PDA

View Full Version : Interstellar Exploration



odysseus0101
2002-Mar-05, 02:00 PM
I came across an interesting article on the NYTimes website this morning:

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/05/science/space/05TRAV.html

It really depresses me that whenever something like this is finally done, I'll either be dead or too old to go along. There's no question about it - I'd leave in a minute. A couple of books, my print of "The Raft of the Medusa," and a change of clothes if I have the time to grab one.

Peter B
2002-Mar-06, 12:54 AM
What was the gist of the article?

All I got was an invitation to register.

Jigsaw
2002-Mar-06, 01:31 AM
"Space exploration would take a really long time."

March 5, 2002
One Lifetime Is Not Enough for a Trip to Distant Stars

By NATALIE ANGIER

At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held last month in Boston, scientists discussed...

< snip >

For long-term flights, packaged food, which Joseph Allen used in 1982 space experiments, would need to be supplemented with food grown on board.

< snip >

They talked about propulsion at a reasonable fraction of the speed of light, a velocity that is orders of magnitude greater than any space ship can fly today, but that would be necessary if the light-years of space between the Sun and even the nearest star are ever to be crossed.

< snip >

For longer journeys, designed with multigenerational crews in mind, an onboard engine and fuel source would be required, perhaps something powered by nuclear bombs, or the combining of matter and antimatter in a reaction that converts both substances into pure energy.

"powered by nuclear bombs"? Um, Natalie...? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Jigsaw on 2002-03-05 20:33 ]</font>

David Hall
2002-Mar-06, 01:48 AM
On 2002-03-05 19:54, Peter B wrote:
What was the gist of the article?

All I got was an invitation to register.


So go ahead and register! It's free and easy, and then you'll have access to all the NYT's current articles. It's a great site, I highly recommend it. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Argos
2002-Mar-06, 12:07 PM
I just wonder what the space people would do to tame the Reptile Complex, the inherited tendency to violence displayed by the mankind.

Living in a spatially restricted environment like a spaceship - whatever big it is - will introduce a new dimension on how the human conceptualize the universe. After the joy of the departure, the passing of the years will claim the toll. Nobody can tell what kind of thinking being might emerge from such experience. The stress of the confinement could undermine the enterprise way before the journey was complete, no matter how trained the crew.

To ease the claustrophobia it would require a lot of investment in leisure devices. Things like virtual reality (a criticized technological development, in account of its supposed capacity to stop the humans from interacting with themselves) would be desperately necessary.

The inhabitants should also be entitled to travel sometimes. A flotilla of cruise or sport ships could be attached to the mother-ship, in order to allow tourism, and panoramic flights around the mother-ship, to see the universe in depth. It would be very important. Also, some social restrictions concerning sexual activities should be loosened. To succeed they would have to be a frank, non-puritan society, and free from complexes of all orders.

Anyway, I think the task may be within the range of our technology, but it is far from being easily carried out by the creatures of this planet. It would need another kind of mankind. Our mental-neural structures are not prepared for the job, for the moment. If we were to try right now, the enterprise would likely fail, before the crossing of the Oort Cloud. It will be something for the centuries to come.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Argos on 2002-03-06 07:21 ]</font>

ChallegedChimp
2002-Mar-06, 01:23 PM
In reply to Argos...

While no one can foretell what the "thought police" syndrome of modern Western civilization might do to humanity.... forcing people to override their baser instincts and think about things in a more "enlightened" rationale... I would imagine NASA and the other major space based entities have been taking these baby steps towards Mars with just such a view in mind. We cannot think to launch multi century long voyages when our longest stay in space by a single human is under 2 years. And that with a change of partners. We worry now over what 4 crew members might subject each other to (especially as diverse and politically correct this crew would be.. ie different colours ((I refuse to say race as we are all human and bleed red,etc)) and genders) over a 2 year mission to Mars, much less outside our solar system.


Coursing over many millenia means we will have to do what Mother Nature made us for: procreation.And with procreation.... the sum of the parts may not equal the logical combination of the seperate wholes. Perhaps this why we hope so much for FTL technology to become feasible. Kik zooming from place to place and remaining Kirk is all well and good, but when putting it into our context of Kirk zooming somewhere, Kirk's grandson getting there, Kirk's Great3grandson being to one to leave, etc etc.... history is our best retort in that we know that sons can be like the father, but greatgreatgreatgreatgreatgrandsons may not be.

Space is friggin BIG. My dumb monkey mind spins when I try to contemplate just how big it is. And to cross such voids in our contemporary evolutionary build I think is impossible. Even building your "travel pods" ...just what would they travel to see? Maybe the Kuiper Belt has more for us to see, but cripes...many many years would be passed justfor the inhabitants to be on the ship going by microdust. For modern humanity (you know, Western Ciz types fighting people like the Taliban) to travel the stars we have got to evolve.

I agree with you on all major points Argos, but one: the task may be within range of our technology, but is nowhere within range of our pyschology. We are still the scream loudest based monkeys who follow the rules of basic primate dominance into our advanced political practices. And since you even settled on that, we doan disagree. Let us send robots to scout for us whilst we figure ourselves out.

