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Space Sci-Fi

Ray Bradbury's Reasons to Go to Mars 387

Posted by Hemos
from the interesting-reading-at-least dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ray Bradbury's testimony to the Presidential blue-ribbon Commission, 'Moon to Mars and Beyond', covers a range of rather optimistic space-related topics, including why three Italians should be the first on Mars. But at age 83, Bradbury's next book, entitled 'Too Soon From the Cave, Too Far From the Stars' seems to set an overall vision that this is an in-between generation caught between the brutal and primitive and the advanced."
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Ray Bradbury's Reasons to Go to Mars

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  • We have to go... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stecoop (759508) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:11AM (#9172949) Journal
    Sooner or latter we have too expand our knowledge and return to the moon or journey to Mars. Nothing will stop man from seeking adventures and knowledge.
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:16AM (#9173012)
      Nothing will stop man from seeking adventures and knowledge.

      Except a largish cometary impact.

      • Re:We have to go... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:21AM (#9173072)
        Or our own shortsightedness and stupidity.
      • bad luck (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hak1du (761835)
        Yes, but while that might happen tomorrow, statistically, we have a long time before that will happen. We can pretty safely put off manned space travel for a hundred thousand years or even a million years. If it hits us before then, that's just bad luck. But, frankly, if we get out into the galaxy the way we are behaving right now, that would be really bad luck for the galaxy.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Book Dealer: I hear you have 1st edition Fahrenheit 451 you wish to sell.

        Seller: Yes. It's in great condition

        Book Dealer: Well, there's not much call for Bradburys... they generally aren't very rare.

        Seller: But mine is UNSIGNED!

        Dealer: (drooling) Would you take a cashier's checks? I don't have that kind of cash on hand!
    • by Tenebrious1 (530949) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:33AM (#9173203) Homepage
      Nothing will stop man from seeking adventures and knowledge.

      Nothing, perhaps, except marriage.

      "Honey, I'm going out to explore Mars."
      "Not before you clean out the garage.

    • Re:We have to go... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pgnas (749325) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:43AM (#9173295) Journal
      I agree, we have to go. I hate to sound so cliche, but it is the "final frontier". It is ridiculous when put in perspective the amount of money that is spent for other things, and not see the money go into future development.

      Others have pointed out and I agree, It is HIGHLY short sighted and extremely selfish to NOT continue pushing further into space.

      Are we Selfish? Yes. We tend to only think about ourselves, or maybe one generation, we must adopt and ideology that extends beyond our own lifetimes and taking the money (taxes) we have now and applying them to the future.

      Space travel IS necessary, we must reach beyond the local boundries, I agree with Bradbury, we never should have left the moon. Why did we go to the moon? was it merely a political statement?

      It is all about seeing the BIG picture, instead of 50 years, just start thinking 100 years, thinking beyond our own lifetimes and start thinking about making multi-generation advancements.

      • "Final Frontier"? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tomzyk (158497) on Monday May 17, 2004 @12:33PM (#9174854) Journal
        I hate to sound so cliche, but it is the "final frontier".

        Several hundred years ago they probably said the same thing about the Atlantic Ocean. The same was probably said about leaving the Fertile Crescent many thousands of year before that too....

        There is still plenty of exploring to be done here on Earth (ie. deep ocean trences, rain forests). Granted, we would require space travel to explore other planets, but our physical universe isn't necessarily the last place to go spelunking. What about the possibility of extra dimensions and alternate realities that we can't even conceive of at this time?
    • I'm a romantic who is caught up in the notion of the Outleap to space, but Bradbury's Pollyannish predictions are difficult to swallow. Space travel as a catalyst for political epiphany? Mars as the place where democracy is finally perfected and poverty solved?

      This is quite some form of cosmic transferrence. We have failed here on Earth so somehow a new world will be better? The cynic in me is stamping all over my romantic side with large boots.

