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Space

A Vigorous Discussion of Our Future In Space 111

Posted by timothy
from the how-amazing-was-it dept.
Nethead writes "At TAM 2011, presented by The James Randi Foundation (JREF), a panel with Pamela Gay, Lawrence Krauss, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and moderated by Phil Plait, discussed our future in space in an environment where they could freely express their opinions. This is an hour-long video (so lay off first-posts until you've watched it) with humor, depth and frank realism. Where do we spend our dwindling monetary science funding, manned or robotic exploration?"
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A Vigorous Discussion of Our Future In Space

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 20, 2011 @12:10PM (#37776426)

    hour has already passed.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @12:12PM (#37776478)

    Where's the link to the transcript?

    This is SlashDot, not CNN.com. We don't have an hour of free time to blow - we scan, pick out the important bits and GTF on with our day.

    • by CatsupBoy (825578)

      We don't have an hour of free time to blow...

      Maybe if you spent less time vying for first post you would...

      • > Maybe if you spent less time vying for first post you would

        Maybe a good Ask Slashdot question would be:

        What are the best practices for achieving first post?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Where's the link to the transcript?

      This is SlashDot, not CNN.com. We don't have an hour of free time to blow - we scan, pick out the important bits and GTF on with our day.

      So Slashdot is a soundbite culture, just like the plebs we're so keen to whine about in the comments. If it isn't already distilled into talking points, it's not profitable enough for us to deal with. Sounds great! My free time is far more valuable than actually understanding something! Go lowest common denominator!

      • by Jeng (926980)

        What might take an hour in a video might take 15 minutes to read.

        Also, many people post from work, like I am doing now, most workplaces aren't keen on an employee watching a video for an hour at work, but it's easier to get away with reading something at work than watching a video.

      • Get off your high horse and actually read the post you're replying to. There are no soundbites in transcripts.

        Maybe the parent, like many people, can read faster than others speak.

        Have you never found yourself being subjected to a powerpoint where the presenter is just reading the slides word for word? Annoying, wasn't it? Why do you think that was?

        With me, at least, it's because I'm sat there waiting for the speaker to catch up and all the while thinking my time is being wasted. Now, you might say that pr

    • I am in the same boat, I don't have an hour to spare. That's why I'll be listening to this in the background while at my desk tomorrow. Thank you Nethead.
  • Yeah, I'm really just going to watch an hour long video, think about it, and then comment in an insightful manner about the topic. :P

    Please, this is slashdot, I'll just wait for someone else to tell me the good parts or at least ramble on about something good related to the topic who also didn't watch the video.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I know you're joking, but why wouldn't you want to watch this? I would pay money (or at least put up with ads) to see these people talk for an hour.

  • Where do we spend our dwindling monetary science funding, manned or robotic exploration?

    And should we spend it in the first place?

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Where do we spend our dwindling monetary science funding, manned or robotic exploration?

      And should we spend it in the first place?

      To ensure space is safe for democracy. :P

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Yes, exploration noble goal which is worth far more than the small amount of money spent. Throughout human history it has improved our situation immensely if only through the technologies created to do so.

      If you want Randian fantasy land, go check out the Ron Paul nutter article.

    • Given the current state of the world, I estimate 50 years in space tops before humanity, say, sends mercury or the moon hurtling headlong into the sun.

      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        That would be quite impressive. The amount of energy needed to move either of these bodies is currently out of our abilities, but in 50 years, who knows.

    • Re:Better question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KahabutDieDrake (1515139) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @04:19PM (#37782266)
      I'm about to blow 10 mod points, all so I can inform you exactly why your question is utterly unacceptable. That is to say... what in the hell is wrong with you? Should we spend money on cutting edge science and technology? YES. Unequivocally. I wonder, do you have any idea what the space program did for the state of the art in a dozen fields? Are you even slightly aware that the entire computer culture you enjoy today started in the Apollo program? Texas instruments created the first IC for the Apollo program.

