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Old 16th January 2020, 06:44 PM   #41
Roboramma
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
The escape from the Fermi Paradox is that it makes the assumption that a "robotic probe" or something comparable such as a species with an unalterable instinctive (or religious, etc.) drive to colonize more star systems can also be adaptable enough to accomplish the task. I doubt that deeply. By the second colonization cycle from their origin world, they'd be deciding to build theme parks instead of colony ships.
Are humans not adaptable because we also have a nearly unalterable drive to reproduce (or at least engage in behaviors that tended to lead to reproduction)? I'm not seeing any reason to think that your unalterable drive is inconsistent with adaptability in other areas.

It's also not clear to me that such an unalterable drive is necessary. Let there be some variation among the set of entities at a colonized system. Some set within that set will share a perspective from which colonization of another system makes sense, unless no such perspective makes sense.

But if your argument is that no such perspective makes. sense then the issue is that the colonization never starts to begin with, not that it's unsustainable.
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Old 16th January 2020, 08:15 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
The escape from the Fermi Paradox is that it makes the assumption that a "robotic probe" or something comparable such as a species with an unalterable instinctive (or religious, etc.) drive to colonize more star systems can also be adaptable enough to accomplish the task. I doubt that deeply. By the second colonization cycle from their origin world, they'd be deciding to build theme parks instead of colony ships.
Along similar lines:
https://www.xkcd.com/962/
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Old 16th January 2020, 08:53 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
What is being discussed here is an apparent contradiction.

Firstly, its about von Neumann probes. These are theoretical devices, self-replicating robotic space ships which, at only 1/10th of the speed of light, would be capable of spreading throughout the entire galaxy in about ten million years. That is a very, very short time period in galactic timescales.

Now if we can think of this, then so could any advanced intelligent species, and since the universe is about 14 billion years old, and the earth has only existed for about the last 1/3 of that, then the galaxy should already have been colonised and recolonised multiple times

The contradiction is, well, where are they? That is the question Fermi's Paradox asks.
Just a couple random thoughts:

1) What if highly advanced civilization (we could define that as one capable of producing these "von Neumann probes") isn't really possible until enough stars have gone through enough life cycles to spread a sufficient amount of heavy elements around? As I understand it, the early universe lacked significant quantities of heavy elements, which are mainly produced by supernovae. (I.e., maybe we're among the early ones, and there are others but not ones that are so far ahead of us that they were already colonizing other stars long before our own history began).

2) Are von Neumann probes even possible? I mean, obviously we can't make them yet. But we assume that they could be made by species more "advanced" than our own. What kind of condition would such a spaceship be in when it finally arrives at its destination? How does it slow down to come to a stop there? Is 1/10 C a safe speed to move at through interstellar space? We've been seeing evidence lately that there's rocks and debris floating around out there. Sure, it's mostly empty, but not entirely so.

3) We don't really know what highly advanced civilization would actually do, do we. The expansion model is based on an assumption that they would spread out in all directions at a certain rate, but we don't know if that's really true, do we? Maybe once they find enough planets to meet all of their needs, they stop?
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Old 16th January 2020, 09:15 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Is there any life form on Earth that will refused to colonize any niche it's capable of? I know of a few examples of species that seem to have a feedback mechanism on available resources but don't know of any that won't expand in to a new niche that has available resources. It seems to me that life forms that refuse to occupy every niche they can would be more exposed to extinction than others.
I've often said that life spreads into all conceivable niches and pretty much all the inconceivable ones too. I don't know if there'd be life in or below the mantle, but honestly I wouldn't be surprised.
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Old 16th January 2020, 09:22 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
And also, if the aliens are at all expansionary, even just "expand to populate this entire puddle of rainwater", then over time they're going to populate larger and larger puddles, and expand further and further in search of resources.
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I AGREE


Humans are like the ultimate invasive species (that we know about). The zebra mussels of the earth! Because we can travel from one continent to another with ease now, and sometimes bring along other species with us that wouldn't be able to make the trip by themselves.
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Old 16th January 2020, 11:19 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I don't think so. The New World did in fact have all the unobtainium. There was every reason to leave Europe and obtain it at the earliest possible opportunity.