      I recall an Arthur Clarke's novel where he predicts that ch
      • by Sgt York (591446) <jvolm&earthlink,net> on Monday May 17, 2004 @10:22AM (#9173649)
        Although I agree that the idea that going into space will not cure all the ills of mankind, I disagree that we should require that we get Earth completely "fixed" before we go.

        I put that in quotes because it brings the question to mind: "What is fixed?" Most of the things we are talking about are social ills. So what is "fixed"? I mean, how do you define it? No crime? No poverty? I doubt that's possible, ever. There will always be those willing to exploit weaker individuals (crime, at all levels), and there will always be the myriad of reasons for poverty (from purely lazy to the exploited).

        Saying we need to fix Earth before going elsewhere hamstrings us. Why not set up an experiment in a new place, with no history to tie you back?

        Think about the Americas in the late 1700s. The Great Experiment was the government of the US. Granted, it's far from perfect, but it was a helluva lot better than anything else around at the time (emphesis to prevent misunderstandings). Moving to a new place was the catalyst that allowed the experiment to occur. Personally, I think the relative stagnation and degredation of most of society (globally) since then is the result of the lack of new places to try things like this out. When the disenfranchised have no place to go and do things their own way, they fight the system, and the system fights them back out of reflex, without regard to the merit of the ideas.

        If, however, the disenfranchised have a new place to go and do things their own way, they can demonstrate to the system that they have a better or improved system. It's like evolution: you need a niche to grow. If a new species fights an entrenched one for a niche, it will lose unless it is vastly superior. Normally, the improvement is too small to be considered an overwhelming advantage. If, however, the new species (or system) is capable of exploiting a new niche, it will thrive and eventually be able to demonstrate its superiority by thriving, or its inferiority by its demise.

        • I also agree that 'fixing' Earth may be unachievable and I don't profess to have all the answers.

          However, Bradbury talks about new lands and new opportunities and promises much for them. However, I still don't see how we will not export many of our problems with us. After all, what is now the United States was ruled by a British monarch for a good chunk of its history following the initial colonisation. If a few battles had gone differently, the experiment with American democracy might have become a footn
          • by Sgt York (591446) <jvolm&earthlink,net> on Monday May 17, 2004 @10:50AM (#9173918)
            The future is not always bright.

            And it is not always dark. In the abscene of change, improvement is impossible. In the presence of change, improvement or degredation is possible. I guess it depends on wether or not you're a gambler, or are willing to take the chance. But I do agree the "approach with caution" sentiment. I just think we should focus on the "approach" part of the statement right now. The caution is irrelevant if you aren't approaching

            I've been thinking about the analogy of evolution...I like it. It removes motivation, purpose, and all other factors of the like from the equation. It just looks at what winds up making a better society. Whatever works, beats out the rest as long as true competition is allowed. Right now, true competition is waning. Someday, it will be gone and the selective process will no longer work.

          • Re:Should we not go? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2004 @10:54AM (#9173944)
            "However, it's not unreasonable to approach the prospect of space colonisation cautiously. Instead of the new frontier we might get a new race of Teutonic knights - interplanetary crusaders conquering all before them in the name of America and its allies. The future is not always bright."

            When people decide to have children, they don't know whether their children will grow up to be humanitarians or criminals. But most people give their kids an opportunity at life, knowing that most people turn out alright.

