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Thread: Living in a shopping mall: How to not go crazy in a space habitat

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    Living in a shopping mall: How to not go crazy in a space habitat

    One of the common arguments I hear about Why We Shouldn't Live In Space is, we'd go mad spending all our lives in an artificial environment. And there's some validity to that; we evolved in forests and open plains, running wild and unfettered, Booooorn freeeee, as free as the wiiiiind

    Ahem. Sorry.

    The point is, we need to have some relief from obviously manmade structures every once in a while, or there are real psychological effects. There have to be ways to mitigate these issues and prevent any resulting social difficulties.

    The most obvious of these fixes is, fake sky. A visual representation as realistic as possible, bright and blue and seemingly open, with natural looking sunny rays, cloud illusions giving slight changes in brightness and light angles throughout the daylight hours. Night is easier, it's just darkness with stars. But to look up and see only a roof and artificial lighting, wears on a body after a few years or decades. It's like being in an inescapable casino.

    Also needed are green parks, with trees and grass and rocks. Fractal mapping can create natural looking landscapes with hills and small valleys that are visually and audially isolated from outside structures and visibly artificial features. Care must be taken not to have too many people in the park at once, allowing for the illusion of being alone or in isolated groups in the "wilderness" areas. Of course, sometimes you want more people around, picnics and parties and dances in a lush setting.

    Even the "city" areas will need open spaces to avoid conditioning children to agoraphobia. These will need to be planned as much as the green spaces, and in concert with the sky images.
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    All of those are interesting ideas, but I also wonder if people could/would actually adapt to just man-made spaces. There are actually real world examples: submarine crews on long missions, Antarctic research stations, crews on the ISS. Heck, average teenager gaming in their parents' basement, or average city dweller come close. Sure, you can name ways how all of those are different than living in a space habitat or a lunar habitat for 20 years, either in degree of isolation from the outdoors, or length of time, but the average life of a modern, Western citizen is more like the resident of a space habitat than it is to a hunter-gatherer on the African savanna.
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    Judging by how popular museum butterfly gardens are in the winter to modern urban dwellers, just something like a greenhouse goes a long way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    All of those are interesting ideas, but I also wonder if people could/would actually adapt to just man-made spaces. There are actually real world examples: submarine crews on long missions, Antarctic research stations, crews on the ISS. Heck, average teenager gaming in their parents' basement, or average city dweller come close. Sure, you can name ways how all of those are different than living in a space habitat or a lunar habitat for 20 years, either in degree of isolation from the outdoors, or length of time, but the average life of a modern, Western citizen is more like the resident of a space habitat than it is to a hunter-gatherer on the African savanna.
    I suppose if you grow up with something, or live with it a long enough time, it gets to seem normal. People can adapt to almost any circumstance... but then, that's not always a good thing since they often then don't see the problems of a bad situation.
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    The lunar caves can be quite large. Inflate a dome within one of those like a big IMAX deal--and insert blue sky.

    Inflate two domes, and fill the gap between outer and inner dome with material so as to help hold the cave roof up in case of quakes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    The lunar caves can be quite large. Inflate a dome within one of those like a big IMAX deal--and insert blue sky.

    Inflate two domes, and fill the gap between outer and inner dome with material so as to help hold the cave roof up in case of quakes.
    If the cave roof is that dangerous, find a better cave. Or, build on the surface, make the interstitial gap your water reservoir, you've got three meters of the best cosmic ray shielding you can drink.

