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Thread: Colonizing Space: The survival of the human race?

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    Colonizing Space: The survival of the human race?

    When compared to other living species on Earth, Humans are undoubtedly a very intelligent race with an extraordinary ability to learn. From what we know to date, it's safe to conclude that we are very special. If you include the Neanderthals, our history only expands a hundred thousand years or so, which is a mere pin prick in the cosmic timeline. In the grand scheme of things (on a Universal scale) we are just a very young, up-and-coming intelligent species with promise, but also with MUCH to learn. In the past 200 years the human race has grown from a population of 100M to nearly 7 billion people, and natural resources are depleting at an exponential rate. It's becoming ever so clear that we are sprinting down a path of self destruction. Even if we do stabilize population growth and achieve world peace, the threat of asteroids, solar flares or many other apocalyptic events (however rare they may be) put the human race at risk of extinction. Are we smart enough to overcome? I believe there are other intelligent species that exist in the Universe, with evolutions that span millions of years, and that they have developed the technology capable of travelling and colonizing through space. I believe these species once reached a crossroads where their home planet was saturated and they had to either develop the intergalactic technology or become extinct. I also believe there have been countless species with similar intelligence to humans who were not so lucky, and who have become extinct because of their inability to adapt and learn quickly enough to avoid an Armageddon disaster. These two examples are all speculation of course, but when looking at the sheer size of the Universe, the thought of aliens of many different forms seems perfectly rational. And for the sake of this discussion, we will assume that both of these cases are true many times over in the cosmos.

    So which of these two fates lies ahead for the human race? We are clearly intelligent, but are we smart enough to overcome our flaws as a race, achieve world peace and focus on the development of knowledge and technology to reach a point where travelling through space becomes possible? If you asked the question 50 years ago, the answer would have been "we are going to blow ourselves up." However, in the past 20 years science, math and technology have come together in a confluence that has allowed us to observe the Universe and draw real conclusions about what exists beyond Earth. The Kepler space telescope as the latest example, with it's discovery on the large number of planets that exist in the Milky Way, has brought forth the reality that another habitable planet like Earth may not be as far fetched as once thought. We've already been to the moon, and have mastered the ability to launch satellites into orbit, but just how close are we to taking the next giant leap forward in space technology? Surely nothing will happen this century (or the next) and only time will tell, but it is my belief that the human race needs to come together, establish world peace, and focus on expanding our race beyond the borders of the Earth in order to ensure long-time survival. I believe there is so much more out there to explore, and the sooner we come to the realization that our time on Earth may only be a small fraction in the history of our species, the sooner we will be able to focus on the development of interstellar technologies. I believe colonizing into space is the only true way to ensure the survival of the human race. 100,000 years from now, we may be extinct. Or we may look back on the history of the human race and laugh at how childish we were in the 2000's millennium, and wonder what it would have been like to live in a time where only 7 billion humans existed together on the same planet.

    So forum, I ask you;

    Do you believe there are intelligent alien species who have colonized across space? Do you believe other intelligent species have failed to develop quickly enough to ensure their own survival and have become extinct?
    Do you believe colonizing into space in the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the human race?
    We will ever develop the culture and technology needed for interstellar travel, thus making colonizing into space possible?
    Where do you see the human race as it pertains to interstellar travel in 1000 years? 10,000 years? 100,000 years?

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    Do you believe there are intelligent alien species who have colonized across space? Do you believe other intelligent species have failed to develop quickly enough to ensure their own survival and have become extinct?

    Since there is zero evidence for either -- no opinion.

    Do you believe colonizing into space in the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the human race?

    Define "long-term". Obviously, humans in their present form and without interstellar capability cannot survive the death of Sun. But "present form" is not a given -- in fact I'd be amazed if our descendants (if any) even retain our biology 1 billion years from now.

    So the short answer is -- no, it is not the only way.

    We will ever develop the culture and technology needed for interstellar travel, thus making colonizing into space possible?

    "Culture?" Try "speciation". No, I do not believe unmodified Homo Sapiens will ever colonize space. We are too spectacularly unsuited for it, and there is not enough short-term gain to bootstrap subsequent steps. Amount of effort necessary to create structures off-Earth in which it is practical to have babies and raise them is far too great for anyone to do it for its own sake, and there are no intermediate steps with any obvious return do justify them. (Yes, there are worthwhile things to do in space, but I see them done on "offshore oil rig" model -- people go for week or months to do dangerous work, make pile of money, then return to sunny beaches. They do not move to space.) OTOH, if biotechnology ever develops to a point where making radiation-tolerant, vacuum-survivable, yeast-eating "humans" is possible -- then colonization of space might become realistic. But they will be effectively different species.

    Where do you see the human race as it pertains to interstellar travel in 1000 years? 10,000 years? 100,000 years?

    See above. What you normally call "humans" will remain confined to Solar System, if not to Earth. Something with human minds, but very different bodies (possibly not biological at all) I expect will be on their way to the stars within 1000 years.

