Re: SPACE: Beyond Apollo (was: a to-do list for the next century)

From: Robert Bradbury (
Date: Mon Apr 03 2000 - 11:07:19 MDT

On Sun, 2 Apr 2000 wrote:

> Robert, just out of curiosity (i.e. wanting to put off disassembling Mercury
> and Venus until we've had a chance to really look them over) and a sense of
> aesthetic nostalgia, do you think you could do your thing with some other
> matter . . . at least for a while?

Interesting, Greg Burch, comes out as a closet luddite... :-)

Mercury has got to go, there is little point for salvaging it
and it is in too useful a location from the standpoint of
solar insolation and minimal delta-V required for an extensive
power collection grid. Fortunately, I don't think you
have to disassemble much more for power collection. For
computronium, its another situation. You might tap the
CO2 in the atmosphere of Venus for diamondoid/buckytube
materials where necessary, but this has the side effect
of making Venus a nice place to visit (much to the dismay
of hard-core environmentalists, I'm sure).

If, the pro-gravity camp wins the debate (for reasons beyond my
imagination), then one might argue for retaining Venus and Mars and
turning them into something useful (in a classical colonization sense).
Mars, certainly, may have useful information from an archeological
standpoint. The pitfall I see though, in granting ground to the
pro-planeteers, is that it puts you on a slippery slope. "Well, look,
we have this capability, the planets will eventually get overpopulated,
lets, just take all the excess planetary material in the outer
solar system, build New-Mars, New-Venus, etc. and position
them at various Lagrangian points around the inner solar system,
so when the population overflows the current planets, we have
places into which we can expand." Just where do you draw the line, eh?

I've always thought it would be useful during dissassembly
to "sample" many microenvironments, strata, etc. at a very
fine molecular level. I believe there is something in the nanotech
archives about doing this to the top 10-50m on Earth to the enable
a complete reconstruction of the history of all primitive and historical
cultures that existed (within the limits allowed by natural degradative
processes). On Mars this approach has the merit of providing the best
way to go looking for fossils of life. The real use however, is in
providing the "real" VR simulations of Mars & Venus, so those romantics
among us can play out their "conquest of space" fantasies in very
true-to-life environments. The interesting problem is *where* do
you get the memory to store all of that data that you collect?
Now you are back to the problem of using the material for computers
rather than planets. Of course, if Ander's Jupiter Brain architecture
is better than that of a Matrioshka Brain architecture, perhaps
planets can be computers.

I'll buy the "aesthetic nostalgia" argument, but can you come
up with a "rational" argument for leaving useful computronium
in a nonuseful form at the bottom of a gravity well?


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