So far, there's no evidence of anything similar at any of the nearest star systems. Or even the nearest planets.
If an asteroid were discovered which contained millions of tons of rare earths such as dysprosium, gadolinium, neodymium, promethium, scandium and yttrium, I think nations could end up falling over themselves to try to find a way to retrieve it.
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Old Yesterday, 01:51 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
We're not even close to destroying the planet.
I was imprecise here. Obviously we are not destroying the planet; we are merely destroying it for our current civilization.

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And maybe one way the aliens differ from us is that they see gravitationally-bound masses orbiting stars as convenient lumps of raw material (and, if they have an ecosphere, stored energy), not as emotionally-charged treasures that must be preserved at all costs.
If they need raw materials at all. This is another example of anthropomorphic thinking. energy will probably always be needed, but new raw materials are mainly used for expansion.

I am not claiming that aliens might not be expansionary, nor even that they might not be like us. I am only pointing out that these are not the only options.

A civilization that is so long-lived that it out-lives its star, needs to expand at some stage, or at least move.
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Old Yesterday, 01:56 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by phunk View Post
In the long term, continued existence depends on leaving your star system.
Sure.
But that's not the same thing as colonizing space.
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Old Yesterday, 01:58 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
If an asteroid were discovered which contained millions of tons of rare earths such as dysprosium, gadolinium, neodymium, promethium, scandium and yttrium, I think nations could end up falling over themselves to try to find a way to retrieve it.
More likely blow it up.
Bringing a ton of rare materials to earto would not make anyone rich, it would make those materials dirt cheap.
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Old Yesterday, 02:01 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Is there any life form on Earth that will refused to colonize any niche it's capable of? I know of a few examples of species that seem to have a feedback mechanism on available resources but don't know of any that won't expand in to a new niche that has available resources. It seems to me that life forms that refuse to occupy every niche they can would be more exposed to extinction than others.
Yes, I agree. But once you get the ability to reason, and you have mastery of the planet like we have, you are also able to stop expanding, and maintain status quo.

This is particularly pertinent if such aliens have nothing like the psychological properties that we have. One possibility could for instance be the new-age vision of being one with nature, or being only a single mind. A single mind would not have the wish to expand, even if it consists of individual entities like an ant heap. On the other hand, a single mind, might be even more expansionary than lots of individuals.

I am merely pointing out that aliens might be completely different from us.
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Old Yesterday, 02:05 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
More likely blow it up.
Bringing a ton of rare materials to earth would not make anyone rich, it would make those materials dirt cheap.
When Europeans found untold amounts of gold in the new world, they took whatever they could, despite the inflationary effect.

The countries with the most of the rare elements might want to blow up the asteroid, but the have-nots would want to grab it.
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Old Yesterday, 02:23 AM   #52
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
I was imprecise here. Obviously we are not destroying the planet; we are merely destroying it for our current civilization.

It's odd. Lately, those that are trying to downplay global warming and other environmental issues have taken to responding to 'save the planet' with feigned ignorance and lots of 'the planet will be fine'.

Because some want (for reasons best known to themselves) to downplay the danger global warming brings, we're soon going to be forced to stop using the very useful phrase 'save the planet'.

It's annoying.
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Old Yesterday, 02:29 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
More likely blow it up.
Bringing a ton of rare materials to earto would not make anyone rich, it would make those materials dirt cheap.
I disagree to a certain extent. Those nations who have rare earths (such as China) might not want to see it recovered, but the value of rare earths lie far beyond their mere monetary value as raw materials. Rare earths are vital to technology the world over, and technological giant countries such as the USA and Japan would like nothing more than to not have to rely on China for supply. China has already theatened to weaponise their dominant position on supply.