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    Do you believe there are intelligent alien species who have colonized across space?

    No, because they should be here by now.

    Do you believe other intelligent species have failed to develop quickly enough to ensure their own survival and have become extinct?

    They probably never evolved in the first place.

    Do you believe colonizing into space in the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the human race?

    It would be cheaper and more likely to succeed if we concentrated our efforts at surviving right here on Planet Earth. Anyways, if the Earth population became extinct, the colonies that depended on Earth would follow suit in short order, as have other isolated colonies have when cut off from the mother country: e.g., Columbus's first colony, the Roanoke "lost colony, the Greenland vikings, Sable Island, and most recently Clipperton Island, where 100 Mexicans died off in a couple of short years when the supply ship stopped arriving....

    Will we ever develop the culture and technology needed for interstellar travel, thus making colonizing into space possible?

    Not if Einstein was correct.

    Where do you see the human race as it pertains to interstellar travel in 1000 years? 10,000 years? 100,000 years?

    Mars; Outer Planets; Kuiper Belt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warren Platts View Post
    ...
    Will we ever develop the culture and technology needed for interstellar travel, thus making colonizing into space possible?
    Not if Einstein was correct.
    Where do you see the human race as it pertains to interstellar travel in 1000 years? 10,000 years? 100,000 years?
    Mars; Outer Planets; Kuiper Belt
    Surprisingly pessimistic outlook. Even after 1,000 years?

    Bob Clark

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhole View Post
    From what we know to date, it's safe to conclude that we are very special.
    Well...I'd say it's safe to conclude we are special. As for "very" special, I'm not so sure. The more we learn about the capabilities of our animal relatives, the less it seems we stand out.
    If you include the Neanderthals, our history only expands a hundred thousand years or so, which is a mere pin prick in the cosmic timeline.
    It's also very short compared to evolutionary timescales. Maybe we are indeed "very special", and a rare outstanding evolutionary accident. Or maybe we're only a hundred thousand years or so ahead of some other primates, in terms of development.
    It's becoming ever so clear that we are sprinting down a path of self destruction.
    I strongly disagree.
    Even if we do stabilize population growth and achieve world peace, the threat of asteroids, solar flares or many other apocalyptic events (however rare they may be) put the human race at risk of extinction.
    None of the above put us at serious extinction risks. Nor are the threat of asteroids, solar flares, or various other apocalyptic events examples of "self destruction".
    I believe there are other intelligent species that exist in the Universe, with evolutions that span millions of years, and that they have developed the technology capable of travelling and colonizing through space.
    I share that belief, but it's just a belief extrapolating from our own example. It's not backed up by any hard evidence.
    I believe these species once reached a crossroads where their home planet was saturated and they had to either develop the intergalactic technology or become extinct.
    I find that stupendously implausible. I have made some speculations on what is required for intergalactic capability, but there is not the slightest plausible reason why it would be necessary to develop due to home planet "saturation". For that matter, it's implausible home planet "saturation" to be a reason to become extinct.

    In order to become extinct, it's necessary for something or combination of things to kill each and every member of the species. Overpopulation doesn't do this, because there is some non-zero level of population which is sustainable even if it requires a major die-off to reach this level.
    If you asked the question 50 years ago, the answer would have been "we are going to blow ourselves up."
    Only because of the ego-centric shortsightedness of the people who thought that. Just because the USA and the Soviet Union could blow each other up doesn't mean the end of the human race.
    So forum, I ask you;

    Do you believe there are intelligent alien species who have colonized across space?
    Yes. This is just a belief, though.
    Do you believe other intelligent species have failed to develop quickly enough to ensure their own survival and have become extinct?
    Yes. This is also just a belief, but it's less speculative. There have been many species on Earth, and many have gone extinct. This includes species which I would call "intelligent", such as Homo neanderthalensis. Ones definition of "intelligent" may vary.
    Do you believe colonizing into space in the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the human race?
    No. I have considered how it could be possible to survive through the Sun's Red Giant phase while stubbornly staying on Earth. It's far more technically challenging than space colonization, but it is technically doable.
    We will ever develop the culture and technology needed for interstellar travel, thus making colonizing into space possible?
    We will develop the technology needed for interstellar travel. But it is far more expensive and technologically challenging than space colonization. Space colonization will be developed first.
    Where do you see the human race as it pertains to interstellar travel in 1000 years? 10,000 years? 100,000 years?
    I expect there will be unmanned interstellar missions and possibly manned missions within 1000 years. I expect that within 10,000 years we will have the capability to perform manned interstellar colonization missions, but I have no idea whether we would actually do it within that timeframe.

    However, these speculations may be made moot by many possibilities. Homo sapiens may be superceded by digital beings, or there may be some form of alien contact. The ability to "go slow" via hibernation or clockspeed reduction may be disruptive. "Slow-goers" perceive rapid returns on compound investments as well as rapid advances in technology/gadgets/entertainment media. A "slow-goer" society which only sends slow sleeper ships to star systems which pass within 33,000AU could still colonize most of the galaxy within half a billion years.