    More seriously, a dome full of air at 1 bar would have to have a surface as hard as steel anyway. No filler would be necessary, in fact it might make the dome surface less resilient and flexible.
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    meh... on the contrary: for me living full-time in a shopping mall would be tiresome NOT because it's artificial and 100% plastic, but because it's too huge and too full of strangers: i could live there comfortably if i had my own private 20 square meters cardboard box with television and bathroom...
    Last edited by Barabino; 2019-May-19 at 07:11 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barabino View Post
    meh... on the contrary: for me living full-time in a shopping mall would be tiresome NOT because it's artificial and 100% plastic, but because it's too huge and too full of strangers: i could live there comfortably if i had my own private 20 square meters cardboard box with television and bathroom...
    No strangers if you spend your life there. It could probably breed more of a small-town mentality, unless you travel, or live on a station or base with a lot of through traffic and see actual strangers often. Otherwise it may grow insular after a few years.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    All of those are interesting ideas, but I also wonder if people could/would actually adapt to just man-made spaces. There are actually real world examples: submarine crews on long missions, Antarctic research stations, crews on the ISS. Heck, average teenager gaming in their parents' basement, or average city dweller come close. Sure, you can name ways how all of those are different than living in a space habitat or a lunar habitat for 20 years, either in degree of isolation from the outdoors, or length of time, but the average life of a modern, Western citizen is more like the resident of a space habitat than it is to a hunter-gatherer on the African savanna.
    Teen gamers and inner city residents historically have unmet needs. There's a growing body of evidence that a visit to even a small park or garden has positive psychological benefits to those who have been enclosed for long periods or have grown up without such exposure. Like those programs for inner city kids to visit farms or forests, which almost always have noticeable effect on their behaviors and attitudes.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    I work with an interesting scenario like this. We have an education program that is remarkably nonrestrictive in nature. So long as someone's primary diagnoses is autism, we will accept them no matter what restrictives have been used on them. It creates "explosive" situations the first couple of attempts to integrate someone used to restrains into a fairly nonrestrictive classroom. (Getting up, screaming and running around the room is totally fine. Trying to leave the building is not permitted.)

    Usually the outburst is far from intentionally violent, but can end in getting punched in the nose. That happened to me last week. Somehow, it wasn't all that hostile. The student doesn't object to me now, nor have they attempted another swing at anyone that I know of, despite having a zillion chances a day.

    I don't think people really go "crazy" from a lack of control or space. They merely react poorly to unanticipated situations such as a radical change to the environment to the one they are used to. I've taken students to the park and sometimes they freak out when a pathway opens to large open space. Usually they try to return to the enclosed path, sometimes running over people in the process.
    Solfe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    I work with an interesting scenario like this. We have an education program that is remarkably nonrestrictive in nature. So long as someone's primary diagnoses is autism, we will accept them no matter what restrictives have been used on them. It creates "explosive" situations the first couple of attempts to integrate someone used to restrains into a fairly nonrestrictive classroom. (Getting up, screaming and running around the room is totally fine. Trying to leave the building is not permitted.)

    Usually the outburst is far from intentionally violent, but can end in getting punched in the nose. That happened to me last week. Somehow, it wasn't all that hostile. The student doesn't object to me now, nor have they attempted another swing at anyone that I know of, despite having a zillion chances a day.

    I don't think people really go "crazy" from a lack of control or space. They merely react poorly to unanticipated situations such as a radical change to the environment to the one they are used to. I've taken students to the park and sometimes they freak out when a pathway opens to large open space. Usually they try to return to the enclosed path, sometimes running over people in the process.
    I am one of those people (Asperger's) so I get it.

    So, I'm thinking that this can be generalized to the main population, a group selected for a specific set of characteristics like claustrophilia may be necessary to make a permanent home on a space habitat. If that turns out to be the case, it'll really put limitations on who can colonize the rest of the Universe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I am one of those people (Asperger's) so I get it.

    So, I'm thinking that this can be generalized to the main population, a group selected for a specific set of characteristics like claustrophilia may be necessary to make a permanent home on a space habitat. If that turns out to be the case, it'll really put limitations on who can colonize the rest of the Universe.
    Generalized? Oh, heck yes. Sometimes we have to use our interpersonal skills training on other each other from time to time. It is super easy to maladapt behavior, ESPECIALLY in otherwise "normal people".

    Our biggest frustration is when "normal people" misinterpret something then start using maladaption in response. One of my favorites is a student that sometimes has bad days on the bus, which has caused the bussing people to stop at a restaurant for food as a bribe against the behavior. The student actually doesn't care about the food they give him. 99 times out of 100, he is harmless and often sleepy. All he knows is that they put stuff in his hands every day and he has to throw it out so he can pick up his Cheerios at school. The school can't control the bus staff, so we hint a lot. Sometimes we complain.

    For whatever reason, every crew that works on that bus ends up with the exact same bad idea no matter how many times they have been replaced, transferred away or outright sacked. Maladation is easy, I guess.
    Solfe

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    There will need to be significant cultural changes and conditioning needed before most folks could adapt to a true space colony. Someone from Japan might have a much easier time than, say, a libertarian frontiersman from the wide open Texas range.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    There will need to be significant cultural changes and conditioning needed before most folks could adapt to a true space colony. Someone from Japan might have a much easier time than, say, a libertarian frontiersman from the wide open Texas range.
    tsk tsk: you assume that in Japan most people live tightly packed in small apartments in giant condos in inner city Tokyo but judging from comic tv shows (Doraemon etc.), common people live in normal suburban houses, somewhat even greener than the ones in West Europe :-/

    Doraemon_03.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post

    The most obvious of these fixes is, fake sky. A visual representation as realistic as possible, bright and blue and seemingly open, with natural looking sunny rays, cloud illusions giving slight changes in brightness and light angles throughout the daylight hours. Night is easier, it's just darkness with stars. But to look up and see only a roof and artificial lighting, wears on a body after a few years or decades. It's like being in an inescapable casino.

