okay, this is NOT a hippy topic. its my cry, plea, me BEGGING for the reason we have been so stupid and i am not living on the moon...(i.e., 1/6 gravity = no bra
Posts: 1139 | Registered: Sep 2001
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Having met you and knowing your build, you should wear a bra unless you want the sisters hanging down around your knees when you are 40. This is especially true if you ever plan on having kids. I speak from experience, Mrs. msquared. Of course if you want to come to next years party braless I am sure I will get many male attendees.
Sis, to put it plainly, you have to wear a bra in order to prevent you from knocking yourself out if you try to run or do a lot of bouncing. :P Luv ya, hun.
Posts: 176 | Registered: Mar 2002
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Den, am I right in feeling that the implication here is that you are "well endowed" and dislike the restrictiveness of the "titsling?" My wife would sympathize about the dislike of the bra, even if she's not all that well endowed.
Doesn't matter, I love her regardless of both her size and what she wears. Now if I could just get her to stop telling me how she want to "get herself done. . . . "
Personally I don't know why you should have to, probably there is a certain higher degree of comfort with bra's than without, but I don't feel strongly either way.
Reminds me of all the requirements men have with women shaving. I admit that I have that prejudice as well, I suppose its a process of enculturation that few of us even notice, this hair removal requirement. I certainly prefer the hair being shaved, and do believe there is a higher aesthetic quality to womens arms, underarms and legs that are shaved in comparison to those that are not shaved. Still, I can't exactly figure out why I feel this way, beyond a process of enculturation, and a particular taste in whats attractive.
However, if you'd prefer to be bra-less, Denelian, I certainly think that is more than your right .
Denelian, I think the reason that you can't get a decent debate going is that most Ornerians agree that space travel is a good thing, if for no other reason than to increase the longevity of Homo Sapiens. I think most of us also agree that cancelling the last Apollo missions was an act of utter stupidity, and that the decision made by the governments of Earth not to attempt to set foot on another world since then borders on the criminal. Furthermore, I think we can agree that those treaties which limit commercial activity in space should be immediately amended to admit the private sector into the space flight business as much as is possible.
Since we Ornerians take pride in never agreeing on anything, that should stir the pot nicely...
Regards, Crazy Eddie
[I won't lie. Edited to fix an appallingly badly constructed sentence.]
[This message has been edited by Crazy Eddie (edited October 07, 2002).]
, just my small contribution, to derailing all the comedic value of the thread , unfortunately I agree with Crazy Eddie, so we may need to take more outlandish stands to stir this up a bit.
Posts: 91 | Registered: Jul 2002
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More outlandish positions? Hmm - how about:
Manned space travel should be the second highest priority of the US government, following immediate self-preservation.
Any revenues derived directly from commercial use of space should be tax exempt.
If all else fails - the prohibition on space-based weapons systems should be repealed for defensive systems (i.e. SDI). The nuclear industry might not exist if the military hadn't been dedicated to putting reactors in naval ships - there's nothing like a government funding kickstart to pave the way for an ambitious new project.
(Side note: Why not offensive systems? Same reason why the US and USSR agreed to keep missile systems several hundred miles from each other's shores - shorter weapons travel times necessitate shorter response times, which in turn drastically reduces situation stability. For an example, look at India and Pakistan - with 7 minute missile flight times from one to the other, that situation is intolerably unstable.)
FYI: Part of my thinking stems from reading the work of the "Citizen's Advisory Council on National Space Policy." No, they don't have a homepage, but you can search Google for what data there is online. (Not much.)
Regards, Crazy Eddie
P.S. An examination of the members of that group will shed some light into the origin of my username.
We're not exactly running out of room for the rising population. We need more fertile land for agriculture and more fresh water. And us ornery Americans have to stop eating so much meat.
Landing on the moon isn't going to accomplish much if you can't use the soil, and it would take about a thousand years to pump Mars full of greenhouse gases to make it a friendly environment. And because gravity there is only half as strong, you'd end up with skinny, big chested humans after a few hundred years who would probably seperate from us as a society because of their physical differences. On the other hand, we could strap on a couple of really, really big rockets on one side of Venus and move its orbit out more towards that of the Earth...of course, it would be a while before all those toxic gases would clear up, and we'd have to get some sort of vegatation going there to convert some of it to oxygen. That leaves Mercury and Pluto, which are too small, and the gas giants--well, you just couldn't find anywhere to build a house before it sank into the liquid hydrogen boiling away at several thousand degress. But if we found ourselves on Jupiter, even I would have to wear a bra.