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    [QUOTE=Blackhole;1851990]So forum, I ask you;

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhole View Post
    Do you believe there are intelligent alien species who have colonized across space? Do you believe other intelligent species have failed to develop quickly enough to ensure their own survival and have become extinct?
    I've no data to go on, so no opinion. Only evidence we have is ourselves, and so far we've done neither.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhole View Post
    Do you believe colonizing into space in the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the human race?
    No - there are multiple ways, expanding into space is one, and we should cultivate as many as we can.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhole View Post
    We will ever develop the culture and technology needed for interstellar travel, thus making colonizing into space possible?
    No idea - but thats so far off, if it happens, any answer I give is total guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhole View Post
    Where do you see the human race as it pertains to interstellar travel in 1000 years? 10,000 years? 100,000 years?
    Again, so far into the future I'd be guessing wildly. Optimistic guess we'll see uncrewed probes within a thousand years.
    In space PR and Politics are as important as engineering and science. And no-one can hear you screaming about it.

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

    Exploring other worlds with people is a great idea, but look at what has happened since the end of Apollo: How much could unmanned exploration (and astronomy) have discovered with all that money blown on paper rockets?

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    I will not base my answers on any solid science, keep in mind...

    Do you believe there are intelligent alien species who have colonized across space?
    It really depends on what you consider space.... Galaxy? No... Near planets? Possible. Near space - low planet orbit - certainly.

    Do you believe other intelligent species have failed to develop quickly enough to ensure their own survival and have become extinct?
    It's a posibility.
    Do you believe colonizing into space in the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the human race?
    Yes... Sooner or later we'll have to leave the planet... this may not seem urgent now, but it will surely become urgent some day.
    We will ever develop the culture and technology needed for interstellar travel, thus making colonizing into space possible?
    I hope so!

    Where do you see the human race as it pertains to interstellar travel in 1000 years? 10,000 years? 100,000 years?
    DOn't know

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    Much wholesome anxiety, preserving gift of evolution, is fermented to zen when one gets comfortable with 1/r^2, which makes Earth a Neo Matrix for dreamers of manned space, and makes Earth an unbeknownst best space ship ever for pragmatists unaware of space. Earth is a generation ship so cleverly stumbled upon by an inverse square law that it is often mistaken for a planet. To beat the 1/r^2, I'm pretty sure you have to make alliance with it, and that means having a deep resonance with the philosophical implication of 'pale blue dot'. If we can intelligently exploit the 1/r^2 to ward off dangerous NEOs, so much the better. Solar flares don't kill people directly, although they do cause Emerich to destroy neurons. If we can intelligently exploit the inherent greed for comfort of the common person, in the direction of increasing altitude, so much the better for homo sapiens or its derivatives.

    Protons are 2000 times more massive than an electron, and protons require neutrons (couch potatoes) in increasing ratios just to keep nucleic law and order. Whereas, electrons conduct business in swift and far-ranging seas or speak to each other in massless photons. Exploitation of the common person's greed for comforts will logically follow exploitation of photon, then electron, then proton mobility in 1/r^2. (Can you see it statically as in National Geographic magazine? Can you see it interactively as in gaming environments? Can you go there physically as in before polar bears have to swim?)

    Wrt extermination of homo sapiens, some reading of living conditions elsewhere in time and place might flesh out that anxiety. There is a reason so many fantasize about the dark ages: it is a default contraction limit or kernel code for the fall of civilization (i.e., sample size Rome). They did not require great use of coal / petroleum / gas / fossil concentrations of solar. It's sort of the electron degeneracy for plausible post-Armageddons.

    In order to mathematically disbelieve in a deity, I must mathematically assume that Maxwell / radio intelligence exists at least one other place in our sample size of the entire unseen universe (infinite if you're rigorous, 400 Hubble volumes if you're flexible). Since the Milky Way is coming up Roswell, I contentedly suppose there's a Maxwell / radio intelligence on the near shores of Andromeda. But there's a whole spectrum of sub-Maxwell intelligence: symbolic intelligence yet unaware it is locked in a 1/r^2, but having mastered pi, phi, e, i; animal social intelligence, be it primary energy / herbivorous consumers in balance with a secondary / predator caste; or just many varieties of non-conscious, lower lifeforms. There are many good things to imagine without watching the Doomsday Clock. The best question to chew on is, How to help the common person be greedy for comfort in the direction of increasing altitude?
    Last edited by Hernalt; 2011-Feb-14 at 10:23 PM. Reason: word choice