            We don't know whether humanity's child will be good or bad. But we believe, based on past experience, that we should take this chance, knowing that human settlements are more likely to be good.
          • Re:Should we not go? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Rei (128717)
            Well... at least whoever colonizes mars won't be committing ethnic cleansing of its natives. Ya know, that little piece of American History that is typically conveniently ignored.
    • Later than sooner (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Iowaguy (621828) on Monday May 17, 2004 @10:08AM (#9173532)
      I am afraid that we may end up exploring later than sooner. I sad trend I have noticed is that in the engineering classes that I teach, students are showing increasing disinterest in space travel. In general, they feel it is a waste of time, non-interesting, and too dangerous. At some point, the younger generation (god, am I that old?) has made the transition from a Can Do to Can't Do nation. To me, what makes this more sad is that I am in the department of Chemical Engineering, for which the fences really are closing in on the fronteir. Really, almost all is known about fluid flow through pipes and how to make polyethelyne. I try to impress upon students that Chem. E. in space adds quite a bit of room for real, novel engineering. Afterall, current plans call for chemical plants on the moon. How does one do that? But when I survey, non-plan to work for NASA or other organizations. Sad, really.

      My two cents
      -Iowa
      • Cassini/Hyugens (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Rei (128717) on Monday May 17, 2004 @11:37AM (#9174318) Homepage
        I don't get how people can be not fascinated by space exploration. I mean, how can someone look at the Cassini/Hyugens mission, for example, and not wonder what it's going to find? What sort of pictures will we get on these unprecedented close flybies, including passing right through gaps in Saturn's rings several times? Will there be a drizzling ethane rain falling into lapping hydrocarbon seas with huge ice mountains on Titan? Why do we have such stark features as Iapetus's two faces, and how did Mimas manage to survive such a huge impact as created Herschel?

        Etc... unless people simply don't care about learning unknown knowlege (which I have trouble believing - people have done that throug history), space will always have a strong draw. I can't wait until the data from some of our upcoming planet-finding missions starts coming back. If we can find a planet out there with an atmosphere that contains the spectral signature of O2.... it'll be a complete paradigm shift in public thinking about space exploration.
      • ...students are showing increasing disinterest in space travel. In general, they feel it is a waste of time, non-interesting, and too dangerous. At some point, the younger generation (god, am I that old?) has made the transition from a Can Do to Can't Do nation.

        No, they aren't a "Can't Do" generation. They are a "Done it Already, Seen it, Taped it, Watched it Reenacted by an Aging Tom Hanks" generation.

        Space travel is old news. Didn't you hear? Mankind went to space. People went all the way to the

    • by dave420 (699308)
      Sorry if I come off as an idiot for saying this. I have the best intentions at heart, you have to understand.

      <rant>You don't think, for one second, that there are things more important to do right now than in 20 years go to a planet which we'll just eventually screw like we have done our own (so far)?

      There are billions of people around the world starving, and you're talking about a thirst for knowledge and adventure? How about a thirst for water? Ever known that? Unfortunately, large swathes of A

      • Re:We have to go... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mcwop (31034)
        A) How will not going to Mars contribute to a solution to the problems you have cited?

        B) Go here [thespaceplace.com] to view the positive contributions from the space program.

  • Braces self (Score:3, Funny)

    by XMyth (266414) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:11AM (#9172953) Homepage
    For all the Martian Chronicles related jokes....too bad I couldn't think of any.
  • Why? (Score:4, Funny)

    by robpoe (578975) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:12AM (#9172958)
    Why go to Mars, except maybe to have someone ON SITE to push the "RESET" button??

  • But Ray stays home (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AtariAmarok (451306) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:12AM (#9172962)
    This is the same Ray Bradbury who was afraid to fly in airplanes [raybradbury.com] until recently. Could we get him on a spaceship?
  • by MrIrwin (761231) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:13AM (#9172975) Journal
    Mind you, he didn't go anywhere interesting did he!
  • by Woogiemonger (628172) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:14AM (#9172986)
    Well, if we do send someone on a deep space exploration mission, let's make sure it's a poet this time.
  • Cave life (Score:5, Funny)

    by spellraiser (764337) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:15AM (#9173007) Journal

    'Too Soon From the Cave, Too Far From the Stars'

    Yeah, much too soon. One minute you're an ape triumphantly hurtling a bone into the air under the theme of 'Also Sprach Zarathustra', and next thing you know, the bone turns into an orbiting satellite in the year 2001. Also, you've become human and there's this weird monolith on the moon.