Look at Pioneer. Launch one of those bad boys with todays technolgy again. Send a high speed, hardened digicam into space to show us the stuff we haven't seen whilst we sort ourselves out here on Earth. Send our best technology, human controlled or not, to take peeks at the world around our world, while we deal with ourselves and eradicate our baser instincts of killing each other for whatever reason we think justifiable. Voyager and Pioneer serve us well, too bad we didna include the cameras on them for when they got so far out.

In other words, you was doggone right!The first humans to go out on a big interstellar voyage would defacto become new humans (especially their offspring)

(in other word: dumb monkey says smart monkey Argos has good talk)

Mnemonia
2002-Mar-06, 02:03 PM
On 2002-03-06 07:07, Argos wrote:
Living in a spatially restricted environment like a spaceship - whatever big it is - will introduce a new dimension on how the human conceptualize the universe. After the joy of the departure, the passing of the years will claim the toll. Nobody can tell what kind of thinking being might emerge from such experience. The stress of the confinement could undermine the enterprise way before the journey was complete, no matter how trained the crew.

To ease the claustrophobia it would require a lot of investment in leisure devices. Things like virtual reality (a criticized technological development, in account of its supposed capacity to stop the humans from interacting with themselves) would be desperately necessary.

The inhabitants should also be entitled to travel sometimes. A flotilla of cruise or sport ships could be attached to the mother-ship, in order to allow tourism, and panoramic flights around the mother-ship, to see the universe in depth. It would be very important. Also, some social restrictions concerning sexual activities should be loosened. To succeed they would have to be a frank, non-puritan society, and free from complexes of all orders.

Anyway, I think the task may be within the range of our technology, but it is far from being easily carried out by the creatures of this planet. It would need another kind of mankind. Our mental-neural structures are not prepared for the job, for the moment. If we were to try right now, the enterprise would likely fail, before the crossing of the Oort Cloud. It will be something for the centuries to come.


Are we not living in restricted environment now? Sure Earth is a BIG place, but we are still limited by weather, topography, and conditions on where we can go. So really a big enough spacecraft would all but eliminate claustrophobia. Keep in mind that before the automobile came along most people were perfectly content to stay in the same little town for thier entire lives. So a generational spacecraft with the size and leisure activities of a small city could do the job. Just becuase it would be psychologically unconfortable for us now is not to say it was uncomfortable in the past or will be so again in the future.

Argos
2002-Mar-06, 02:54 PM
On 2002-03-06 09:03, Mnemonia wrote:

Are we not living in restricted environment now? Sure Earth is a BIG place, but we are still limited by weather, topography, and conditions on where we can go.

Ok. But to be honest, I don't think this analogy valid. A man made starship, even when *very* big, cannot be compared to a planet, or even to an asteroid. It would be sooner or later depleted of major interests for the most curious animal that live in this corner of the universe. Hence, the crew would have to be technologically assisted (artificial realities and so on) in order to maintain the very essence of human nature.

Of course there would be elements who wouldn't be bored. The ones who appreciatte extreme contemplation. There would we plenty of time for astronomical research, philosophy, art, etc. So, these characteristcs should be mandatory criterium for the choice of the crew.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Argos on 2002-03-06 09:57 ]</font>

odysseus0101
2002-Mar-06, 03:13 PM
General Reply:

Nmemonia, I think I'm with you on the claustrophia thing. Just this morning I was feeling a little weird because I'm moving to Taiwan for a year, and I thought to myself, "it's such a small island; won't I feel claustrophobic?" Then I realized that, except for a couple specific business trips abroad, within the past 4 years I haven't moved more than a few miles in any one direction from where I currently sit typing this message.

As for what a crew might subject each other to, that's the thing that could get touchy. I'm not so sure that continuing to "figure ourselves out" is the answer to this, because 1) this is probably an endless process, because there is no Final Answer to be discovered; and 2) if there is a final answer we have no idea what it might constitute. I think I'm in the minority on this one, but it seems to me that a continual process of figuring ourselves out is not entirely likely to yield a more peaceful, open-minded human animal, a la Star Trek (for example). In fact, if there is any lesson we should probably have figured out about ourselves by this point, it is that we are fundamentally violently self-interested animals, and that is neither good nor bad, it just Is.

Here's a potential complication to a generations-long insterstellar journey: there is no guarantee that several generations into the trip the people won't decide they want to go someplace else. These people will feel no connection with Earth, in fact they might come to consider Earth a synonym for God rather than an actual place - "Earth sent our ancestors on this mission"; "we have an obligation to Earth to continue this journey"; etc. Might they decide they want to change directions, or stop entirely? And when they do stop, prematurely or otherwise, there is very little guarantee that they will send us back information, because of the detachment they will feel from us. When they have so much to do to prepare this planet/moon/whatever for their long-term habitation, why should they waste their time and energy sending signals back to a place that their distant ancestors once lived in?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: odysseus0101 on 2002-03-06 10:15 ]</font>

Azpod
2002-Mar-06, 07:17 PM
Simply put, a generational spacecraft would have to be huge just to allow enough space for people to have children, raise children and for the children to have children. I don't think claustrophobia will be much of an issue.

