Re: SPACE: How hard IS it to get off Earth?

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Thu, 11 Nov 1999 16:17:05 -0800 (PST)

> > Rebuilding a viable population wouldn't take more than a few tons
> > of humans--a dozen young, healthy, diverse fertile women and a
> > dewar full of sperm--but any small lack of foresight or setback
> > that prevented them from bearing healthy fertile children would
> > doom the colony, and we'd need about 16 years before we'd know.
> Lee my good fellow, why on Earth would you want to continue
> propagating the alphabet soup that constitutes our genome?
> Are you a closet luddite sent to spy on us?
> Seriously, if we can take the human genome apart in less than
> a generation, I don't see why we can't engineer a better one
> in the same time (given the march of the underlying technologies).
> [The point to this is highly questionable however, given the possibility
> of nanotech and uploads, but we'll assume we want some fallback
> position in case a luddite virus wipes out the uploads.]

Even if we map every effect of every allele of every gene in the human population, the fact is that those genes don't do anything except _in the context of the environment in which they evolved_, and we don't know nearly enough about what that environment must contain for the process to be sustaining. What if there happens to be some bacterium in the uterus that plays a vital role in fetal development, but that can't survive in low gravity? Unlikely I'm sure, but there are thousands of other little bits of Earth that won't be taken with us, and while terrestrial life is robust, I don't want to bet the farm on it.

Reproduction the old-fashioned way may be an old, inefficient and haphazard technology; but it is a _proven_ technology. And some of us still enjoy it.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC