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Resident_Hazard
Possessed by Starscream's Ghost

Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2004 2:33 pm
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:28 pm 
 

While I'm sure this won't completely exist without some kind of politics forcing their way in here, I felt it would never-the-less be a nice change of pace for the Symposium--which is typically focused on more negative and religion-political-centric topics. Anyhow, moving on:


It's long been my belief that the human race needs to be looking forward to the distant future for humanity. What I mean, is, one day we will be dangerously close to either using up all our natural resources or over-crowding to the point of bringing about our own extinction (or thereabout). I think that the thing that humanity needs to start focusing on is moving off of the Earth. That means building massive space stations with artificial gravity, and moving on to Mars to begin colonization.


Clearly, the most obvious place humans can move to is Mars and there are already plans in the works to one day send people to the planet, at the very least, in an exploratory sense. Hopefully a more fruitful one than when we went to the Moon... and then just stopped.


Going purely by technological advancement, it's been said that we are far more prepared and able to go to Mars now than we were to go to the Moon in 1969. So, one wonders--what is the freakin' hold up? The hold-up, in large part, is cost and making sure that we can put people in a place that's relatively safe.


Now, of course, there are a lot of similarities between Mars and the Earth that make for "easy" colonization. But it's the differences that may screw over these plans. Terraforming an entire planet, even one smaller than the Earth, brings with it an awful lot of technological and scientific hurdles. Mars has a much weaker atmosphere, an atmosphere strongly believed to have once been very Earth-like, but theorized that due to Mars' low gravity, it slowly slipped off into space. Perhaps simply maintaining an atmosphere on there would be enough of a struggle by itself, not to mention trying to rebuild it for people.



Anyway, here's everyone's chance to state their thoughts on it, whether it should be done, needs to be done, how it should be done, or if it can be done at all. I'll elaborate more as the thread becomes more lively, but here's my rather simplified take on it all:

Mars is almost too small. We should destroy Mars to make it bigger. In my view, and this would take a long time--probably prohibitively so, we should redirect comets and jostle asteroids so they "fly" on a course straight for Mars. The reason behind this is two-fold: A) to add to the planet in a simple, more mass/matter = more gravity and B) using comets to send necessary elements (such as hydrogen, water, etc) to the planet. No doubt, sending a lot of large chunks of space rock careening into the planet would leave it scarred and cloudy (with ash and debris) for, possibly, decades, but it would, in the long run benefit the little world. Then, I think terraforming would be able to begin with a much more reasonable, working planet. Improved gravity, increased temperature, and increased mineral deposits.

My reaons on why we should go to Mars and start building larger space-based colonies? Overpopulation, human advancement, and doing it before we end up either destroying ourselves or our own world with too many of us. These kinds of mass exoduses of humanity will no doubt lead to many changes, and on the technological side, many can be quite good. And while Mars itself may not be a true haven where water, life, and usable minerals are concerned, it brings us to a starting point to get to such places. Places like the potentially mineral-rich Asteroid belt, the various moons of Jupiter and perhaps most intriguing, Jupiter's moon of Europa--the water-ice world which may actually harbor primitive life below it's crusty frozen surface.

Here, however, is an assorted list of other, probably more convenient ways to make Mars habitable. However, none of them really conquer the lighter gravity, but there are some ways of improving the potentially limited lot of natural resources.



No doubt this thread will, and this post does, reek a bit of Science Fiction, but in many ways, that's what colonizing space and Mars really are. Science Fiction surrounded by an awful lot of theory, hope, and anticipation.
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Napero
GedankenPanzer

Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2005 4:16 pm
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 5:35 pm 
 

A nice thread for a change. I don't have time for a good reply, but something needs to be pointed out before we fly off into real sci-fi.
Resident_Hazard wrote:
Mars is almost too small. We should destroy Mars to make it bigger. In my view, and this would take a long time--probably prohibitively so, we should redirect comets and jostle asteroids so they "fly" on a course straight for Mars. The reason behind this is two-fold: A) to add to the planet in a simple, more mass/matter = more gravity and B) using comets to send necessary elements (such as hydrogen, water, etc) to the planet. No doubt, sending a lot of large chunks of space rock careening into the planet would leave it scarred and cloudy (with ash and debris) for, possibly, decades, but it would, in the long run benefit the little world. Then, I think terraforming would be able to begin with a much more reasonable, working planet. Improved gravity, increased temperature, and increased mineral deposits.

This is an interesting idea, but the following torpedoes the mass-increase aspect immediately:
Wikipedia wrote:
The mass of all the objects of the Main asteroid belt, lying between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, is estimated to be about 3.0-3.6×1021 kg, or about 4 percent of the mass of the Moon.

I think we can trust Wikipedia in this, it seems to me that it's usually pretty accurate in astronomical, cosmological and such things. It's not worth the trouble and solves nothing gravitywise. Perhaps the element issue might be different.

I don't think Mars will be colonized permanently for at least 50 years, and large-scale exodus will not happen in the foreseeable future, because of the financial constraints: it will be hellishly difficult to find financing for things that will pay themselves back in 300 years, if at all. Also, thinking about colonizing Mars to solve the problems here is fantasy, simply because it's actually easier to fight virtually any problems here than to transport any mentionable portion of the human race to Mars.

Unless we kill ourselves first, it will happen sooner or later, but my bet is on the "later".
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Peatman
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Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2005 11:37 pm
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 6:10 pm 
 

It will be at least a century or two before the idea of living on Mars will become attractive to the ordinary person. Right now we lack the technology and finances to develop a manned exploration launch and terra-forming program.

But ask yourself first...wouldn't it make way more sense to invest those billions and kazillions into properly solving environmental and population-related issues here on Earth, instead of into a -for now- far fetched space exodus program?