    Talk about culture shock ...

    • Re:Cave life (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JaimeZX (780523)
      If you read the book by Arthur C. Clarke, that's actually an orbiting nuclear weapon. Which I guess is a satellite, but the transition in the film was supposed to be more poignant because it was between two weapons (the bone and then the nuke) separated by millions of years.

      - Jim
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:16AM (#9173009)
    "The missing link between apes and man . . . is us."
  • I still live in a cave, you insensitive clod!
  • by Jason Hood (721277) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:20AM (#9173057)
    I really dont see what the big fuss from some politicians about going to Mars. 500 years ago sailors went to the New World (risking their lives) with really no garunteed return on investments.

    It ended up working out ok for some countries but not for 50-75 years after the initial voyages. There wasnt really a need or reason to go, but some naval officers and private sailors convinced the people with cash otherwise.

    Although these "discoveries" didnt work out to well for Indians I suppose.

    You have to start somewhere. We will do it eventually, why not now?

    • Money (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gatkinso (15975)
      That's why.
    • by justforaday (560408) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:34AM (#9173214)
      I really dont see what the big fuss from some politicians about going to Mars. 500 years ago sailors went to the New World (risking their lives) with really no garunteed return on investments.

      What about the possibilities of finding the shortcut to India, or the fabled Fountain of Youth(TM)? Sure, there weren't any guaranteed returns, but if they were successful then they certainly would've been well worth the investment...
    • The difference this time round is this: Back then people with money could simply invest in stuff like that, and send out people on their own. Say for instance you had a billion bucks right now, there is no way in hell you would be able to privately fund a mission to Mars. Look at the Azanti (?) X Prize, every team needs special licenses from the FAA (or something like that), they need a launchpad, etc etc. Stupid Government regulations would sadly kill any such venture .....
      • by dpilot (134227) on Monday May 17, 2004 @10:21AM (#9173644) Homepage Journal
        Think government regulations would be stupid if some incompetent idiot tried an X Prize launch too close to a populated area, and crashed it on your house?

        I won't defend what government regulations have become, but I can understand how they got to where they are.

        Example: Guys at work were griping about septic systems, and how it takes an engineer to "certify" that the thing is correctly done. Yet the septic system isn't really "designed", but rather taken from some tables out of a book. X type of soil, household for Y people, therefore use Z sized tank and W feet of leach line.

        But the regulation, engineer, and inspector most likely (IMHO) have their roots in an unscrupulous builder who put in an undersized tank, then ran the output into an arbitrarily-sized pit filled with some gravel - no leach lines at all. After selling houses in the neighborhood, the contracting company reorganized, or otherwise became 'unavailable' by the few years afterward when the homeowner discovered he didn't even really have a septic system, but a fake.

        There will always be people trying to sleaze others. Sometimes they can be caught through the Law, but (IMHO) as often as not those sleazy people know how to sleaze the Law, too. Hence new regulations.

        Sometimes you can substitute incompetent or thoughtless for sleazy. From what I've read of the X-Prize contestents, non of them are any of the above. But remember that they ARE playing with high explosives.

        Finding the comfortable middleground for regulations is difficult, perhaps impossible, considering the way the sleazes try to game the system. Again, I realize that the sleazes are not currently a factor in the X-Prize, but just wait until the concept is proven, and space tourism becomes a growth industry. Then you'll seem them crawling out of the woodwork.
    • Part of it is that mars isnt self-sufficient. No food, hell, no air, and even h2o is proboby gonna be a long way away.
    • it makes no sense (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hak1du (761835)
      I really dont see what the big fuss from some politicians about going to Mars.

      No big fuss, other than that it is hugely expensive. Is Bush going to raise taxes for it in order to pay for it? Are scientists willing to sacrifice the potential scientific results from 200 robotic probes in order to pay for a couple of people getting to Mars? It just makes no sense: not economic, not scientific.

