Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Little Blowup


As some of you probably noticed - especially if you tried to post a comment - Blogger had a bit of a blowup a couple of days ago.

Things are reportedly getting back to normal, and any vanished comments are supposed to reappear this weekend. Assuming no further crashes, feel free to use this as another open thread.



A star in Taurus suffered a much bigger blowup in 1054, producing the rightly celebrated Crab Nebula.

210 comments:

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Anonymous said...

=Milo=



Ferrell:

"Besides the reasons Jim stated, having a 'base camp' in the asteroid belt will help with logistics while exploring them;"

Once again, asteroids are very far apart, and moving from one place in the asteroid belt to another ("orbital phasing") is actually quite difficult and expensive. A base camp on Ceres would not really make other asteroids notably easier to explore than a base camp on Mars.

A base camp on Ceres would, of course, make Ceres easier to explore. But this would only justify some Antarctica-like outposts, not a full colony. Ceres isn't going to attract anywhere near as many immigrants as Luna, Mars, Mimas, etc. And I don't find Ceres to even be that interesting scientifically. It's a ball of rock. We have plenty of those.


"also, you can practice your techniques for building outposts on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, but only going about an AU from Earth instead of several."

You forgot that Earth has a moon too. It's fairly similar in nature too, and if proximity is what you want, it can't be beat.

Tony said...

Milo:

"Supply and demand.

That depends on how many people want to go, and how much of an economic or scientific payoff Earth is expecting.

...

As long as anyone is willing to pay the price, the organization owning the ship might as well ask for one to recoup (some of?) their costs."


1. Because what any individual or small group of individuals could contribute would be a token.

2. I doubt very many, if any, of the first few generations of settlers will be volunteers. They won't be convicts, but they'll likely be either economically or socially cornered int ogoing rather than staying on Earth.

"And why wouldn't people pay, anyway? Earth money is likely to be worthless on Mars, until such a time that travel becomes easy enough for regular trade shipments. So you might as well fork over your entire fortune, beyond what you can spend on lightweight trinkets and tools that you can afford to bring to Mars, unless you had some next of kin that you were really dying to leave your inheritance to (pun intended)."

I think the "volunteers" would likely be allowed to leave their Earthly estates to heirs and assigns.

"Tellingly, in both cases the immigrants were initially criminals and outcasts, and other people only started immigrating once the outcasts had managed (out of necessity) to build something at least vaguely livable to immigrate into."

Plenty of intelligent, hard-working outcasts to be found in any technological society. Enough bad luck and even a magna cumn laude PhD might volunteer for Mars.

"Wait, weren't libertarians capitalists? 'If you don't do anything useful you don't get paid, and then you starve.' seems pretty accurate."

Libertarians are ignorant of history -- or, to be more precise, exercise mad confirmation bias towards a version of history that fits their prejudices -- socially naive and inept, and, judging by the ones I've met personally, incapable of actually saving themselves from starvation if they actually had to work.

What I was talking about was a social system something like the Puritans set up at first in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Social control would minimize free-riding.

Tony said...

Rick:

"I believe that classic immigration - wherever on the scale of voluntary to forced - has generally been associated with 'cheap land.' Which you won't have in space, short of magitech.

So I would argue for a different model, where permanent settlement is a byproduct of other activities, and 'immigration' is a sub-case of 'travel.'

(So long as deep space travel is Horribly Expensive, you won't have an awful lot of immigrants!)"


I'm thinking a little bit further down the road than the pure exploration phase. A time should come when settling takes place above and beyond people who just never take a ship home. Still, there's not going to be anything to attract people except that Mars ain't Earth, and they'll have a guaranteed job there, even if it's just subsistence agriculture.

Anonymous said...

Milo said:"Once again, asteroids are very far apart, and moving from one place in the asteroid belt to another ("orbital phasing") is actually quite difficult and expensive. A base camp on Ceres would not really make other asteroids notably easier to explore than a base camp on Mars."

Except for the much deeper gravity well of Mars vs Ceres.

"A base camp on Ceres would, of course, make Ceres easier to explore. But this would only justify some Antarctica-like outposts, not a full colony. Ceres isn't going to attract anywhere near as many immigrants as Luna, Mars, Mimas, etc."
Building proof-of-concept experimental habatats isn't really a 'full colony'.

"And I don't find Ceres to even be that interesting scientifically. It's a ball of rock. We have plenty of those."

Yeah? Point out yours for me. :)


"You forgot that Earth has a moon too. It's fairly similar in nature too, and if proximity is what you want, it can't be beat."

Um, no. We were talking about Ceres,(well, dwarf planets), so that's what I commented on. Besides, Ceres, Luna, and Callisto are all different and thus all are worthy of exploration. In my opinion.

Ferrell

Jim Baerg said...

"What I was talking about was a social system something like the Puritans set up at first in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Social control would minimize free-riding."

The way I heard it the initial setup at Massachusetts was very communist. It worked *poorly* & after a few years they shifted to something more capitalist with family rather than collective farms to avoid starvation.

Tony said...

Jim Baerg:

"The way I heard it the initial setup at Massachusetts was very communist. It worked *poorly* & after a few years they shifted to something more capitalist with family rather than collective farms to avoid starvation."

That was Jamestown in Virginia, and the failure was precisely the treasure-seeking nature of many of the (almost entirely male) colonists and a lack of social controls imposed by church and family.

Thucydides said...

Jerry Pournell debunked the myth of an asteroid civilization with "A Step Farther Out: Those Pesky Belters and Their Torchships" ...

The asteroids are separated from each other by almost as much distance as the Earth is from Mars, so shuttling between asteroids is a non trivial exercise. As Pournell pointed out, if there was Torchship technology to allow you to casually flit among the asteroids, it would still make more sense to blast directly to and from from the asteroid in question to Earth, since torchships would not be adversely affected by Earths huge gravity well and all the good stuff is on Earth anyway. (Conversely, it also means the Earth Navy can blast out to the Asteroid belt to enforce bureaucratic edicts from Earth....).

Asteroid civilization, if and when it comes, will be rather particularistic. Colonies will either be buried inside the asteroid or in a construct in close proximity to the asteroid being mined for materials, and settlers are probably not too interested in physically going to other asteroids or planets.

The only places where we can even come close to the "classic" vision of asteroids (i.e flying mountains in close proximity like in the movies or the old Asteroid game) is the rings of Saturn, next best would be the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't really talking about colonizing the asteroid belt or building a civilization there; just talking about reasons why to explore it in general and Ceres in paticular. Before we have torchships, we will need to use some species of ion spacecraft to get deep into the Solar System; It would seem to me that having a multiuse outpost dedicated to asteroid exploration makes as much sense in this setting as launching individual missions directly from Earth to each asteroid.

Ferrell

Rick said...

We probably won't explore 'the asteroids' - just some individual objects in the Belt that look particularly interesting.

If there is a base on Ceres (or Vesta or wherever), it provides no advantage for exploring the belt as a whole, but it turn out convenient for exploring objects that happen to be passing (relatively!) near to Ceres.

If McGuffinite turns up on one of those objects, things get different, but McGuffinite is nothing to count on.

Tony said...

Perhaps we should note here that the exploration of the major belt objects is already underway. The Daw spacecraft is scheduled to go into orbit around Vesta next month. After a year at Vesta, it will move on to Ceres.

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