We have known about global warming for at least 2 decades, but virtually nothing has been done about it. Only now governments and corporations are starting to care (with the end of the oil fields in sight). Now is the time that action should be taken to restore and protect what we can here on Earth to secure our future. Looking towards the galaxy in the hopes that, in the long term, we might be able to live in domes on a hostile planet, while we watch algae slowly being cultivated outside would be running away from the problem.

So I agree with the second post. As fascinated as I am by space, and the exploration thereof.

Perhaps this is an interesting point of discussion: If any colonization should take place, it should take place in the depths of the oceans. Places right here on Earth that we know very little about and where very few have ever been. Who knows what possibilities and resources might be waiting there. Understanding everything there is to know about our own planet is crucial, before trying to understand everything about the universe.

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GTog
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 6:18 pm 
 

The human race never does anything unless they have to. Only if there's a lot of extra resource hanging around will we ever do anything that isn't absolutely necessary.
What is needed to kick space exploration in the arse is a foundation that seeks to do it for no reason other than to do it, to prove we can.

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Napero
GedankenPanzer

Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2005 4:16 pm
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 6:33 pm 
 

Hmm... to make my point clearer, I think I must add the following:

It's not a bad idea to colonize other planets, or the whole galaxy in the long run, but that will not help those of us left on this Earth one bit. And the people left here are, after all, the ones eventually paying the bill for the orbital launches and the technical infrastructure needed before the colonists can make it out of this funny gravity well in the first place. Unless a clear benefit can be shown for them, there's little hope for anything in larger scale; of course, the USA-Soviet confrontation in the 50s and 60s was an anomaly that spurred a lot of development in various fields, including space exploration and doping, so maybe the new triangle of USA-India-China will achieve something worth mentiong in a decade or four.
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Bonesnap
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2005 11:34 pm
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:05 pm 
 

Resident_Hazard wrote:
Mars is almost too small. We should destroy Mars to make it bigger. In my view, and this would take a long time--probably prohibitively so, we should redirect comets and jostle asteroids so they "fly" on a course straight for Mars. The reason behind this is two-fold: A) to add to the planet in a simple, more mass/matter = more gravity

This certainly works in theory but not in practice. The amount of asteroids and comets you'd have to send into Mars to make any noticeable difference is beyond our comprehension. I quickly queried my roommate about this, since he's doing a double-major in physics and astronomy, and he agrees with me. Not to mention the amount of resources it would require to "deflect" asteroids and comets into Mars is nothing short of mind boggling.

The unfortunate thing about space is that it's just too damned big. The Moon is roughly 300,000km away. The closest Mars gets to Earth is 55,000,000km (approximate of course). Just look at that difference. It's ridiculous. As much as I love science fiction and astronomy, the reality is we'll never leave our solar system, much less our galaxy. Mars will be about as far as we get. Maybe, and I mean maybe, we'll get to the moons of Jupiter, but that's a huge stretch.
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Noobbot
Mors_Gloria + Thesaurus

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:21 pm 
 

Bonesnap wrote:
Resident_Hazard wrote:
Mars is almost too small. We should destroy Mars to make it bigger. In my view, and this would take a long time--probably prohibitively so, we should redirect comets and jostle asteroids so they "fly" on a course straight for Mars. The reason behind this is two-fold: A) to add to the planet in a simple, more mass/matter = more gravity

This certainly works in theory but not in practice. The amount of asteroids and comets you'd have to send into Mars to make any noticeable difference is beyond our comprehension. I quickly queried my roommate about this, since he's doing a double-major in physics and astronomy, and he agrees with me. Not to mention the amount of resources it would require to "deflect" asteroids and comets into Mars is nothing short of mind boggling.

The unfortunate thing about space is that it's just too damned big. The Moon is roughly 300,000km away. The closest Mars gets to Earth is 55,000,000km (approximate of course). Just look at that difference. It's ridiculous. As much as I love science fiction and astronomy, the reality is we'll never leave our solar system, much less our galaxy. Mars will be about as far as we get. Maybe, and I mean maybe, we'll get to the moons of Jupiter, but that's a huge stretch.


Provided the human race isn't exterminated within the next few thousand years, leaving the solar system is a definite probability. Now to leave the galaxy would require something else entirely. If it were to be done without several generations of ship crews, there would need to be faster-than-light travel. Whether that's possible or not is forsaken to the highly theoretical realms of science, and with my current knowledge I cannot even begin to make a solid judgment on that matter.

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LotF
Metalhead

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:32 pm 
 

On a weird topic, if we were to get a particle changer, we could definitely do this.

By particle changer, I mean it could take any atom and remove/add protons to change the particle to whatever we want. We could take iron and make it 55 hydrogens, or 10 carbon (just making up numbers now, its late but you get the point). It means we could mine the moon, Venus, the mantle and turn it into usable material.

Too bad I think breaking an atom causes a lot of problems :ugh: , but with that we could probably make the jump to getting to Mars.

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Noobbot
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:38 pm 
 

LotF wrote:
On a weird topic, if we were to get a particle changer, we could definitely do this.

By particle changer, I mean it could take any atom and remove/add protons to change the particle to whatever we want. We could take iron and make it 55 hydrogens, or 10 carbon (just making up numbers now, its late but you get the point). It means we could mine the moon, Venus, the mantle and turn it into usable material.

Too bad I think breaking an atom causes a lot of problems :ugh: , but with that we could probably make the jump to getting to Mars.
\

The particle would need to be subatomic and also not a photon. Pure energy could potentially work, but the only two ways we know of converting matter to pure energy would be fission and fusion. Both of which only convert neutrons - and small amounts at that - to pure energy, and both of which would also be invariably fatal for a human to undergo. And if you overcome both the means and the fatality factor, then you encounter the problem of halting that very potent energy and reconverting it to the matter that was formerly a person.