Boredom certainly will be, and while non-puritan restrictions on sexual activity would help in the first few years, it would be of little help in the long run. Simply put, the shipwide orgy would lose its entertainment value, especially as couples begin to pair off. A stable relationship is something that members of our species tend to want in the long run, and jealousy alone can cause problems once those pairings begin if everyone on board is expected to be available to anyone else to have sexual relationships with.

As for loosing ties with Earth, I think that is inevitable. Earth will continue to advance both sociologically and technologically, and there is very little that people on a centuries-long voyage could do to take advantage of that technology, even if they were in contact with Earth. It would be like sending a self-sufficient ship from 16th century Europe to eventually land on an island in the Pacific Ocean in the 21st century. Even if they were in contact with Europe the whole time, people on the ship wouldn't be able to relate to modern society very well at all. They would relate to each other much better, and would form their own culture, entirely different from 16th century Europe and vastly different from 21st century Europe. When they landed on the island, they would most likely continue to develop that society, even if they could reproduce everything in our modern society once they arrived.

What would combat the boredom most isn't a shipwide-centuries-long orgy, nor is it VR machines. Even the best video game can only keep one's interest so long. You need someone who can make new VR programs, so that the crew could find new uses for the existing VR machines. What would work best could be something much more low-tech: plays, songs, stories. Actors and actresses, playwrights, poets, novelists, painters, musicians, as well as video game programmers and 3D artists to sculpt new worlds for the VR machines would all be needed to keep the crew of scientists, engineers, managers, and laborers entertained.

That's not to say that you'd have to launch half of Hollywood into space. But it does mean that you'd want to look into talents other than just one's ability as an engineer when selecting the crew for this spacecraft. Many scientists know how to program computers. Find ones who would also like to write games for the VR machines. Find structural engineers who can create virtual worlds as well as real ones. Find people who have had acting classes in college, or who would like to be a novelist someday, or who has always dreamed about being a beloved singer. Selecting a crew who have creative talents does more than just to provide entertainment: it provides the crew something else to do other than just watch the Sun get dimmer and dimmer.

A crewmate who writes plays as well as teaches the ship's children would easily find themselves occupied with something that they could do for the rest of their lives, and the fact that the rest of the crew could enjoy the plays that they write would make writing them that much more enjoyable, too. Ironically, you may find that the people on this ship would find their lives more enjoyable than many on Earth, because they would have time to enjoy their hobbies, and their hobbies would be used to enrich the lives of those around them.

Also, from a societal and evolutionary standpoint: having people on board who use both their left and right sides of the brain would do wonders to keep the crew at large emotionally and mentally balanced. Also, since these traits can be inherited as well as learned, the crew who arrives at a distant star system would be better equipped mentally to deal with whatever they find.

And if they do decide to contact Earth and tell us what they have found, I would much rather have a poet describing a new world than an engineer. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

SeanF
2002-Mar-06, 07:33 PM
On 2002-03-06 14:17, Azpod wrote:

That's not to say that you'd have to launch half of Hollywood into space.



Well, maybe we wouldn't have to, but can we anyway? Please? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Seriously, Azpod, that was a very well-thought and well-written post, and I couldn't find anything in there with which I would disagree. When do we start?

Azpod
2002-Mar-06, 09:16 PM
On 2002-03-06 14:33, SeanF wrote:


On 2002-03-06 14:17, Azpod wrote:

That's not to say that you'd have to launch half of Hollywood into space.



Well, maybe we wouldn't have to, but can we anyway? Please? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Seriously, Azpod, that was a very well-thought and well-written post, and I couldn't find anything in there with which I would disagree. When do we start?



*laugh* Hey, I work in Hollyweird... trust me, if I could find a way to launch half of theese freaks out of the Solar System, I'd jump at the chance! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Actually, on second thought, I'd be happy just to leave them on Earth and hitch a ride on that rocket myself!

Unfortunately I think the answer to "when do we start" is when Congress or the UN or whatever group that has the $$$ decides to fund the program. Of course that means something along the lines of "when heck freezes over." /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

No, most likely humanity's representatives to the stars will be machines, hopefully with a really butch AI system with the ability to self-replicate and form an artificial civilization rather than a human one. It's a lot less costly, and a lot more practical. Yes, we could send humans using today's technology, but it'd cost a lot more than anyone would be willing (or able) to fund.

Here's to hoping we find a better way. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

odysseus0101
2002-Mar-06, 11:53 PM
And if they do decide to contact Earth and tell us what they have found, I would much rather have a poet describing a new world than an engineer. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif


Wonderful post, Azpod. I especially enjoyed your appreciation for the various humanistic skills that would be required.

ChallegedChimp
2002-Mar-07, 02:04 PM
In reply to Azpod, that was a post that staggered me. All to often me chimp brain works on a different level than the ones who strive to entertain us. I shamefully admit I never even thought of the entertainment process in guiding us in our (eventual) way on to the stars. Too many years of Star Trek fogged me mind on just what an endeavour would do.

