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Old 28th November 2018, 02:49 PM   #81
HansMustermann
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Hmm, well, not sure why this got moved to Science and Technology, since I was asking about SF, but I guess discussing the RL technology benefits the SF angle too.
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Old 28th November 2018, 03:02 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Hmm, well, not sure why this got moved to Science and Technology, since I was asking about SF, but I guess discussing the RL technology benefits the SF angle too.
The thread drifted into S&T pretty quickly. Sorry 'bout that. At least the literary question got answered pretty well along the way.
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Old 28th November 2018, 03:06 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Okay I'm not going to argue against some form of "I don't care if humanity survives past the point that I know them personally" nihilism.

If we can just assume the crazy idea that humanity as a species surviving is something worth investing in, we should get a self-sustaining population off planet before something happens that makes that impossible and it's too late.
You can't force someone to care about something they don't care about. theprestige has made it quite clear that he does not care one way or the other about the long-term survival of the human race.
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Old 28th November 2018, 03:11 PM   #84
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I'm going to somewhat side with Theprestige here. Currently the costs of such a colony are tremendous. Last I heard a figure, it was in the ballpark of 10 billion dollars per colonist, but I can't remember how it was calculated or for what number of colonists.

And we'd need quite a few of them up there to have a viable population to keep the species going. Probably a couple hundred at the very least.

We can't even muster a fraction of that money to fix Earth, so I'm not sure how we're supposed to do that.


I would also say, ok, let's say we do put a couple hundreds of colonists there, we're gone, and they survive. Then what? Now humanity is stuck in a bunker that decays over time, and probably doesn't even have the means to repair its stuff when it decays. You're not just gonna harvest a few rocks and meteorites and bang together advanced CPUs and photovoltaics, like in SF games.

A minimal colony just delays the inevitable by a couple of decades tops, is all I'm saying.

If you want it to really survive and maintain tech level long term, you have to also include those machines, and the machines to maintain them, and so on. And the population to operate them all.

Just to put it into perspective, TSMC employs 47 thousand people to operate its foundries. You want to have redundant chip foundries so at least they can maintain their computers after we're gone, that's a couple of thousand people up there just for the foundries alone. Add some more for polymer production, concrete, etc, and it's quite the metropolis you need up there, at a cost in the tens to hundreds of trillions for that kind of self sustaining colony.

And again, otherwise you're just delaying the inevitable. You'll have some people stuck on mars with no means to maintain their colony, and once it decayed enough, they die too. In the words of a wise man:

"Was this trip really necessary, bub?"
-- Daffy Duck

And let's get into who's gonna operate them. Currently when you go to a doctor, or have a breakthrough in physics, etc, you have the best people selected from a pool of hundreds of millions. But up there, with a modest sized colony, for the whole science and engineering and medicine divisions and so on, you have a pool of maybe a dozen people per year who didn't find chasing skirts and appearing macho to their peers in school more interesting than paying attention in class.

What I'm saying is that the first mutant virus or bacteria that they don't already know how to cure, will probably wipe them out because they don't have the sheer combined brainpower to figure out a cure. And they're stuck with it in cramped quarters.

And such mutations do happen on a regular basis. Yersinia Pestis for example mutated some nasty plasmid out of being just a harmless soil bacterium at some point. A bacterium which didn't even like being inside a human very much, and for whom killing the human and getting back into the ground was actually an evolutionary advantage.


Basically, the TL;DR version is: you don't just need a minimal colony, you need a colony that's big enough to actually be survivable very long term. And I don't think many people grasp how insanely expensive that would be, or what we could do down here with that kind of money.
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Old 28th November 2018, 03:35 PM   #85
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
LOL @ dropbox links inside of spoiler tags.
They were hotlinks, and you should have seen images

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Anyway, that rock wiped out the dinosaurs (we infer) because it changed the Earth's environment in a way that they were unable to adapt to. But humans are demonstrably more adaptable than Dinosaurs.
...and the rock was a pebble. Anything much bigger would probably have wiped out all life on Earth higher than microbes.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
And a post-apocalyptic Earth would offer many advantages to humanity's remnants than a pre-, post-, or un-apocalyptic Mars, including:
- more atmosphere
- more magnetic shielding
- waaay more biomass to work with
- waaay more raw and processed materials to work with
- all the remnants of the global industrial base, including heavy machinery, power infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, etc.
- all the remnants of the pre-apocalyptic civilizations

Just having access to the cities of the world would put Earthlings whole generations ahead of Martians on the post-apocalyptic survivability sweepstakes. And there's no plausible path *at all* right now for putting Mars on such a footing to compete with Earth in this regard.