      500 years ago sailors went to the New World (risking their lives) with really no garunteed return on investments
  • by clichekiller (665320) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:23AM (#9173085)
    no child can live in the cradle forever. At some point we're going to have to spread to the moon and other planets, if for no simpler reason then it's going to begin to get awefully crowded down here.

    Other reasons to go:
    • Spreading humanity to other planets so as not to have all our 'eggs' in one basket
    • The potential discoveries are out there, new materials, etc.
    • It's just plain Cool!
    • You forgot a reason:
      • Distract millions from record debt and a rapidly deteriorating situtation in the Middle East during an election year
      • would this be modded up as insightful.
    • by gatkinso (15975) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:26AM (#9173127)
      Space travel will not allievate overcrowding on earth.

      Remember the story about the Chinese all getting in line and marching past a given point and how the line will never end?

      There are compelling reasons to explore space - but population control is not one of them.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2004 @10:24AM (#9173675)
        Space travel will not allievate overcrowding on earth.

        I don't think anyone believes that we'll be ferrying billions of people off the planet anytime soon, but that's not the only way to control population. Citizens of first world countries have much lower birthrates, including some, like Italy, which essentially have negative birthrates. When human beings live in a rich environment with the resources to pursue their own happiness, most people delay having children or don't have them at all.

        So providing a first world standard of living for third world countries isn't just a moral imperative but the most practical way of controlling population growth.

        The problem is that bringing the entire planet up to first world standards of living requires more energy and natural resources than we have available on Earth.

        Orbital or lunar solar power is one way we could provide the energy this sort of economy would need. Farther out, robotic mining of asteroids would be another way of bringing needed resources home. But we're going to have to look beyond our planet if we want to meet the challenge of bringing prosperity to everyone, and not just an elite group of nations. Population reduction is just an added benefit.

  • by Woogiemonger (628172) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:23AM (#9173087)

    "If we can find any living relatives of Columbus, and Caboto, and Verrazzano - wouldn't that be remarkable if we could send them on the first manned rocket to Mars."

    Descendants of Columbus?! Oh sure, so we're going to send out another white man to treat the native Martians as slaves. Great idea!

  • Why Ray Bradbury? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jstave (734089)
    Don't get me wrong, I love the guys writing, but what, exactly, qualifies a fiction writer to be giving advice to the gummit on this subject?
    • by AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:30AM (#9173168)
      He's a popular author. He knows how to tell a story, a story that can include some fairly complex ideas, to the general population. If a scientist stood up there and tried the same thing, half the audience would be asleep within five minutes while most of the rest wouldn't understand how anything he said had any real importance.

      You need someone who can put some fire behind the ideas. non-scientists just can't see any reason to do things just for the science, you need someone who can appeal to their sense of adventure, excitement and mystery.
    • Are you saying that writing fiction and working for the government are somehow different?
    • by King_TJ (85913) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:33AM (#9173197) Journal
      Ah... you know how it is. We're always taking our purchasing advice from professional athletes and Hollywood celebs too....

      But seriously, plenty of science-fiction writers turned out to do a pretty decent job of predicting things that eventually became real science. If nothing else, you're dealing with people who made a career out of thinking things through and imagining what things could be like, based on the present. That may not qualify them to give advice to the govt. - but they probably have more interesting input to offer than many people.
    • by CXI (46706)
      If you read the story, they are asking him how to "sell" the idea to the public so they will be willing to pay for it.
    • by sckeener (137243) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:36AM (#9173231)
      there are many armchair scifi nuts...he is just one that captures the imagination of the many and can explain it to the masses.
  • If he thinks those three Italians were, regardless of what we're taught in Kindergarten, at all significant in the history of global exploration, he needs to do a lot more reading.

    When you were the first to perform a voyage of discovery like that, thats significant. Of course they weren't... the Chinese, Vikings and others of course were doing it long before.

