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A resounding “Meh.”
surreality, chameleons in space!, space
So it’s the anniversary of the moon landings. Am I the only one who’s reaction is firstly “meh,” and secondly, “well, bloody lot we’ve managed to do since then, isn’t it?”

Am I supposed to be impressed that we hit the moon in 1969 and have done jack all to get us into space since? It’s actually rather depressing.

Less sardonically facetious, I’m not all that about the landing’s anniversary, but I do look around at current efforts and have to feel like we’re in a much less imaginative age. We’re making great strides with electronics and communications technology here on Earth, and that’s cool and stuff, but it won’t do us much good when we overcrowd the planet. We’re way behind the curve for getting into space. China has a space program now, to get out there and off the planet, and I’m pleased—someone needs to do it. Bush has the imagination and vision of a spirochete when you put him beside Kennedy, and the Democrats are trying to ape him and the Republicans so much that it’s laughable that NASA will ever regain the peak that they reached with Apollo 11.

A resounding “Meh.”

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I don't think it says anything about our species. I think it says something about thermodynamics. It's pointless to send people out there. Maybe you could dodge a comet but as yet we know of no technology that can make an off-planet colony completely autonomous. Maybe even no conceivable technology.

For some reason your comment makes me think about the space elevator in the Red Mars books.

Never read those, but I'm familiar with the idea. Sure, I expect there are cheaper ways to get things into space.

One of the conflicts in those books... er, wait, you haven't read 'em? Likely should, they're fantastic books.

One of the conflicts was between those who wanted an autonomous Mars and those who wanted essentially a single, joined ecosystem dealie.

I suddenly feel like reading up on whatever it was... habitek, or whatever they called those attempts at self-contained ecosystems. Habitek sounds like hamster cages, what am I thinking of?

A joined economy I could imagine, but ecosystem? How would that work?

I think it was called Biosphere 2.

And here I thought that was a supposed comedy movie. *sigh*

All it takes is a lack of decontamiation for anything, including humans, brought back and forth for there to be a (slightly) joined ecosystem, I think. Certainly influence comes not just from big things you can see.

I may be recalling the book incorrectly, but there was a lot of commerce and I *think* enough back-and-forth (food, people, more people) for that to be the term used.

I found the books rather dry ... well, I found them pointless, filled with useless information that had little to no link to the plot, wandering, and boring boring boring.

In fact, I would go so far as to say they sucked ass ... festering ass ... on fire ... except that is far to exciting a thing for them to do so instead it might be more accurate to say they were dry.

Huh. I found the first chapter of the first one boring, at least until I reread it with later knowledge.

Festering ass is icky.

And another thing... if you had technology to autonomously colonize a totally dead, chemically hostile planet, you'd never need to dodge the comet strike!

No matter how badly a comet fucks up our biosphere, we would still have a useful atmosphere, plenty of water, and a mix of useful minerals.

What would it take to get us down to bare rock?

True. Yet another reason to get our asses into space—'cause nobody's going to make that tech work without a direct application that either keeps themselves alive or makes them a lot of money.

I meant that more ironically -- I'm not sure if we could *ever* have human society without an extremely accomodating biosphere backing us up. The science fiction I've read seems to drastically underestimate how much of a boost we get from nature.

Could we imagine an autonomous Martian colony with the means to make a circa-2005 microwave oven from scratch? Think about it. Or let's make it even easier: a window pane?

On this planet, some places can go from banana groves to Intel plant in a few years, but only because they're hooked into the global economic system. And they get a massive free ride on nature's excess efficiency on their way.

Maybe, then, (pretending it was all serious to begin with ;-) it's even more imperative to spread out, at least a little bit. Then if one planet gets decimated, there remains the equivalent of that global network to pick it back up.

I'm happier to spread out for the carrot (the human joy of new places and expansion of complication) than for the stick (you didn't pass go, you don't get the cosmic two hundred dollars).

Oh, I agree. But since the stick of being wiped out was already under discussion...

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