If Earth's humanity were to be entirely wiped out somehow, a Martian colony would need at the very least the following things to perpetuate the human race:

- A population large enough to breed at better than replacement rate, ideally without resorting to draconian control of citizen's bodies. We have enough surplus humans on Earth that we can maintain our population even though many people don't care to participate, and many people don't care to share their reproductive functions with more than one partner. I don't know the minimum number of people a population needs to reach this happy state, but that's probably the bare minimum number of people a self-sustaining Mars colony would need.

- Enough biomass to support a population of that size. It would have to be a self-sustaining ecosystem, too.

- A complete and self-sustaining industrial base, including:
-- raw material extraction
-- raw material synthesis (for materials not naturally present on Mars)
-- energy production and power generation
-- heavy manufacturing
-- transportation and power transmission infrastructure
Any material or component that must be sourced from Earth will be instantly fatal to a Mars colony if Earth goes offline. Even if the Earthlings survive their cataclysm and bootstrap themselves back to civilization, it may not be in time to save their Martian comrades.

- A large and diverse technocracy. If you've got the minimum-viable population, then probably everyone in the colony will have to be a skilled knowledge worker, in one or more fields ranging from mechanical engineering to chemistry to surgery to library science.

And all that for what? Just so you can feel good about the idea that at some point in the future there could still be humans breeding on Mars even if there are none left on Earth? That seems like a pretty pointless goal, to me.
All of this is assuming that there is anyone left alive. If there isn't, then all this theorising is down the tubes.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Chixculub may have killed all the dinosaurs, but they don't seem to be any worse off for the fact that none of them are around to complain about it.
How nihilistic.
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Old 28th November 2018, 03:37 PM   #86
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
However you still need them to be at least near a planet with a magnetic field that can stop that radiation. E.g., around Jupiter could work. But see radiation again: a trip to Jupiter is going to take even longer than one to Mars.
Uh, no. You just shield them. And if you are routinely transporting a lot of people between two orbits you just put another shielded colony in the transfer orbit. We're not going to colonize space with Apollo capsules.


Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I suppose you could haul enough lead to space to stop it.
Could you just stop and think for a minute about this?
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Old 28th November 2018, 03:40 PM   #87
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
You can't force someone to care about something they don't care about. theprestige has made it quite clear that he does not care one way or the other about the long-term survival of the human race.
Hey, as long as you don't try to force me to help pay for your religious belief, we're good.

The funny thing is, I think we probably should colonize Mars at some point. I think that the survival of the human race is a good thing. I just don't think it's sufficient to justify colonizing Mars on the present basis.

Somewhat related: In the late 90s, NASA commissioned a study of bush robots from Carnegie-Mellon University. In their final report, the researchers concluded that bush robots were hypothetically amazing and profitable. But they also concluded that the technology to develop bush robots was not mature enough to even begin such an effort. Instead, they recommended that NASA instead focus on advancing several "enabling technologies" that would be required to make bush robots a realistic endeavor. Things like a millionfold increase in computational power, micro-manufacturing, and scalable high-density power storage.

Their recommendation reads in part:
Fully realized bush robots are so far in advance of available technologies that there is little urgency to pursue their theoretical development now. Doing so is an amusing diversion, and may by chance lead to interesting insights, but is no more likely to lead to practical devices for many decades than other lines of undirected research.

https://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/~hpm/proj...A.summary.html
I think we're in a similar position regarding Mars colonies right now. There's a lot of other stuff we need to get better at, before we're really in a position to establish a colony on Mars. And we're going to be working on this other stuff anyway. Working on a Mars colony now, before we've figured out the other stuff, would be a waste of effort. And once we figure out the other stuff, establishing a Mars colony will become substantially easier.