    Also needed are green parks, with trees and grass and rocks. Fractal mapping can create natural looking landscapes with hills and small valleys that are visually and audially isolated from outside structures and visibly artificial features. Care must be taken not to have too many people in the park at once, allowing for the illusion of being alone or in isolated groups in the "wilderness" areas. Of course, sometimes you want more people around, picnics and parties and dances in a lush setting.
    I was thinking about something like that some time back. Google "artificial sky" and "artificial skylight". There are companies that use LCD panels and arrays of filtered LEDS to simulate sky with different resolutions and costs. There are also bright artificial suns used in some items to get a good bright sun on the floor effect. With all of this, there can be skylights or interior atrium sky scenes in basement or building interiors.

    I had the idea (I know it's not original to me too) to use these light panels in a rotating "onion" structure habitat. In that design, unlike the classic O'Neill habitat, with the air going up to the center of the structure, you have a number of floors, but they might be separated by 25 vertical feet or so. If you've played the game, Mass Effects's Citadel gives an idea of how it could look. In that, you have a center area with an artificial sky, plants, ponds, etc. with building structures to the sides where people would have apartments, stores, etc. Just imagine multiple levels of that.

    A downside, of course, is the additional complexity and the panels that would have to be replaced when they fail. However, the additional population in the same volume structure could be handy.

    And yes, I tend to think the second generation would be less concerned about the artificial earth sky simulation. I remember a story written years ago that was written like that: The initial habitat was meant to have very earthlike interior that would be designed to fool you that the Earth was just outside, but the second generation built their new habitat section without all the extra hardware, as it was a waste and they just didn't care for it. They also regularly used the microgravity sections that most of the original people avoided when possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barabino View Post
    tsk tsk: you assume that in Japan most people live tightly packed in small apartments in giant condos in inner city Tokyo but judging from comic tv shows (Doraemon etc.), common people live in normal suburban houses, somewhat even greener than the ones in West Europe
    I should have said, someone from a big city in Japan.

    But the culture there is also more group and relationship oriented than individualist Westerners are used to.
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    Any simulated sunlight might have a UV component tailored to produce vitamin D, which may otherwise be lacking.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I should have said, someone from a big city in Japan.

    But the culture there is also more group and relationship oriented than individualist Westerners are used to.
    maybe i'm oversensitive about this, but, speaking in a general sense:

    -the so-called "individualist" americans in reality teach children to be self-confident and that they are the best people to solve their own problems

    -the so-called "compliant" asians actually teach children to be "soft" and to abide any law - even absurd singapore signs that order us not to sneeze in a park tsk tsk
    Last edited by Barabino; 2019-May-24 at 02:19 PM.

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    Without getting into a contest about specific nationalities, a space hab culture would need to be enormously controlled and disciplined. Or die. You can't be free-wheeling and devil-may-care in a space environment, Han Solo notwithstanding. You need to make sure everything runs the way it's supposed to, you have to be meticulously nit-picky about it, to the point of near obsession.
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    Closed pending moderator discussion.
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    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    There will be extensive green plants anyway, to grow food and replenish air. So, it's not like the space habitats of tomorrowyear will be without seeds or the means to grow vegetation.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foodscaping
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    (A) space hab culture would need to be enormously controlled and disciplined. Or die. You can't be free-wheeling and devil-may-care in a space environment, Han Solo notwithstanding. You need to make sure everything runs the way it's supposed to, you have to be meticulously nit-picky about it, to the point of near obsession.
    That makes park and play areas IMO all the more important, giving places to relax a little from the inherent need for constant vigilance needed in a life supporting structure.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    All of those are interesting ideas, but I also wonder if people could/would actually adapt to just man-made spaces. There are actually real world examples: submarine crews on long missions, Antarctic research stations, crews on the ISS.
    And felons. Some of them enjoying a lifetime of fun behind steel bars and concrete block.