I suggest we live like Gungans. As annoying as he is, you gotta admit--Jar-Jar is well trained at diving.
What about Europa? Titan? And how about harnessing all that absoluting insane volatility on Io into some usable energy source? Talk about a geothermal gold mine!
Posts: 91 | Registered: Jul 2002
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Heinlein was convinced that there was ice on the moon.
that means both water and air.
BUT EVEN IF THERE IS NOT, EVERYONE go and read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress". that is the only real rational we need to be on the moon. 11 feet per second makes a BIG bang when it hits...
and there are other places that aren't that far, and places within our own system that we can use for other things... Ganymede, Titan, Europa, etc. its seems a better thing to exploit a dead world than kill our own...
Den, Sorry but if the moon has any available water it could only survive in craters at the poles where the temperature is low enough that it would not evaporate. As to Oxygen, with enough energy you could get that out of the rocks. Hydrogen could be recycled but some to replenish what leaks away we could collect it from the Earth's upper atmosphere/ Van Allen belts or maybe even from the solar wind. I haven't done the numbers to see if any of this is practical though. I am not sure about good sources of Carbon on the moon though.
As to "the moon is a Harsh Mistress" as a source. While it is my favorite Heinlein book I would not call it his most predictive one. Predicting Computer Aided Design in "the door into summer" was a much better call.
quote:that is the only real rational we need to be on the moon. 11 feet per second makes a BIG bang when it hits...
11 feet per second? I wish you'd stop using those arcane units. Manny from the "the moon is a Harsh Mistress" didn't like feet too much either (Is it 12 or 14 inches to a foot?). You might as well be using furlong per fortnight! Anyway escape velocity at Earth (close enough to the impact velocity of a rock "thrown" from the moon) is 11 Km/sec and last time I checked there were 3280.8398950131 feet in one Km.
Besides is it a "real rational" argument for being on the moon? Or is it an "imaginary rationale" instead?
Don't get me wrong, I'd like to go to space too. I just hope I don't end up being too old like Harriman ("the man who sold the moon" & "Requiem"). But even if it takes a few decades I'd still like to have a grandchild born in space.
quote:Ganymede, Titan, Europa, etc.
Now you're talking! Titan has a "nice" methane atmosphere (Carbon + Hydrogen). Your fuel tank on Titan would be Oxygen and you would burn it with the atmosphere.
Europa has lots of water.
Both of them are rather cold and far from the sun so we'd have to work out a good energy source.
It seems that on the one hand:
quote: the decision made by the governments of Earth not to attempt to set foot on another world since then borders on the criminal
On the other hand,
quote:Landing on the moon isn't going to accomplish much if you can't use the soil, and it would take about a thousand years to … [terraform Mars or Venus]
On the third hand! We do not need a moon or a planet just to survive and grow things in space. Orbital stations with self-contained biospheres are the best way to ensure the survival of the human race and maybe even prevent the extinction of some species. As self-contained spaceships, it would be easier to maintain an environmental quarantine that would keep undesired species out of the system. They would also be able to travel in space (rather slowly but who cares when that is not the main goal).
So getting back to the bra question. Yes sure the moon has 1/6 gravity but even that can be boring. A nice rotating orbital station can give you a whole range of "artificial gravity". You could have zero g rooms in the center, 1/6 g for Lunatics, 1/3 g for Martians, 1 g for Earthworm tourists, 1.5 g rooms for Gym equipment (so you can keep the Calcium in your bones) and 2 g rooms for body builders.
I guess you could spend most of your time at 1/6 g without a bra. But if you want to work out you'll still need it.
But what about setting up a mining station on a big aseroid, including a big catapult. Then throwing the junk/ some rock from the catapult as a propulsive system to slowly move the asteroid's orbit into one that gets closer to Earth, sometimes.
Much of the inside of of the asteroid could have orbital station characteristics, including a central "essentially weightless" environment.