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    I'll have Thousand Islands with this, please.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hernalt View Post
    If we can intelligently exploit the inherent greed for comfort of the common person, in the direction of increasing altitude, so much the better for homo sapiens or its derivatives.
    Just a question of interest, but what it the "common person"? You and I, for example?
    Last edited by Jens; 2011-Feb-16 at 07:44 AM. Reason: corrected typo
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhole View Post
    ...Do you believe there are intelligent alien species who have colonized across space? Do you believe other intelligent species have failed to develop quickly enough to ensure their own survival and have become extinct?
    I do not believe or disbelieve. It remains to be seen. I regard both as likely.
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhole View Post
    Do you believe colonizing into space in the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the human race?
    I don't know that all possible choices have been revealed. Staying on Earth could be feasible. That wouldn't make colonizing a bad idea.
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhole View Post
    We will ever develop the culture and technology needed for interstellar travel, thus making colonizing into space possible?
    If the species survives long enough, it seems likely. Maybe that was your question. I think that we will only get there in generation ships, or by growing humans from frozen zygotes in situ. I don't think near-light-speed travel for living humans will ever happen.
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhole View Post
    Where do you see the human race as it pertains to interstellar travel in 1000 years? 10,000 years? 100,000 years?
    I think that in 1000 years we will have several, perhaps numerous, robotic missions on their way to nearby star systems. I expect that these will have nano-factories ready to build communication links back to us, and perhaps to each other. In 10,000 years, we might have humans around other stars. I say humans, but I think in less than 1000 years human-machine hybrids will be the norm.
    Forming opinions as we speak

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    Do you believe there are intelligent alien species who have colonized across space?

    It is possible but it is also possible that I will win the lottery tomorrow. I would not bet my future on either possibility. The more we learn about stellar, planetary, and biological evolution the less likely it becomes.

    Do you believe other intelligent species have failed to develop quickly enough to ensure their own survival and have become extinct?


    Like I say it's possible. We're on a slow boat there already. Something to do with our instincts as aquisitive male dominated, hierarchical, tribal primate, hunter gatherers.


    Do you believe colonizing into space in the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the human race?

    My Mother told me long ago, "You have to clean up your room before you can go out and play." That's still true. Colonization of space is such an enormous undertaking that you need an ecologically healthy planet with ample resources and a unified humanity and a prosperous stable ecomony and social structure to support it. We don't have that. It would be like asking a disease ridden cripple to swim the English Channel. He'd drown before he went 50 yards. We as a species and society have to get healthy and train first. Training is cleaning up our world first and working together to create a paradise here. You can't reach for the stars while the earth rots away under your feet.

    We will ever develop the culture and technology needed for interstellar travel, thus making colonizing into space possible?

    Lesse, we have chosen 'wise' leaders like John Boehner and Scott Walker and Michele Bachmann, 'unbiased' judges like Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, 'thoughtful' commentators like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and 'intelligent and reasonable' citizens like Scott Roeder and Jared Lee Loughner. I'm not even gonna mention our choices in international allies. Uhhh,...NOPE! Not in my lifetime. As far as technology goes well gee we have great Ipods. How many engines does the Joint Attack Fighter really need. Oh and by the way, that was the last flight of Discovery. Wanna raise taxes for a replacement? Ask your Tea Party Rep.

    Where do you see the human race as it pertains to interstellar travel in 1000 years? 10,000 years? 100,000 years?

    If we don't change the few survivers will be cocooned in pollution corroded bottles with wires in their brains dreaming electric dreams. If we do change we might have slow ships out to Delta Pavonis in about 1000 years. Beyond that is totally dependant on what we do here and now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zo0tie View Post
    My Mother told me long ago, "You have to clean up your room before you can go out and play." That's still true. Colonization of space is such an enormous undertaking that you need an ecologically healthy planet with ample resources and a unified humanity and a prosperous stable ecomony and social structure to support it. We don't have that.
    While I mostly agree, I think "unified humanity" is overrated. "Prosperous stable economy" may actually encourage the opposite, without any major repercussions. Notice that levels of violence worldwide have been falling since WWII. It may not seem that way because violence gets reported more, but fewer people were killed in 2006-2010 than in 2001-2005 -- and fewer in 2001-2005 than in 1996-2000. And number of independent states went up during the same time.

    This is very ironic considering what science fiction writers had imagined for decades. Throughout 20th Century SF assumed that any prosperous future would by necessity involve unified humanity -- that divided states would always fight, and only unification enables peace. What happened is the inverse -- peace enables disunity. It was tough to be a small country in 1900. Small internal market condemned population to poverty. Covetous neighbors might attack. And there was always a danger that some sergeant would storm the royal palace and declare himself king.

    Whereas nowadays being a small country is much easier. If you produce something valuable, global trade opens a big market. However much better it could be, international community does MUCH better job than in 1900 keeping bullies in check. And palace coups and such are more difficult in the age of ubiquitous phone cameras and Internet. So there is little pressure for unification -- quite opposite.

    All through history wars and other calamities had forced diverse tribes to unite into larger groups. Today peace and prosperity make it attractive for large groups to split back into (mutually more-or-less friendly) tribes.
    Lesse, we have chosen 'wise' leaders like John Boehner and Scott Walker and Michele Bachmann, 'unbiased' judges like Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, 'thoughtful' commentators like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and 'intelligent and reasonable' citizens like Scott Roeder and Jared Lee Loughner. I'm not even gonna mention our choices in international allies. Uhhh,...NOPE! Not in my lifetime. As far as technology goes well gee we have great Ipods. How many engines does the Joint Attack Fighter really need. Oh and by the way, that was the last flight of Discovery. Wanna raise taxes for a replacement? Ask your Tea Party Rep.
    Not that I disagree (much), but this is way outside BAUT's "no politics" rule. Just a friendly warning.