If you're serious about colonizing Mars, then you should make a list of the necessary enabling technologies. Then shut up about Mars, and put your effort into evangelizing and advancing those enabling technologies. That's how you're going to help ensure the long-term survival of the human race.
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Old 28th November 2018, 03:40 PM   #88
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Basically, the TL;DR version is: you don't just need a minimal colony, you need a colony that's big enough to actually be survivable very long term. And I don't think many people grasp how insanely expensive that would be, or what we could do down here with that kind of money.
One prehistoric man in Africa to another prehistoric man in Africa...

"What? Leave the continent and spread out into the rest of the world to create a civilisation of billions of people? Have you any idea "how insanely expensive that would be"
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Old 28th November 2018, 03:44 PM   #89
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
You can't force someone to care about something they don't care about. theprestige has made it quite clear that he does not care one way or the other about the long-term survival of the human race.
Wow. Double wow. No, he hasn't. Shame on you.

He and I have argued against devoting vast resources, likely spanning centuries, into projects that are almost certainly going to fail, for very clear reasons given in the course of the discussion. Resources that would greatly improve our chances of surviving 'down here', rather than being frittered away on pie-in-the-sky plans for a self-sustaining colony on Mars or elsewhere.

Meanwhile it looks increasingly like we can't even save our climate even when not threatened by vast incoming space rocks. Start there, eh? Start with the manageable. And if we can't manage that in the next few years then we're definitely in no position to colonise Mars.
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Old 28th November 2018, 03:48 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
They were hotlinks, and you should have seen images
Well, it didn't work.

Quote:
...and the rock was a pebble. Anything much bigger would probably have wiped out all life on Earth higher than microbes.
You got all that from an image? What about those scientists you referred to, that I asked you to cite?

Quote:
All of this is assuming that there is anyone left alive. If there isn't, then all this theorising is down the tubes.
It's not theorizing. It's the requirements you need to meet, in order to achieve your goal of having anyone left alive. Why are you so quick to dismiss the requirements of your vision?

Quote:
How nihilistic.
What's wrong with nihilism?
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Old 28th November 2018, 03:53 PM   #91
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
One prehistoric man in Africa to another prehistoric man in Africa...

"What? Leave the continent and spread out into the rest of the world to create a civilisation of billions of people? Have you any idea "how insanely expensive that would be"
Not very expensive at all. Most human colonization to date has been movement into profitable regions: places with better food sources, better mineral availability, etc. People have historically crossed barren deserts, frozen wastelands, and uncaring seas to cash in on the lands of plenty that lay beyond. And that program of migratory colonization has been wildly successful. Humans have prospered. But there is no land of plenty beyond the upper atmosphere - only wastelands more barren and uncaring than anywhere here on Earth. No African cave man ever proposed hiking out into the middle of the Sahara and trying to build a Better Tomorrow there.
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Old 28th November 2018, 03:58 PM   #92
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Adding to the point theprestige just made: The initial bootstrap costs might be high, but no matter whether we're talking colonizing a planet or colonies, the final cost of a self sufficient population is going to be paid almost entirely by that population not by Earth.
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Old 28th November 2018, 04:47 PM   #93
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
One prehistoric man in Africa to another prehistoric man in Africa...

"What? Leave the continent and spread out into the rest of the world to create a civilisation of billions of people? Have you any idea "how insanely expensive that would be"
The difference that makes that argument from analogy completely break, is that a base on Mars is NOT the same as just sailing a few people on another continent and they can take it from there.

The difference is that another continent is just as habitable and supporting life as the previous one. Hell, it's even in the same atmosphere. As long as you can hunt and pick berries, and use some dry grass to thatch a hut, you're golden.

Mars has none of that, and long term survival will need a hell of a lot more than that.