Even if it is "just" on Mars and the outer moons, humans going into space to live, settle, die.... the people's there will form their own seperate identity from those on Earth BUT will have the inherited predisuspicion to enjoy all that we enjoy. Our ancesters got along just fine without television (snikcer...literally: remote viewing), radio, the 'Net, telephones (anbd their succesor cell phones), cars, air travel (the list could go on and on and unfortunately would also include manufactured biological, nuclear warfare, aviation warfare,erk...bad names on the list there) until the 20th century kicked into high gear. And if these peoples (just like us mind you) did without the high tech we take for granted nowadays (like me posting onto a bulletin board that can be read by literally millions of people from anywhere in the world, at anytime), I would imagine that anything is possible. A Mars society would accept its common heritage with people from Earth, as would any other planet,asteroid,moon settled (unless Osama manages to land himself an asteroid) but it would adpat and become different as it dealt with its enviroment, wherever that might be.

And if it was on a "Battlestar Galactica" type ship (Ie...bigger than heck) it would become a self contained society that would have only only severed connections with Earth, and like 99% of colonists, would decide eventually to become its own autonomous state (look at US history.

My misdeed was the actors, actresses, playwrights,historians (me being a historian of all things!) discounting what value we have to play before the world audience. Thankfully , if such a ship capable of sailing the interstellar gulfs shall arise when our humanity has grown up enough to keep from killing each other off, not only the Bard, but archives of our finest directors and producers will be installed to the ship. Then at least, post migration humans will be able to taste what OUR humanity was like. Everything we do or say can be a lesson point for the new humans arising so that they will not have to stick their finger into the electric socket to find out that you shouldn't do that. Previous generations had their Adolf Hitler's and Jospeh Stalin's , we have our own Osama Bin Laden.... perhaps future humanity will not need such evils to arise (my greatest fear of a huge interstellar craft is of a charismatic leader uniting it into one belief, diversity may be a hardship to put up with, but is worth it).

Again, a thank you for the great post that one simple dumb monkey like meself glimps life from another spot behind the veil.

Erm.... great post okay? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

NubiWan
2002-Mar-14, 07:58 AM
First let me aplaude the level of discourse on this topic, very interesting, thoughtful posts. Of course, am a bit biased, having practically learned to read with Clark, Asimov, Bradbury, Hienlien, etc. (Said reading not spelling) Hope to live long enough to see the launch of such a "seed" ship, but seriously doubt it's to be.

Interstellar travel is possible with current, if untested, technology. Ship power, solar sail, magnetic solar sails. (Am lazy, but will dig out the link if forced) The sails act as a radiation shield as well, bonus! Such a ship could reach a velocity of a reasonable fraction of C, before leaving Sol's push, and ion drives for course corrections enroute. Reverse the ship when near enough to the target star. Crew size, say 32, with only three being active at any one time, for say six month shifts, and rotating crew members to keep social interest going. This crew would be the ship's failsafe, as computers would handle most of it's functions. They should be choosen primarily for their nuturing nature, medical and teaching abilities. The rest of the crew maintained in a artificially induced coma, alla 2001. Dunno exactly, but would bet there are quite a few stars within, uh, say 25 light years of Sol, or a number within 10. It's a one way trip, of course, not sure of the minimum number of colonists needed for genetic diversity. Say a couple of hundred, cryo-forzen embryos, and a birthing machine, perhaps a genetically engineered pig, the most important passenger on board, with several replacement embryos to replace her along the way. Start bringing a few colonists on-line, say ten or so, years out. How many DVD's would it take, or the like, to store humanity's knowledge base, do ya think? We already have a good selection of schooling programs available. Sailing familys use them, and they consistantly score well above average on the SATs. The point of this flight of fancy, (sorry), is that it is possible within a human's life time.

But where is the will? Such a project would take years, say if started at a run today, ten, twelve, of effort in R & D, to bring it to ready to launch, and would be astronomical (SIC!) in expense. Such a mission would be a throw away for Earth. For the economy remaining on Earth, where is the return on the investment?

Andrew
2002-Mar-14, 03:44 PM
It would be interesting to be a member onboard that ship, only to be roused half-way through your epic journey to be told that it's no longer necessary because humans had discovered methods of attaining velocities far exceeding what was achievable when you first set off.

ToSeek
2002-Mar-14, 03:49 PM
On 2002-03-14 10:44, Andrew wrote:
It would be interesting to be a member onboard that ship, only to be roused half-way through your epic journey to be told that it's no longer necessary because humans had discovered methods of attaining velocities far exceeding what was achievable when you first set off.


Or you arrive at the other end and find a colony there waiting to greet you.

Azpod
2002-Mar-14, 05:18 PM
On 2002-03-14 10:49, ToSeek wrote:


On 2002-03-14 10:44, Andrew wrote:
It would be interesting to be a member onboard that ship, only to be roused half-way through your epic journey to be told that it's no longer necessary because humans had discovered methods of attaining velocities far exceeding what was achievable when you first set off.


Or you arrive at the other end and find a colony there waiting to greet you.


True, but if we hold off b/c we might find a way to do FTL (faster than light) travel, then we would never leave! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif If we develop FTL travel, all bets are off. However, there are a lot of problems with FTL travel above and beyond the question of how we might acheive it.

However, there is a possibility that we could never acheive FTL travel. Assuming that, it may still be possible to send a manned ship to the nearby star systems w/o using a generational ship.

This relies on the concept of quantum teleportation. Currently, we have only done quantum teleportation with beams of light, but it is theoretically possible with matter. If we can find a way of sending large objects through space using this technique, it may be possible to teleport entire colonization ships through vast amounts of space!