    And welcome to BAUT!

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    Settling with Jens: "common person" defined as median income of a developed nation, e.g., American @ $50K. The OP asked for an integration of the function of human space exploration from time = 0 to about t=5gy, and I thought that an attempt to derive the instantaneous rate of change at time=0 would help.

    Settling with Ilya: You are absolutely correct and it is imperative that I stow the impressionism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hernalt View Post
    Settling with Jens: "common person" defined as median income of a developed nation, e.g., American @ $50K. The OP asked for an integration of the function of human space exploration from time = 0 to about t=5gy, and I thought that an attempt to derive the instantaneous rate of change at time=0 would help.
    Thanks for the response, and I think you also responded by PM but I ignored it, not out of malice! I think I wrote it because you stated, "if we can exploit the inherent greed for comfort of the common person," and I was wondering why you had to add the "common" part. I might be cynical or projecting, but my assumption was that all human beings have a natural greed for comfort, so that you might as well have said, "If we can exploit the human greed for comfort." "Greed" may be a strong word, but I wonder if you might agree to simply saying, "If we can intelligently exploit the human desire for comfort..."
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhole View Post
    We will ever develop the culture and technology needed for interstellar travel, thus making colonizing into space possible?
    You don't need interstellar travel to colonize space. If humans continue long enough, I think we would spread out to other stars eventually, but by that time I would expect that we would have thousands if not millions of habitats in the solar system. From an energy and resource standpoint, it's much easier to expand into the solar system than to colonize other systems. In any case, it's almost certain you'd need artificial habitats in other systems as well - Earth clones (like those you see in Star Trek/Star Wars/Star Gate etc.) are likely to be extremely rare if they exist at all.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." Abraham Lincoln

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilya View Post
    While I mostly agree, I think "unified humanity" is overrated. "Prosperous stable economy" may actually encourage the opposite, without any major repercussions. Notice that levels of violence worldwide have been falling since WWII. It may not seem that way because violence gets reported more, but fewer people were killed in 2006-2010 than in 2001-2005 -- and fewer in 2001-2005 than in 1996-2000. And number of independent states went up during the same time.

    Whereas nowadays being a small country is much easier. If you produce something valuable, global trade opens a big market. However much better it could be, international community does MUCH better job than in 1900 keeping bullies in check. And palace coups and such are more difficult in the age of ubiquitous phone cameras and Internet. So there is little pressure for unification -- quite opposite.

    Today peace and prosperity make it attractive for large groups to split back into (mutually more-or-less friendly) tribes.

    Not that I disagree (much), but this is way outside BAUT's "no politics" rule. Just a friendly warning.

    And welcome to BAUT!
    Thank you for the welcome!

    And yes, I realized I went outside of the restriction the second I posted. MY BAD. I understand that internet political discussions usually degenerate into flame wars, something the moderaters want to avoid here. Unfortunately, the real problems for human colonization of space are are in fact the social-political ones. If you can't discuss the human animal and its real life behavior here and now in the world, a discussion about space colonization becomes just so much pointless hand waving. One data point we DO have is the events surrounding the sorry mess of Biosphere II. Had it been a real space habitat the entire crew would have died horribly. Virtually every aspect of the limitations of human interactions were laid bare during that 'experiment', from the lawsuits over control of the facility, to the elitist choice of pretty faces for the crew instead of serious scientists, to the sloppy and dishonest implementation of scientific work, to the splitting of the crew into two hostile groups under conditions of stress. In short, a microcosm of the political condition of the world. Also the capacity for human self deception. There are many space enthusiasts today who actually think Biosphere II was a success because 'we learned something.' The hostile conditions of space will not be forgiving of those limitations.

    I don't agree with your assessment about things getting better. Oil is pumping up things right now with cheap food due to petroleum based agriculture and cheap manufacturing due to outsourced labor. And military aid packages to authoritation regimes to keep the lid down on their own people. But the cracks are beginning to show both here and abroad as any news report will tell you. I'm not convinced we will have the resources to mount a serious space colonization effort in the foreseeable future. Give it a few years and we'll discuss it again on a forum that allows political discussion. Regards

  19. #19
    Like many people, I am sure that my view of Space Travel was shaped by the classic science fiction of the early mid 20th Century and further confused by the use of inappropriate nautical language such as the most obvious - Space Ship.

    Over the years I have slowly come to recognise the misconceptions for that which they are and realise that Travel and Existence in Space requires a completely new way of thinking and vocabulary.

    So lets be clear, Space Vehicles are not ships and Space is not an Ocean. I would also add that probably the greatest lead of my personal understanding over the last few years is the notion that Space rather than being simply a medium for passing through, is in fact a resource to be enclosed.