The only thing that would be actually analogous to just sailing to a new continent, would be if we were to find an Earth like planet and go there. Well, even that's not entirely analogous, because crossing the ocean to another continent didn't get you so irradiated that you'll puke your guts and start sprouting cancers by the time you're there. But at least it has SOME relevant thing in common to make the analogy work.
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Old 28th November 2018, 04:51 PM   #94
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Could you just stop and think for a minute about this?
Well, I thought you were already used to the idea that sometimes I'm not very good at thinking about certain things, from my GR threads and such. So it would probably save everyone's time if you just told me what I missed. Otherwise you're just waiting for me to scratch my head, shrug my shoulders, and say "nope, I still don't get it."
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Old 28th November 2018, 05:06 PM   #95
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Adding to the point theprestige just made: The initial bootstrap costs might be high, but no matter whether we're talking colonizing a planet or colonies, the final cost of a self sufficient population is going to be paid almost entirely by that population not by Earth.
I don't understand what you mean by this.
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Old 28th November 2018, 11:17 PM   #96
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I think he means that once you got the colony past a certain point, the colonists can expand it from there on their own. Which is correct too.

I don't think many people realize how far that certain point is, though. I.e., how insane those bootstrapping costs are. They'll need machine workshops, foundries, fertilizer factories, mines in several places because minerals don't all come clustered in one place, an infrastructure, etc.

That said, I'm not even convinced it's that easy to just keep growing. For a start, even the only fertile soil you'll have is the one you brought from Earth. I don't think many people realize that you can't just plop some crops into Martian dust and expect anything to actually grow from there. And you're not going to just grow soil bacteria fast enough to produce more fertile soil.

That's another point where the analogy with just sailing on a raft to a new continent breaks down horribly. On another continent you have the soil already there, unless that continent is Antarctica, I guess. On Mars you don't have even that.

Or more realistically, you'll be limited to hydroponic farming. But that brings us back to: then you'll have to produce the fertilizers. Hydroponics doesn't mean just planting things in a sponge in water, and forgetting about it. The nutrients for those plants have to come from SOMEWHERE, and unless you have some organic byproducts to plop in there, chemical fertilizers it is. And not just to supplement the soil, like in normal farming. EVERYTHING has got to come from those fertilizers. Nitrates, phosphates, etc. Even the trace elements.

Which brings us back to factories and the population to operate them. Not to mention to get those elements in the first place. You're not going to get much nitrogen from the atmosphere for nitrates, for example. Or not without some extensive filtering facilities, and the people to operate them, and the factories to produce the parts to maintain them, etc.

Well, this isn't aimed at you specifically, but more to put into context for everyone else exactly what those bootstrap costs mean.
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Old 29th November 2018, 10:01 AM   #97
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Yes, and this brings us back to what smartcooky dismissively terms "theorizing". It's actually the things that smartcooky and others who want to colonize Mars should be thinking about, and giving answers to.

My real objection to colonizing Mars isn't that I don't believe in smartcooky and JoeMorgue's religion, but that they're not even bothering to try to answer the questions that need answering.

I don't know enough about biology and sociology to know what the minimum stable breeding population of humans is, but I do know enough to know that we'll need to figure that out, if we want a viable Mars colony. So all I can do is "theorize" on that point. But the people who actually want a Mars colony will actually need to come up with a number, and a plan.

I'm a romantic. I think that a Mars colony would be ******* cool. If you came up with a plan, and a price tag, I might even pitch in. Not because I buy into the Survivalist religion, but because... ******* cool. But this is not one of those topics where my romanticism overrides my realism. I think that realistically, manned space exploration is a waste of resources and an unnecessary risk. If a private hobbyist wants to spend their surplus wealth on such romantic adventures, be my guest. I'd be pleased as punch if they did some good science while they're at it.

But I think the scientific community gets more value for less risk from probots. And I think the Survivalist community would be better served by focusing on the enabling technologies, and letting the idea of Mars colony ripen on the vine a while longer.
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Old 29th November 2018, 10:11 AM   #98
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I disagree. I also think it's a bad investment at our current resource level.
I'm sorry, what current ressource level? There's plenty of ore and stuff and people to throw at Mars and every other planet you can think of in the solar system if we want to.

Quote:
And there's your answer to "why not both?" - If we can't do one, then doing both is out of the question.
Wait, what? I missed a connection, there. There's no reason to not solve the problems here AND build a house elsewhere to survive the inevitable downfall of this one. That was my point. That has nothing to do with your fatalistic response.