However, this requires a machine on the other side that is capable of receiving the entangled beams and extracting the colonization ship from them. But sending a small unmanned probe is a lot easier than sending a large manned craft across interstellar distances. We could get the craft going to velocities approaching appreciable fractions of C via a magnetic rail cannon in low Earth orbit. We can then use the Mother Of All Lasers and a solar sail to slow it down as it nears the target star system. Once it was in place, we could start teleporting the colonists.

Of course, the journey wouldn't be instantaneous, but from the point of view of the colonists, it would be. A colonoy constructed this way would likely keep much closer ties to Earth than a generational ship would, and it would be cheaper to build.

However, it requires us to have mastered technology that we have only begun experimenting with. We are a long way from getting macroscopic quantum teleportation working. Also, keeping the entanglement properties of the beams intact when sending them through several light years of interstellar gas is a problem that may not be easily solved. It may be that we could safely "beam" solid objects such as a block of steel across several light years, but we cannot send biological life over anything but interplanetary, not interstellar, distances. If that is the case, we may be stuck with either sending generational ships, "2001" type non-generational ships, or unmanned ships to populate star systems with intelligent machine colonists on our behalf.

That said, a "2001" type ship would have problems dealing with the time spans required for interstellar travel. Yes, it could go much faster than a generational ship, but we're still talking time in excess of 100 years. Even with rotating shifts of three, boredom would set in. Also, how would one deal with the concept of a crew member who decided to murder other ones...? In "2001" the murderer was the computer, but a single crew member would have a lot of power, and there is a high chance of "cabin fever" psychosis. Also, a crew of three would have more problems correcting a massive failure than a crew of a hundred would. Without rapid contact with Mission Control, that could be an issue.

Of course, of the three, an unmanned ship of AI colonists would be the cheapest, fastest and most likely to succeed. But there's just something unsatisfying about a race of androids claiming a star system in the name of Earth....

If FTL travel is impossible, and if macroscopic quantum teleportation is impractical, a generational ship simply may be our best choice if we intend to colonize nearby star systems with human beings.

Andrew
2002-Mar-14, 05:46 PM
I was only half serious. And it was only hypothetical, I didn't mean to suggest that we should hold off bargaining on having acheived FTL travel.
But I thought we were talking about only a fraction of c.
But even still, I think quantum teleportation is only the transfer of the "information" a particle contains rather than the actual particle. Which means, maybe they could send (or create) a duplicate of you in another star system, but it doesn't mean you actually travelled there. So far I believe it's only been done with single photons. I don't like much I've been hearing about teleportation. To me, at least, it doesn't sound ery promising. Though I do not know very much about it.

Similarly I don't like the notion of sending a ship off to the stars with a few human specimens in the hopes that they'd breed a new generation to take over the ship and continue on. I don't think it's very kind to these children to grow up in a spaceship, and having no choice but to continue on a mission that other people chose to undertake.

amstrad
2002-Mar-14, 06:00 PM
Joe Halderman's <U>MindBridge</U> has an interesting (although completly fictitious). In this book he describes what's called a Lavent-Meyer transformation, where energizing a specific crystal teleports a volume of matter equal to the size of the crystal to another location without the need for a receiving "telepad". Increasing the energy allows larger distances transported. Increasing the size of the crystal means they could send teams of several explorers plus equipment.

The catch is that you only remain at the destination for a short period of time before you are slingshot back to your origin (Earth). They could collect specimens from the extraterrestrial planets, but they would only remain on Earth for the same amount of time you spent on the alien world. Therefore, building anything on the alien world would require local materials.

This wasn't the main point of the story, but it was an interesting idea. There is a rumor that this will be made into a film (http://www.corona.bc.ca/films/details/mindbridge.html).

Kaptain K
2002-Mar-15, 10:36 AM
...having no choice but to continue on a mission that other people chose to undertake...
Isn't this a short synopsis of human history?

martianutopia
2002-Mar-25, 06:09 AM
When we humans make a serious attempt at interstellar space travel, if we survive to eventually do so, we will not be the same as we are now. We may be very similar, but we will be changed in ways that are impossible to predict by every event that occurs between now and then and there are a number of things that must occur before we make an attempt to reach the stars.

Our current degree of human exploration and settlement of our own solar system has only just begun. Before we leave our solar system we will have learned to live in isolated colonies on the moon, or mars, or venus, or an asteroid, maybe even pluto. We will do this because it becomes profitable to someone(s)to have a human presence somewhere in our solar system further away than the ISS.

Today we have two options for an outpost remote from the earth, the moon or Mars. Soon, there will be other options, a space station orbiting jupiter maybe, but there has to be a first next step. A manned base on the moon would seem to make logical sense, at least as a learning experience and training base. This isn't going to happen this week or this year but i believe it will be the first step.

We may find that we can exploit the resources of own solar system with the direct use of machines only. That is the path we are on now, but someday, someone will embark on a space journey because they can. We just dont know now what they will know then.