As nanotech develops, there might well be material structures that are almost impossible to create in gravity that could be created and then stabilized in zero-g. But these all need the local orbiting stations first.
What about the bone weakening problem of long-term astronauts?
To me, there's really one major prize that the Moon might offer us. IF we can extract hydrogen or oxygen from lunar materials, we can produce fuel on the Moon. The advantage here is simple: Lifting something from the Moon takes far less fuel than it does to lift it from the Earth. (After all, the Moon is already in Earth orbit!)
If we want to make long range space travel (i.e. Titan, Europa, etc.) feasible, it would be very handy indeed to be able to build our spacecraft piece-by-piece in orbit and fuel them from the Moon. (Of course, this will only be possible with the aforementioned orbiting stations and probably a lunar base of some sort.) This lets us cut down overall energy expenditure (using an awful lot of fuel to move fuel from Earth to space is wasteful) and lets us build substantially larger and more complex spacecraft than could be launched from Earth in one piece - think ISS.
Of course, that big IF in the second sentence is just that: an unknown. We need to begin thoroughly exploring our nearest neighbor (either by manned missions or unmanned probes) to find out exactly what we have for us to work with. Without a good assessment of the feasibility of fuel manufacture on the Moon, all my previous reasoning is so much speculation.
One the one hand, the Moon might be able to give us fuel, and reduce the cost of deep space exploration.
On the other hand, the Moon might not give us fuel, in which case we should still build orbiting stations to ease spacecraft construction.
On the gripping hand, none of this is remotely feasible until we do a good survey of the Moon.
This is why I said that our decision to back off from space exploration borders on the criminal, not because we tried to expand our reach into space and failed, but because we succeeded and decided not to continue. As it is, we don't know whether we can make fuel on the Moon, because we never even tried!
Regards, Crazy Eddie
P.S. Seagull, was the three-hand reference deliberate?
quote:This is why I said that our decision to back off from space exploration borders on the criminal, not because we tried to expand our reach into space and failed, but because we succeeded and decided not to continue. As it is, we don't know whether we can make fuel on the Moon, because we never even tried!
The other side of the argument is that there is currently no discernable reasons for humans to be in space, beyond public relations. The forseeable future of space exploration is going to be probes like the Sojourner, which was essentially a remote controlled buggy on Mars. You could launch hundreds of probes of various types to the moon for the cost of one manned mission, and just one or two of them would do more useful work. But either way, the cost of space flight is prohibitive in terms of economic viability. If there were lumps of gold in low earth orbit, a rocket launched to collect as much as it could and return to earth would still make a massive loss.
At the current level of technology. People in space achieve exactly nothing that couldn't be done more cheaply and effectively by unmanned systems. Apart from getting news coverage of course. The reality of manned space flight is the Shuttle, doing nothing productive aside from launching satellites (which can be done far more cheaply by unmanned rockets) and gathering data on astronauts vomiting in zero-G, and the Space Station, holding all of 4 (or so) people in low earth orbit and eating the lions share of the collective space budgets of most of the richest nations on earth. The Sovits experience of Mir boils down to going to massive expense to put someone in a hostile environment, and then going to even more expense just to try and keep him alive there for a while. Not putting anyone there would have achieved the same results more cheaply (as always, except for bragging rights).
The world economy is not currently capable of supporting anything more than this, and what it currently does is nothing of note. One of the lessons of Biosphere 2 is that 204,000 cubic meters of carefully designed ecosystem is incapable of supporting 8 humans for very long. It is too small and like all small ecosystems, crashes rather quickly.
While it looks like space is the inevitable future for humanity, currently, money spent on manned space flight is money thrown away, and the billions spent on the ISS could be put to far more profitable use elsewhere.
They do actually do worth while scientific experiments in Earth orbit, including cancer research. But with everything else, I agree. There's nothing out there within reach (right now) for us to be spending money on. More money should be spent on trying to find renewable resources. And maybe a little side cash for Victoria's Secret to keep churning out those revolutionary bras.
