Response to comment on “why go out there?”

In the previous post, Cassidy made a comment worth some thought. I started to reply, and realized I was getting longwinded enough for another post. I’ve copied the parts I want to respond to directly, but please take a moment to see her full comment as well.

“Do you really think that living on the moon is an option?” Yes.

Do you really think we can create an atmosphere on the moon,” No, not on, but within contained sites — Yes.

have water,” Yes. We’ve found ice on the moon.

soil,” Yes. Sterile soil can be made fruitful, and there is always hydroponics.

light enough to grow food to support people? ” The sun shines on the moon as it does on the sun. During the two week dark periods there is always artificial lighting.

You are correct, though, that the big issue is fuel. Well, it’s fuel for launching as we currently launch. There are alternatives. The dream that’s just out of reach is the ‘big elevator’. Within reach are other possibilities. My personal faith lies in beam-powered systems such as Myrabo’s lightcraft. However, ventures such as LYNX and Armadillo are demonstrating that for rocketry there are other fuels than gasoline. Lightcraft, Lynx and Armadillo have all managed “proof” beyond laboratory demonstrations.

In other words, we can get out there without using our diminishing supply of complex hydrocarbons.

And you’re forgetting (or unaware) of a major reason to go ‘out there’. There are a lot of resources out there – more minerals, more products. I think it unlikely we’ll find complex hydrocarbons. But there’s a lot of carbon nonetheless.

One of my pet issues — reasons to go — is energy. Specifically, solar power satellites providing energy (by microwave) to receivers which then convert it to electricity. The big hurdle is lift. Once that’s solved, however, the rest is surprisingly cost effective — and a LOT less environmentally hazardous than just about anything short of wind and straight solar while providing significantly greater output.

A final note. At various points in our lives, we face the choice of turning inward or outward; maintaining the status quo is impossible. Historically, the great people/cultures/nations are those that turn outward in those times. I believe this is yet another time we face that decision. I choose to expand and grow great over miserly consolidation with ever diminishing remains.

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5 thoughts on “Response to comment on “why go out there?”

  1. You have read “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” haven’t you?

    I still think, even with the “big elevator” there are more hurdles than there are advantages. maybe I am being negative. I guess I tend to be an “inward” person. I tend to think that when there are large problems – we need to go simple, and think smaller.

    Instead of solving the world’s energy and overpopulation problems by trying to go all star trek – why don’t we simplify? Instead of hoping space holds the key to further advancement, why don’t we look at our past, and realize that simplifying our life might actually make things better. Stay close to home (use less fuel), grow your own food, (use less fuel, less pesticides, less GMs), have smaller families and take care of them. Maybe if we all had a hand in the things that keep us alive (food, fuel, energy) we’d do a better job of making them more efficient, and working better for us, than looking for complex solutions that may not be attainable. Because really, even with the “big elevator” what good are those minerals on the moon, how do they solve problems for people?

    (but then again, I’m of the notion that people are going to be only a short piece of the history of Earth, and our attempts to extend our span in this universe probably looks pretty silly from the outside) A little piece of me thinking that people, as a whole, are pretty insignificant. And in the meantime, my little piece of the world grows smaller everyday, but my charge of it grows larger.

    That’s not a very long thinking scope that I have – but it is a scope in which I have full control. I have absolutly no impact on space travel, biulding houses on the moon, or meeting little green men on other planets. I do, however, have the ability to make something in my little square of dirt, and hand that down to my daughter. And with my own personal limited resources, I guess I’d rather do that (which is only a one generation plan, but could be a plan that carries for many generations if I teach her properly, and she passes it on) than put my energy in what feels like pie in the sky ideas that may or may not make the world a better place for my little one, when she’s not so little anymore.

    Not trying to rain on your parade, just giving you my perspective.

  2. Oh, it’s good perspective. Idyllic. It makes two assumptions I think are wrong.

    First, it assumes everyone will be altruistic. Second, it assumes we’ll make no more advances. Let me rebut the latter instead of playing cynic with the former.

    I predict that within five years we’ll see the first human receive a transplant that was cloned/grown from stem cells. It will not happen in the United States, but we’ll see it within five years. For all intents and purposes that is a zero-risk transplant.

    That alone will increase average lifespan. Increased lifespans means more people — unless we just quit having babies for a while, and I think that’s impossible to enforce.

    I think the people under the age of 25 today — maybe older, but 25 for “certain” — will find their average lifespan to exceed a century, and possibly exceed a century and a half. There are a LOT of societal ramifications of this.

    Off planet development creates a safety valve just for what we are now. I believe it actually gives us opportunities almost unimaginable, just based on what we know at this time, but the safety valve is important in its own self.

  3. Yikes!

    I don’t mind stem cell research. But I don’t want to live to 100. Certainly not 125. Even if they can replace my worn out parts with shiny new ones that my body accepts.

    PH’s grandfather is 106 right now. No major surgeries in his life. He has no short term memory. His long term memory is intact. But his life is empty. It consists of getting up, eating, emptying and doing that over and over every day.

    I don’t want a longer lifespan. I don’t need more elder years to sit and ruminate. I don’t need to be here longer than I need to be here. Birth a generation, raise that generation, be a source of wisdom for the generation after that, teach them to respect themselves and their planet, and to pass it on to the next one. But Lord almighty, the fountain of youth is NOT what I am looking for. I hope I’m long gone before we get there. And if we do get there, don’t sign me up!

    • You don’t want to live longer, but a lot of people do.

      I’ll also point out that a 70 year old today is as fit as a 40-50 year old was a century ago. Many of the improvements that extend life will also be working on the negatives of old age as well.

      We’re crowding our planet, digging through a fairly restricted set of resources. There are a variety of things – medical and otherwise – that will only make this worse in the future. We’re going to have (simplistically) two choices: throttle back, or expand the playground.

      I prefer the latter.

      • Yeah, the little piece in there that I tossed out… was that I have made my little piece of the world smaller, and am focusing on what I can control. I have no input or impact into space travel, big elevators, moving to the moon, stem cell research, etc.

        I do have control over how many children I have, how I use the resources available to me, and how I take care of my piece of land. That’s why my focus is inward, because I CAN do something about it. I CAN’T do a damn thing about the rest, or anyone else for that matter… Does that make sense?

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