    While no doubt the classic romantic allure of crossing to the starts and discovering new (earthlike) plants remains as strong as ever, I do believe that we underplay the significance and size of our own Solar System and the wealth of resources that it contains.

    I think the Solar System is vast enough to absorb the combined output of human energy and expansion for the next few centuries at least and that the desire for a Goldilocks habitat will lead to the moving and processing of orbiting raw materials and the using of them for the creation of large enclosed areas in Space for Human Habitation.

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    Do you believe there are intelligent alien species who have colonized across space?
    Yes. We have the capability, in relatively near terms. If we can, so can they.

    Do you believe other intelligent species have failed to develop quickly enough to ensure their own survival and have become extinct?
    Species no. Civilizations, yes. It is very difficult to scour an intelligent species from a planet. If they are intelligent, no matter how stubborn, they will learn from their errors through their suffering.

    Do you believe colonizing into space in the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the human race?
    I think it is the only way sustain a civilization. Failure to expand eventually will either result in crushing overpopulation, or cultural stagnation, or both, resulting in a self destructive conflict that starts the survivors off from scratch.

    We will ever develop the culture and technology needed for interstellar travel, thus making colonizing into space possible?
    The culture is dependent on the technology. Unless communications or transportation is fast enough to unite peoples spread across light years, they will develop separate cultures, and cease to share a common civilization. Mind you there is more than enough space in our own system to last for many thousands of years.

    Where do you see the human race as it pertains to interstellar travel in 1000 years? 10,000 years? 100,000 years?
    Unless our understanding of physics changes dramatically, it will be a good long time before interstellar travel is an issue. But there is more than enough to keep us busy in the mean time.

  21. #21
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    If the human race is to survive, even in the evolutionarily short term, we must colonize off Earth. There are too many possible and probable threats that could eliminate all life on Earth in years, months, or even days. Such threats include, but are not limited to, K-T level meteor/comet impact, massive geological activity, 100% fatal pandemic, and gamma ray burst.

    An advantage of colonizing Mars is that all habitats will be underground, and therefore safe from most catastrophic events that would wipe out all life on Earth. Of course, we could develop self-sufficient underground colonies here on Earth to escape some major events, but we won’t because we don’t have the incentive. On Mars we have no choice.

    If we leave Earth soon, we can progress to other planets, and then perhaps on to the Stars. If we wait too long, we may be trapped here on Earth. Without some major breakthrough in energy technology, energy will continue to become more and more expensive, until we simply cannot afford travel off Earth.

    We currently have the technologies to colonize other planets, such as Mars. We don’t yet have the incentive.

    There is little advantage in moving out to the outer planets or the Kuiper Belt without some breakthrough in technology. The minimal solar radiation at those distances would require generating virtually 100% of energy needs on site. The exceptions would be geologically active moons where geothermal energy would be available. Planets or moons with combustible gasses in quantity probably would not have enough oxygen available to burn those gasses for fuel.

    IMO, Generation Ships could possibly reach other solar systems with habitable planets. Launching of such ships could occur within 500 years, perhaps even less.

  22. #22
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    Do you believe there are intelligent alien species who have colonized across space?

    No, but I could be wrong and hope I am.

    Do you believe other intelligent species have failed to develop quickly enough to ensure their own survival and have become extinct?

    Possibly in some cases, but I don't think it's a safe assumption. Just because they could be here in short timescales does not mean they must.

    Do you believe colonizing into space in the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the human race?

    Yes, for the human race to survive the red-giant phase of the sun, we will have to get a safe distance away. Mars or Jovian moons perhaps, if not space stations.

    We will ever develop the culture and technology needed for interstellar travel, thus making colonizing into space possible?

    We have it now, but it is currently underfunded. It does not require the full will and resources of the planet, as some have suggested. Historically, human re-location has been caused not by collaboration, but by the desire to escape conflict. The term "colonization" suggests economic ties and/or extraterritorial forays by a unified government. That some people used these collaborative methods to escape conflict does not mean that all methods of escaping conflict must be so organized.

    Where do you see the human race as it pertains to interstellar travel in 1000 years? 10,000 years? 100,000 years?

    Plausible. Biotechnology may make suspended animation a reality, and might also make medical immortality a reality, which may mean long voyages in slow ships are survivable.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

  23. #23
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    Extinction of humans on Earth is likely in the next billion years, but self sustaining off earth colonies are a long shot, so most probably won't survive with Earth humans back in the dark ages, which could happen this year, in most respects. The population of humans could drop from 7 billion to 7 million then gradually increase as technology was recovered.
    At present we don't know that humans can be self sufficient anywhere off planet. Technology advances are making us more specialized which tends to mean more dependent. It would be a hard sell to spend trillions of dollars to send people to the Centarii system, which would take a century to explore for a possiblly habitable planet, even if we had a reasonable expectation of trying Barnard's star as an alternative if no suitable planets were found in the Centarii system. We may never be able to identify a habitable planet except by going there, even if we wait decades for probes to go there and report. Centuries for any technology likely soon. Neil

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilzero View Post
    At present we don't know that humans can be self sufficient anywhere off planet. Technology advances are making us more specialized which tends to mean more dependent.
    I believe that we have all the technologies that would allow us to build self-sufficient colonies off-Earth, perhaps on Mars. We just don’t have the incentive to spend the money and resources to do so.