Posts: 237 | Registered: Sep 2002
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NASA costs (TOTAL) each US citizen LESS than a quarter a year.
how much does the military cost? or congress?
but BEYOND that, space programs have paid for themselves COMPLETELY in just spin-offs alone! angeoplasty, monitors, etc. i know i might have died without some of the medical items invented because of space flight...
and a catapult FROM EARTH could be built, present tech, solar powered, anywhere there is a mountain near some desert-like sparsely populated area. each ring is inividually powered, thus cutting the over all power usuage...
First, on Biosphere 2 - It is debatable, what, if anything, the Biosphere experiment proved. Some argue vehemently that the experiment was flawed (I tend to agree with them - an experiment designed to simulate the Earth should have [italic]far[/italic] more ocean than the Biosphere had), while some suggest that the Biospherians merely had some bad luck and a few problems that could be solved with time. Frankly, I don't believe that the Biosphere experiment tells us much about living in space long-term (different gravitational effects alone will make a massive difference).
Having said that, I am going to take the luxury of quoting my post to a previous thread regarding why we need to be in space:
Within the next few billion years, the sun will expand to a red giant star and proceed to turn the surface of Earth into molten lava and boil the seas away to steam. No carbon-based life forms will survive this event: There is no such thing as a deep enough shelter, or a good enough hiding spot, when one is dealing with stellar forces.
It would be good if the human species is somewhere else when this happens.
However, my rationale for space flight as the only means to ensure human survival is not only based on distant disaster scenarios. Within the next few million years, we may be hit by a species-killer asteroid or comet, which would devastate life on Earth as we know it. Within the next few thousand years, other disaster possibilities exist, such as global nuclear warfare, ecological collapses, etc. (To be clear: While I do not think that humans have the power to "destroy life on Earth" or anything similarly dramatic, I do think we are quite capable of killing ourselves. )
The bottom line is: As long as humanity is cooped up on one vulnerable planet, we are vulnerable. If we occupy different planets, or different star systems, we are far less vulnerable to extinction.
Unfortunately, since the abandonment of the Apollo program, no human has set foot on another world, much less attempted to live there. This trend shows no sign of changing, as "saving the human species from distant, but inevitable, disaster" is not a popular campaign issue. Many people neglect to plan for their own retirements, do you really think that a majority of voters would approve spending money to avert a disaster thousands of years away? I am deeply worried that we will wait until the threat is pressing and we have no time before colonization of other planets is seriously considered.
Am I saying that we should be launching a Mars colony right now? Not necessarily, but we need to be at least working on landing on the Moon again, and beginning to establish a permanent human presence in space. There is not yet a need for haste, but procrastination is folly.
I agree that the manned space program is not yet providing many direct benefits to Earth beyond the numerous spinoff technologies. However, to me, the phrase "At the current level of technology" does not imply that we should leave space to the robots - it means that we should work to advance the current state of space travel! As Richard Nixon put it, the Space Shuttle, currently the most advanced manned spaceflight system in the world, was designed to:
quote: ...help transform the space frontier of the 1970s into familiar territory, easily accessible for human endeavor in the 1980s and '90s.
STS-1 was launched on April 12, 1981. In the last 22 years, we have not improved upon the shuttle, and numerous follow-on programs have gotten the budgetary axe. Perhaps the problem with manned space flight is not with the inherent usefulness of the concept, but with the amount of effort we have been putting into the field.
I need to second Denelian's response. There are very few other projects more worthy of spending tax dollars on than space exploration. It is the present, and the future, and it is essential to us as a nation that we take advantage of our head start in this field.
[This message has been edited by graywolfe (edited October 09, 2002).]
quote:First, on Biosphere 2 - It is debatable, what, if anything, the Biosphere experiment proved. Some argue vehemently that the experiment was flawed (I tend to agree with them - an experiment designed to simulate the Earth should have far more ocean than the Biosphere had), while some suggest that the Biospherians merely had some bad luck and a few problems that could be solved with time. Frankly, I don't believe that the Biosphere experiment tells us much about living in space long-term (different gravitational effects alone will make a massive difference).
Biosphere 2 (an ongoing research effort) had demonstrated plenty of interesting things, but very few of them immediately relevant to space travel. Unfortunately the media decided that 'the story' of B2 was an attempt to try and create a self-sustaining environment such as could be built on the moon or Mars, or wherever. The reality was that most of the research was aimed at testing the effects of various changes on closed ecosystems. They didn't really expect the 8 people in the complex to cope entirely unaided for 2 years, they wanted to see how far they could get, and see the ways in which the various ecosystems in B2 were unstable.
