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05 May 2008

Comments

Harry

Hi all . I am a fabrication engineer with only basic knowledge of heat etc. The survival of this species so far into the future as the writer suggests is in my view flawed and cannot happen. This generation and maybe two or three more will survive. Beyond that I see only wars with the stronger nations fighting for and capturing areas containing the valuable mineral resources such as metals, oil, water, etc. Iraqu oil has already been “acquired” by the US. and handed over to the multinational oil companies to profit from. The water in Palestine has been with the help of the US, ”acquired” by the Israelis, and ethnic cleansing is gathering pace with tragic results for Palestine and its people, and the surrounding areas with boiling resentment from all the refugees trapped in someone else’s land.
This is already happening now what will it be like in the future when the sea levels rise forcing an ever expanding world population into an ever decreasing land area. I predict Nuclear Weapons will be used on mass with this in mind in the near future, thus again polluting and causing widespread deaths by cancer etc. Then famine and diseases will wipe out the remaining population leaving only the basic forms of life, termites etc to survive, until the sun expires.
As for black holes surely the centre of a black hole must be very cold indeed as the atoms at the centre do not move at all due to there being no space to move about at all, and heat in anything is due to atomic movement within the element. The cold in deep space being several degrees above absolute zero, would surely tap any heat away from the surface of the mass (with no atmosphere) as it collects more matter from its own universe.
Worm holes, moles, smoles. What is that about, you get within a million miles or so of a Black Ball as I would rather call it, you and your craft are sucked in and obliterated and become part of other atoms smashing into the surface of this monster never to be released again in any form whatsoever? I think Mr Hawkins has a lot to answer for. I am keen on science but lets keep it real. There will be no survivable visits ( or plants being populated) to any of our nearest planets apart from the moon. We can’t even survive in a purpose built environment here on earth in the Arizona Desert let alone a few million miles away on another planet. We are stuck with this planet so we had better forget about going elsewhere and spend that money on the people here and now and not on Buck Rogers type pipe dreams.
There you go, give it to me with both barrels I have broad shoulders so don’t hold back but remember when shooting at me I have no intellectual armour only my secondary modern shell to ward off your barbs. Take are H..

Barnaby Dawson

Your comments make several separate points. I shall isolate them and respond to them one at a time:

1) Our species will not survive into the indefinite future.

It seems very likely that our species will either evolve or be replaced by another species or most likely hyper intelligent AI. However, that does not mean that civilisation will be destroyed or that progress will stop. We must be careful not to be too anthropomorphic.

2) Wars are getting worse.

As this post should make clear wars are getting less terrible in the long term. You give good reasons to think that warfare will get worse in the short term. There are too many unknowns to make longer term predictions in my view (in particular whether we will expand into space).

3) We will never leave the earth.

I think its inevitable that we'll leave the earth. My reasons are as follows:

a) There is a huge amount of energy available in the solar system (and hence a huge economic incentive).

b) Once out of Earth's gravity well travel in space is cheap (no friction, efficient momentum exchange systems).

c) Raw materials are available in the asteroid belts.

d) Once we have AI we will be able to move intelligences around the solar system at or close to the speed of light.

Harry

[There is a huge amount of energy available in the solar system (and hence a huge economic incentive).]
I return to my point that we can't even survive without outside help here on earth for any length of time in what would be a sealed environment for anything like the time needed to travel to our nearest planet. So even our closet planets are in the near future and as far as I can see in the far future unobtainable. It's good to be an optimist but maybe better to be a realist. The growing of food in space is as been proved is impossible, so how do we feed ourselves in space. Perhaps I do not have the vision, for this; maybe we won’t need food as we perceive it now. Perhaps we could survive on nano food or some such macro biological soup, but for how long. The nearest planet and the most friendly, (friendly being not too hot) is four years away at present speeds of travel, and not a thing there that will improve our existence even if they do get back, and they will have to get back to survive. So with this solid evidence of failure of survival here on earth with all the resources at our disposal your theory of space travel and every other statement to do with this subject I feel is flawed as without the development of craft that are safe, able to be lived in for years without resource supply whatsoever over this period of time, none of the points made stand up to debate at all.

I don’t think we will ever be able to travel at close to the speed of light. Why would anyone risk this is beyond my comprehension. When at present speeds of say 12 000 miles per hour, even a speck of paint will do serious damage to the craft, and a small stone or rock would obliterate the craft, should a craft ever be available to travel at these speeds. Sorry Mr D. I love your thoughts and optimism but I have so many reservations as to your future predictions, my main problem being is the wasted recourses and therefore lives here on earth whilst trying to obtain the unobtainable. Take care all, H..( Buzz Lightyear.)

Barnaby Dawson

I'll address your points in sequence:

1) We can't survive in space in a self contained manner.

We don't yet know how to do it. But we've hardly put any effort into trying yet. Give it a few hundreds of billions in funding and we'll figure it out. This really isn't a big impediment to our species colonising space. Sure it might delay things a few hundred years though.

2) The growing of food in space is impossible.

This is just false. Perhaps you meant "in a vacuum"? Growing food in space efficiently is a challenge but growing it at all requires only routine research.

3) The argument about moving around at the speed of light was meant to apply to information not matter. With an AI society minds could move around at light speed (once a slower move colony ship has arrived somewhere first of course). There would be little point moving matter of energy between starsystems so this isn't really any kind of problem anyway. I agree that moving matter around at near light speed would be silly.

4) Trying to conquer space is a waste of resources.

Firstly this blog post was never arguing otherwise. But seriously we've spent $500 billion on space travel which is less than on the Iraq war and the spin offs in communications technology are worth more than $500 billion over the last 30 years. If you want to reassign money for third world development you're much better off opposing pointless wars.

Felix

Hi Barnaby, I've finally found time to respond to this post. (you posted a comment with a link to it on my blog a while ago) Let me know what you think of this: http://themeatyard.blogspot.com/2009/09/belief-in-progress-and-how-it-relates.html

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