September 1st, 2009
|03:06 am - Scary madness from a space nut|
I'm a strong advocate of space exploration, but as I discuss here, I have become increasingly skeptical of the utility and even the point of sending humans beyond Earth orbit. I've also become rather contemptuous of the fervor with which some people talk about the supposed necessity of sending humans to other planets and of colonizing them. Some of the writing that I've seen about this issue has been fairly far off the wall, but I didn't expect to see anything too crazy written about space travel in the New York Time. Clearly I should re-evaluate my assumption after seeing this rather bizarre article. My favorite part of the article is this rather morbid bit of nonsense
"Moreover, if the radiation problems cannot be adequately resolved then the longevity of astronauts signing up for a Mars round trip would be severely compromised in any case. As cruel as it may sound, the astronauts would probably best use their remaining time living and working on Mars rather than dying at home."Thankfully, any such expedition would be a total PR disaster and so it's not going to happen. I am however rather disturbed by the fanaticism needed to come with ideas like these, especially since for the (truly vast) amount of money needed to send a few people to die horribly on Mars, I'm fairly certain we could send a automated probe designed to land on Europa and send a sub or at least a camera underneath the ice.
Current Mood: discontent
Our old friend A. Poc A. Lypse reared his ugly head again in that weird article. The author almost seemed to be drooling over the possibility of "something terrible" happening in a century or two
|Date:||September 1st, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)|| |
Apocalptic predictions have been a major element of science fiction since the discovery of the atomic bomb, if not earlier. It's not surprising that the notion of an Armageddon that sweeps away the imperfect democratic society and the annoying non-fen. It's only natural that the concept would seep into the associated fandom of space colonization.
What's interesting is I'm sure I've read this proposal someplace else before. I'm not sure if it was the same author, or if this is a reoccurring theme in the "Colonize Mars NOW!" fandom. Honestly, I'm a bit surprised they didn't suuggest using Death Row inmates.
I didn't even think about the quasi-facist elitist wankers who want everyone but themselves dead, perferably suffering horribly before they die. Yuck.
After reading that article, I'm actually glad I get motion sick easily. No space travel with idiots for me! Yayyy!!!
I've seen it said that Krauss opposes manned missions and that the column was a "modest proposal" signalled in the 10th paragraph ("I don't believe science is a justifications") It was too subtle for me if so. But as for drooling:
one of the reasons that is sometimes given for sending humans into space is that we need to move beyond Earth if we are to improve our species’ chances of survival should something terrible happen back home. This requires people to leave, and stay away.
That seems rather distanced to me, not drooling, like he can't even get into persona properly.
|Date:||September 4th, 2009 12:58 am (UTC)|| |
I've seen it said that Krauss opposes manned missions and that the column was a "modest proposal" signalled in the 10th paragraph ("I don't believe science is a justifications") It was too subtle for me if so.
His point in the 10th paragraph was a bit puzzling, but seemed to me to support the idea that he believed humans needed to be in space simply to be in space. If it was a "modest proposal" argument, I definitely agree that it was too subtle.
Sending canned apes into outer space is stupid. Our precious organics cannot even *begin* to survive beyond the atmosphere. Space is for the machines, not for sacks of CHON.
|Date:||September 1st, 2009 07:16 pm (UTC)|| |
Indeed. I expect space exploration to have a moderately bright future, once we can easily live on any planet, w/o much in the way of life support.
|Date:||September 1st, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)|| |
Something I've discussed with friends before is that, in order to become a spacefaring people, we're going to have to move past our humanity — we'd need to build new bodies for ourselves that can handle that sort of thing, becoming the pseudoimmortal machines that actually accomplish the tasks we dream. A lot of people today would balk at the idea, but Earthbound organisms just aren't built for this.
|Date:||September 2nd, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)|| |
I agree with you: Distant space exploration ain't worth a damn unless there's something here worth coming back to - and something that can support that exploration! Near-space is fairly promising, satellites have been very good to us, but beyond that - we need a solid foundation before we can build a multiplanetary house for human civilization.
|Date:||September 2nd, 2009 05:29 am (UTC)|| |
Also, I don't believe that humanity can effectively settle anywhere as utterly uninhabitable as the entire rest of the solar system. My guess is that if we ever do this, we'll either have developed some fancy nanotech way to do terraforming in less than several thousand years or (preferably from my PoV) we go seriously posthuman and inhabit bodies that can live on Mars and other similarly deadly environments. Until either happens, I'm all for both taking care of this world and worrying far more about exploring and expanding the more esoteric frontiers of intelligence amplification and all the rest of the transhuman wonders that we seem headed towards than about living on other planets.
I think that the "necessity" of space colonization is a false need driven by two things: 'survival of the species' no matter what (i.e., whether it deserves it or not), and lack of motivation to take care of what we have, both in terms of natural resources and of the logical consequences of our previous actions as a species.
Putting "taking off for the stars" ahead of "taking care of the environment" is like buying a jetplane instead of cleaning your room. Aren't we a bit old to be indulging that sort of escapism? And what sort of an ethical species would we be anyhow, to engineer a material immortality for ourselves and take off for parts pristine, while leaving behind the results of centuries of accelerating greed and despoilation of our homeworld?
|Date:||September 2nd, 2009 05:24 am (UTC)|| |
|Date:||September 2nd, 2009 01:33 pm (UTC)|| |
People are curious creatures, though, and I'm pretty sure somewhere along the line, someone is going to want to set foot on Mars, and someone else is going to want to fund it. I'm not against that curiosity - it's part of what makes us dream.
However, exploration and research is as far as I think it should go. The idea of colonizing or living on an inhospitable planet in an artificial environment repels me. Stepping outside through an airlock and always having to wear a pressure suit, and seeing nothing but endless expanses of red sand and nothing else... just no. Furthermore, as a previous comment indicated, we don't do the greatest job of taking care of our own place. Until we do, I'm against going somewhere else where a piece of trash could last 1000 years due to lack of water erosion.
Maybe in the future there will exist terraforming technologies and ways to enhance our own resilience. But right now, those technologies aren't there.