But the fact remains that it is exceptionally hard to create a small, closed ecosystem that is stable for extended periods of time.
quote:NASA costs (TOTAL) each US citizen LESS than a quarter a year.
Do you have any sources for that info, or for NASA funding generally? What I found (budget request on the NASA wesbite http://www.nasa.gov/budget/budget2003_index.html ) was that NASA funding for the 2002 financial year is about 15 billion, with 6.8 billion going on manned space flight. The US has a population of a shade under 300 million, which comes to about 53 dollars per person per year going to NASA, and 24 dollars of that going directly to manned space flight. Assuming that all of the money that NASA receives comes out of a budget paid for entirely by taxes.
Let's say we actually decide to spend such massive amounts of money on space exploration. What are we going to do once we're out there? We already know what's in our own solar system, and until we get warp drive or anything similar (which may not even be possible) we're very much limited to these nine planets (maybe ten...).
Colonizing other worlds doesn't really help us. We need bigger, better biospheres (which don't need to be researched in space) for that, and anyway, we're no running out of land for the Earth's population to move. We are, however, running out of resources.
And mining might be a good idea. Except for the fact that there's no inexpensive way of getting those materials from other planets/moons/asteroids to make it worth our while.
What could we really do in space if we pumped more money into NASA?
quote:until we get warp drive or anything similar (which may not even be possible)
Actually, I remember reading something recently that says that above lightspeed travel is actually possible. It's all based on technology we DON'T have at the moment and have no possibility of having until we can control gravity . . . something that is . . . well, let's just say it won't happen in OUR lifetime.
But basically, you create a gravity well to grab the space around the vessel, an anti-gravity . . . um . . . un-well to keep said vessel from getting crushed, then proceed to move though the space around you while carring the space around you through the space around IT.
Evidently it's all the math has been done and it works in theory.
Then again . . .
Anyway . . . just figured I'd point out that not ALL hope is lost of lightspeed travel.
quote:and a catapult FROM EARTH could be built, present tech, solar powered, anywhere there is a mountain near some desert-like sparsely populated area
Sorry Den, look at the Planetary ejaculation thread. Catapult FROM EARTH is not a good idea, might work nicely on the Moon, Mars, Mercury or the Jovian and Saturnian satellites but not on Earth. Even Heinlein in "The moon is a harsh mistress" uses it as a political ruse never to be implemented rather than a real proposition. Technically, I liked the "beanstalk" in "Friday" much better. But we can improve on that! Instead on a single beanstalk there should be several rotating tethers (www.tethers.com) doing a complicated dance/relay maneuver that would provide several advantages:
A. Varying centrifugal acceleration to emulate gravity B. The lower part of a rapidly rotating tether in orbit has a lower velocity WRT to the Earth's surface C. The upper part of a rapidly rotating tether in orbit can exceed escape velocity. (great for launching interplanetary missions). D. The tethers do not have to be continuous. You can release a load in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and let it travel on an elliptical orbit to another tether at a higher orbit or next to the moon. E. The lower part of a rotating tether in orbit around Luna could reach the surface with very low velocities and does not need to worry about drag or burning up in the atmosphere. Might even work better than a catapult.
I agree that the moon is a terrific source for mining (any material) the low escape velocity compared to Earth (only 2.3 Km/sec instead of 11 Km/sec) should make it much more economic to get raw materials there. We already know that we can get Oxygen and Aluminum on the moon (just break up rocks that are Aluminum Oxides) the only open question is whether we can get hydrogen there.
But even if we can't get Hydrogen on the moon it is less than 10% of the fuel weight compared to the Oxygen so getting the oxygen from the moon would already be a big deal economically.
The only thing that beats the moon in terms of shallow gravity wells is Tigger's suggestion of mining an asteroid or even bringing it over by burning part of it and using it as propulsion mass.