    Many people cite the BioSphere failure as proof we don’t have the technology, but that is an invalid example. BioSphere failed because it was a half-hearted attempt, and because of scale. It was too small to become self-sufficient. A self-sufficient colony would require perhaps 200 people, and enough initial supplies to last at least 3-4 years.

  25. #25
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    When people say "self-sufficient colony", or 'self-sufficient" anything, I wonder if they realize just what "self-sufficiency" really means? The fact is, no place on Earth in modern world is self-sufficient. No village, no city, no country. Everything is interdependent. And the places which come closest to self-sifficiency -- the Amish villages, or North Korea, -- are not really part of modern world. They exist in the past.

    You are probably reading this at a desktop computer. Look around you and think how many people were invloved in making just things you can reach out and touch with your hand right now. Somebody mined the graphite in your pencil. Somebody else cut down (and very likely farmed) the tree from which wood came. Yet someone else mined the bauxite and smelted the aluminum for the eraser holder, someone drew oil from the ground, refined it, made arificial rubber from it, and shaped it into an eraser. I have no idea what the ink for engraving most pencils have is made of, but someone had to make it. Someone else delivered all these things to pencil factory -- across oceans in some case, -- and put them together into a pencil. Each of the steps I outlined involved thousands of people, in some cases tens of thousands. Now add all the farmers who grew these people's food, doctors, nurses and dentists who cared for their health, teachers who taught their children, plumbers, carpenters and electricians who repaired their dwellings because all these tens of thousands were too busy making rubber, graphite and aluminum to work on their houses... and the fact comes out that several millions of people were involved in making your pencil!

    Now make the same thought experiment for your computer -- including the monitor glass, the wires, the insulation, the semiconductors, all the tiny electric motors, all the magnets, etc. -- then add everyone who fed, clothed, and otherwise supported the "computer makers", -- and the number of people involved runs into tens of millions.

    Granted, many of these sets are overlapping -- the oilmen, the aluminum smelters, and semiconductor makers probably get their food from the same set of farmers, and aluminum in your soda can probably came from the same bauxite mine as your eraser holder, -- but still several tens of million people were directly or indirectly involved in making the stuff you see around you just sitting in the office. And the number of people who are collectively "self-sufficient", i.e. can live at their present modern lifestyle without the rest of people is... very close to Earth's total population.

    Paradoxically, the higher is technology level, the more people are needed to support it. A Neolithic farming village could exist in total isolation from other humans. It did not have to, and most neolithic villages did not -- but it could. A Bronze Age village could not exist in isolation. If nothing else, tin and copper almost never occur in the same location, so trade is needed. Trade means ships, ships mean sailors, shipbuilders, rope makers, and other specialists. Specialists mean more farmers to create surplus food. All in all, Bronze Age lifestyle requires at least several tens of thousands of people, some of them necessarily far-flung.

    As you move up the technology level, it gets worse. No European colony was EVER self-sufficient; their very existence always depended on economic ties with Mother country. If shipping got cut off, the colony died, always -- unless it could get what it needed from the locals, and that meant gearing down to the locals' tech level. And this term "gearing down" is essential in understanding why fantasies of space colonies carrying on if Earth is somehow destroyed are, for all practical purposes, fantasies.

    Imagine for a moment that all of Earth somehow became uninhabitable, except Iberian Peninsula. Surviving 55 or so millions Spaniards and Portuguese would quickly run out of gasoline for their vehicles, uranium for nuclear power plants, and gallium for semiconductors. But they would still have arable land, copper, iron, timber, coal and collective knowledge. With some wrenching adjustements they could gear down to roughly 19th Century level -- steam power, hydroelectric power, maybe vacuum-tube computers and IC engines powered by distilled alcohol. But if surviving population were limited to say, one hundred thousand, they'd have no choice by gear down to Iron Age level, maybe with a few electric generators. There would be not enough of a skill pool otherwise.

    And here is the problem -- a space colony can not afford to gear down at all.

    19th Century livestyle is unpleasant compared to 21st Century, but at least you have food and water and warmth. Same for 15th Century lifestyle. But when your entire ecosystem depends on high technology, when you need high tech just for food, water and warmth -- then you are screwed. Without access to production of six billions on Earth, a thousand or a million people on Moon or Mars will just stave off the inevitable as irreplaceable components break down, more and more must be jury-rigged, and artificially maintained ecosystem accumulates bugs (figuratively and literally). It takes almost all of Earth to be "self-sufficient" at 21st Century level; off-Earth population will not be "self-sufficient" until and unless it completely dwarfs Earth population.