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The_Beast_in_Black
Metal freak

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:52 pm 
 

Bonesnap wrote:
Resident_Hazard wrote:
Mars is almost too small. We should destroy Mars to make it bigger. In my view, and this would take a long time--probably prohibitively so, we should redirect comets and jostle asteroids so they "fly" on a course straight for Mars. The reason behind this is two-fold: A) to add to the planet in a simple, more mass/matter = more gravity

This certainly works in theory but not in practice. The amount of asteroids and comets you'd have to send into Mars to make any noticeable difference is beyond our comprehension. I quickly queried my roommate about this, since he's doing a double-major in physics and astronomy, and he agrees with me. Not to mention the amount of resources it would require to "deflect" asteroids and comets into Mars is nothing short of mind boggling.

The unfortunate thing about space is that it's just too damned big. The Moon is roughly 300,000km away. The closest Mars gets to Earth is 55,000,000km (approximate of course). Just look at that difference. It's ridiculous. As much as I love science fiction and astronomy, the reality is we'll never leave our solar system, much less our galaxy. Mars will be about as far as we get. Maybe, and I mean maybe, we'll get to the moons of Jupiter, but that's a huge stretch.


The thing is, science is constantly evolving. We make new discoveries and our understanding of the limits of existence grows. Give it time and we may well find some way to leave the solar system.
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AlastairN
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 2:03 am 
 

Travel times are far too slow in current space-faring vessels. Really, something closer to the speed of light is needed to make colonisation viable. Also, taking a leaf out of England's book, maybe the best way to inhabit a new planet is to send convicted criminals, the homeless etc and offer them a new life to begin by working on the new planet (presumably Mars). Anyone with a decent lifestyle is unlikely to want to hop aboard a ship to go to a planet with hostile conditions, and undeveloped in everyway.

I'm a huge fan of the colonisation idea, but to make it work a large amount of new technology and problem solving Earth's problems will have to be done first. The problem of salinity, the problem of energy, logistics, food-growing techniques... these are at least 100 years behind what is needed for a successful colony on Mars, and if elsewhere, then until space vessels that go at practically the speed of light are developed (with possible cryogenics), then I can't see a colony is deep space being viable in the foreseeable future.

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The_Beast_in_Black
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 2:35 am 
 

AlastairN wrote:
Travel times are far too slow in current space-faring vessels. Really, something closer to the speed of light is needed to make colonisation viable. Also, taking a leaf out of England's book, maybe the best way to inhabit a new planet is to send convicted criminals, the homeless etc and offer them a new life to begin by working on the new planet (presumably Mars). Anyone with a decent lifestyle is unlikely to want to hop aboard a ship to go to a planet with hostile conditions, and undeveloped in everyway.

I'm a huge fan of the colonisation idea, but to make it work a large amount of new technology and problem solving Earth's problems will have to be done first. The problem of salinity, the problem of energy, logistics, food-growing techniques... these are at least 100 years behind what is needed for a successful colony on Mars, and if elsewhere, then until space vessels that go at practically the speed of light are developed (with possible cryogenics), then I can't see a colony is deep space being viable in the foreseeable future.


Just thought I'd point out that cryogenics is a misnomer. It actually means the study of things in extreme cold, I believe.

In any case, the proper word for something being frozen for preservation is cryonics.
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AlastairN
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 2:39 am 
 

The_Beast_in_Black wrote:
Just thought I'd point out that cryogenics is a misnomer. It actually means the study of things in extreme cold, I believe.

In any case, the proper word for something being frozen for preservation is cryonics.


Sorry, thanks.

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Corimngul
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 5:31 am 
 

It's hard to tell when we'll settle on Mars but I sure don't think it'll happen before we sent a manned mission there. Such a mission will take three years I believe. The technology isn't really the problem. Cost and finding people who'll remain effective and stable during these three years are worse. One of the reasons for staying with the space stations (MIR, ISS) so long have been to determine how humans are affected by long time isolation - both physically and mentally. One thing that helped decreasing grudge levels was growing plants on the station... The record so far is ca. 1,3 years - still a bit to go the 3 years.

The cost would be a lesser problem if only those space elevators were invented.


As others have said, artificially raising the mass or density of the planet seems rather far-fetched. Terraforming is not - however we don't really know how long it'll take to do it.
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LotF
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2008 8:39 pm
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 10:46 am 
 

Noobbot wrote:
LotF wrote:
On a weird topic, if we were to get a particle changer, we could definitely do this.

By particle changer, I mean it could take any atom and remove/add protons to change the particle to whatever we want. We could take iron and make it 55 hydrogens, or 10 carbon (just making up numbers now, its late but you get the point). It means we could mine the moon, Venus, the mantle and turn it into usable material.

Too bad I think breaking an atom causes a lot of problems :ugh: , but with that we could probably make the jump to getting to Mars.
\

The particle would need to be subatomic and also not a photon. Pure energy could potentially work, but the only two ways we know of converting matter to pure energy would be fission and fusion. Both of which only convert neutrons - and small amounts at that - to pure energy, and both of which would also be invariably fatal for a human to undergo. And if you overcome both the means and the fatality factor, then you encounter the problem of halting that very potent energy and reconverting it to the matter that was formerly a person.


Whoops, forgot it had to be sub atomic :ugh:
Just wondering, what do you mean by the last sentence? I mean, if we could convert matter to pure energy that would be great, though I dont think I'd be wanting to convert humans, heh.

Since I think tons of pure energy can be re-worked into an atom (as seen through hawking radiation near a black hole), through huge advancements in technology, maybe we could harness that? Of course now I'm probably dealing with really far in the future-- and assuming we even get that far.