These materials are key to components of smartphones, electric vehicles, wind turbines, digital cameras, hard disks, LEDs flat screen TVs and monitors, and electronic displays, memory chips, DVDs, rechargeable batteries, catalytic converters, magnets and cancer drugs
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Old Yesterday, 02:58 AM   #54
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I don't see how to get a large asteroid down to the ground safely and economically.
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Old Yesterday, 03:03 AM   #55
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I don't see how to get a large asteroid down to the ground safely and economically.
Well, you're certainly not going to do it all in one piece.
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Old Yesterday, 07:32 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I don't see how to get a large asteroid down to the ground safely and economically.
You can have large and economical, but it won't be safe.

You can have large and safe, but it won't be economical.

You can have safe and economical, but it won't be large.
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Old Yesterday, 02:34 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Are humans not adaptable because we also have a nearly unalterable drive to reproduce (or at least engage in behaviors that tended to lead to reproduction)? I'm not seeing any reason to think that your unalterable drive is inconsistent with adaptability in other areas.

Anything unalterable is inconsistent with adaptability unless it's directly necessary for survival or reproduction. The idea of asexuality arises through individual variation but it also gets selected out over time. The idea of putting all your available resources into building a colony ship instead of increasing the number of people on your planet who might share that idea would likewise be selected out.

We see that on earth. Sure there are people who like the general idea of colonizing other stars. But when it comes to actually paying to fund programs toward that end, people tend to find a dozen or a hundred other ways to use those resources to improve things "right here at home." How many of them are willing to impoverish themselves and their descendants for the next six generations to free up resources for a colony ship to be built and fueled? If any of those generations collectively says, "screw this, we'd rather build theme parks instead" (or cathedrals, or big comfortable houses, or VR worlds), then, oops.

But it could happen. Suppose the entire population were intensely indoctrinated in the one true faith of Buildthedamnshipism, and indoctrinated their children in turn, and never questioned or doubted the plan. And they could be an alien species predisposed to such behavior, or the helpless slaves of a single-minded despot bent on colonization at all costs, or even robots programmed to behave that way. Do they then suddenly become open-minded and flexible and adaptable once they arrive at their next destination? If so, how, and how was that innate flexibility suppressed up until that point? If not, how are they going to figure out how to identify and exploit the resources of their new home? You can't arrive at an alien planet or asteroid belt and start building a new interstellar spaceship out of rocks. First you have to build a sustainable industrial base that can support the necessary population and consistently produce surpluses that can be directed toward more advanced sustainable levels of tooling that can ultimately create another ship.

A beehive can't do that. A hierophant reading from holy scriptures can't do that. What can do it is a lot of individuals trying different things and then selecting the approaches that turn out to work the best. That's a never-ending process because conditions change. The most readily accessible resources deplete and different approaches are needed to maintain the supply or make substitutions. Disasters happen.

Well, never mind, let's say they somehow succeed. Here's the real problem: how and why do they preserve the single-minded bent-on-colonization drive during that flexible adaptive stage of developing the local resources into the massive infrastructure to make the next cycle possible, and reinstate it when the time comes? You can't just program in "launch more colony missions" as the single ultimate goal overriding all else, because if everyone works on that all the time, they won't bother to reproduce and they'll all die or wear out before the ship is done. If you make reproducing the uber-goal, then they won't stop doing that to produce more food or power for the offspring, and they'll all starve or run down. If you program in that they should divide their time among those three goals equally, they won't be able to work all-out on improving their shelters when an emergency arises, so they'll all get wiped out by a stellar flare. But, no problem; you program in the ability to evaluate and select goals as the situation requires. But if they can do that, they might use that ability to decide launching space colonies isn't their choice.

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It's also not clear to me that such an unalterable drive is necessary. Let there be some variation among the set of entities at a colonized system. Some set within that set will share a perspective from which colonization of another system makes sense, unless no such perspective makes sense.

But if your argument is that no such perspective makes. sense then the issue is that the colonization never starts to begin with, not that it's unsustainable.

The unalterable drive isn't necessary for a single colonization step. Or maybe even for a short chain or small "sphere" of colonization. Such a drive could conceivably arise by design (the programmed robots scenario), by happenstance (the religion scenario), or by circumstance (your parent star's a few centuries from going nova, so...).