Kaptain K
2002-Mar-25, 09:25 AM
A manned base on the moon would seem to make logical sense, at least as a learning experience and training base. This isn't going to happen this week or this year but i believe it will be the first step.
Not the first step. The first step is a real space station. Not the money sucking boondoggle called ISS! And that won't happen 'til we stop throwing away over 4 million lb. of fuel and hardware to launch a billion dollar space truck and (at most) 65,000 lb. of payload into orbit.

DJ
2002-Mar-25, 04:59 PM
With the possibility of being labeled "Luddite of the Thread," I venture forth and suggest that there is very little evidence predicting great journies into space for mankind.

I think it's most dismaying to know that a gamma ray burst, depending on it's locale, could wipe out 1000LY sphere of life around it. That's just one outcome. So we could pump all this money into trying to get away from here, only to be sterilized when we reach "there," wherever it is.


The only way I will feel good about this, is to solve ALL of the problems here first. We always talk of how space exploration has brought so many good things to us, but quite honestly, the 30 or so years since the space program really got fun have breeded the most contemptable human conditions we've ever seen. I don't think our country's asymetrical development in culture is any different than an asymetrical development of say, warfare -- to some other group.

It takes a lot of effort to build water systems, have a surplus of food so everyone can eat, write books, construct schools, and give everyone a chance at some level of happiness. As long as this is asymetrically developed here on Earth, how wonderful would it feel to tell our history to some other culture? Or even worse, build the same disgusting culture on a new, previously uninhabited planet?

With such know-how available to us even today, I can barely even look into space knowing how much we need to do back here. I feel kind of like we have this sort of "dot-com" mentality towards humanity. And like that dot-com mentality, which pushed us forward in "economics" without adding a lot of substance... it [econony, human condition, etc.] is bound to come crashing down upon us.

Welcome to today's humanity. Hey, did you catch what J-Lo was wearing at the Oscars? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

DJ

[edited again and again for purpose! -dj]


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: DJ on 2002-03-25 12:10 ]</font>

Azpod
2002-Mar-25, 05:08 PM
On 2002-03-25 01:09, martianutopia wrote:
Our current degree of human exploration and settlement of our own solar system has only just begun. Before we leave our solar system we will have learned to live in isolated colonies on the moon, or mars, or venus, or an asteroid, maybe even pluto. We will do this because it becomes profitable to someone(s)to have a human presence somewhere in our solar system further away than the ISS.


Actually I believe the first step will simply be space tourism, which is just now starting to become a reality. The advancement of science can largely be done with robots or people on the ISS far more cheaply than sending someone to Mars, so there is little political incentive to send people anywhere other than low Earth orbit.

But as more people see space travel within their financial grasp, the more the space tourist industry can and will drive down the cost of manned spaceflight. I think the first manned colony on the Moon will most likely be a resort, not a science outpost. Likewise, the first person on Mars very well may be someone who is willing to pony up the cash for the privilege.

But either way, I agree: space flight to other star systems is something that is way, way off-- barring someone coming up with a feasable FTL or near-C system.

As for DJ's comments, call me a pessimist, but the human condition will not change much, no matter where we go or when. Human society has always evolved much more slowly than human technology. Call it biology, call it a lack of spiritual elightenment, call it whatever you want, but in every society thoughout all of human history, selfish ambition has always held sway over all human activity.

Do we have the techology and the means to feed everyone in the world, find world peace, and reach a state of harmony? Certainly. Will it ever happen? No. Yes, we may build a global government that tears down the walls of nationalism. Yes, we may build water and food distribution systems that can send food from anywhere to anyone. No, we will not see the end of bloodshed; no we will not see the end of people starving to death.

The purpose in going to the stars isn't to build colonies where there horrible conditions don't exist, because we can't. There are simply too many people who will take advantage of any system. That's why communism is a proven failure. It's not that it cannot work. It's a great ideal, and one that I would happily embrace if I thought that it would work. Simply put, it doesn't work because many people take whatever is offered to them and do nothing in return. Likewise, too many people love the aquisition of power, and will subjugate anyone they can to acheive and maintain authority. Any human society will have to deal with those two realities, and both of them work to produce an uneven distrubution of resources among the human population-- so much so that any society has its wealthy and powerful and poor and powerless.

Why do we want to go to the stars? Simply because we can. That is the way that human history has worked in the past, and that is the way that it continue to work far into the future.

_________________
Lobster sticks to magnet. (http://www.solarisdx.net/features/1lm.html)
That is all.

--Azpod... Formerly known as James Justin

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Azpod on 2002-03-25 12:30 ]</font>

martianutopia
2002-Mar-26, 05:06 AM
On 2002-03-25 12:08, Azpod wrote:

[quote]
Actually I believe the first step will simply be space tourism, which is just now starting to become a reality.

This is very true Azpod, but the driving force behind this is profitability. The Russians are seeing that some people are willing to pay a lot of money to have the opportunity to get into orbit. Thus they have found it profitable to them to promote space tourism, AND they have the means to satisfy a persons desire to go into orbit. This just promotes my idea that our presence in space will depend on profitability.

[quote]
I think the first manned colony on the Moon will most likely be a resort, not a science outpost. Likewise, the first person on Mars very well may be someone who is willing to pony up the cash for the privilege.

