The Diamond Age
LITERACY – THE DIAMOND AGE ( NEAL STEPHENSON )
Seeking an alchemist in paradise
BLURB (Main source of inspiration)
High above the diamondoid bedrock of 21st Century New Chusan, powerful neo-Victorians rule over Atlantis/Shanghai, which is still subject to the rigours of Confucian law.
John Percival Hackworth is one top Neo-Vick. A brilliant nanotechnologist. The fugitive creator of an illicit copy of A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer.
Poor little Neil is a thete orphan, sharing a bed in Enchantment with her ruffian brother Harv. She might have stayed there forever, but for one glitch: the theft of the Primer. An interactive device to enable women to think for themselves. Heaven help the future if it should fall into the wrong hands…
MORE DETAILED INFORMATION
An inner plateau about a mile above sea level, where the air was cooler and cleaner. Parts of it were marked off with a lovely wrought-iron fence, but the real border was defended by something called the dog pod grid – a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.
Aerostat meant anything that hung in the air.This was an easy trick to pull off nowadays. Nanotech materials were stronger. Computers were infinitesimal. Power supplies were much more potent. It was almost difficult not to build things that were lighter than air.
A design similar to Fuller's Cloud Nine might permit habitation in the upper atmosphere of Venus, where at ground level the temperature is too hot and the atmospheric pressure too great. As proposed by Geoffrey A. Landis, the easiest planet (other than Earth) to place floating cities at this point would appear to be Venus. Because the thick carbon dioxide atmosphere is 50% denser than air, breathable air (21:79 Oxygen-Nitrogen mixture) is a lifting gas in the dense Venusian atmosphere, with over 60% of the lifting power that helium has on Earth. In effect, a balloon full of human-breathable air would sustain itself and extra weight (such as a colony) in midair. This means that any large structure filled with air would float on the carbon dioxide, with the air's natural buoyancy counteracting the weight of the structure itself.
At an altitude of 50 km above the Venusian surface, the environment is the "most Earthlike in the solar system", with a pressure of approximately 1 bar and temperatures in the 0°C-50°C range. Because there is not a significant pressure difference between the inside and the outside of the breathable-air balloon, any rips or tears would cause gases to diffuse at normal atmospheric mixing rates, giving time to repair any such damage. In addition, humans would not require pressurized suits when outside, merely air to breathe and a protection from the acidic rain.
Since such colonies would be viable in current Venusian conditions, this allows a dynamic approach to colonization instead of requiring extensive terraforming measures in advance. The main challenge would be using a substance resistant to sulfuric acid to serve as the structure's outer layer; ceramics or metal sulfates could possibly serve in this role. (The sulfuric acid itself may prove to be the main motivation for creating the structure in the first place,[original research?] as the acid has proven to be extremely useful for many different purposes.)