    To forestall a complaint, things like strong AI and self-replicating machinery could alter this equation -- that is, could allow high technology with a much smaller human population. In effect, self-replicating robots would be the productive population, and humans would be, in effect, dependents. Genetic engineering might also help -- as I repeatedly said elsewhere, I believe future in space belongs to "humans" who do not die just from breathing a little vacuum. But all this is a very iffy speculation at this point. For foreseeable future, the only realistic "self-sufficient population of Solar System" by necessity includes six billions on Earth. And death of all, or most, of these six billions will mean curtains for everyone living in pressurized cans.

  26. #26
    I agree with you Ilya. I think too many get carried away by the potential technological capability without really considering the economic, political and social imperatives that drive actual real world decision making. I have myself mentioned the need for global access to resources, communications and economies of scale and how they are all balanced by the technical capability and demand of the global consumer population etc and so am gratified to hear other voices express similar.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilya View Post
    When people say "self-sufficient colony", or 'self-sufficient" anything, I wonder if they realize just what "self-sufficiency" really means?
    I fully understand what that means. I have been dealing with the concept in depth for the past 15 years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ilya View Post
    You are probably reading this at a desktop computer. Look around you and think how many people were invloved in making just things you can reach out and touch with your hand right now. Somebody mined the graphite in your pencil. Somebody else cut down (and very likely farmed) the tree from which wood came. Yet someone else mined the bauxite and smelted the aluminum for the eraser holder, ………….etcetera, etcetera, etcetera
    I used much the same arguments when people suggested building factories on the Moon to build spacecraft. While it would be feasible to build mining and manufacturing on the Moon to build the main frame and hull components, all the tech hardware would have to be imported from Earth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ilya View Post
    As you move up the technology level, it gets worse. No European colony was EVER self-sufficient; their very existence always depended on economic ties with Mother country. If shipping got cut off, the colony died, always -- unless it could get what it needed from the locals, and that meant gearing down to the locals' tech level. And this term "gearing down" is essential in understanding why fantasies of space colonies carrying on if Earth is somehow destroyed are, for all practical purposes, fantasies.
    While I agree that such colonies were never self sufficient, I would argue that was because they didn’t have to be, and were not designed and outfitted to be. No doubt such colonies on Mars would require a great deal of help to jumpstart, once they got up and running, it could be done.

    I misspoke earlier. The 200 people was the minimum for the initial manned mission to Mars, one way of course. A colony would require at least 2500-3500 to start with.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ilya View Post
    Without access to production of six billions on Earth, a thousand or a million people on Moon or Mars will just stave off the inevitable as irreplaceable components break down, more and more must be jury-rigged, and artificially maintained ecosystem accumulates bugs (figuratively and literally). It takes almost all of Earth to be "self-sufficient" at 21st Century level; off-Earth population will not be "self-sufficient" until and unless it completely dwarfs Earth population.
    I disagree. Years ago I was involved with a group that spent a lot of time figuring out how to maintain technology on a limited scale such as a colony on Mars. It didn’t include any self-replicating machinery. While it is true that the technology would have to be scaled back somewhat, amazing things can be done with basic tools and machinery. Remember, we went to the Moon with equipment that was primitive compared to what we have today.

    A dozen Mars colonies, each starting out with 2500-3500 people, should be able to become self-sufficient within perhaps 20 years.

  28. #28
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    A dozen Mars colonies, each starting out with 2500-3500 people, should be able to become self-sufficient within perhaps 20 years.
    So you are talking roughly 110,000 people -- 12 colonies averaging 3000 people each, say every woman has 4 children over 20 years? That actually sounds believable... but may not be.

    Here is a very long discussion on minimum number of people you need in order to maintain (not necessarily to extend) our current level of technological civilization. It is well worth reading. Consensus -- a lot closer to 6 billion than to 100 thousand.

    Why do you think that consensus is wrong?

    Edited: I suspect that any colony designed to be self-sufficient would not be a place most people would WANT to live. (Think military bases.) While that should not be a problem with original colonists who presumably had been screened psychologically, it could become a major problem in second generation. What happens if too few children want to be hydroponic technicians?

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilya View Post
    So you are talking roughly 110,000 people -- 12 colonies averaging 3000 people each, say every woman has 4 children over 20 years? That actually sounds believable... but may not be.

    Here is a very long discussion on minimum number of people you need in order to maintain (not necessarily to extend) our current level of technological civilization. It is well worth reading. Consensus -- a lot closer to 6 billion than to 100 thousand.

    Why do you think that consensus is wrong?
    To be fair, Mental Avenger is claiming self-sufficiency where the technological level is scaled back somewhat. Scaling back technology is not the same as extending our current level of technological civilization.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by MentalAvenger View Post
    Many people cite the BioSphere failure as proof we don’t have the technology, but that is an invalid example. BioSphere failed because it was a half-hearted attempt, and because of scale. It was too small to become self-sufficient.
    The fundamental reason why Biosphere II originally failed was that it was conceived of and managed by a clique of New Age froot loops, rather than scientists or engineers.

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