      Even more fundamental than that, we live on a planet. 1 planet. Which we know goes through various cycles which are not necessarily conducive to the continued existence of complicated life forms. At the most fundamental level, "space" exploration is our only long term chance at survival. If you can't understand that, I would ask that you hold your tongue and let the adults with worthy opinions dominate the discussion. I'm not saying we need to get humans off of earth on colonies, although I do support that idea, I'm saying that the technology we gain from trying to do things that are "impossible" (moon landing), is fundamental to our continued survival on this biosphere, which we seem to be destroying or altering at alarming rates. Oh, you don't believe in anthropomorphic environmental change? Then you are a fucking moron. In the last 100 years, 60% of the trees on earth have been cut down. If that ALONE isn't a major change in your mind, you can't possibly be smart enough to participate in this discussion.

      Not only is space our most likely savior in terms of resources, survival and technological enhancement, it's also one of two "frontiers" that are still left. All other things being forgotten, exploring the frontiers is good enough reason. We as a species knew that 100 years ago. Why did we forget it?
      • Unfortunately, the less people know, the more they think they know.

        The people who you are calling morons are incapable of realizing that they are in fact morons. Yet they have the same vote as you.

        So, right you are, about anthropomorphic environmental change and the need to get off the planet in the long term. Good luck convincing people.

        The best way to get "humanity" off this planet is arguable, though. I'd argue that getting humans as we are now out into space isn't worth it.

        However, engineered "people

        • by tragedy (27079)

          Engineered "people" that are at the least space-adapted (can take much more hard radiation, don't need gravity, etc.) should be our goal.

          Don't forget to replace their feet with a second set of hands, since the extra set of hands will be useful and you don't need feet in freefall. _Falling Free_ [wikipedia.org] was a pretty good book. Of course, the genetically adapted for freefall humans in that book run into an obsolescence problem when artificial gravity is invented.

  • Robots (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @12:13PM (#37776530) Homepage Journal

    Robots have done great with Mars. The cost to any space program of an astronaut being supported all the way out and back is staggering - let alone if something should happen to him/her.

    Besides, we can send dozens of robots for the cost of development and embarking on a single manned mission.

    • I didn't watch the video but I’ll give my opinion anyway since this is /. after all. Anyway, space exploration, either robot or manned, is critical to the long term safety of mankind. So, significant amounts of money and time should be invested into research and development. That said though, I feed we need to slow down the number of launches. Launches simply cost too much money, and I'm not convinced that they return enough to warrant their expense. Is now really the time to be considering sending a
    • by geekoid (135745)

      I hate that false dichotomy. The argument is n[pt Manned or robotos for space; it's anned AND robotics.
      The only real question is: WHat's the mission and whats the goal?

      If you are going tlo drill through a sheet of ice to look for life on a moon thats awash with extreme raistion and it will take months? then Robotic. Simple.
      Want to get an overview and just some surface sampling to run a few minor experiments on? robotic.
      Want a lot of work done quickly? Manned/. Want to prove we can put a person their and bri

    • by tragedy (27079)

      The problem then becomes developing robots that are anywhere near as capable as a human being. A human on Mars would take a lot more support than, for example, Spirit and Opportunity, but would be able to cover all the ground they've covered in a small fraction of the time they've taken.

  • Podcasts (Score:4, Informative)

    by Myopic (18616) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @12:30PM (#37777024)

    I know these names from some of my favorite podcasts. I'm going to toss them out here for people who aren't familiar with them, and please respond with similar podcasts if you love some.

    The Skeptics Guide To The Universe (sponsored by JREF)
    AstronomyCast (Pamela Gay)
    NOVA scienceNOW or NOVA|PBS (often features Tyson)
    Planetary Radio (Bill Nye The Planetary Guy)
    Skeptoid (related topics by Brian Dunning)
    Radiolab (related topics, best of the best of the best)

    Excuse the half-off-topic post, please.

    • some of my favorite podcasts as well.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      BigPictureScience - SETI
      Skepticality is a good one.
      Quackcast is excellent and snarky.

      Penn Juliet had a radio show/podcast. I recommend finding those. It only ran for a year.

      Skeptoid is weak sauce.

      • by Myopic (18616)

        You don't like Skeptoid? I like that it is single-topic and about 10-to-15 minutes long. I also like that Dunning usually has his facts straight before he records, which sets him apart from, say, Stuff You Should Know.

