Re: God in Few Words

From: Eugene Leitl (
Date: Mon Oct 16 2000 - 13:53:05 MDT

Spike Jones writes:

> People want to send a
> tall, handsome young Captain America type to Mars, to plant a

Unless Captain Yuri T. Rash gets there first, of course ;)

> damn striped piece of cloth and come home, I suppose. What is

Why on Earth Mars? You still need zero-volume delta joint vacuum suits
there, because you still see 98% of the same force as in Earth orbit
or Moon surface. Water? There's water on the Moon (unless the neutron
data from Lunar prospector is totally bogus which I don't believe),
and probably even hydrogen implanted into lunar regolith. In a pinch
you can always haul some 10 t of the stuff to kickstart a
colony. Oxygen? Darn Moon is made from some few 10% of that stuff,
bound in alumosilicates. Lead hydrogen over heated regolith bricks and
you'll get water. Electrolyze water, and you'll get hydrogen and
oxygen. Whether Moon or Mars, you have to live underground to escape
from radiation and prevent rapid decompression due to leaks, and
vacuum is about the best thermal insulation there is. However, you
can't do vacuum industrial processes on Mars, because the atmosphere
is in the way, and insolation density is a bit thin out there. There
is probably a permanently insolated mountaintop at one of the lunar
poles, conveniently near the water bound in the cold trap below.

Manned mars missions before doing the Moon first makes zero sense. It
only appeals to the scientifically illiterate public which thinks Mars
is somehow similiar to Earth. It is not. If you screw up there you die
just as surely as on the Moon. More so in fact, because there is no
hope for a rescue mission. And you don't even have to go to the Moon
to work there. You could telecommute there from the living room, at
the speed of light.

> the point of that? The first Martians need to stay and work, not
> just explore and poke flags into the red soil. We can build machines
> that can explore.
Indeed. But why should people stay and work on Mars and not on the

> My notion is a one-way trip, with the idea to set up a farm, build
> habitation modules by guiding and repairing semi-autonomous robots,
> setting up for the next generation, who would actually be born
> native to Mars. I admit that it is an outrageously high-risk venture.
It is rather a very expensive suicide mission.

> > Really, this would apply to many different types of disabilities.
> Right-o!
Honestly, which disabilities would give you an advantage? I understand
that weighing just 25 kg can give you advantage for long spaceflights
without a closed-circuit ecology -- if you can survive the launch and
reentry -- but what else?
> > Microgravity could be the next great equalizer.
> Right-o!
Have you seen what happens to people and animals after one year of
microgravity? Higher organisms are not made for space. They need
simulated gravity thus negating all advantages disabled people might
possibly have.

> > Is there an untapped extropic reserve among the worlds "dis"abled?
> There is. Such a mission would lend new meaning to the
> euphamism "differently abled." The differently abled are
> pre-adapted to the confines of a Mars hab module.
I see the disabled playing cyborg first, but little else.

> Or how about obsessive compulsive "disorder." If the person obsesses
> about surviving in an unforgiving environment, that condition would come
> to be called obsessive compulsive order. spike

Yes, space is rather unforgiving. The less reason to go galumphing
about in a space suit, and use teleoperated machinery instead.

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