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Bonesnap
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Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2005 11:34 pm
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 12:15 pm 
 

The_Beast_in_Black wrote:
Bonesnap wrote:
Resident_Hazard wrote:
Mars is almost too small. We should destroy Mars to make it bigger. In my view, and this would take a long time--probably prohibitively so, we should redirect comets and jostle asteroids so they "fly" on a course straight for Mars. The reason behind this is two-fold: A) to add to the planet in a simple, more mass/matter = more gravity

This certainly works in theory but not in practice. The amount of asteroids and comets you'd have to send into Mars to make any noticeable difference is beyond our comprehension. I quickly queried my roommate about this, since he's doing a double-major in physics and astronomy, and he agrees with me. Not to mention the amount of resources it would require to "deflect" asteroids and comets into Mars is nothing short of mind boggling.

The unfortunate thing about space is that it's just too damned big. The Moon is roughly 300,000km away. The closest Mars gets to Earth is 55,000,000km (approximate of course). Just look at that difference. It's ridiculous. As much as I love science fiction and astronomy, the reality is we'll never leave our solar system, much less our galaxy. Mars will be about as far as we get. Maybe, and I mean maybe, we'll get to the moons of Jupiter, but that's a huge stretch.


The thing is, science is constantly evolving. We make new discoveries and our understanding of the limits of existence grows. Give it time and we may well find some way to leave the solar system.

I hear what you're saying, and being a computer nerd for over 15 years I can sympathize with the idea of our technology on a never-ending path of advancement, miniaturization, and efficiency. But with that said, space and the solar system itself is just too big to physically travel beyond it.

Even if we were able to somehow figure out a way to travel the speed of light (which is impossible, but let's be hypothetical here), Neptune and Pluto (furthest and closest, respectively), are 30AU away (Pluto at its furthest is 49AU away). Minus one AU and roughly they're 29AU from us. One AU is 93 million miles, so we're looking at 2.697 trillion miles to travel. At the speed of light that would take us just over 4 hours to do. That doesn't take into account the time it takes to accelerate to speed of light, which would be equally ridiculous (and slowing down).

I used Neptune and Pluto as a rough "end" to our solar system even though I know it's more precise than that, but I was just illustrating a point. And I know four hours doesn't seem like much, but even if we managed to get beyond our solar system, where would we go? The nearest star is Alpha Centuari, which is nearly four and a half lightyears from us. The distances involved are just too ridiculous and incomprehensible.
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ebola_legion
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 1:52 pm 
 

Resident_Hazard wrote:
I think that the thing that humanity needs to start focusing on is moving off of the Earth. That means building massive space stations with artificial gravity, and moving on to Mars to begin colonization.


I thought you got it right with building massive space stations, but I do not think terraforming Mars, or any other planet for that matter is by any means plausible.


Resident_Hazard wrote:
Now, of course, there are a lot of similarities between Mars and the Earth that make for "easy" colonization... Terraforming an entire planet, even one smaller than the Earth, brings with it an awful lot of technological and scientific hurdles...

Mars is almost too small. We should destroy Mars to make it bigger. In my view, and this would take a long time--probably prohibitively so, we should redirect comets and jostle asteroids so they "fly" on a course straight for Mars. The reason behind this is two-fold: A) to add to the planet in a simple, more mass/matter = more gravity and B) using comets to send necessary elements (such as hydrogen, water, etc) to the planet. No doubt, sending a lot of large chunks of space rock careening into the planet would leave it scarred and cloudy (with ash and debris) for, possibly, decades, but it would, in the long run benefit the little world. Then, I think terraforming would be able to begin with a much more reasonable, working planet. Improved gravity, increased temperature, and increased mineral deposits.



To tear a big hole in your proposed ideas, just look at the history of Earth. The process of change on this planet moves at an incredibly slow pace. I'm positive that even with human intervention, terraforming a planet to be fully capable of supporting human life would take millions of years, time that will have been an absolute waste. Aside from that, Earth and its resources will surely have dried up by this time, leaving humans without a chance.

I believe that the key to colonizing space lies with massive space stations, space colonies if you will.


Bonesnap wrote:
The unfortunate thing about space is that it's just too damned big. The Moon is roughly 300,000km away. The closest Mars gets to Earth is 55,000,000km (approximate of course). Just look at that difference. It's ridiculous. As much as I love science fiction and astronomy, the reality is we'll never leave our solar system, much less our galaxy. Mars will be about as far as we get. Maybe, and I mean maybe, we'll get to the moons of Jupiter, but that's a huge stretch.


I agree with you on the astonishing size of space, but I disagree with our ability to travel amongst the stars. In a time extremely distant from our own, leaving this solar system will probably become vital to human survival. But I believe this solar system will still be able to support the growing human population for thousands or even tens of thousands of years to come.


Now that I've gone and bashed the propositions around me, I propose my own ideas of how space colonization should be handled.

The Colonization of Space

I think the answer to space colonization is quite simple. If you look at any plans for a manned mission to Mars, what is the first hurdle we have to jump? That would be how to sustain human life in space over extended periods of time. I'm positive that this is your winning answer to colonizing space, the knowledge of sustaining human life within the confines of space over an indefinite period of time. Once this hurdle has been overcome, I do not see why the massively time consuming and laborious task of terraforming a planet would even be given consideration.

Image
(this picture is just an example, I believe the requirements for the colonies will make them much larger)

Now where would humans live in a solar system if not on a planet just like Earth? The answer is, massive man-made colonies (space stations) that orbit the sun, just like the planets. I would like to quote the wikipedia article on space colonization (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_colonization) -

"While many people think of space colonies on the Moon or Mars, others argue that the first colonies will be in orbit. They have determined that there are ample quantities of all the necessary materials on the Moon and Near Earth Asteroids, that solar energy is readily available in very large quantities."

Hot damn! Even wikipedia agrees with me! Back on topic, coming up with the technology to build these massive colonies will be quite the undertaking, but I'm still certain that doing so will be accomplished much faster than terraforming. As humans inhabit these colonies within the confines of space, planets across the solar system could be used to harvest natural resources needed in space.

Though building these colonies may be the best option for the colonization of space, it is not without it's own drawbacks. Simply put, these colonies will be... massive. I don't think this can be under stressed, these colonies will need to be large enough to support a self-sustained ecosystem. Although building colonies on this magnitude will be an astonishing feat, I do not think it will be the biggest challenge humans will face in colonizing space. For that, I reserve all of the challenges pitted against Science and Technology to make an artificial, self-sustaining ecosystem that can survive within the confines of space. If this challenge is beyond our means, humans will surely pass into the realms of extinction.


Journey To The Stars

If life supporting space colonies are to ever be made, our ability to survive within the solar system will be greatly increased, not to mention the length with which we can stay, one far beyond planetary limitations. But, this solar system will not be able to house humans forever, and this is where interstellar travel comes to a head. Although the majority opinion may say the task is impossible, it's a simple venture to me.

In order for interstellar travel to take place, the Science of Cryonics will need to be perfected. This is the biggest challenge to interstellar travel in my opinion, once Cryonics is perfected colonization of other solar systems becomes quite simple. And again, if Cryonics is not perfected, we shall be forever stranded within our solar system, surely to pass into the realms of extinction.

The record for the fastest man-made objects belong to the deep space probes Helios and Helios II, launched by NASA in the mid 1970s, clocking in at 252,792 km/h (70.2 km/s). Now it is time for some simple division. The distance of a light-year is exactly 9,460,730,472,580 km. The closest solar system to our own is Alpha Centuri, at 4.37 light-years away or 41,343,392,165,175 km. Now if we were to send a ship with Cryogenically frozen humans on-board to Alpha Centuri, at a speed of 252,792 km/h it would take 163,547,075 hours, or 6,814,462 days, or 18,669 years, all made under the assumption that in the distant future we will be limited to the record speed of 252,792 km/h. Although 18,669 years is nothing to laugh at, I'm sure these numbers will open minds to just how close things are to us.

Now more on the vessels that will transport humans amongst the stars. These vessels won't even need their own propulsion system, theoretically, they could be launched out of our solar system by a massive railgun assembled in space. As the vessel exits the railgun, it will be off on it's 18,669 year trip. Upon reaching the outer limits of Alpha Centuri, on-board computers running on energy provided by nuclear fuel-cells would power up, deploy solar panels to recharge fuel cells and begin a thorough analysis of the solar system. If the solar system meets the criteria deemed necessary for human life to survive, the vessel would awake it's human passengers to begin colonization anew. If the solar system does not meet the criteria, the computers could manipulate the gravitational pull within the solar system to send the vessel on it's way to another solar system. This process could even be carried out with probes, and upon reaching the solar system, these probes would send back information (now at the speed of light of course!) informing humans whether or not the system is habitable.

Again, I do understand how a 18,669 year trip to our closest solar system is quite the journey, on the near endless scale of time in space, the numbers become quite negligible.
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EOS
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 3:42 pm 
 

Unfortunately for us, such prospects are probably millenia away. It would be absolutely amazing to see the Earth from space in person, but I don't even think I'll be able to do that in my lifetime.

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Veigard
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:43 pm 
 

I am a proponent for the colonization of Mars. It is currently the only other body in our solar system besides Earth which contains all of the necessities of life.

It has vast quantities of sub-regolith water. I haven't looked into possible extraction techniques, but with a good nuclear power source it is very plausible.

It has an atmosphere almost entirely composed of CO2 which can be conveniently converted into oxygen to sustain a small research station or a budding colony.

It has a solar day which is very close to what we have here. The light levels are also quite acceptable for photosynthesis, especially for plants which are designed to grow and prosper in the undergrowth, a group which includes many of our veggies and fruits.

It's gravity is about 40% of what we are accustomed to, which means the conditions on Mars shouldn't lead to bone loss. With regular exercise there shouldn't be any long-term health problems.

I think that our first manned mission to mars should work towards establishing a self sustaining research station. Anything short of this will be a waste of resources, I feel.

On a side note, have any of your heard of the old Orion project? The scientists working on the project were pretty much ready to build a nuclear propulsion rocket with technology available several decades ago. This thing would have been so fast, it could transverse the distance between Earth and Mars in about two weeks if I remember correctly. The only reason the research stopped was because of political issues. There was no technological dead-end which would have prevented these rockets capable of lifting hundreds of tons from being built.

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Noobbot
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 8:41 pm 
 

LotF wrote:
Noobbot wrote:
LotF wrote:
On a weird topic, if we were to get a particle changer, we could definitely do this.

By particle changer, I mean it could take any atom and remove/add protons to change the particle to whatever we want. We could take iron and make it 55 hydrogens, or 10 carbon (just making up numbers now, its late but you get the point). It means we could mine the moon, Venus, the mantle and turn it into usable material.

Too bad I think breaking an atom causes a lot of problems :ugh: , but with that we could probably make the jump to getting to Mars.
\

The particle would need to be subatomic and also not a photon. Pure energy could potentially work, but the only two ways we know of converting matter to pure energy would be fission and fusion. Both of which only convert neutrons - and small amounts at that - to pure energy, and both of which would also be invariably fatal for a human to undergo. And if you overcome both the means and the fatality factor, then you encounter the problem of halting that very potent energy and reconverting it to the matter that was formerly a person.


Whoops, forgot it had to be sub atomic :ugh:
Just wondering, what do you mean by the last sentence? I mean, if we could convert matter to pure energy that would be great, though I dont think I'd be wanting to convert humans, heh.

Since I think tons of pure energy can be re-worked into an atom (as seen through hawking radiation near a black hole), through huge advancements in technology, maybe we could harness that? Of course now I'm probably dealing with really far in the future-- and assuming we even get that far.


What I mean by the last sentence is that although pure energy is one of the few means (other than the highly theoretical tachyon) that could hypothetically allow superluminal travel, even if you worked out how to convert the mass of, say, a vessel or a person into pure energy, and then how to propel that, you still have several issues, amongst which would be the fact that pure energy would be very difficult to halt and that you'd have to convert all the pure energy back into mass. I think tachyons would be a more likely solution than that.

I agree with much of ebola's monstrous post. For the next few hundred years, massive orbital stations will be how 'overpopulation' is managed on earth. After that, colonization of the moon, Mars, and many of Jupiter and Saturn's moons would be possible. I think Philip K. Dick may well have been rather correct on how colonization of this solar system will occur.

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Veigard
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 10:11 pm 
 

Quote:
I agree with much of ebola's monstrous post. For the next few hundred years, massive orbital stations will be how 'overpopulation' is managed on earth. After that, colonization of the moon, Mars, and many of Jupiter and Saturn's moons would be possible. I think Philip K. Dick may well have been rather correct on how colonization of this solar system will occur.


I completely disagree. Colonizing the Moon and Mars should and most likely will be the next steps humanity takes. Space station colonies are much more complex to construct, manage and they offer less space than either the Moon or Mars.

Don't read me wrong here, I agree that once we drop the need for a planet or moon to sustain ourselves, we'll be much better off. In fact, doing so should be our final goal if we are to survive as a species. I just don't think we will be making that leap anytime soon, especially before colonizing the solar system.

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Bonesnap
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:19 pm 
 

ebola_legion wrote:
Bonesnap wrote:
The unfortunate thing about space is that it's just too damned big. The Moon is roughly 300,000km away. The closest Mars gets to Earth is 55,000,000km (approximate of course). Just look at that difference. It's ridiculous. As much as I love science fiction and astronomy, the reality is we'll never leave our solar system, much less our galaxy. Mars will be about as far as we get. Maybe, and I mean maybe, we'll get to the moons of Jupiter, but that's a huge stretch.
I agree with you on the astonishing size of space, but I disagree with our ability to travel amongst the stars. In a time extremely distant from our own, leaving this solar system will probably become vital to human survival. But I believe this solar system will still be able to support the growing human population for thousands or even tens of thousands of years to come.

I don't disagree that it will be vital, but that doesn't mean it's going to be any easier. To me all that means is the human race's days are numbered. We simply don't have what it takes to save ourselves.
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Resident_Hazard
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 9:37 am 
 

Napero wrote:
A nice thread for a change. I don't have time for a good reply, but something needs to be pointed out before we fly off into real sci-fi.
Resident_Hazard wrote:
Mars is almost too small. We should destroy Mars to make it bigger. In my view, and this would take a long time--probably prohibitively so, we should redirect comets and jostle asteroids so they "fly" on a course straight for Mars. The reason behind this is two-fold: A) to add to the planet in a simple, more mass/matter = more gravity and B) using comets to send necessary elements (such as hydrogen, water, etc) to the planet. No doubt, sending a lot of large chunks of space rock careening into the planet would leave it scarred and cloudy (with ash and debris) for, possibly, decades, but it would, in the long run benefit the little world. Then, I think terraforming would be able to begin with a much more reasonable, working planet. Improved gravity, increased temperature, and increased mineral deposits.

This is an interesting idea, but the following torpedoes the mass-increase aspect immediately:
Wikipedia wrote:
The mass of all the objects of the Main asteroid belt, lying between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, is estimated to be about 3.0-3.6×1021 kg, or about 4 percent of the mass of the Moon.

I think we can trust Wikipedia in this, it seems to me that it's usually pretty accurate in astronomical, cosmological and such things. It's not worth the trouble and solves nothing gravitywise. Perhaps the element issue might be different.




Indeed, I had understood before that the asteroid belt contained a lot more material than that. So scratch that idea (that I had put forth).

It was perhaps the remnants of what may be an out-dated idea that the asteroid belt was the remains of a planet that was unable to form due to the intense gravitational influence of Jupiter. With that in mind, it seemed feasible that there was more material out there than that.


I haven't finished going over the thread yet, but there is another note that should maybe be taken into consideration for Mars: It's small moons do not have the most "stable" orbits. The massive canyon on the planet is believed to be a scar left from another ancient moon that crashed into the planet, and from some theory I've come across, it's believed the same will happen to one, if not both, of the current Martian moons--destined to collide with their parent world.
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Resident_Hazard
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:08 am 
 

ebola_legion wrote:

Now where would humans live in a solar system if not on a planet just like Earth? The answer is, massive man-made colonies (space stations) that orbit the sun, just like the planets. I would like to quote the wikipedia article on space colonization (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_colonization) -

"While many people think of space colonies on the Moon or Mars, others argue that the first colonies will be in orbit. They have determined that there are ample quantities of all the necessary materials on the Moon and Near Earth Asteroids, that solar energy is readily available in very large quantities."

Hot damn! Even wikipedia agrees with me! Back on topic, coming up with the technology to build these massive colonies will be quite the undertaking, but I'm still certain that doing so will be accomplished much faster than terraforming. As humans inhabit these colonies within the confines of space, planets across the solar system could be used to harvest natural resources needed in space.

Though building these colonies may be the best option for the colonization of space, it is not without it's own drawbacks. Simply put, these colonies will be... massive. I don't think this can be under stressed, these colonies will need to be large enough to support a self-sustained ecosystem. Although building colonies on this magnitude will be an astonishing feat, I do not think it will be the biggest challenge humans will face in colonizing space. For that, I reserve all of the challenges pitted against Science and Technology to make an artificial, self-sustaining ecosystem that can survive within the confines of space. If this challenge is beyond our means, humans will surely pass into the realms of extinction.


