Teaching Physics (and more) with Niven


But a lot different as the launch speed increases...

One interesting not-obvious implications of the Ringworld’s layout are the lack of natural resources. Resources are lacking because Ringworld just isn’t that thick and was not formed by geological processes - there are no oil wells to tap or veins of metal to mine. If civilization falls, it will be tricky to revive. This is a chance for students to think about hydrological and other cycles – how are the lifecycles of lakes, rivers and ecosystems different on Ringworld than on Earth?

Another non-obvious implication is that it’s very difficult to leave or return to the Ring – on Earth, launching at escape velocity in any direction that doesn’t intersect the Earth results in escape from Earth – but on the Ring, it’s necessary to achieving the equivalent escape velocity is not sufficient, and worse, landing on the Ring safely is very difficult indeed; to avoid a disastrous collision it is necessary to match the surface velocity of 770 miles per second. In the novel, the heroes crashland but this is not recommended for anyone without an impervious stasis field wrapped around an invulnerable spacecraft.

Note that an object in orbit around the Sun while near Ringworld would be moving at a very different speed than the Ring; that’s because...

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