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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    And felons. Some of them enjoying a lifetime of fun behind steel bars and concrete block.
    Psychological and behavioral benefits of prison gardens:

    https://www.correctionsone.com/re-en...ehabilitation/
    https://scholarworks.arcadia.edu/cgi...ntext=grad_etd (PDF)
    Last edited by Noclevername; 2019-May-25 at 04:01 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    No strangers if you spend your life there. It could probably breed more of a small-town mentality, unless you travel, or live on a station or base with a lot of through traffic and see actual strangers often. Otherwise it may grow insular after a few years.
    A big dome with smaller domes for isolation, shelters, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    A big dome with smaller domes for isolation, shelters, etc.
    Compartmentation and modular design? Good safety measure, too. Lose one, and the refugees can be spread among the others.

    Also makes population expansion easier.
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    I've been thinking about this confinement issue lately. When I write sci-fi, I always envision the passages of ships as being 2 meters wide and 1 meter tall and however long they need to be. Every wall is padded and has plenty of handholds. This arrangement doesn't allow a person to become a projectile when zero-gee transitions to some sort of thrust. You can always reach something, unless you are a child or a cat. (I'd love to have a cat on a starship, but oh, poor kitty in zero gee.)

    The optics of such an arrangement must be weird. One direction is confining, the other direction less so and the length of the hallway could be intimidating. If you could get used to that, going outside might be traumatic.

    I wonder if it is feasible to have primary, secondary and tertiary hallways based on possible threats? Under thrust or having an environmental issue? Use the smallest, safest hallways. When floating or when you have resources to burn, massive interior spaces could be used. It creates a strange sort of sorting system as a human would likely want to use the largest space possible at all times, but would hop into the next smallest space for safety. Would the largest areas be primary spaces or secondary spaces? Would people have several meters of living space, only to climb into a tiny cubical to sleep because of the relative safety of providing life support to a small place over a big one?

    Let say you had a stadium sized space. Having air would be nice, but under zero gee, it would be dangerous. Having gravity pushing you down would be a very different experience than free floating. Zero gee and vacuum seems hardly better than stepping outside and walking the hull.

    I'm working on story where characters have a lot of space to live in, but I am trying to decide if they have beds. A king sized bed in a variable gee environment can be pretty useless. It seems to me that they should have a small, turnable spherical chamber by the door to sleep in. But I don't like that.
    Solfe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    I've been thinking about this confinement issue lately. When I write sci-fi, I always envision the passages of ships as being 2 meters wide and 1 meter tall and however long they need to be. Every wall is padded and has plenty of handholds. This arrangement doesn't allow a person to become a projectile when zero-gee transitions to some sort of thrust. You can always reach something, unless you are a child or a cat. (I'd love to have a cat on a starship, but oh, poor kitty in zero gee.)

    The optics of such an arrangement must be weird. One direction is confining, the other direction less so and the length of the hallway could be intimidating. If you could get used to that, going outside might be traumatic.

    I wonder if it is feasible to have primary, secondary and tertiary hallways based on possible threats? Under thrust or having an environmental issue? Use the smallest, safest hallways. When floating or when you have resources to burn, massive interior spaces could be used. It creates a strange sort of sorting system as a human would likely want to use the largest space possible at all times, but would hop into the next smallest space for safety. Would the largest areas be primary spaces or secondary spaces? Would people have several meters of living space, only to climb into a tiny cubical to sleep because of the relative safety of providing life support to a small place over a big one?

    Let say you had a stadium sized space. Having air would be nice, but under zero gee, it would be dangerous. Having gravity pushing you down would be a very different experience than free floating. Zero gee and vacuum seems hardly better than stepping outside and walking the hull.

    I'm working on story where characters have a lot of space to live in, but I am trying to decide if they have beds. A king sized bed in a variable gee environment can be pretty useless. It seems to me that they should have a small, turnable spherical chamber by the door to sleep in. But I don't like that.
    In spacecraft, volume would be at a premium. So, probably as little passageway spaces as the engineers can get away with.

    A spacecraft is different in scale from a large space station designed for permanent habitation, but there are some qualitative differences as well. Like, a hab should have a certain amount of consistency of thrust/spin. Also, the hab is likely to be in an orbit where sunlight and thermal rejection are more consistent as well. Unless the station is a cycler "trucker hotel" of course. And more inner volume will be open, yet with more private spaces as well.

    As for bedding, why not have the passengers just moor themselves to the thrust-facing wall (that becomes a "floor" under thrust) with netting or elastic blankets? If you need privacy, use inflatable capsules and removable soundproof panels.
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