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Personal solar system on wheels . Why settle for a tired old solar system like ours when you can have a brand new personal solar system (PSS) made to order? Best of all, you'll be in charge of everything! . In motion... Please feel free to look over the images and skip the verbiage. Let's face it, our tired old Solar System has room for improvement. (Credit: Modified from original NASA image by Wikipedia contributor "WP") ∨ The outer planets are just clouds, clouds, clouds all the way down with nowhere to stand. Pluto turned out to be a poser, and goofy Neptune spins on its side. (There's always one.) (Credit: Public domain NASA image from JPL catalog) ∨ The inner planets are no better. Earth's the only place you can get a decent drink, and most of it's way too salty. Mars is a rusty old dust bin with hemispheres that don't even match. And Venus will smother you in carbon dioxide, dissolve you in sulfuric acid, and squeeze what's left into a pathetic little pellet. (Credit: Wikipedia contributor Lmpascal) ∨ And the moons -- what a mess! Most are damaged goods with cracks and craters everywhere you look. (Credit: Wikipedia contributor Lmpascal) ∨ C'mon, a couple of orbiting potatoes was the best Mars could do?? (Credit: Public domain image of Martian moon Phobos from NASA) I could go on. A personal solar system (PSS) But why settle when you can have a brand new personal solar system (PSS) built to your own specifications? Best of all, you'll be in charge of everything -- even the laws of physics! ∧ Behold, the "Zargon system" -- my 3rd-generation PSS with heavenly bodies made of fluorescent parts. ∧ The glowing orb at the center is Zargon, an aging yellow-green star near the trailing edge of one of the galaxy's spiral arms. (The core just burned up the last of its hydrogen, and the star's about go red giant, but that's just part of the fun!) ∨ Barren Zargon I and its beautiful moon Penny. ∨ Zargon II and its 2 small moons Howard and Leonard. ∧ The humanoid inhabitants of this Class M planet -- the only in the system with (kind of) intelligent life -- refer to themselves as "Zargons". To see how their once-vast empire came to ruin, click here. ∨ Rajite-rich Zargon III with ore carrier ZMS Sheldon in synchronous orbit. As you can see, you can make planets and moons and spacecraft out of just about anything and put them anywhere you please when you're in charge. Better yet, no need to tune orbital elements just to please that know-it-all Newton and his pesky law of universal gravitation. (I recommend retaining the inverse-square law part for best results, but feel free to give each body its own gravitational constant.) Having inhabitants to boss around is a big part of the fun for any PSS overlord, but you'll pretty much have to imagine them. At the scale of a typical PSS planet 64 mm in diameter (~2 x 10 8:1 relative to Earth), a 3.2 mm-high LEGOŽ plate would be ~320,000 times too tall to represent a humanoid 1.8 m tall. In fact, a 1 micron bacterium would be ~100 times too big, and a 200 nm virus, ~20 times too large. A 180 pm sulfur atom, on the other hand, would be about ~100 times too small. ≪ Back to top Previous personal solar systems ∨ When I tire of a PSS, I just give it a make-over. My 2nd-generation PSS... ∨ No idea where the moon goddess came from. She just showed up one day and started demanding humanoid sacrifices with that sweet smile of hers. ∨ If you want an ice cream cone moon in your PSS, that's your call. Personally, I don't know why more moons aren't made of ice cream. ∨ When I'm bored, I like to put 2 moons on the same orbit and let one or both freewheel at the mercy of friction, angular momentum, centrifugal force, and moon-moon collisions, like so... What solar system overlord doesn't enjoy a good moon-bashing now and then? ∨ The original PSS grew out of a studless spinning top project. I still keep it around for formal occasions. As PSS overlord, I wanted big white moons orbiting invisible dark matter planets here. With identical moons and planetary and lunar arms all around, the emphasis was on (i) close moon-moon encounters, and (ii) the totality of looping lunar trajectories relative to the invisible dark matter star. << Back to top Optional: How it works The PSS is much simpler than most LEGOŽ orreries. The spin of each planet is driven by a wheel that rolls on the ground as the PSS is turned by hand using the long stem. The images below come from past PSS generations, but all work pretty much the same. ∧ Since the "planetary arms" are rigidly attached to the hub beneath the star, all planets have the same angular speed and orbital period or "year". ∨ The hub rests on a central pivot that adjusts vertically to ensure drive wheel traction all around. Simple 2-stage transmissions transfer rotation from the drive wheels to the vertical planetary spin axles. ∧ Since all drive wheels have the same radius, each planet spins at a rate determined by (i) the angular speed of the PSS hub, (ii) the radius of the planet's orbit, and (iii) the final drive ratio of its transmission. (With this setup, this ratio can vary from a 5:1 reduction to a 1:3 overdrive.) The length of the planet's "day" varies inversely with its spin rate, but the number of days per year is fixed if its drive wheel doesn't slip. ∨ The moons don't spin around their own axes, but they do rotate around their respective planets on "lunar arms" that are usually keyed to the planets' spin axles. A moon's "month" and its planet's day are then one and the same. ∨ However, a moon can also "freewheel" around its planet at the mercy of friction, angular momentum, centrifugal force, and moon-moon collisions. With proper geometry and gearing, a blacklight PSS in a dark room can also serve as a Spirograph that writes in light rather than on paper. I won't go into that here, but the blacklight ravograph below works on the same principle. ≪ Back to top Specifications Overall dimensions:424x534 mm (DxH) at Zargon III, including stemMass:186 gPlanets:3Orbital radii, planets:96, 112, 128 mmFinal drive ratios, planets:1:1, 1:1.8, 1:1Moons:3Spacecraft:1Modified LEGOŽ parts:NoneNon-LEGOŽ parts:NoneCredits:Original MOCSee also:Blacklight ravographs, Blacklight tops, Centifugal blacklight top, and Andromeda top << Back to top


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