No way Azpod, unless NASA and the USA loses it clout in space. They will fight it tooth and nail if they are not the first, and don't be fooled, if they are the first to make the achievement it will cost us taxpayers a couple dozen times more than a private enterprise would expend on the deal. I was personally very disappointed in NASA's reaction to the first space tourist.

[quote]
Why do we want to go to the stars? Simply because we can. That is the way that human history has worked in the past, and that is the way that it continue to work far into the future.

I agree with you totally here and when it becomes possible to send people far out into space we will, and there are those that would readily go now. But, it won't become a frequent event until someone figures out how to make a profit from it. Also, obviosly i have a lot to learn about posting on this board. This is difficult for me, I don't have any knowledge of html...anyone can help me?

_________________
Lobster sticks to magnet. (http://www.solarisdx.net/features/1lm.html)
That is all.

--Azpod... Formerly known as James Justin

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Azpod on 2002-03-25 12:30 ]</font>


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: martianutopia on 2002-03-26 00:17 ]</font>

David Hall
2002-Mar-26, 11:24 AM
On 2002-03-26 00:06, martianutopia wrote:
Actually I believe the first step will simply be space tourism, which is just now starting to become a reality.


Yeah, but do we really want space tourism to go to guys like this?

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/lance_iss_020220.html

blecch.

Azpod
2002-Mar-26, 05:07 PM
On 2002-03-26 06:24, David Hall wrote:

Yeah, but do we really want space tourism to go to guys like this?

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/lance_iss_020220.html

blecch.



Frankly, yes. His paid ticket will help build an industry that may finally establish humanity as a truly space-faring species. I don't care for his music, but if he does go up, it will be a very positive and public promotion of the idea of private space exporation to the general public. Most people only remember the bickering between NASA and the RSA over Dennis Tito. If it takes a member of NSync to show the young people of the world that they may someday make it to space themselves, more power to him!

Granted, I would like to take his place, but hey... I gotta bust my butt & make US$20mil first! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

As for NASA stopping a tourist resort on the Moon... something tells me if NASA tries to stand in the way, they would get burned pretty badly if a tourist company has the $$$ to build such a resort.

As for a tourist being the first person on Mars... I don't see any real progress towards putting anyone else on Mars. I'll put my money on the Mars Society (http://www.marssociety.com/) making it there before anyone else, but NASA isn't giving them the time of day, either.

_________________
Lobster sticks to magnet. (http://www.solarisdx.net/features/1lm.html)
That is all.

--Azpod... Formerly known as James Justin

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Azpod on 2002-03-26 12:10 ]</font>

DJ
2002-Mar-26, 05:56 PM
But as more people see space travel within their financial grasp, the more the space tourist industry can and will drive down the cost of manned spaceflight. I think the first manned colony on the Moon will most likely be a resort, not a science outpost. Likewise, the first person on Mars very well may be someone who is willing to pony up the cash for the privilege.


How quickly we replicate. Haves and Have-nots already.



As for DJ's comments, call me a pessimist, but the human condition will not change much, no matter where we go or when. Human society has always evolved much more slowly than human technology. Call it biology, call it a lack of spiritual elightenment, call it whatever you want, but in every society thoughout all of human history, selfish ambition has always held sway over all human activity.


Then hang our heads in shame, and destroy us with a firey GRB puhleeze. I am thoroughly unconvinced, by the above comment, that evolution actually exists.

However, if we are truly smart, truly civilized, truly cognizant, and thus truly worthy, we will realize that in the latter part of the 20th century, we took control of "evolution." The scariest part is that we don't even realize we've done it yet. Today we are already determining the physical and mental form of the human species, not to mention all other species on the planet.

We are indeed very smart, and very adaptable. Just not ... quality oriented yet.



Do we have the techology and the means to feed everyone in the world, find world peace, and reach a state of harmony? Certainly. Will it ever happen? No. Yes, we may build a global government that tears down the walls of nationalism. Yes, we may build water and food distribution systems that can send food from anywhere to anyone. No, we will not see the end of bloodshed; no we will not see the end of people starving to death.


We better build some real snazzy space-based weapons along the way then. Because the masses, you know, the hungry, dirty ones, have already found a way to tear our fabric. What happens when they decide they have nothing left to live for, and go for the whole outfit?



There are simply too many people who will take advantage of any system.
Likewise, too many people love the aquisition of power, and will subjugate anyone they can to acheive and maintain authority.
Why do we want to go to the stars? Simply because we can. That is the way that human history has worked in the past, and that is the way that it continue to work far into the future.


We need a COMMON enemy.

I vote for the bugs from Starship Troopers.

I also vote that we keep our hands out of space. Hell, we've already sent out a roadmap for any hungry race to follow back to us, and we've told them where to look for tenderloin vs. Tbone with pics of our anatomy.

DJ

Azpod
2002-Mar-26, 06:51 PM
On 2002-03-26 12:56, DJ wrote:
Then hang our heads in shame, and destroy us with a firey GRB puhleeze. I am thoroughly unconvinced, by the above comment, that evolution actually exists.


Forgive my unevolved mind... what does GRB stand for?



We better build some real snazzy space-based weapons along the way then. Because the masses, you know, the hungry, dirty ones, have already found a way to tear our fabric. What happens when they decide they have nothing left to live for, and go for the whole outfit?