As far as propulsion mass goes, the reason to use Hydrogen and Oxygen as fuel is that they are the most efficient way to store energy chemically. If we have other energy sources (Solar, orbital, nuclear, electromangetic etc…) then any raw material can be used as a throwaway propulsion mass. And until we can get some asteroids to come to us, the moon is still the most economic source for raw materials.
This will have a few different sections, so I'll start with the easy segments.
Locus - I think we will probably be able to relate to the human species in 500 years, and probably in 5000. I am working from the reverse perspective here - we seem to relate well to the world portrayed by Shakespeare (500 years ago) and the worlds portrayed by Roman authors, Greek authors, and even Biblical authors. (This is not a religiously oriented post: It's simply the oldest literature I could think of offhand.) This despite the fact that we share little cultural heritage with them - while they would not understand microprocessors, we do not understand the details of fencing or desert survival without extensive training. Technologies change, but the human character remains remarkably the same.
seagull - Fyunch(click)! Glad to see there's another Niven reader on this forum.
And now, to the meat of things, i.e. why we should be in space now:
As I mentioned previously, living on one planet leaves us vulnerable to a myriad of disasters (I wont' repeat myself needlessly, read my earlier posts for details). The only way to avoid these is to expand the habitat of the human species to include other planets, preferably orbiting other stars.
As has been mentioned, this would require advances in a number of fields - sealed ecologies, propulsion systems, extraterrestrial mining, and so on. While these are immature fields today, the primary reason for this is that these are fields that *must* be developed in space. Take sealed environments for one example: The only logical place to develop a self-sustaining environment for space applications is in low Earth orbit. It is the nearest (and cheapest) realistic test environment, and one that is within our reach now. It certainly makes more sense to test the concept in LEO than on the surface of Europa!
Furthermore, we can reach other star systems without warp drive or any similarly esoteric technology - it will simply take a few hundred or thousand years. If we can build a generation ship (take that self-sustaining environment, attach rockets or a Bussard ramscoop), the stars are fully within our reach. Of course, we had better be good at building self-sustaining environments and doing long-range intrasystem voyages first - which in turn implies spacefaring experience gained in LEO and on the Moon! If we want to colonize other planets, we need to start small at first, and that means increasing our reach in LEO. (Side note: Yes, I know that Bussard ramscoops are hypothetical, because we need fusion power and a good hydrogen concentration in deep space. However, we won't know for certain if the hydrogen concentration in deep space is enough until we get out there and check!)
Having built this chain of LEO-Moon-Mars-Outer Planets-Beyond Oort Deep Space-Interstellar Travel, another critical factor in pushing for increases in space travel now is revealed: Lead time. These technologies are not quick things to develop (witness the length of time it took to develop the shuttle), and it will take humanity a while to work our way to even the outer planets. If we got notice today that an asteroid was headed to Earth in, say, 2019 (to use a recent NEO approach date), it is debatable whether the human species would be able to get off of the planet and on the way to another habitat quickly enough if we started building ships today. Certainly, at the very least, we would leave the vast majority of humanity behind.
To summarize this somewhat rambling post: 1. Interstellar travel is possible, but will require extensive prior experience in the outer solar system, which will in turn require extensive LEO experience. 2. Given the lead times required for this technology, we should begin working our way into LEO immediately to reduce the length of time for which humanity is vulnerable.
Regards, Crazy Eddie
[Edited to fix a UBB code error.]
[This message has been edited by Crazy Eddie (edited October 10, 2002).]
There have been far fewer changes to us in the past half million years than we will see in the next 500. It's a human to human comparison you make ..not rabbit to human.
In the past 5000 (or 50000) years it has been a system of using discoveries to push the veil back a little bit farther ..changing our world and how we interact with it. Soon we begin to change ourselves and the process will accelerate until humanity is no more or exists much the same way as a vestigal appendage.
It's the inevitable next step. Grow and adapt or die.
Back on the bra topic ...why do I need to wear clothes? I want to be adapted to be comfortable from oh ..say -100 C to +100 C ...seems like a reasonable range
Vulture...i don't remember where i found that estimate of tax-payer cost... although it IS mostly acurate, as NASA gets the bulk of its budget from other things - and up into 96, it was all paid off...
I assume that what you are referring to is the human manipulation of our own genome. Personally, I think that widespread, species-wide manipulation of the human genome is unlikely (the logistics alone of gene-splicing that many embryos are staggering) not to mention the obvious moral issues involved - although moral codes can change in 500 years.