O'Neill Cylinder

Anyone who is a fan of the Mobil Suit Gundam series will recognize this theory as the space stations in which humans live in the series' standard timeline. This is, and I'm agreeing with you, Ebola, where I think mankind should be headed for starters. From the first space station, it would be "relatively easy" (as opposed to constantly having to leave Earth and return again) to begin mining the moon, Mars, and even the asteroid belt for minerals to make more stations.

There was a simple way of starting one such a colony proposed on a National Geographic or Science Channel program which involved the Space Shuttle. During flight, the two booster rockets are jettisoned to be recovered and reused, and the large orange ET (External Tank) is also jettisoned. In theory, if the large orange ET was held until reaching a steady orbit, we could salvage them. Once enough of them are left in orbit, they could be arranged into a giant ring and the inside of them converted into living space. With proper spin applied to this giant ring, you could create artificial gravity.

An easy way to move on to this design would be finding a way to attach the ET's to the ISS and build the ring around that structure to be detached at a later date to begin its rotation. In theory, one could even cannibalize the ISS to add modules to the ET-based ring structure, effectively reusing parts.



ebola_legion wrote:
Journey To The Stars

If life supporting space colonies are to ever be made, our ability to survive within the solar system will be greatly increased, not to mention the length with which we can stay, one far beyond planetary limitations. But, this solar system will not be able to house humans forever, and this is where interstellar travel comes to a head. Although the majority opinion may say the task is impossible, it's a simple venture to me.

In order for interstellar travel to take place, the Science of Cryonics will need to be perfected. This is the biggest challenge to interstellar travel in my opinion, once Cryonics is perfected colonization of other solar systems becomes quite simple. And again, if Cryonics is not perfected, we shall be forever stranded within our solar system, surely to pass into the realms of extinction.

The record for the fastest man-made objects belong to the deep space probes Helios and Helios II, launched by NASA in the mid 1970s, clocking in at 252,792 km/h (70.2 km/s). Now it is time for some simple division. The distance of a light-year is exactly 9,460,730,472,580 km. The closest solar system to our own is Alpha Centuri, at 4.37 light-years away or 41,343,392,165,175 km. Now if we were to send a ship with Cryogenically frozen humans on-board to Alpha Centuri, at a speed of 252,792 km/h it would take 163,547,075 hours, or 6,814,462 days, or 18,669 years, all made under the assumption that in the distant future we will be limited to the record speed of 252,792 km/h. Although 18,669 years is nothing to laugh at, I'm sure these numbers will open minds to just how close things are to us.

Now more on the vessels that will transport humans amongst the stars. These vessels won't even need their own propulsion system, theoretically, they could be launched out of our solar system by a massive railgun assembled in space. As the vessel exits the railgun, it will be off on it's 18,669 year trip. Upon reaching the outer limits of Alpha Centuri, on-board computers running on energy provided by nuclear fuel-cells would power up, deploy solar panels to recharge fuel cells and begin a thorough analysis of the solar system. If the solar system meets the criteria deemed necessary for human life to survive, the vessel would awake it's human passengers to begin colonization anew. If the solar system does not meet the criteria, the computers could manipulate the gravitational pull within the solar system to send the vessel on it's way to another solar system. This process could even be carried out with probes, and upon reaching the solar system, these probes would send back information (now at the speed of light of course!) informing humans whether or not the system is habitable.

Again, I do understand how a 18,669 year trip to our closest solar system is quite the journey, on the near endless scale of time in space, the numbers become quite negligible.



Here's another thought: Why would we even need to be cryogenically stored in the future? No doubt, we will one day move much closer to light-speed travel and may even discover ways around the limitations of the speed of light. But, if we go far enough into the future, the solar system will die and be unsuitable to life. The human race may need to live aboard a massive space-traversing colony. The human race could just live "naturally" within the structure until such time as it does encounter a new, potentially habitable planet.
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swineeyedlamb
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2008 12:02 pm 
 

no post


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Duffy
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:19 pm 
 

For those interested in this subject I recommend Robert Zubrin's books on Mars colonization, like Case For Mars. They maybe a bit out of date now though (90's).

I was obsessed with this idea in the 90's after reading Case For Mars, thinking it would be the answer to all our problems if we could colonize Mars by melting the icecaps (if there are any on Mars) and making lakes/oceans, generally making it hospitable (like in Kim Stanley Robinson's fiction) so we could abandon Earth once it was too polluted.

Now though I believe its impossible - too much theoretical science, too expensive, logistics etc.

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Duffy
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:49 pm 
 

Thanks for posting that drawing ebola_legion - that's how I always imagined the space stations described in Neuromancer & Schismatrix.

On the subject of cryogenics - I reckon it would be the key to any serious space travel but would never be feasible for practical reasons.
Even if the science behind it was possible, no-one would ever volunteer for it - you'd never see your family/friends ever again.
See the Directors Cut of Aliens for what I mean, when Ripley is told her daughter died of old age and is shown a photo of her aged face - chilling.
The only people who'd volunteer would be people with nothing to live for ie convicts/mentally disturbed - not exactly the sort of productive, upstanding citizens a nation wants to populate the final frontier with...
(not to mention no-one would bankroll a long trip in space - as it would take centuries+ to see a return on your investment on a mining expedition or whatever).

Edit: lol I typed 'crionics' instead of 'cryogenics' - too much Slayer... :P


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rexxz
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:50 pm 
 

Duffy wrote:
The only people who'd volunteer would be people with nothing to live for ie convicts/mentally disturbed - not exactly the sort of productive, upstanding citizens a nation wants to populate the final frontier with...
(not to mention no-one would bankroll a long trip in space - as it would take centuries+ to see a return on your investment on a mining expedition or whatever).



You're also forgetting people who live for science. There are many of those types available.

