Browse Definitions :
Definition

O'Neill Cylinder

An O'Neill cylinder is an orbiting space colony composed of two large cylinders which rotate in opposite directions to replicate the effects of Earth's gravity. Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos foresees a future in which O'Neill cylinders can be used to move industry into space and allow Earth to be used exclusively for residential and recreational purposes.

The idea for using rotating cylinders to create extraterrestrial living and working spaces was first proposed in the 1970s by Princeton physicist Gerard K. O'Neill in his book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space. According to Dr. O'Neill, a pair of cylinders several miles long could be built incrementally in space and orbit safely around the planet. To allow people to live and work inside the cylinders, some interior spaces would be park-like. The cylinders' continual rotation would negate any gyroscopic effects and optimize the way solar panels could be used to provide power. Windows and mirrors could alternate to support circadian rhythm and give workers the impression of day and night 

When proposing the idea of colonizing space, O'Neill said any technical suggestions should be guided by these four principles:

  1. A worthwhile line of technical development must have a useful lifetime of at least several hundred years.
  2. A line of technical improvement is more likely to be beneficial if power and control are decentralized.
  3. A proposal to improve the human condition only makes sense if it has the potential to give all people, whatever their place of birth, access to the energy and materials needed for their progress.
  4. Improvements are of value if they tend to reduce the scale of cities, industries, and economic systems to small size, so that bureaucracies become less important and direct human contact becomes more easy and effective.

In this archived footage, Dr. O'Neill discusses how what we have learned from past colonization efforts on planet Earth will help us colonize space. 

Related proposals for industrializing outer space

Other large, theoretical space structures include the Bernal Sphere, the Stanford Torus and the Dyson Sphere.

Bernal Sphere

This space colony would accommodate about 10,000 people, and serve as a residential and manufacturing complex. The residents' chief export would be energy, generated at solar power stations and transmitted to Earth. The sphere would rotate 1.9 times per minute, generating centrifugal force to replace gravity. Advocates optimistically thought habitation might begin as early as the 1990s. It was named after John Desmond Bernal, an early 20th century Irish physicist and Marist author. He is quoted as having said on his 70th birthday in 1969: "I am sure that you share my hope that in the not too distant future science may come to be used exclusively for the benefit of all mankind."

Stanford Torus

A space colony design accommodating 10,000 people was proposed following a 10-week program in engineering systems design held at Stanford University and the Ames Research Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1975. The design was published in a study titled simply, Space Settlements: a design study, and published by the 1975 summer faculty fellowship program. A torus is any object characterized by, in part, a tubular shape with constant diameter and circular bore. 

Dyson Sphere

Named after British theoretical physicist Freeman John Dyson, the Dyson Sphere, is a hypothetical structure that completely encompasses a star and captures much of its energy output. In theory, such a megastructure could be used by space explorers to fuel enormous energy needs for traveling vast distances.

This was last updated in June 2019

Continue Reading About O'Neill Cylinder

SearchCompliance
  • ISO 31000 Risk Management

    The ISO 31000 Risk Management framework is an international standard that provides businesses with guidelines and principles for ...

  • pure risk

    Pure risk refers to risks that are beyond human control and result in a loss or no loss with no possibility of financial gain.

  • risk reporting

    Risk reporting is a method of identifying risks tied to or potentially impacting an organization's business processes.

SearchSecurity
  • Pretty Good Privacy (PGP)

    Pretty Good Privacy or PGP was a popular program used to encrypt and decrypt email over the internet, as well as authenticate ...

  • email security

    Email security is the process of ensuring the availability, integrity and authenticity of email communications by protecting ...

  • Blowfish

    Blowfish is a variable-length, symmetric, 64-bit block cipher.

SearchHealthIT
SearchDisasterRecovery
  • What is risk mitigation?

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

  • fault-tolerant

    Fault-tolerant technology is a capability of a computer system, electronic system or network to deliver uninterrupted service, ...

  • synchronous replication

    Synchronous replication is the process of copying data over a storage area network, local area network or wide area network so ...

SearchStorage
  • direct access

    In computer storage, direct access is the process of reading and writing data on a storage device by going directly to where the ...

  • kibi, mebi, gibi, tebi, pebi and exbi

    Kibi, mebi, gibi, tebi, pebi and exbi are binary prefix multipliers that, in 1998, were approved as a standard by the ...

  • holographic storage (holostorage)

    Holographic storage is computer storage that uses laser beams to store computer-generated data in three dimensions.

Close