Re: Mars (sparked by RE: true abundance?)

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Wed Jan 31 2001 - 23:20:28 MST

> Spike Jones wrote: ...It is too
> > expensive to soft land stuff on Mars, and even with modern
> > tech, its hard to hit an exact target. It all goes together in
> > one mission. Please keep reading.
> >
> Samantha Atkins wrote:
> Exactly how would you do that?

Admittedly it will be extremely difficult. The single lander must
carry a nuclear reactor and some advanced robotics that can
do much of the building autonomously. The human cargo is
there only to guide, advise and repair the robots, not really to
operate them like an earthbound crane operator.

> Almost everything it needs for quite
> some time will be imported.

I disagree. The launch costs are just too high, and it is too
difficult to hit a precise target on the red planet. Recall that
will current technologies, we can only hit within a few score km
CEP, and even then the softlanded payloads are extremely small
even assuming a large launch vehicle. With current technology
[which we must use if we are to get a human presence on Mars
before nanotech] the colonist can expect no hardware from home.
Plenty of advice and software, but no materials.

> Especially in manufactured objects. Or do
> you think you re going to get enough people to run an economy...

Run an economy?

> manufacture everything you need...

Certainly not everything you *want*. But perhaps everything
you *need*. Of course we may redefine the term need. Ma
Joad had everything she really needed.

> (or enough robotics) immediately in the first shot?

First shot, only shot. Thats our only shot.

> > But people who are poor, uneducated, unhealthy, etc, do not
> > get these chances. This competition is open to *everyone*.
> No, it is not. You are going to need highly competent and intelligent
> people in such extreme and remote conditions.

Agreed. But the way we define intelligence may need some
adjustment. Those who currently survive in remote areas with
little help from modern technology, such as Aboriginees, are
a prime example of those who I consider highly intelligent in
those areas that are needed for survival. We need not a
Captain America type who did well in school, threw great
parties, etc, but who would likely wilt like a spring flower
at strange new challenges.

> A mere baby machine, as
> some have proposed will not do at all.

How do you know? A baby machine might be just the thing.
Ma Joad was a baby machine. But when the going really got
tough, the men gave up, did they not? I know that Grapes of
Wrath is fiction, but there is great truth in this. Motherhood instinct!
When all the men gave up, she forged on with a fierce determination
that the others could not muster. The mother of this family knew
that there was only one direction; FORWARD! She understood
that there was no up to give, no back to turn, only FORWARD!
Struggle on until dead, thats the spirit we need to find. It is here,
somewhere, on this planet.

> When the needs are large,
> resources are low and risks are high you cannot afford not to send the
> best.

Im suggesting we send the very best. Consider that those who
do not know the first thing about electronics can build intricate
computers. I can take you to Lockheed and show you a room
full of employees, who are 95% women by the way, who have
no college education, but who read instructions and build the
most wonderful machines. The Mars colonist is a pair of hands
and a mind, as well as a womb.

> > Nowthen, please, everyone here, stop and think hard: what
> > skills would *really* be *required* for an astronaut heading
> > to Mars to start a colony? I suggest these:
> >
> > 1. Determination to survive.
> > 2. Low weight.
> > 3. Very small appetite.
> > 4. Ability to endure loneliness, but with the complementary
> > ability to endure more virtual "company" than one could
> > possibly imagine.
> > 5. Functional uterus.
> > 6. Collection of frozen embryos.
> >
> This is idiotic. What are these children supposed to survive on?

The first colonist must have equipment with which to build tunnels.
Then she must set up artificial lighting. This is the equipment that
must be brought from home. The lighting is powered by a nuclear
reactor that is also brought from home. That tunnel is pressurized
and food crops are grown therein. I never said this would be easy.
See item 1 above.

> By whom are they educated and cared
> for? By one great uterus woman picked mainly for that and low weight?

You guessed it.

> And what if anything at all goes wrong in the decade and a half or so
> that these children are not productive or dependable? Give me a break.

Break granted. These children must become competent farmers in far
less than the decade and a half we allow our overindulged extended-
childhood offspring. Many societies have shown that if circumstances
demand it, children can grow up fast. These circumstances demand it.

> > 1. Education (why would that be needed?)
> Sigh. For dealing with all the very complex things that can and are very
> likely to go wrong.

*They* will educate *us* in how to survive on Mars. Little else
matters to them. Of course we could send software to help operate
the robots. The only education the first generation of Martians
can use is how to fix machines. This is often more an instict than
a learned skill. I suspect most of what we could teach them would
be useless.

> > 2. Social graces
> Ever tried to live with dozens of children in very tight (not to mention
> dangerous and hostile) quarters?

Im not saying it would be easy or fun. {8^D I do not envision
dozens of children either. Four or five perhaps, spaced a
Martian year apart might be doable. Humans have survived
worse situations.

> > 3. Literacy (the messages could be translated to and
> > from voice.)
> Uh, right. What about educating the children?

Educating them in what? See above.

> All done by learning machines we don't have?

Machines we *do* have. The DVD player would be
an extremely useful tool.

> > 5. Legs (Where is she gonna go?)
> >
> Sorry. I am getting taken in. This is obviously sick parody.

Well parody. In a 1/3 G field, two good arms would be amply
sufficient for all necessary motion. Furthermore, in the 8 month
trip in weighlessness, the large leg bones dump calcium which
must be taken up and eliminated by the kidneys. Legs take
up room and use up calories. Im not suggesting amputating
good legs. There are some good candidates who dont have legs,
such as those in war-torn countries who have trod upon land-
mines or suffered from SB or polio. These would get around
on Mars better than they can hers.

> Why would communication from an illterate cunt (since that is all you
> are allowing) and a pack of wild infants and ill-educated children from
> millions of miles away at hideous cost be worth anything at all to
> anyone?

I prefer to think of her as a *possibly illiterate* womb. Have you
ever heard of a children's story called Island of the Blue Dolphins?
Fictional account by Scott Odell, based on a true story of an
illiterate girl who was left alone for years on an island. Millions
of kids have read it. Its an inspirational story. When the missionaries
found her in 1810, she had invented a number of clever survival
technologies. Nowthen, she may be illiterate, but she must be
able to communicate ideas of course, even technical ones to
some extent, in order that ground-based engineers may understand
the situation and advise.

I had in mind an ideal candidate may well be Chinese or Indian,
since that constitutes half the world's population, as well as the
fact that people from there are not as likely to be luxury-spoiled
lap-dogs as we westerners can sometimes be.

> OK. Say we find 10 million similarly bored and twisted people.

Hey, this world contains a lot of bored twisted people.

> That is $400 million a year.

I would think 400 million a month, at least at first.

> The cost of the shot to put this thing on Mars is
> around $50-100 billion minimum.

No. With that kinda money, we need not go for all the Spartan
heroic measures. 50-100 gigabucks is a NASA style mission.

> The cost of food, air, heat and so on

Food must be grown there. Air must be extracted from the
atmosphere there. Heat must be made there with a small
nuclear reactor, such as the one the Russians have developed
for space use. Structures must be built from materials there.

> ...utterly foolproof so said stupid cunt

Smart womb, please.

> and her brats can't screw it up

Her well-disciplined Martian offspring, please.

The Russian nuclear reactor does not require constant attention.
The challenge is to get enough solar collectors built in the few
years that the nuke fuel lasts, in order to take over. Im not saying
it would be easy. But possible, and advisable, before nanotech.

> It is impossible and too silly a parody to even be amusing.
> - samantha

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