Re: Space Colony Survival

Ross A. Finlayson (RAF@tomco.net)
Thu, 01 Apr 1999 03:20:09 -0500

Michael Lorrey wrote:

> Ross A. Finlayson wrote:
>
> > The idea of space colonies is an interesting thing.
> >
> > In terms of food and biomass preservation, I think one thing will be algae
> > tanks to grow biomass, and then conventional or nano-technology to produce
> > edible food from that.
> >
> > Remember that for the few people that are on such a solar colony, they will
> > have the entirety of Earth to back them up.
>
> The point is to build a society that is self sufficient with sufficient resource
> base to develop a viable long term population in a terraformable environment. It
> is to provide a fallback population if the 'grey goo' scenario of nanotech causes
> worldwide catastrophe here on Earth. Current research is showing that Mars could
> be terraformed to a livable open air environment in a century of work, and livable
> in open air with merely oxygen masks within just 20-30 years of concentrated work
> (giving a CO2 atmosphere at a density similar to Lhasa, Tibet). This is with NO
> nanotechnology.
>

I am not so concerned about this "grey goo" problem. It's sounds to me like Chicken Little and some falling sky.

Mars can be terraformed. The key to this will probably be Mars' lower gravity, because gravity holds atmosphere to the planet. Supposedly, there are ice caps at the poles that can be used to generate oxygen. The fertility of the soil for plant crops is a question, nitrogen supplements might be necessary. The ice caps can also be used for carbon dioxide (CO2, the plant air) and fuel.

>
> Orbiting space colonies will always have at least a partial dependency on earth.

Yes, this is true, until they are totally self-sufficient, which will require social infrastructure, id est culture, as well as all the survival necessities. Anyways, Earthlings will probably always be predisposed towards things from Earth and being on Earth.

>
>
> >
> >
> > The minimum limits of a gene pool for a self-sufficient and survivable
> > anthropological structure is about more than one person.
>
> Depends on what level of inbreeding you are willing to tolerate. Using one woman
> and hundreds or thousands of fertilized embryos would be a minimum acceptable gene
> pool, if that is all your are concerned about, but you will also need a good
> number of highly trained people from the start to oversee terraforming work. A
> Mars colony IMHO would be cheaper than an orbiting space colony, for the simple
> reason that Mars already provides all the working mass you need. An orbiting
> colony requires you to get your mass from somewhere else.
>

Inbreeding is dangerous as it leads to a predisposition towards exposing the weaknesses of genetic structure and breeding unsurvivable chidren. Also, there is no way one woman can adequately raise all of the children necessary, and leaving computers to do it (raise children) is a cold thing to do.

>
> >
> >
> > One key issue about transport and transit will be the ability to place some of
> > the passengers in a statis state, wherein they will not use life support
> > resources but can be awaken upon arrival. This is a bit more focussed towards
> > extra-solar travel, when the distances to be surmounted would require extended
> > travel times.
> >
> > It has been shown that women are more suited for space travel in terms of
> > resource consumption, among other things. In terms of the expert skills
> > required that is not a gender issue.
>
> Well, men still are superior in mathematical/spatial skills, and tend to produce
> far more genius intelligences. Women are superior for space travel only for one
> reason: they are less prone to get space sick. However it has been shown that
> propensity to space sickness is more a matter of the percent of body fat. Fat
> people are less likely to get space sick and women typically have 2 to 3 times
> higher body fat levels than men at a similar level of cardiovascular fitness.
>

Body fat levels can be controlled. Adequate real drug support can prevent space sickness, placebos are placebos. The ability to create a false gravity through the rotation of structures will allow humans in space to maintain physical condition that is acclimated to 1.0 x Earth gravity. Mind over matter is mind over matter.

The ability to generate false gravity is not available to contemporary science at this time.