Quote:
And I think you're underestimating the level of effort needed for us to be "in other places" in a self-sustaining way. That level of effort seems excessive, for the purpose of mitigating the unlikely risk of an Earth-destroying event.
It's not unlikely: it's certain.
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Old 29th November 2018, 10:14 AM   #99
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So wanting the species to survive is a "religion" now.

*Shrugs* Sure whatever.
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Old 29th November 2018, 10:18 AM   #100
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
If we started now, with our current resources, by the time the colony was self-sustaining it'd be too late anyway. And meanwhile we'd be paying a *massive* opportunity cost in not investing those resources here on Earth.
I'm sorry, I have no idea what you're talking about. A self-sustaining colony could take just a few centuries to complete. How is that too long?

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And we recovered from that with a fraction of the resources available to us today.
Sure, because we couldn't go lower. If you don't mind humanity being reduced to 10,000 individuals, fine, but you'll forgive the rest of us for caring about the larger picture a bit more.

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I think it would still be easier to adapt to a post-Yellowstone Earth than it would be to establish a Yellowstone-proof colony on Mars in time to save us from Yellowstone.
Not if we're all dead. You seem to conveniently ignore that part.

You seem to be arguing from a stone-cold, nihilistic ideology.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Basically, the TL;DR version is: you don't just need a minimal colony, you need a colony that's big enough to actually be survivable very long term. And I don't think many people grasp how insanely expensive that would be, or what we could do down here with that kind of money.
Expensive but feasible, is the point. Desirable, even. Crucial, I'd argue.

Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Wow. Double wow. No, he hasn't.
Yes he has. See above. When faced with a Yellowstone scenario, he pointed out that we could survive, paleolithic-style, with a few thousand humans, and that this is ok. For all intents and purposes, that's the end of all of our cultures and civilisations, history and achievements. Outright extinction is not much worse than that.
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Old 29th November 2018, 10:20 AM   #101
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
But I think the scientific community gets more value for less risk from probots. And I think the Survivalist community would be better served by focusing on the enabling technologies, and letting the idea of Mars colony ripen on the vine a while longer.
I go back and forth on this.

you don't think there's sufficient value to have actual human beings within a few light seconds, rather than light minutes, of the probot so it's not relying on automated routines or instructions that will take a relatively long time to obtain due to communications delay? I'm thinking humans in orbit, robots on the planet type thing.
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Old 29th November 2018, 10:25 AM   #102
theprestige
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
So wanting the species to survive is a "religion" now.

*Shrugs* Sure whatever.
I'm using "religion" as a shorthand for a kind of axiomatic, dogmatic idea. Something that is not tested or proven or supported with evidence, but simply either believed or not believed. Something the belief in which then forms the basis for recommending a certain course of action.

Buddhism is a belief, from which certain actions are understood to follow. But Buddhism itself doesn't follow from anything. You either believe it (and act accordingly) or you don't.

'Survivalism' is a belief, from which certain actions are understood to follow - "get your ass to Mars", in this particular conversation.

Let's try this: Instead of complaining about my terminology, why don't you estimate the minimum viable breeding population for humans? You want the human species to survive? That's probably the most important question (after "why?") that you need to answer. Your ongoing unwillingness or inability to answer it leads me to question the sincerity of your belief.

Bottom line: In order to achieve your goal of humanity surviving on Mars after losing Earth, you will need to place at least X people on Mars.

X = ?

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Old 29th November 2018, 10:40 AM   #103
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
'Survivalism' is a belief, from which certain actions are understood to follow - "get your ass to Mars", in this particular conversation.
Hey, that's my line!