    When you set out as a representative of your country to explore, well thats significant I guess to your country. But we all know the history around C
    • I think Mr. Bradbury is simplifying the topic. Most people hear "Columbus" and think either "discovered America" or "that other city in Ohio."
    • with charts of the Carribean and Gulf of Mexico drawn by people who had already been there.

      Sounds like a pretty apt comparison to me, then. Mars is probably the second or third best-charted body in the Solar System. The top two, of course, being Earth and the moon. And as a double-bonus, there's probably not even any natives for him to enslave!

    • When you were the first to perform a voyage of discovery like that, thats significant. Of course they weren't... the Chinese, Vikings and others of course were doing it long before.

      No, such voyages are significant when something comes from them. The Viking settlement in Vinland lasted, what, less than a generation, and the most that came out of it was a saga; and the Chinese voyage was so earth-shattering that no one'd even heard of it until this last decade.

      Nope, the pre-Columbian voyages are like the
      • by tgd (2822) on Monday May 17, 2004 @10:16AM (#9173596)
        Well if one buys the evidence that the Chinese did in fact get to the Americas before the Europeans, and they did, in fact, produce the original charts that were the basis for the charts used by the Portuguese (sp?) to nagivate to North America, and the records of what resources were there to actually motivate those trips, then that makes the Chinese exploration massively important.

        Either the Chinese didn't get here, and you're absolutely right, or they did and they were of primary importance to the exploration that followed. The fact that its existance, if it happened, wasn't understood until recently and the fact that, if true, the Europeans were going to American knowing it was there and what they would fine wasn't fully understood until recently is irrelavent to its significance. Lots of critically important discovery over the centuries has inspired later discovery, and the sheer importance of the original was not appreciated until much later.
  • Bradbury's Dreams (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pilotofficerprune (682802) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:36AM (#9173233)
    It's an odd document. You can imagine the commission members looking at each other and asking: "what's Ray on?" He sells the Outreach as a romantic, almost religious experience. But I have trouble imagining how romance in and of itself is enough to power man to Mars.

    The parallels with American colonization do not stand up. Once America had been discovered and the seas charted, it was a matter of affordable logistics and courage, not technology, to get people to the US. But the logistics of a Mars mission require the exchequer of a major nation state and the technology is far from perfected. Courage is not enough. And unlike America the lure, the promise of a commercial harvest is so much slimmer. This is not 1482 any more. Those rules no longer apply.

    My heart agrees with Bradbury. But my head... it says no.
    • by Paulrothrock (685079) on Monday May 17, 2004 @10:08AM (#9173527) Homepage Journal
      And unlike America the lure, the promise of a commercial harvest is so much slimmer.
      Have you any idea what kind of resourcesHave you any idea what kind of resources are in space? Everything you could ever want (Iron, nickel, cobalt, platinum-group metals, He-3) in effectively infinite supply. And because there's no tectonic motions or air resistance (and because we live at the bottom of a gravity well) it costs almost nothing to harvest, and is in extremely pure forms. The value of one asteroid is over $10 TRILLION. How's that return for a $10 billion investment?

      The rarest thing in the universe isn't petroleum or gold or diamonds or iridium, it is life.

      Once America had been discovered and the seas charted, it was a matter of affordable logistics and courage, not technology, to get people to the US.
      It isn't a matter of technology. We have the technology *right now* to go to Mars, and colonize it at the same rate as America was colonized in the 1500s. Heck, we could have done it with Apollo-era technology. The chemical reactions for processing Martian and lunar materials have been used for almost a hundred years and are very robust. All it takes is someone willing to take the risk. I'm willing, but I don't have the money. The only reason it takes a major nation-state to foot the bill isn't because the technology is all that expensive, but because the fuel costs are so high. Solve the problem of lifting 100 tons to earth orbit for the cost of electricity, and it's relatively economical. Cost-plus accounting is mostly to blame for the myth that space flight is monetarily expensive.

