Silicon Valley millionaires keep trying to solve problems that don’t exist like juice pressing and “smart” appliances. So when thinkers in the valley promote solutions to actual problems it’s a breath of fresh air. And in this case, it is air. Airships to be precise.
It’s well known that air travel is really bad for the planet and so is shipping. But what if we combine the best of those industries instead of the worst? Then we get airships. A sustainable future will include airships so it’s good to see monied individuals seriously considering airships.
The physics of airships are unbelievably seductive.
All aircraft are subject to four forces: thrust and drag in the direction of travel, and lift and gravity in the vertical direction. For an aircraft in steady flight, the vertical and horizontal forces are in balance.
For an airship, which gets lift from lifting gas (aerostatic lift) instead of from wings (aerodynamic lift), the amount of lift is proportional to the volume of lifting gas. The drag is proportional to some combination of cross-sectional area and wetted area—in any case, it increases with area.