Anyway, the issue is this: aside from the statistical threats like meteors and volcanoes which might or might not either kill us all or reduce us to a small band of hunter-gatherers (leading to another Arnold quote, this time about crushing your enemy), there's the certainty that, at some point, something will. The solution is simple: have some of your people somewhere else. It also has the benefit of opening new areas of science and exploration, etc. Yes, it's tremendously expensive and difficult, but I'd argue that, faced with certain extinction, it's the only solution, unless you have some idea to shield us from big rocks from the sky or to stop the continents from moving around.
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Old 29th November 2018, 10:41 AM   #104
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I'm sorry, I have no idea what you're talking about. A self-sustaining colony could take just a few centuries to complete. How is that too long?
Lay it out for me. How many centuries is "a few"? What are the steps? How long will each step take? How many people do you need to put on Mars? How much biomass? How long will it take to set up the ecosystem and the industrial base? How will you guarantee the necessary breeding rate? How will you guarantee the needed education and skillsets? Etc.

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Sure, because we couldn't go lower. If you don't mind humanity being reduced to 10,000 individuals, fine, but you'll forgive the rest of us for caring about the larger picture a bit more.
What larger picture? What's wrong with 10,000 humans?

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Not if we're all dead. You seem to conveniently ignore that part.
I'm arguing that we wouldn't all be dead. I'm arguing that adapting to a Yellowstone event would be easier and more likely to succeed, than transplanting humanity to Mars in the same time frame.

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You seem to be arguing from a stone-cold, nihilistic ideology.
What's wrong with that? Do you have a better ideology?

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Yes he has. See above. When faced with a Yellowstone scenario, he pointed out that we could survive, paleolithic-style, with a few thousand humans, and that this is ok. For all intents and purposes, that's the end of all of our cultures and civilisations, history and achievements. Outright extinction is not much worse than that.
I think we'd survive better than that. Simply having access to - and indeed living in - civilization at the time of the event would put the survivors millennia ahead of their paleolithic ancestors. The abundance of easily-accessible refined copper, anywhere humans have lived in any significant concentration, would be a huge advantage.

It's not like the survivors would forget what they know. It's not like they would rock back onto their heels and stagnate for a million years. It's not like all the books would turn to dust overnight.

I think building up our Earthling civilization to its current level has done more to protect us the future of humanity against Yellowstone-type events than a Mars colony would.
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Old 29th November 2018, 10:42 AM   #105
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Bottom line: In order to achieve your goal of humanity surviving on Mars after losing Earth, you will need to place at least X people on Mars.

X = ?
Obviously "more is better" but I do recognize the restraints simple technology puts on this so we have to realistic.

For genetic variation Anthropologist John Moore from University of Florida said the minimum was about 160 people if they were picked very carefully for genetic variation but to be honest by the time anything being discussed becomes viable I think genetic engineering will be viable enough to introduce that level of variation without depending on just a breeding population.

As to questions of how many people you need to be "self sufficient" that's harder to answer because... well how much of "civilization" you want to replicate.

Just a stable, surviving population... a couple of hundred probably if all there efforts where just into doing what they needed to survive without industry or technological advancements.

Truth be told I'd be "happy" with a colony of less than 250 and a really big computer to just hold backups of all the "data" on Mars or under the icecaps of Europe or in a giant Tesla Roadster that Musk shoots into space.

That wouldn't be ideal because we need Earth for anything that wasn't raw, pure day to day survival but it would negate at least some of the "Eggs all in one basket" problem.

More ideally long term I would like to get a population off Earth that could start to mirror/replicate everything here, if even to a smaller degree. Growing populations (or at least with the ability to grow even if other factors keep them in check), industry, non-bare-essential production, arts, labs, things to actually advance science instead of just maintain it for survival but I do recognize that as much harder.
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Old 29th November 2018, 10:50 AM   #106
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm arguing that we wouldn't all be dead. I'm arguing that adapting to a Yellowstone event would be easier and more likely to succeed, than transplanting humanity to Mars in the same time frame.
Why does it need to be the same time frame? Isn't it sort of the point that we do it before it happens so we don't need to do it in the 36 months between locating the killer asteroid and it impacting?
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Old 29th November 2018, 10:52 AM   #107
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
I go back and forth on this.

you don't think there's sufficient value to have actual human beings within a few light seconds, rather than light minutes, of the probot so it's not relying on automated routines or instructions that will take a relatively long time to obtain due to communications delay? I'm thinking humans in orbit, robots on the planet type thing.
I think there's *a lot* of value in having humans as close to physically present as possible. I just don't think it outweighs the risk and the cost. Putting a human in Mars orbit puts a human life at risk. That risk can be mitigated, but at a cost. So maybe that human means you can do 100x more science, but at 1000x more cost. And you still have a non-zero risk to human life, that previously wasn't even part of the calculation. That's the kind of trade-off that makes sense in warfare (and perhaps in commerce and art), but not in science.

