RELIG: Colonizing Hell

Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Fri, 03 Jan 1997 10:54:19 -0600

> And I've just been told that colonizing Venus is impossible.
> Difficult as hell, yes, quite literally. Impossible?

An interesting notion.
1) Can hell be terraformed?
2) If not, what would be required to live there?

This could be a really weird story.

For the classic "lake of sulfer" scenario, you'd need powerful
refrigerators and maybe little cabins floating on the lake. Would there
be any way, with modern technology, to put a research station *beneath*
the lake? For power, we can use the temperature differential between
the lake and the plain of ice in the Ninth Circle.

Would there be any motive for colonizing hell? My copy of *Inferno*
doesn't show much in the way of natural resources.

What would be required to terraform Hell? Since Hell is infinite (?) it
beats a Dyson sphere for living space, and in any case I think that we
should do our best to ensure a happy afterlife even for the morally
challenged. I believe that the flatterers were supposed to be wading
through excrement, so we have plenty of fertilizer. The classic problem
of producing oxygen doesn't apply; what we need is to give Hell a
self-sustaining livable ecology. Are there any plants that put roots
down in molten sulfer? If the sulfer is self-heating, or the plain of
ice is self-cooling, we can drop chunks of ice into the lake - the
question remains; what will live on even cooled sulfur?

The best route might be (in the case of the lake) pump out sulfer,
transmute it to scrith, and build Ringworlds. We can also use it as a
sort of giant combination garbage dump, heat sink, shock absorber, fuel
source, or even momentum absorber (something to push off of). Imagine
the spaceship of the future: A living capsule with a pentagram on the

Hell might actually be most useful in terraforming other planets. If we
open a hole in the lake of fertilizer, we could turn dust into soil in a
snap. The plain of ice supplies water, although at a higher
transportation cost (they have to be cut loose, you can't just open a
hole). The lake of boiling blood (for the violent) could supply water
more directly, and even some extra nutrients.

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.