The same thing that has happened many times in the past: a whole lot of people die. The winners build a new power base and the whole cycle starts anew.



I also vote that we keep our hands out of space. Hell, we've already sent out a roadmap for any hungry race to follow back to us, and we've told them where to look for tenderloin vs. Tbone with pics of our anatomy.


Actually, one of the best reasons to establish colonies on the Moon, Mars and eventually other star systems is simply because of these wars. More and more nations are developing nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. As much as I cheered when the Cold War ended, I have no doubt that the Earth will see nuclear fire used in war again. A self-sustaining colony on Mars or the Moon could survive even a global war with minimal damage. At that point the only way for us to snuff out the human race would be to have a truly interplanetary war, which is something beyond the means of even the most nutty dictator with a few nukes under his belt.

As for the snazzy space-based weapons... sadly they will be built, and someday used. But that will happen if we leave this rock or not, and if we leave this rock at least we stand a chance of surviving our own foolishness.

Of course, if we find some really cool space bugs and pick a fight with them instead, all bets are off! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Mar-26, 07:37 PM
On 2002-03-26 12:56, DJ wrote:
The scariest part is that we don't even realize we've done it yet. Today we are already determining the physical and mental form of the human species, not to mention all other species on the planet.

We are indeed very smart, and very adaptable. Just not ... quality oriented yet.

You're just not aware of such attempts in the past. Are you familiar with the phrase social darwinism?

Wiley
2002-Mar-26, 07:44 PM
On 2002-03-26 12:56, DJ wrote:
[quote]

However, if we are truly smart, truly civilized, truly cognizant, and thus truly worthy, we will realize that in the latter part of the 20th century, we took control of "evolution." The scariest part is that we don't even realize we've done it yet. Today we are already determining the physical and mental form of the human species, not to mention all other species on the planet.

We are indeed very smart, and very adaptable. Just not ... quality oriented yet.


As GoW pointed out, it's been tried. It's called eugenics, and it's an extremely dangerous road to go down.

Wiley
2002-Mar-26, 07:50 PM
On 2002-03-26 14:37, GrapesOfWrath wrote:
You're just not aware of such attempts in the past. Are you familiar with the phrase social darwinism?


I wonder how many people who believe in social darwinism actually have read Darwin: "If the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin."

Of course, the best critique of social darwinism is the movie "Trading Places."

DJ
2002-Mar-26, 08:31 PM
You're just not aware of such attempts in the past. Are you familiar with the phrase social darwinism?


I am. However, the application of social darwinism deals at a different level than say, genetic engineering.

Together, they are VERY powerful. No?

DJ

DJ
2002-Mar-26, 08:35 PM
Oh, forgot...

GRB = Gamma Ray Burst.

euˇgenˇics Pronunciation Key (y-jnks)
n. (used with a sing. verb)
The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding.

diacad
2002-May-20, 11:23 PM
[quote]
On 2002-03-25 11:59, DJ wrote:
With the possibility of being labeled "Luddite of the Thread," I venture forth and suggest that there is very little evidence predicting great journies into space for mankind.
[unquote]

DJ is not necessarily a "Luddite"- however, many other people, in this forum and elsewhere, take a romantic view of manned interstellar travel, and overlook or minimize physical obstacles (gamma rays, solar mass ejections, meteors and other space debris), the time/space transit problem, human physiology, and other uncomfortable realities. Even human travel to nearby planets would be a major challenge with results likely not worth all the effort.

A good case can be made that even the modest but costly shuttle program has had more of a political than a scientific justification.

Unmanned space exploration has led to far greater expansion of our knowledge of the universe. Manned missions, at tremendous financial cost and heroic personal risk, have expanded mainly our knowledge of human physiology and its limits. And the more our knowledge grows, the less plausible and reasonable such missions seem.

Our abilities to extend our perceptions and manipulations through computational technique and robotic prosthesis have grown rapidly since the first primitive manned space flights. It is no longer necessary to so directly expose the human body to the physiological dangers and logistical difficulties involved in space exploration. We can virtually "be there" in a way inconceivable during the heady days of the '50s and '60s.

In fact, human corporeal presence would have, and has had, a disturbing effect on the sometimes delicate observations and manipulations associated with space missions. There may have been a case for this presence in former days (the heroic 60s and early 70s) when timely manual intervention was more meaningful.

Those sincerely interested in scientific space exploration have reason to fear the political backlash (which may kill future funding for legitimate and well considered projects) from costly boondoggles that could result in further injury or even loss of life with little gain to our understanding of the universe.

See physicist Bob Park's book "Voodoo Science" for a scientific debunking of manned space travel.




_________________
"If everything was as it appeared, there would be no need of science." -Friedrich Engels

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: diacad on 2002-05-20 19:39 ]</font>

Manchurian Taikonaut
2004-Mar-11, 11:14 AM
Well, for a lunar voyage we wouldn't need to grow foods on our ships before they reach the moon. It's not that far away, I'm sure a space tourist would love to go there.

http://www.tlproductions.com/mooncolony.jpg

Space tourism, how much would you pay to go to the moon?

Kebsis
2004-Mar-12, 06:38 AM
I think that since it's so difficult to move through space due to the laws of physics, we should start concentrating on a way to get around them or just turn them off.