I posted the Green Mars space elevator picture from Orbiter yesterday, and I was pleased to get my first non-spam comment for my two-day-old blog from someone who is actually working to create a real space elevator on Earth - in 15 years! This was from Blogspot blogger Brian Dunbar.
The LiftPort Group is doing research, development, and fund raising to make his happen, and it's really cool. From their FAQ and research pages, I learned that the concept of a space elevator as a massive, rigid pole (as depicted in the Orbiter add-on and in "Red Mars" and other SF
descriptions) is basically wrong -- it will really be more like a super-strong and thin ribbon, with self-propelled "climbers" that pull themselves up the cable with power beamed up by lasers. It's nice that there's also some optics in this, as that's my professional field - this will certainly require adaptive optics to maintain the beam quality through that long stack of turbulent atmosphere.