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Dark_Gnat
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:16 pm 
 

It would be more practical to build large domes on Mars that could be pressurized, and filled with a breathable atmosphere. The domes could then be used for agriculture, research or living space. Imagine a dome about twice the size of the Superdome, for example, but with a transparent "glass" shell, to let sunlight in. Larger domes would be possible due to the lower gravity and lower external air pressures. It would not be practical to build them here, and then transport them. They would need to be built on site with local materials. Martian soil might make good concrete.

Also, now that water ice has been proven to exist on Mars, this would be much more feasible.

The main problems are dust (and dust storms) and radiation. Mars doesn't have much of a magnetic field, so some type of shielding, or large local fields would have to be used in order to prevent radiation sickness.

Getting there is the bigger problem. Right now it takes about 2 years (give or take a few months) to get there, which is a long time to be exposed to solar and cosmic radiation. Also, if there is a problem, there is no one to help. Artificial gravity could be achieved with a rotating torus or something similar. That would help avoid muscle and bone atrophy.

Inflatable modules could be used for temporary housing until more permanent facilities could be built.

I seriously doubt NASA is going to get there first. It will likely be China or Russia. (it is the Red planet after all!) Either that, or private corporations (ala Virgin Galactic) could do it.
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ebola_legion
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:44 pm 
 

Duffy wrote:
Even if the science behind it was possible, no-one would ever volunteer for it - you'd never see your family/friends ever again...

The only people who'd volunteer would be people with nothing to live for ie convicts/mentally disturbed - not exactly the sort of productive, upstanding citizens a nation wants to populate the final frontier with...


No way! If you take a look back into history you will find countless episodes of humans taking long and dangerous voyages around the planet for exploration/colonization. In some cases these voyages were made to completely uncharted territory.
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Duffy
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:11 pm 
 

ebola_legion wrote:
No way! If you take a look back into history you will find countless episodes of humans taking long and dangerous voyages around the planet for exploration/colonization.

Yeh but not of their own free will - ie african slave trade, escaping religous persecution, convicts (my country haha). Plus we are living in the age of enlightenment now - no one would be fooled by their government that an Eden awaits out in the ass-end of space.

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rexxz
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:56 pm 
 

Duffy wrote:
ebola_legion wrote:
No way! If you take a look back into history you will find countless episodes of humans taking long and dangerous voyages around the planet for exploration/colonization.

Yeh but not of their own free will - ie african slave trade, escaping religous persecution, convicts (my country haha). Plus we are living in the age of enlightenment now - no one would be fooled by their government that an Eden awaits out in the ass-end of space.


What do you call sending people to the moon, then? I guess they were enslaved.

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samtheman19710
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:36 pm 
 

i think that colonizing mars would be much easier than colonizing the moon.

first: mars has iron dust all over its surface, making structures easy to build. (most of earth's iron is made from iron ore found in the ground. left by oxidized minerals after the primordial seas dried up)

second: if superstitions are true, there are huge amounts of water in the caps, making life possible

using the rich soil and water, we could bring plants to mars, and over time, the plants would produce enough gas to form an atmosphere

also, we could use the greenhouse effect in a good way to thicken the atmosphere with methane and carbon dioxide

with the moon, all we have is a barren landscape with few recources (not even wind)

anyway, there are plans already for colonizing mars, the history channel had a special on it a while ago...

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Nightgaunt
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 1:25 am 
 

Please type in a neat and clean fashion when posting in the Symposium, Sam.
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caspian
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 1:39 am 
 

Resident_Hazard wrote:
Going purely by technological advancement, it's been said that we are far more prepared and able to go to Mars now than we were to go to the Moon in 1969. So, one wonders--what is the freakin' hold up? The hold-up, in large part, is cost and making sure that we can put people in a place that's relatively safe.


I guess one argument (I am personally all for colonizing mars as quickly as possible) is that for all the money spent on a Mars mission and settlement- we'd be talking a couple of trillion dollars, I imagine, though that's a totally rough guess- we could pretty much fix up all the problems on earth with that much money. Certainly a few trillion dollars would fix up most problems regarding food and what not; give us an alternative for oil etc etc.

also:
Quote:
Mars is almost too small. We should destroy Mars to make it bigger. In my view, and this would take a long time--probably prohibitively so, we should redirect comets and jostle asteroids so they "fly" on a course straight for Mars


What the hell? You seem to really have a knack for mixing otherwise sensible talk with really bizarre ideas.

and:
Quote:
no one would be fooled by their government that an Eden awaits out in the ass-end of space.


I think quite a lot of people would be willing to go (or at least enough to make it worthwhile). What an adventure!
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samtheman19710
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 12:08 pm 
 

I don't think that colonizing Mars won't work, but it's going to take a very long time to get live-able conditions there. An atmosphere is not made overnight. Anyway, what should Mars be used for? Farming land? Mining land? Or should it just be used for living space, a second Earth?

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caspian
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 12:58 pm 
 

why not all 3?
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samtheman19710
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 4:15 pm 
 

Well, think about it. Think about how long it took to get where we are on Earth right? (I don't know how long ago the Industrial Revolution was but that's a good timeframe.) I think that when we do finally conquer Mars, we, as humans, will probably start making it liveable while also doing something that doesn't require humans. ex. Mining the iron ore, basic farming, or even using the place as a high security prison. :thumbsup:

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caspian
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 12:00 am 
 

As long as we don't start experimenting with wormholes on Phobos and Deimos.
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Wra1th1s
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:09 pm 
 

caspian wrote:
As long as we don't start experimenting with wormholes on Phobos and Deimos.


Oh come on! It wont open a gate to hell or anything ;)

OP: I would love to go and be a colonist but we probably have a better chance of dying out before we are technologically adequate to have mass space travel. The problem being that there isn't enough public interest (in America at least) to justify the funding. I just think that space is horribly underused by humans.
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