      Why limit ourselves to this planet when we could easily (and cheaply, compared to the cost of blowing each other up) spread throughout the solar system and universe? Once you get to orbit, the cost of going to the moon or mars or anywhere else in terms of energy is very, very cheap. Focus our energies on getting to orbit cheaply and then humanity will take over.

      For more information check out Mining the Sky [amazon.com] and The Case for Mars [amazon.com]. And for more information about the best way to get to Mars, check out Mars Direct [nw.net].

    • by STrinity (723872)
      Once America had been discovered and the seas charted, it was a matter of affordable logistics and courage, not technology, to get people to the US.

      1787-1492=295.

      So are you saying that space travel won't improve at all in the next three centuries, or do you just not know the difference between the continent of America and the United States thereof.
  • Oh no! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Galvatron (115029) on Monday May 17, 2004 @09:47AM (#9173335)
    But if we go to Mars, the first two expeditions will be slaughtered by the Martians, and the third will arrive to find that the Martians have been wiped out by chicken pox carried by the first two waves of astronauts.

    Seriously, I enjoy Bradbury's books as much as the next guy, but he's not exactly a scientist. His testimony is more of the same philosophy expressed in The Martian Chronicles, that Mars is no different from the New World. Unfortunately, it IS very different, because whereas the Americas are perfectly habitable, Mars is quite hostile, to say nothing of the unbelievable expense of getting even a single person out of Earth's gravity well. His only real argument is "if we want to do it, we can." He's right of course, but he fails to give a convincing explanation for why we should want to. For us here on Slashdot, he's preaching to the choir, but he's going to have to do a lot better than that if he wants to convince the population at large.

    • Re:Oh no! (Score:3, Funny)

      by cristofer8 (550610)
      I'd argue that the Americas were not quite "perfectly habitable," especially since the first couple colonization attempts disappeared without a trace, and it took decades for the rest to gain a decent foothold.
      • Re:Oh no! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Galvatron (115029)
        I'd argue back that there were already people living there! Saying that the first waves of settlers were unprepared for the challenges of colonization is not the same as saying the land was uninhabitable.
  • Martian Chronicles (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pope Raymond Lama (57277) <gwidionNO@SPAMmpc.com.br> on Monday May 17, 2004 @10:06AM (#9173516) Homepage
    There are were Ray Bradbury opinion Mars are - we are gonna kill all the Martians, and moreover, all creatures of Myth that exist in our imagination who have moved there.

    Someone must have brainwashed him into saying it is a good idea to go there. :-)

    Seriously - the early chronicles about Mars from Ray Bradbury made me cry several times while reading them.
  • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Monday May 17, 2004 @10:20AM (#9173636)
    "Is it worth it? Should we just pull back, forget the whole thing as a bad idea and take care of our own problems at home?"

    "No. We have to stay here and there's a simple reason why. Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics and you'll get ten different answers, but there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us. It'll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu and Einstein and Morobuto and Buddy Holly and Aristophenes .. and all of this .. all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars."
  • Ray Bradbury rocks (Score:4, Informative)

    by Laxitive (10360) on Monday May 17, 2004 @11:11AM (#9174090) Journal
    I love Bradbury. He's one of my favourite scifi (and other stuff) authors. It's not that he's a good science fiction author - he's a good author period (read some of his non-scifi stories - The Wonderful Ice-Cream Suit, A Medicine for Melancholy).

    The thing about Bradbury is that what he focuses on is not the science, but more the social aspect of humanity. He writes about people, not spaceships.

    For example, some of the earlier short stories use SciFi as backdrop against which to express more immediate social concerns. There are stories in which a population of black people build their own rocket, and quietly depart for Mars, where they can live in peace.

    In the context of the civil rights movement and equality rights, this is a powerful and strong statement. It strongly reflects the simple sentiment that these people just want to be left alone to live their lives in peace.