If it were up to me, I'd scrap the ISS. If we're going to put humans in LEO, we should put them to work in assembly yards, building rockets larger than anything that could lift off directly from the Earth's surface. Use those rockets to send successive generations of bigger, better, probots everywhere we want to go. As we get good at keeping people alive and useful in LEO, as we bring down the risks and costs to something more manageable, then start sending humans to orbit other planets. Where it makes economic and moral sense to do so. Where the scientific benefits of nearby humans is closer to matching the cost and risk of having humans nearby.

ETA: One benefit to this program is that it would almost certainly advance many of the enabling technologies the Romantic Survivalists will need. Another is that it would produce a steady and growing stream of scientific data about Mars, at low cost and low risk. This data would be vital to the successful planning and implementation of a self-sustaining Martian colony.

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Old 29th November 2018, 11:03 AM   #108
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Why does it need to be the same time frame? Isn't it sort of the point that we do it before it happens so we don't need to do it in the 36 months between locating the killer asteroid and it impacting?
Which brings us back to questions like, "do what, exactly?" and "do what, in detail?" It's unlikely we're going to have a self-sustaining Martian colony by November 2021. If that asteroid is coming, we're already doomed. On the other hand, 3 years is a long time to prepare to divert the asteroid and/or "shelter in place," so to speak.
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Old 29th November 2018, 11:06 AM   #109
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Obviously "more is better" but I do recognize the restraints simple technology puts on this so we have to realistic.

For genetic variation Anthropologist John Moore from University of Florida said the minimum was about 160 people if they were picked very carefully for genetic variation but to be honest by the time anything being discussed becomes viable I think genetic engineering will be viable enough to introduce that level of variation without depending on just a breeding population.

As to questions of how many people you need to be "self sufficient" that's harder to answer because... well how much of "civilization" you want to replicate.
I'm less concerned with replicating civilization, and more concerned with the minimum population you'd need to ensure replacement-rate breeding, without ending up with harems, rape rooms, and valuable knowledge workers stabbing each other over refusal to put out.
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Old 29th November 2018, 11:09 AM   #110
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Which brings us back to questions like, "do what, exactly?" and "do what, in detail?" It's unlikely we're going to have a self-sustaining Martian colony by November 2021. If that asteroid is coming, we're already doomed. On the other hand, 3 years is a long time to prepare to divert the asteroid and/or "shelter in place," so to speak.

Yes, but it might not be enough and, if there's a colony on Mars already, then survival of the species is assured, even in the event that desperate, last minute asteroid diverting missions fail and the Earth becomes utterly uninhabitable.
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Old 29th November 2018, 11:12 AM   #111
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Yes, but it might not be enough and, if there's a colony on Mars already, then survival of the species is assured, even in the event that desperate, last minute asteroid diverting missions fail and the Earth becomes utterly uninhabitable.
Yep. I think the likelihood of that risk does not justify the cost of your mitigation proposal. I also don't believe that the survival of the species is something that should be sought at all costs.
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Old 29th November 2018, 11:18 AM   #112
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Which brings us back to questions like, "do what, exactly?" and "do what, in detail?" It's unlikely we're going to have a self-sustaining Martian colony by November 2021. If that asteroid is coming, we're already doomed. On the other hand, 3 years is a long time to prepare to divert the asteroid and/or "shelter in place," so to speak.
In a similar discussion here, some years back, I roughly calculated the number of people that could survive for years in a single alpine road tunnel. It was in the 5-figure range. There are many similar tunnels.

