Friday, September 27, 2013

Chief Technical Editor of Climb

When I look at other fellow engineers, there is one trait that we tend to share besides the obvious ones (affinity for Star Wars, unwarranted big egos, etc): lots of extra-curricular activities.  Most engineers that I know play in a sports league and are involved in multiple projects outside of their actual profession.

I play on a soccer team, drum in bands from time to time, and manage this blog.  Well, I now do something else - this week I was asked to be the new Chief Technical Editor of Climb, the Space Elevator Journal affiliated with ISEC (the International Space Elevator Consortium).

Cover shot of Climb, Vol. 1 (courtesy of

I would like to say that the Journal is a prestigious long-running one, but that would be a lie.  It has published two volumes thus far, and is now working towards its third - Nature it is not.  I am nonetheless honoured and excited to be taking on this role.  Being involved in the building stages of an academic journal is quite special.  I am not thrust into something with a long tradition for excellence.  Rather, I, alongside a few others, will be trying to grow the journal into something important: the definitive academic resource for advancements related to the space elevator project.

Climb is a bit different than other science journals in two ways.  First, it is project-specific, in that all articles must relate somehow to the space elevator project.  Though this may sound quite limiting, it really is not.  The domain of challenges related to the project is so vast, as the scope of the project is so large.  Areas of study include material science, structural dynamics, power beaming, thermal considerations, orbital mechanics... You know, easy, light reading before bed.

Secondly, while the focus of the journal is technical and scientific, some articles are outside of the realm of science entirely, focusing on other important aspects of the project, such as economic and legal considerations.  Volumes 1 and 2 also included historical stuff for space elevator enthusiasts, such as the original 1960 proposal translated from Russian to English.

Before long, there will be a call for papers for Volume 3 of Climb.  Part of my role will be to determine the appropriate level of quality for paper acceptance.  It is a fine line to walk along.  Too strict and you risk alienating the researchers and authors who submit.  A young journal such as this does not have tens of thousands of authors submitting work; it is more like tens.  However, if the bar for quality is set too low, then the reputation of the journal is put into question.  I would like to lean towards being strict, but ultimately, the line will be drawn based on the pool of submitted manuscripts.

The internet has helped to popularize the idea of a space elevator over the past decade, as have organizations like ISEC.  As a result, the number of scientists and engineers conducting research in this area has grown.  I look forward to seeing the manuscripts submitted for Volume 3, and to figuring out exactly when I will be sleeping from now on.  

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