Is Elon Musk the greatest visionary or the greatest snake oil salesman of our age?

Discussion in 'world politics, current affairs and news' started by tim, Apr 29, 2017.

  1. phillm

    phillm Trolling through Life (TM)

    I take it New Scientist is an unimpeachable source and so I'll buy this Professor's analysis. BTW as a kid I loved space travel , wanted to be an astronaut , built a scale model of Saturn V , watched all the space landings in a state of childish euphoria and dreamed those dreams. I'm hopefully more adult and rational in my choices now. Let's solve the problems on earth now rather than blasting into space at enormous cost.

    Why space is the impossible frontier

    Hawking, Obama and other proponents of long-term space travel are making a grave error. Humans cannot leave Earth for the several years that it takes to travel to Mars and back, for the simple reason that our biology is intimately connected to Earth.
    To function properly, we need gravity. Without it, the environment is less demanding on the human body in several ways, and this shows upon the return to Earth. Remember the sight of weakened astronauts emerging after the Apollo missions? That is as nothing compared with what would happen to astronauts returning from Mars.
    Yossarian likes this.
  2. NoXion

    NoXion Keep an eye out for diamonds

    I don't think it's an either/or proposition. Especially if space programs are built around orbital industrial development and in-situ resource utilisation so that they come to rely less and less on support and resources from the Earth's surface. Putting stuff into low Earth orbit represents about half the the energy cost of getting stuff to most places in the Solar system.

    Also, your source is an article written by a Senior Researcher at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research, and a professor of Global Flyway Ecology at the University of Groningen. Not exactly unimpeachable when he comes to the subject of human space flight. Although I imagine that he is quite rightly annoyed at the relative lack of funding that oceanic research gets, and I share his annoyance. The oceans, being far more likely to help feed the planet, are at least as important as space, which is more relevant in terms of raw resources. Since unlike the oceans, there isn't a whole lot of life out there that we are aware of.

    It wouldn't be impossible for any Mars-bound spacecraft carrying a crew to have a rotating habitable section that during the return journey increases its rate of rotation from Mars-like to Earth-like levels, at a rate conducive to healthy bone growth and remineralisation. The crew would most likely need calcium supplementation during that period.
    Yossarian likes this.
  3. FridgeMagnet

    FridgeMagnet Administrator

    Yeah. Extraplanetary colonisation without at least serious genetic modification is Victorian colonialist fantasy tbh. This idea that we can just fly to the moon or Mars and live there like if we'd gone to a different part of the Earth is so absurd.

    It does tie in quite well with a lot of the transhumanist/posthuman stuff though.
  4. phillm

    phillm Trolling through Life (TM)

    Fine except for "are at least as important as space" - should in my humble opinion be far more important - space is just that an inhospitable vaccum through which the sun rays travel to nourish us with energy and nurturing life. Whereas oceans are vast teeming , cauldrons of almost infinite existence - most of which we have yet to explore , pouring out life giving oxygen for every breath we take - they are where we came from in 'recent' geological time and to where I hopefully will return. Star dust is to too far removed for where I am on the evolutionary spectrum for me to get excited about I'm afraid.

    (should be accompanied by a long draw on a spliff , hold it in and repeat 'maan' on the exhale)
  5. NoXion

    NoXion Keep an eye out for diamonds

    I wasn't going on about stardust, as I suspected that kind of talk wouldn't matter to you anyway. Are raw materials practical enough for you? Global reserves of some minerals have run out or will run out, and while Malthus was wrong (as shown in the article), ultimately there are far more resources in the rest of the Solar system than ever could be extracted on Earth, what with mines only being able to go so far down into the Earth's crust and not being able to reach the vast majority of the volume of the planet. Asteroids are tiny but there are a fuckload of them (some of them even pass relatively close to Earth), and they have such a weedy gravity pull that the cost of transportation back to Earth would be relatively minimal. Extraction and processing of minerals on Earth causes environmental damage more often than not. But this is where the emptiness and lifelessness of space counts in its favour; you don't have to worry about mining activity polluting the Moon's non-existent biosphere.
    UnderAnOpenSky and tim like this.
  6. mather

    mather Well-Known Member

    I think Professor Theunis Piersma's concern is about attention, resources and funds being diverted from oceanic research rather than concerns related to resource extraction and industry. It is a valid concern and one I share as there a pressing issues related to the oceans such as species going extinct, pollution, warming of the seas and oceans and perhaps most worrying of all those large deposits of methane on the seabed. For obvious reasons Earth issues and causes should always take precedence over space and the best way any space programme can ease the burden of resources and funds that they use is to initially concentrate on industrial concerns which can give them ability become self-sustaining, asteroid mining sounds like a much better thing to go for in the near future than Musk's featherbrained plan to settle Mars, that can wait a bit.
    NoXion likes this.
  7. NoXion

    NoXion Keep an eye out for diamonds

    All true, but the two are related. They're already eyeing up mineral resources in the deep sea. We should be doing better ocean research already, but if deep sea mining does happen then the world should know what kind of damage is being done.
    mather likes this.
  8. teqniq

    teqniq DisMembered

    So, no magnetic field, no ozone layer obviously because of the lack of a significant atmosphere and now this? No ta.
  9. NoXion

