Indulge me here.
We're not even going to do our ordinary high octane speculation here. In fact, the speculation we're indulging in has nothing whatsoever to do with petrochemicals. It's not even sub-orbital or even geo-synchronous speculation. This is so out there we might trademark it as "Walter Bishop" speculation, named after the genuinely insane scientist from the sci-fi television series Fringe. We're going way beyond the bounds of the possible in terms of extraordinary energies. We're just indulging in a bit of Walter Bishop-dot connecting, letting the mind roam freely, and without restraint.
The cause for this free-wheeling no-restraints speculation is the following article on the basic physics of "deflector shields" that appeared in the Austrian Tribune. Now, mind you, I've never heard of the Austrian Tribune, but given the fact that Austria wants to check on its gold, I wouldn't put it past them that, in their spare time, they sit around in Vienna coffee-houses and think about deflector shields. Here's the article:
Ok...that's straightforward enough: plasmas held electromagnetically - the same concept as is employed in magnetic-bottle fusion experiments - could be made resonant to certain frequencies to deflect them (or conversely, amplify them) and could conceivably be made dense enough even to deflect or burn up microparticles travelling through deep space. But the problem here for our Austrian friends is that one has to have a source for said plasma, and a big shiny Star Trek Warp Drive reactor is a bit far off in the future.
But a nice ion-drive would be a nice source for a weak low level plasma. And, oh, look, we not only already have those but have actually planned to use them:
Well, isn't that nice. We already have ion propulsion drives. A nice source for some weak plasma for some really weak deflector shields.
Now, as the article avers, one would have to hold and manipulate such a plasma via electromagnetic means. Now, this might ring a bell or two for some people, causing them to think of electromagnetic stress and rotation, plasmas, Lamore precession frequencies, lithium-7, hydrogen bomb yield miscalculations and secret US Air Force visits to crazy Nazi montebanks and swindlers and bewildered Argentinian physicists in Juan Peron's Argentina, and so on. (For those who don't know what I'm talking about, see my The Nazi International, for those who do, let's press on). But our Viennese Kaffeeklatsch is having none of that.
Instead, our Austrian friends (who also want to know what happened to their gold...did I mention that?) seem singularly focused on the ionosphere as a plasma(well, yea,...ionosphere sorta gives the game away). "Was gibt mit Oesterreich's Gold?" "Machs nichts! Schauen Sie hier! Etwas ist los in Weltraumdeflektorschildwissenschaft!" A Strauss waltz plays in the Kaffeehaus as our Viennese interlocutors savor their Torten and contemplate the following statement.
"Ionosphere is plasma extending from 50km above earth's surface to the edge of space. 'Just like the plasma described in our paper, it reflects certain frequencies of electromagnetic radiation, in this case radio frequencies', affirmed researchers."
Ok... so the ionosphere is a kind of planetary deflector shield. Why, with the right electromagnetic radiative technologies, one might be able to shape the ionosphere, to concentrate or dilute it according to what one wished to accomplish, say, scrambling the electronics of missiles, or manipulating weather systems. Oh...wait, we already have ionospheric heater technology, things like HAARP (High Altitude Auroral Research Project) and EISCAT, which are nothing but big fields of phased array radio antennae which can bend and shape their signals in order to create these effects in the ionosphere, which is a plasma, which is a kind of weak planetary deflector shield...
...ionospheric heaters (phased antennae arrays) + ion propulsion both = manipulable plasma...
Of course we needn't have gone to all this length. But I hope the basic idea has been gleaned. The basic concepts, and the basic technologies, already exist. More importantly, they've let us know they are practical enough, at least, in one instance, to use in space. Now the question is, what aren't they telling us?
See you on the flip side.