Meanwhile, the 'survivalist' approach here has failed to point out that Mars is just as (more?) likely to be hit by an asteroid, yet lacks the high road tunnels and the easy access to the resources to shove in them to support the people. And the 'tunnel people' would be emerging into a world that has air, liquid water ... Mars as an insurance policy is a bad plan.
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Old 29th November 2018, 11:23 AM   #113
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Lay it out for me. How many centuries is "a few"? What are the steps? How long will each step take? How many people do you need to put on Mars? How much biomass? How long will it take to set up the ecosystem and the industrial base? How will you guarantee the necessary breeding rate? How will you guarantee the needed education and skillsets? Etc.
I'm pretty sure you don't need that to understand my point. Or are we at the point where, since you disagree with the proposal, you must always disagree?

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What larger picture? What's wrong with 10,000 humans?
Now you're just bobbing. What's wrong is that we'd lose all the advance we've made in the last ten millennia and we'd be that much more vulnerable to actual extinction.

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I'm arguing that we wouldn't all be dead. I'm arguing that adapting to a Yellowstone event would be easier and more likely to succeed, than transplanting humanity to Mars in the same time frame.
It's a stupid argument, then.

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What's wrong with that? Do you have a better ideology?
Yes, I do. Clearly.
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Old 29th November 2018, 11:27 AM   #114
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Yep. I think the likelihood of that risk does not justify the cost of your mitigation proposal.
I haven't proposed anything, but, traditionally, one insures an unlikely risk in proportion to the damaging effects of that risk.



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I also don't believe that the survival of the species is something that should be sought at all costs.
We're not talking 'at all costs' though, are we? We're talking 'at some cost'.
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Old 29th November 2018, 11:47 AM   #115
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
without ending up with harems, rape rooms, and valuable knowledge workers stabbing each other over refusal to put out.
How would those things be prevented and stopped if they happened? On earth we have police forces and punishment/prisons. But we already have inherent problems with corruption and bad cops. It seems to be a problem with common human nature. People with no criminal record will sometimes suddenly commit a criminal act.

If this is somehow solvable with a Mars colony (or even the spaceships going to/from) then whatever methods are to be used ought to be used right now on earth.
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Old 29th November 2018, 12:40 PM   #116
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
I haven't proposed anything, but, traditionally, one insures an unlikely risk in proportion to the damaging effects of that risk.





We're not talking 'at all costs' though, are we? We're talking 'at some cost'.
Okay, good. So where do you draw the line on cost? On which side of the line does your proposal end up?
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Old 29th November 2018, 12:42 PM   #117
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Okay, good. So where do you draw the line on cost?
Well, if we're talking about extinction, how high do you think we should go before giving up?
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Old 29th November 2018, 12:46 PM   #118
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Okay, good. So where do you draw the line on cost? On which side of the line does your proposal end up?
Again, I haven't proposed anything.

I have not the knowledge, education, skill or intelligence to answer that question.
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Old 29th November 2018, 01:25 PM   #119
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I'm pretty sure you don't need that to understand my point. Or are we at the point where, since you disagree with the proposal, you must always disagree?
I would be fascinated by any concrete proposal to stand up a real, self-sustaining Mars colony, starting today and completing in a few centuries.

I would love to see the practical details of what would need to be done over the next 50 years or so, for example.

We're at the point where none of that has been forthcoming, from the people - including yourself - who say it can or should be done.

Check back with me when the conversation moves past this point, and see if I still disagree with the proposal.

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Now you're just bobbing. What's wrong is that we'd lose all the advance we've made in the last ten millennia and we'd be that much more vulnerable to actual extinction.
Gotcha. That's a fair point. But there are ways to store that information here on Earth, at a fraction of the cost of setting up such a storehouse on Mars plus a self-sustaining colony to exploit it.

And I don't think we'd lose very much of the advances at all. Most of them would be right where we left them when we bunkered up.

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It's a stupid argument, then.
Then it's found a good home in this thread.

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Yes, I do. Clearly.
Different? Yes. Better? Make your case.
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Old 29th November 2018, 01:30 PM   #120
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Again, I haven't proposed anything.
Fair enough. I'll stop badgering you to support the proposal.

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I have not the knowledge, education, skill or intelligence to answer that question.
Then it seems like you probably don't have anything novel or interesting to say to me on the subject. Especially considering that it's not even a proposal you care to support.
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