  • 1. There's many places a person can't go, manned missions are limited to LEO, Moon and possibly Mars. I do assume we want to explore the rest of the solar system?

    2. Even if we send manned missions, we will probably want lots of robotics to make it work well. So it's not robotics or humans, it's more should we have humans at all.

    3. What about missions vs telescopes? Pardon me for saying so, but right now the solar system isn't where the most exciting news are happening. Apart from absurdly outliving all life

    • You'd also have to make the robots piss urine and shit, well, shit - and process that from organic materials grown on-site. That would be one interesting project, designing that.

    • Apart from absurdly outliving all lifetime expectations, I haven't heard of any revolutionary news from the rovers.

      Plenty of good things came out of the rover missions that can be used for the future.

      1) Prooved that the air-breaking into the Martian atmosphere (considered risky due to the low atmosphere there) works- and can be used for future missions.

      2) Increased evidence for a liquid presence beneath the surface. (yes, we suspected- but these things are incremental- now we're almost certain).

      3) Great concept proven that we can send these rovers over space and it works. Again, to be built upon in future missions.

      4)

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        The rover missions have been an overwhelming success.

        Most of them were, but there was that one that briefly saw something that looked like a giant robot and then abruptly cut its transmission...

      • by lgw (121541)

        Sure, robots then man makes good sense. Robots instead of man is bullshit - it's quite unlikely these missions will inspire legions of smart young robots to enter science or engineering.

        • Well NASA's goals for the rovers were to pave the way for manned voyages.

          We're not ready to send a man to mars yet- so until then robots all the way.

          Just like the original space program developed all sorts of new technologies- I have absolutely no doubt that sending a man to Mars will do the same thing.

          From insulation, to medicine, to power supplies, to nutrition- there are no end of fields that could benefit from sending a man to mars because we will have to solve various problems.

          There will be pay-offs we

          • by Coren22 (1625475)

            The best plan I have heard so far is this:

            Build a moon base with manufacturing facilities
            Build mining facilities in the asteroid belt
            Build orbital assembly
            Build a ship large enough to make the Mars journey

            The time it took Columbus to reach the Americas is approximately the same amount of time it would take to fly to Mars, if we send missions ahead, we could have all the needed supplies moved into Mars orbit well before anyone gets there. This is a solvable problem, and is entirely possible. Everyone who t

  • Watch the video! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frenzied Apathy (2473340) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @01:38PM (#37778832)
    I'm only 20 minutes into watching the video and I find it quite a fascinating discussion.

    If you have ANY interest in government involvement in space exploration, I urge you to take the time to watch this video.

    Bye - I'm goin' back to watch the video...
  • The only way humans will go to Mars will be if a new Cold War starts. I'm happy that Neil deGrasse Tyson eloquently raised this point with the audience (~minute 28). To get more funding for science, we really need to play up the geo-political advantages. Appealing to the love of knowledge might convince the Slashdot crowd, but it won't pry open the coffers of any nation.
    • but spending a trillion dollars to win a pissing contest while we're cutting Social Security, selling off parks, and laying off tens of thousands of government employees seems, I don't know, kind of stupid.
      • Agreed. There is NOTHING and I mean nothing out there that needs a manned mission right now. Maybe in a few thousand years from now when we have fusion generators and have really advanced in technology where is it realistic to go to Mars and other planets it would make sense. Let the Chinese race back to the moon and to mars. Long duration living on moons will greatly shorten anyone who goes there lifespan and Mars is just suicide at this point. There are just so many ways for someone to die going to M
        • by geekoid (135745)

          Mars could use a manned mission. Preferably one with a lab and a big ass drill to pull up many layers of soil.

          We can, right now, build a settlement on Mars. We have the technology. Just not the will; which is a shame becasue the same tech to get people to mars would save a boat load of lives here.

          "here are just so many ways for someone to die going to [inser variable]it is ridiculous and it would be incredibly expensive given our technology level."
          Lis of variable:

          The next valley
          the next island
          across the oce

          • We don't have the technology. It is just science fiction and in your head. Anyone that tries it today with today's technology is dead and dead. Between the radiation that they would be exposed to (from the sun alone) and micrometeorites, anyone going is dead. And there is just no good reason to go either. There is nothing on Mars (or the Moon) that we need. Maybe in a few thousand years when we have the technology to travel to planets like mars safely and in numbers, then it would make sense. But, no
            • by Coren22 (1625475)

              What technology do you think we lack? If we build manufacturing in orbit, mining on the moon and asteroids, then build the ship in orbit, we could most definitely make it to Mars, and survive the harsh environment just fine.

