Tie a stone to the end of a bow and spin it on your head. The result is that you will not only have the largest slingshot in the world, but also a kind of elevator to outer space.
NASA is so intrigued that it has invested millions of dollars in a matching space elevator designs. The third annual celebration of the contest will take place in October, just outside Salt Lake City; So far, 22 teams have already registered, most from universities.
The fact that a space elevator is feasible is due, to some extent, to advances in nanotechnology, especially those related to carbon nanotubes, which consist of a kind of atomic-scale threads with a tensile strength greater than that of steel , but with much less weight. When these carbon nanotubes are bonded together they achieve unimaginable resistance.
The proposed elevator loop would be 30 inches wide, but only the thickness of a sheet of paper. Wade Adams, a naotechnology researcher at Rice University, says nanoengineers have already created yarns with 15% of the strength needed for the elevator and continue to make progress. Existing nanotube yarns are already three times as strong as Kevlar yarns used in bulletproof vests.