The only scenario I see that would permit this would involve a biological gene-splicing agent - a la [u]Xenocide[/u]. Again the moral issues involved are immensely complex (and hence would probably not be resolved), but there is always the possibility of a rogue release.
Predicting the future 500 years in advance is always a twitchy business (read: totally impossible), but I think it more likely that we will remain essentially human than not.
My only other question along this line is what connection this has to the current debate. I am probably missing something here, but how does what we might be in 500 years affect how we shall run our space program now? We either need to get into space now or in the future (when the species may have advanced), so why not start now?
Genetic manipulation is only one of several factors that will reshape us.
How this connects with the space program is-
The continued to focus is on putting 75kg packages of mostly water into space..along with all the essentials to keep them functional even going so far as to plan to support generations to allow them to span the distances between stars.
In time (500 years to allow a fair measure of certainty) the premises these programs are based around will be obselete.
For example ...take your classic sub-light sleeper ship. In the classic future the occupants cross the vast distances suspended by complex machines. In the more probable future they will simply suspend themselves.
[This message has been edited by Locus (edited October 10, 2002).]
What you are describing is an age-old problem in engineering: By the time you get such and such a system with component x completed, component y will have made component x totally obsolete. However, unless you wish to keep redesigning the system forever, at some point you have to take what you have and go with it (i.e. freeze the design). (The more colorful version of this is "Shoot the scientist and ship the system.")
The problem is that your statement will always be true now that genetic manipulation is a reality: 500 years from now, our descendants may be saying: OK, we can put ourselves into hibernation, but why not wait until we get this artificial wormhole worked out? Then we won't need a ship at all!
I very much doubt that the technology used to get into space will remain constant over the next 500 years. However, the best way to encourage innovation is to use what we have, find the shortcomings in it, and fix them with the next generation of systems. Let's start our work now, and if it becomes obsolete - well, that's what technology does.
However, the technology will never become obsolete if it is not tested, worked on, and developed continually. There have been several follow-on craft proposed to supplement or replace the shuttle, but none of them have made it past the drawing board. As a result, the Shuttle is still the most sophisticated manned space vehicle in the world. The technology that will let us travel between stars in 500 years won't exist if we don't start building it now.
And of course, there's the vulnerability issue - if the one asteroid headed for Earth happens to find us within the 500 years in which we are sitting around waiting for the technology to advance, we are literally between a rock and a hard place. Above all else, this is about species survival. Let's start to work our way into space now, and give ourselves a fighting chance should the need arise.
Regards, Crazy Eddie
[This message has been edited by Crazy Eddie (edited October 10, 2002).]
You guys speak as though we could do anything we want in space.
You do realize that none of this technology won't be possible for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years, right?
The research being done for faster than lightspeed travel is all theoretical--there are no actual physical experiments done. And slinging a few colonists into space to land a thousand years later is no more feasible. They will be out of our contact, so what's the point if we can't monitor their progress; they'll be long dead by the time the ship gets there, and you can't exactly trust people 50 generations later to set up a successful colony; and it's such a desperate attempt to save the human race that the only reason you would do it would be under conditions that probably couldn't offer the kind of technology required to even go to the moon.
And mining in space? Maybe in our own solar system on moons or planets, probably not asteroids though, is possible. But it's really truely not efficient. If NASA thought that we could get minerals from the moon with any return benefit, then they'd already be doing it.
There really is nothing that space can offer us. We're not running out of room on Earth. There are more ideas for resources found on Earth than there are in space. Space just isn't going to happen for us anytime soon, and it's a waste spend billions or trillions of dollars building things that haven't even gotten past the theoretical stage.
That's where I was coming from. In 500 years we will be in a MUCH better place to make the move to space. Currently the human factor is the biggest limitation. We're incredbly resource intensive to maintain as is.
I think we WILL move to space and cross the galaxy ..but it won't be the humans we recognize from sci-fi doing it.
Men in space suits won't be jetting around space mining asteroids with futuristic jackhammers. We'll simply "infect" the asteroid ..then shape it to our will.