    Bradbury is a wonderful and imaginative author. He was a large influence on my views and perspectives. What he beleives and says deserves respect - because he is a respectable man.

    -Laxitive
  • by Spatula Sam (770957) * on Monday May 17, 2004 @11:47AM (#9174403)
    Bradbury spoke at our college graduation in 2001. Most of his address was centered on the need for manned space, starting with a colony on mars. (not an actual quote:) "Now go forth, graduates, and colonize mars," pretty much sums it up. Much of the content in the article seems familiar from there, especially the part about space needing an audience. He also stressed the need for science fiction writers to act as visionaries guiding society towards space.

    Many of us graduates were a little dissappointed in the speach, accurately pointing out that there were likely not any future astronauts or SF writers in the audience that day. While I thought it was kind of neat to get to hear a literary icon speak at a graduation, I am skeptical of the role that these writers should play in influencing public policy on these issues. People like Bradbury are driven by their emotions and immaginations, noble characteristics, but I think that a solid cost/benefit analysis is the only reasonable way to decide what to do with the billions of taxpayer dollars at stake here.

    Still, he seems like a nice guy. It would be nice to give him his mars mission while he's still arround.

  • Whatever happened... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by brainstyle (752879) on Monday May 17, 2004 @11:59AM (#9174499)

    ...to the idea of colonizing space itself? O'Neill habitats and that whole thing. It seems to me to be a much better idea than colonizing other planets: why would you want to go back down into the gravity well once you've gotten out of there? And why would you want to live somewhere where you're stuck with whatever gravity the planet gives you?

    Okay, so there's the small matter of building the things, but still. I want my grandkids to grow up with lakes and forests overhead.

    At least someone at NASA [nasa.gov] seems to think it's still a good idea.

  • by CrystalFalcon (233559) on Monday May 17, 2004 @12:19PM (#9174731) Homepage
    ...ARGH! I can't stop it coming!

    including why three Italians should be the first on Mars
    • They need to set up the pizza parlor for when others land, so we'll have some decent place to eat.

    • It's pretty much the only way to safeguard the future of the Italian language.

    • These particular three individuals are just fleeing from the Italian Mob in a new creative way.

    • Italian culture involves measuring large distances as the required number of spaghetti straws. They are also bringing a very large kettle for the feast afterwards.

    • They were banished from Italy for speaking calmly and not even gesticulating in the slightest while asking for some everyday item, like a subway ticket.

    • They are ordinary Italian drivers who just need a little extra room for parking maneouvers.
  • by solarlux (610904) <noplasma AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:27PM (#9175367)
    Select quotes from Is Space Exploration Worth the Cost?" [spacedaily.com]

    "For instance, this year, total pet-related sales in the United States are projected to be $31 billion - the double, almost to the cent, of the $15.47 billion NASA budget. An estimated $5 billion worth of holiday season gifts were offered - not to the poor - but to the roving family pets - six times more than NASA spent on its own roving Martian explorers, Spirit and Opportunity, who cost the American taxpayer $820 million both."

    "Instead of betting on the future, Americans spend $586.5 billion a year on gambling. It is perhaps immoral to criticize one's personal choice, so instead of kicking the habit and feeding the poor with this money, one should stop instead the enormous waste in space who stands at a scandalous amount of 40 times less than gaming tokens."

    "Speaking about personal choice, $31 billion go annually in the US on tobacco products - twice the NASA budget -, and $58 billion is spent on alcohol consumption -almost four times the NASA budget. Forget space spin-offs - here are genuine tangible benefits: $250 billion are spent annually in the US on the medical treatment of tobacco- and alcohol-related diseases - only sixteen times more than on space exploration."

    These figures represent how, as a society, how lowly we value space exploration. If we spent 50% as much on space exploration as we spent on Hollywood entertainment, Orbitz would selling weekend passes to the most popular lunar resorts.

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