But it does have to be unalterable to produce the Fermi Paradox scenario of a single species spreading across the whole galaxy in a very short (by geological standards) period of time via a sustained pattern of repeated colonization.

One has to consider the enormity of the effort. Kim Stanley Robinson tried to invent a realistic colony ship scenario in Aurora (partly to deconstruct the concept and exhibit some of the more subtle difficulties of it, at least as carried out by humans) but even there he had to gloss over the magnitude of the resources required. For instance, in the novel, global climate change is still a problem back on Earth. Which doesn't make much sense, because the amount of energy needed to fuel and launch a single one of the ships described in the book would utterly dwarf the entire amount of energy extracted by human use of fossil fuels since prehistoric times. A tiny fraction of the energy and the construction materials for launching colony ships could easily (relatively speaking) have been used to scrub all the extra CO2 out of the atmosphere.

On anything like our current scale of industrialization, you need not only the passive approval of the whole population, but the willingness (or forced compliance) of the whole population to make significant sacrifices, to make it possible.

Even on the scale of a Dyson swarm civilization, the effort, while small in relation to the overall amount of energy and matter controlled by the swarm as a whole, would still be a trade-off of at least a few million present lives (that is, a population smaller by a few million individuals) for a few centuries, for each individual sent with a colony. If those beings are so bent on maximizing their population and/or their standard of living as to have built a Dyson swarm in the first place, would they want to make that sacrifice? Ultimately it would allow their population to double, but for the overwhelmingly vast majority, that new population would descend only from a select few individuals unrelated to them. (Well, maybe not, if you throw something like mind uploading and downloading into cloned or cybernetic bodies at the new colony so each individual could copy xirself in the new system, but that's piling on whole new dimensions of speculation.) In general, you'd need just the right set of circumstances (such as, a powerful elite that could muster the necessary resources all by itself, or commandeer it from the overall populace), and there's no guarantee those same circumstances would eventually arise in the new Dyson swarm the next star over.
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Old Yesterday, 03:34 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I don't see how to get a large asteroid down to the ground safely and economically.
Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Well, you're certainly not going to do it all in one piece.
Earth has been experiencing asteroid hits forever. Single asteroids representing our entire annual consumption of steel have struck Earth something like 250 times since the human race started. Many of our most productive mines are at the sites of asteroid strikes.

If I've done my calculations right, the worlds current production of steel could be met by having a 30 meter diameter chunk of iron "land" every hour. That would cause a 4 Megaton blast which would go unnoticed over some remote part of the Pacific or Indian Ocean. Target it accurately enough and you might be able to recover some of that energy.

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Old Yesterday, 03:39 PM   #59
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Myriad,

It sounds like you misunderstood Roborama, but I'll leave that for him. Other than that your post seems like you've just made the worst possible assumption at every turn. For example:

Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
The idea of putting all your available resources into building a colony ship instead of increasing the number of people on your planet who might share that idea would likewise be selected out.
So? Why would all resources have to be devoted?
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Old Yesterday, 04:36 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Earth has been experiencing asteroid hits forever. Single asteroids representing our entire annual consumption of steel have struck Earth something like 250 times since the human race started. Many of our most productive mines are at the sites of asteroid strikes.

If I've done my calculations right, the worlds current production of steel could be met by having a 30 meter diameter chunk of iron "land" every hour. That would cause a 4 Megaton blast which would go unnoticed over some remote part of the Pacific or Indian Ocean. Target it accurately enough and you might be able to recover some of that energy.

Not that high. You are thinking of asteroids coming in from deep space, which have approach speeds in the region of 17 km/s (61,000 km/h). An asteroid falling from orbit starts at around half that, 8 km/s (28,000 km/h) and it would lose a lot more energy.
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Old Yesterday, 06:33 PM   #61
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If it falls over the ocean, that would be the safe thing of course, but then it lands in the ocean and sinks to the bottom.