>
> >
> >
> > Unmanned space ships show that as our skills and abilities with robotics
> > increases, we can use these "beasts of burden" of humanity to enable early
> > development of Mars or other structures and land humans later, when they would
> > be better able to survive in the already made and functioning habitat.
>
> Of course, sending dumb robots to do the factory work of producing greenhouse
> gasses and digging heat tap shafts, as well as refining metals and chemicals for
> supplying a nascent Mars industrial base is necessary, but humans will be required
> for several purposes:a) maintaining the robots
> b) doing the big jobs of bringing in a couple comets a year for three or four
> years to drop on Mars at the north and south poles.
> c) oversee the nuclear plants that will be needed to produce heat.
> d) developing in greenhouses genetically engineered plant and animal species that
> can survive in a low pressure, high CO2 level, high radiation martian atmosphere.
>
> --
> TANSTAAFL!!!

TANSTAAFL is an acronym that means "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."

Marginality approximates freedom. : )

>
> Michael Lorrey, President
> Lorrey Systems
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> mailto:mike@lorrey.com
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> (... libertarian quotes...)

These points are possibly goals of a real colonization project, but it can be said that none of them require actual human interaction. At the same time, establishing eternal human presence on the next planet is obviously a goal of humanity and a Darwinian advantage.

Terraforming Mars is something we might never see, but with perseverance, we might see it begin, and by the time we are 140 years old, perhaps it will be done enough for us to walk upon Mars unaided.

Now, I am back to talking about science fiction. An author that I have admired since reading is Piers Anthony, aka Piers Anthony. His _Cluster_ series is excellent. Also of note is his fine book _Macroscope_. I have read most of Anthony's works. Anthony's fantasy and verbiage are excellent and rarely paralleled.

Heinlein illustrates how humanity might focus its warlike spirit outwards instead if internally. His "bug hunt" paradigm shows that humans are likely to group together against any external (extra-terrestrial) threat. I'm afraid that this illustrates a certain martial propensity of mine, but that is because I was born into a martial tradition, and I am proud of that. Read _Citizen of the Galaxy_.

Asimov's books have several key themes. One is the treatment of robotics and thus artificial intelligence, AI. Essentially, Asimov's Rules of Robotics mandate that semi-sentient or sentient robots are to be completely ingrained towards protecting human life. Another fascinating story of Asimov is that of Foundation, I can not speak for Foundation, but definitely recommend that one read _Foundation_ and its followers.

Niven's Ringworld and acronyms are explained in better detail in his books. The Ringworld is unstable! Eh heh.

Read some books by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

The authors listed are in no particular order.

Pournelle and co-author, in a book called _Footfall_, illustrate aliens dropping asteroids onto Earth. We win, but I am not going to say much more about that. Read.

L. Ron Hubbard, before his legacy was co-opted, wrote _Battlefield Earth_, a fine novel.

Greg Bear, as I have mentioned, writes interesting books, I have read his _Eternity_.

Stephen King and Peter Straub's _The Talisman_ is not necessarily science fiction, but a good book nonetheless. The "Gunslinger" books are not bad.

Louis L'Amour wrote some fine spaghetti and other Westerns, also _The Lonesome Gods_, which is his finest work, in my humble opinion. It is about the desert, as is, to some extent, Herbert's _Dune_ series.

Cyberpunk is cyberpunk.

Gordon Dickson's _Time Storm_ is excellent, a book such as _Love Not Human_ is also good.

There are many science fiction authors and books. In my opinion, most of it is not worth reading because it is space opera or junk. The books that are worth reading are required. I only wish I knew all the required books.

"Star Wars" was an excellent motion picture, I was five years old or so.  I watched
"Return of the Jedi" with my grandparents and little brother, and several times during
"Star Wars" marathons in college.  I have watched almost every episode of Star Trek
and Star Trek:TNG, but very few of the followers.

Now that science fiction has been elucidated to the extent that I am able, I will note that I stopped reading science fiction. Among the last fiction books I really read were Tolkien's _Two Towers_ (multiple times), and then Alan Dean Foster's _A Call To Arms_. I have read many books multiple times.

A wonderful author is Lewis Carroll, aka Charles L. Dodgson, for his mathematical riddles and symbolism. Finally, for this note, read the Riverworld series by Philip Josť Farmer.

Enjoy!

Ross "Z" Finlayson

--
Ross Andrew Finlayson
202/387-8208
http://www.tomco.net/~raf/
"C is the speed of light."