regulate the curves and such? Also, how would it be able to switch forms?

    I could see if some type of flexible conductor was used to spread the magnetic field as needed. Could possibly even have the conductor setup to slide at certain points, but I dunno.

    Sounds pretty cool, maybe we should try a skateboard first though.
  17. Apr 1, 2003 #16
    I found this on the web and thought people might be interested:

    http://spaceresearch.nasa.gov/general_info/23aug_MRfluids.html [Broken]

    From what I can tell a lot of work is happening in this aleady. I personally like the idea of a spacecraft which can reshape itself simply by generating the right configuration of magnetic fields. In principle it may not be that far off (e.g. 100 years). Mind you ... how do these fluids behave when field comes from the inside of the fluid?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  18. Apr 1, 2003 #17
    Thanks for the ref, sir-pinski. Someone beat me to it. It might indeed be difficult to shape arbitrarily using internal magnetic fields. I will put on my magnetic thinking-cap.
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