ETA: Antactica? Siberia? The middle of the Sahara?
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Old Yesterday, 08:04 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Not that high. You are thinking of asteroids coming in from deep space, which have approach speeds in the region of 17 km/s (61,000 km/h). An asteroid falling from orbit starts at around half that, 8 km/s (28,000 km/h) and it would lose a lot more energy.
Could be. I just used a web based impact calculator with the numbers I thought were favorable since these would be impact's we'd plan for our benefit. Also, I was considering steel. If the case seems workable for steel what would it look like if we looked at resources that are higher value at much lower masses?



These thoughts only took minutes and suggest that there could be very simple ways to bring stuff down to Earth.
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Old Today, 01:40 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Could be. I just used a web based impact calculator with the numbers I thought were favorable since these would be impact's we'd plan for our benefit. Also, I was considering steel. If the case seems workable for steel what would it look like if we looked at resources that are higher value at much lower masses?

These thoughts only took minutes and suggest that there could be very simple ways to bring stuff down to Earth.
So your 30 metre diameter nickel-iron ball weighs about 200,000 tonnes. Falling from orbit (8 km/s) it is slowed by atmospheric drag to about 7.6 km/s, strikes the ground (sedimentary rock) and releases energy of about 800 kilotons.

A more realistic size would be a 5m diameter ball of nickel-iron. It weighs about 960 tons. Falling from orbit (8 km/s) it is slowed by atmospheric drag to about 6 km/s, strikes the ground (sedimentary rock) and releases energy of about 220 KT.
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Old Today, 04:13 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Unless you postulate the existence of something like Unobtainium, there are no advantages to colonizing other systems, only drawbacks.
Expansion space and extinction 'proofing' the species against a global catastrophe?
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Old Today, 04:16 AM   #65
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm with TM. If you have access to billions of planets, you've pretty much commoditized all resource extraction, from stars on down, over intervals of hundreds of light years. Collecting interactions with unique alien species is probably the most interesting thing going. Everything else is just boring laws of physics going through their predictable motions. Once you've seen one pulsar up close, you've seen them all. But once you've seen Zoats up close, you still haven't seen Humans.
Yeah, but let's not kid ourselves. After the Zoats, everything else is a let down.
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Old Today, 04:25 AM   #66
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
This presumes that the aliens in question view us as an interesting life form among a potential of millions of different life forms. We may just be dull and uninteresting, and they just have not got around to us yet. Their priorities may differ wildly from what entitled humans think they should be. And that may be a good thing.
It depends on your threshold of 'interesting', take a shovel of soil and every living thing in it is a subject of study for someone, I wouldn't take a day trip to the zoo to see them though. If a race develops interstellar travel I think we can reasonably assume a high degree of scientific curiosity.
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Old Today, 06:05 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
If it falls over the ocean, that would be the safe thing of course, but then it lands in the ocean and sinks to the bottom.

ETA: Antactica? Siberia? The middle of the Sahara?
Tehran?
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Old Today, 06:51 AM   #68
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Originally Posted by P.J. Denyer View Post
Expansion space and extinction 'proofing' the species against a global catastrophe?
If you want to "proof" against data loss, you built in triple redundancy. You don't try to make a copy on every available storage space.
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Old Today, 06:54 AM   #69
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
When Europeans found untold amounts of gold in the new world, they took whatever they could, despite the inflationary effect.

The countries with the most of the rare elements might want to blow up the asteroid, but the have-nots would want to grab it.
Sure.
I just want to debunk the idea that there are comets worth trillions - by the time they get here, the corresponding market will have tanked.

Btw, only because China kept on selling stuff for gold did the metal maintain some level of value. Unless we have a basically endless sink for rare earths and metals, there really is no economic point in bringing some down the gravity well.
Now, building stuff with it in space is a different thing altogether.
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Old Today, 11:14 AM   #70
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Sure.
I just want to debunk the idea that there are comets worth trillions - by the time they get here, the corresponding market will have tanked.
Not only is this entirely irrelevant, it does not even matter if making a profit is not your objective. Materials only have a value when are still obtainable - once they run out, they have no value.

If you are trying to gain or maintain a supply of a material that has run out, or is in critically short supply, for which there is a dire need and no alternative, then depending on the criticality of the need, you will do whatever it takes, perhaps pay whatever it costs, to get it.
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