    NoXion Keep an eye out for diamonds

    Somehow I doubt those are your only issues with living on Mars. But fair enough. It's not like there's going to be a shortage of volunteers. If given the chance, I would certainly give it a go.
  10. teqniq

    teqniq DisMembered

    No, those are my only issues. It just doesn't seem a very worthwhile endeavour imo.
  11. DotCommunist

    DotCommunist slowtime

    its understood that even a moon habitat would have to be reaching for self sufficiency in terms of oxygen, water and so on. I don't think anyone has invested in martian potato grown in human shit just yet. It'll be for a long time a slightly pimped out version of quarters on the ISS. And while they all grin and do songs/cooking videos on the youtube they are highly driven loons. I'd be in the soyuz escape capsule cranking most of the time.
    UnderAnOpenSky and teqniq like this.
  12. fishfinger

    fishfinger تپلی

    Every time you came you'd be demonstrating Newton's third law of motion - the ISS would be knocked out of orbit :eek:
  13. binka

    binka !!!!!!!!!

    Why would you want to live on Mars? Life would be fucking awful, monotonous bollocks living in your shitty dome.

    Surely it is infinitely easier to fix earth rather than try and transport humanity to an inhospitable planet where nothing lives naturally
  14. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    How will you prevent the sun from frying the earth and everything on it?
  15. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    I bet he won't. The prick.
  16. binka

    binka !!!!!!!!!

    How's that become my responsibility?
  17. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

  18. binka

    binka !!!!!!!!!

    If the sun fries earth I reckon Mars will be fucked anyway so what does it matter? Anyway sun isn't going to destroy the earth within the next billion years so who cares?
    mather likes this.
  19. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    But it will, in time.

    Anyhow what about other threats:

  20. mather

    mather Well-Known Member

    What a stupid post. That is so far into the future that it is not even something to be considered in the realm of policy and what to do about the threats Earth faces in the here and now.
  21. mather

    mather Well-Known Member

    Yeah, let us divert funds, resources and effort away from pressing concerns and actual emergencies like climate change and environmental degradation and spunk it one something that is due to happen in a few billion years time.
    phillm likes this.
  22. NoXion

    NoXion Keep an eye out for diamonds

    It will take at least a billion years or so for the Sun's brightness to increase to the point where life on Earth becomes impossible (the Sun entering its Red Giant phase happens in about 5 billion years). If we aren't already an interstellar species by the time that happens, we won't ever be. Even if it takes on average a million years for a civilisation to become interstellar, that's about ten chances we've got.

    So yeah, stellar evolution is only really a motivating factor if you ignore everything else that could happen between then and now.
  23. kabbes

    kabbes "A top 400 poster"

    1000 chances?
    NoXion likes this.
  24. NoXion

    NoXion Keep an eye out for diamonds

    Oops, you're right. I have just woken up...
  25. squirrelp

    squirrelp Banned Banned

    If we can't live sustainably on Earth, I don't think we'll manage it on another planet either.
    Yossarian and Ming like this.
  26. mather

    mather Well-Known Member

    That is not even really the issue to be honest. Regardless of whether we theoretically can or can't manage it on another planet, practically speaking there is no plan B or in this case no planet B. We have no choice but to sort out climate change and do our best to save this planet for it is all that we have. Despite the current issues of climate change and environmental degradation this planet is still far more suitable for sustaining human life than any of the other ones. At the end of the day, any planet B option would mean that the vast majority (99%) of the human race would still end up dead and what remains of humanity would be living in an environment far more hostile than anything on Earth, the slightest mishap could kill everyone on Planet B, such a failure of the artificial environment system for example. Not to mention that everything humanity has achieved from our culture and societies to our cities would be lost forever, leaving the survivors that much poorer and humanity stunted in every field of human endeavor.

    Just thinking about that and all that it entails means we have to start thinking and acting seriously if we are to have any chance.
    UnderAnOpenSky and Yossarian like this.
  27. DexterTCN

    DexterTCN Official Twitter Liaison Officer

    Surely learning to exist in a different climate and environment would increase our chances?
  28. Nylock

    Nylock I hate 'these days'...

    Indeed, but after we have sorted out the problems on the planet we currently live on. It's no good trying to make other worlds liveable if, before that happens, we render ours uninhabitable. Being a space nerd I'm all for planetary colonisation, space elevators and other 'reach for the stars' type stuff. However, right now, we have a raft of problems on the home world that should be dealt with as a priority*.

    *If anything, developing the tech that could reverse global warming, detoxify water supplies, scrub pollutants from the atmosphere, redistribute water to where it's most needed and arrest climate change would have the side benefit of creating the very same tech for use in terraforming/environmental control as essentially we will have developed the tools and techniques on our own world before moving out to more 'challenging' environments....
    fishfinger likes this.
  29. DotCommunist

    DotCommunist slowtime

    its not either or

    Nylock and dylanredefined like this.
  30. NoXion

    NoXion Keep an eye out for diamonds

    You know I've said more or less that before, but that keeps getting ignored for some reason. If the US could have the Apollo program right after WWII and the Marshall Plan, I see no good reason why the whole planet couldn't both deal with climate change, as well as have a space program that produces something more useful at the end than a flag planted on the Moon. There are 7 billion and counting humans on this planet. I'd say the pool of potential talent is certainly large enough!

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