Time is a big issue for us now ..imagine us ..the mayflies..trying to fly to Florida. How many generations would it take to make the trip successfully? How many people have the psychological stability to spend their entire lives on a ship knowing they will die there ..their children will ....their great great great grandchildren will ..for the hope that somewhere a thousand years down the road ..they will get the chance to settle a new planet?
How many people ..with the drive to settle a new planet could exist peacefully with such constrained resources for a hundred generations? Columbus faced mutiny after just a few months at sea. We've got folks here champing at the bit because they may not see a moon colony in their lifetime. Babysteps..it'll take a few hundred years just to colonize Mars. Look at the headaches with the ISS, all sorts of glitches and bugs and it's a very conservative project on the scale that's being discussed.
The only way that we will be in a better position 500 years from now is if we work on building the technologies we will need now. Certainly, most of the work on faster than light travel is in the theoretical stage. However, we don't need to jump from the Space Shuttle to FTL drive. The next logical step for humans would be a low cost Earth-to-orbit vehicle, possibly similar to the various follow-on concepts that have been proposed for the Shuttle. After that, we can begin working on cheaper Earth-to-orbit systems (See the "Planetary Ejaculation" thread for more ideas on this), and begin to work on systems aimed at traveling further away from Earth. However, if we don't start now with the small steps for spaceflight, none of these more advanced stages will happen!
Will the Moon be colonized in my lifetime (another 55-60 years, hopefully) to any degree (beyond possibly a small research station)? Probably not. However, if we don't start working towards the problem now, it is increasingly unlikely that our children will see the problem solved in their lifetimes. And if they delay, our grandchildren won't see it either. It is precisely because these technologies will take hundreds, if not thousands, of years to build that we should start now. In light of how vulnerable we are as a species as long as we live on one planet, why live any longer than we have to in a vulnerable state?
These technologies will take hundreds of years to develop if we start now - but they will take hundreds of years to develop if we start 100 years from now! The situation is equivalent to a first-grader who doesn't learn adding and subtraction because he/she will be "better equipped" to handle it later. If the child grows to twenty and still hasn't learned these skills, going from there to calculus won't happen overnight - it will probably take quite a length of time for the person in question to catch up on what he/she missed out earlier. The technologies required for space travel will take hundreds of years to develop no matter when we start, so why not start now?
And in a pre-emptive response: Certainly, the human race may change in 500 years. However, becoming familiar with the problems of space travel now will enable us to orient whatever changes we make towards fixing the problems we encounter. Furthermore, if the species doesn't change, we're in the same place that we are now - and do we want to remain vulnerable for another 500 years while we figure out whether we will become better adapted to space travel or not? At some point, we have to begin work on this immense project, and not wait until we are "better prepared." The fastest way to prepare ourselves is to understand the problem, and the fastest way to understand the problem is to tackle it head-on and see what gives us trouble.
Regards, Crazy Eddie
P.S. If someone besides me and JonathanTheOmnipotent and Locus wants to get in here, we really wouldn't mind. The water - err, hard vacuum - is just fine. :P
I don't understand, however, your conviction that humans won't continue to be successful if we remain on only one planet.
The population in western society is actually beginning to stabilize; the overall population explosion of the entire world is due to the higher average of children being born in underdeveloped countries. It's been a couple of months since I took anthropology, but I think the population is going to eventually stabilize at somewhere around 26 billion in 2050 (not quite sure if that's exactly it, but you get the picture). This certainly is a lot of people, and I have no idea of how the Earth could possibly sustain so many, but colonizing other worlds won't be a viable option at that point. In fact, 500 years down the road, I'd think if we survived having that many people on the planet at one time, we'd continue to be able to do it, as much more of the world (if not all of it) will be post-industrial (and therefore the population won't be rising).
This is just my guess, and I think space exploration would be fun just for the hell of it, but I don't see us ever having to move people off the planet to keep the human race going. Then again, I'll be long dead.
I have no doubt that humans will continue to be successful if we remain on Earth, but as long as we remain on only one planet, we are vulnerable to a myriad of disasters. (See my previous posts for details.) The odds are that humanity will survive on Earth without trouble for thousands of years, but right now we have all our eggs in one basket. Why not work towards spreading out the risk a little?