In my first for io9, I take a look at what you would need to actually float a city, as in the newly released blockbuster, BioShock Infinite. I have reproduced a small excerpt below.
The craziest part of BioShock Infinite isn’t the idea of combining a first-person shooter with jingoism, religious purity, and intense xenophobia. It’s the idea of floating an entire city.
Within the first twenty minutes of BioShock Infinite, you are introduced to Columbia, a city above the clouds, above the “Sodom” below. It’s founder, Father Comstock, sought refuge from the invading “foreign hoards,” and he found the sky. Like BioShock Infinite’s predecessor, the original BioShock, an entire city is constructed in a nearly unthinkable environment with the help of delightfully steampunk 1912 technology.
In Columbia, apartment buildings, skyscrapers, bridges, boutiques and boardwalks are all hovering above the Earth with the aid of rockets and blimps. The game’s floating vistas are gorgeous.
But I wanted to know if you could actually float a city like that. Let’s start with what it would take to float one building and work from there, as any suitably mad engineer would.