              • We have no technology to resist micrometeorites. These things fly around at 60,000+kph and punch through anything we have. It is inevitable that a certain percentage of the crew will be killed by these (depending on how quickly we could actually get to Mars and back). We have no technology for remotely mining the moon nor do we know if there is or where the ore might be that we would be require for manufacturing the ship. Anyone that physically mines the moon will eventually die due to radiation exposur
                • by Coren22 (1625475)

                  Surround the crew quarters with the water supply in a frozen state. Repair the damage quickly when it is noticed. Who cares about remote mining the moon, put people in a colony there with an escape ship just like the ISS. Radiation exposure is a non issue on the moon if you just build the living quarters underground. Moon gravity isn't the issue no gravity is, they just need to be more active, which is remarkably easier on the moon than freefall. You haven't given anything we can't solve. The ship can

                  • What do you mean I haven't mentioned something that can't be solved? Micrometeorites will go right through frozen water, the crew, and out the other side like it was a piece of paper (now you have one or more dead crew). Rinse and repeat. Also, low gravity is a very big problem over a long time. We can't tolerate that environment for very long. Also, digging into the moon and building a moon base will be very difficult to achieve and very expensive. Can many problems be solved if you shove enough mone
      • by Jazari (2006634)

        but spending a trillion dollars to win a pissing contest while we're cutting Social Security, selling off parks, and laying off tens of thousands of government employees seems, I don't know, kind of stupid.

        A trillion? The cost is estimated in the low tens of billions ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manned_mission_to_Mars#ESA.2FRussia_plan_.282002.29 [wikipedia.org] , and http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/ask/humans-on-mars/Cost_of_Manned_Mars_Mission.txt [nasa.gov] ). By comparison, the entire Apollo program cost only $150 billion in 2010 dollars, the Iraq war cost $1 trillion, and the War on Drugs costs $10 billion every year.

        Given that the Apollo program galvanized world opinion in favor of the USA and the values it represents, mo

        • by geekoid (135745)

          It is solvent.
          And I would love to see it LOWERED to it's original age of 65 as opposed to 67.

        • It won't cost in the low tens of billions to go to Mars. With today's technology, if you wanted to go (and not kill everyone in the process) you literally have to put an armored space station up there and send it to mars. You'd need meters of lead between them and the sun for example just to keep them from dying from radiation exposure to the sun. That is going to cost 100's of billions to launch into space. You'd need a massive space ship with rotating sections to provide micro-gravity for the long tim
          • by jwilso91 (1920940)

            It won't cost in the low tens of billions to go to Mars. With today's technology, if you wanted to go (and not kill everyone in the process) you literally have to put an armored space station up there and send it to mars. You'd need meters of lead between them and the sun for example just to keep them from dying from radiation exposure to the sun. That is going to cost 100's of billions to launch into space. You'd need a massive space ship with rotating sections to provide micro-gravity for the long time it would take to get there (months). You'd need the ship highly armored with many self-sealing sections for when it is punctured by micrometeorites (and those still might kill the crew)...

            The sky is falling, eh?

            The ISS has been floating in a far more hostile micrometeorite environment than either interplanetary travel or Mars orbit represents. For years. (And only occasionally has to dodge a flying bolt.) Think of all the debris we've added to the near-Earth region - all that is missing, at least for now, from the rest of the solar system.

            As for radiation, there is no doubt that cosmic rays, and even more so, solar activity, represent a risk. However, the MARIE instrument on the Mars Odyssey

            • You really don't know very much about the difference between near orbit and travelling in the solar system do you? ISS is in near earth orbit for example. It is protected by the earth's magnetic field so the Sun's solar radiation doesn't kill the inhabitants. In fact, if you go to the Moon, you are still in the field and so you don't need as much protection. The earth's magnetic shield is just that large. However, if you leave the earth's electromagnetic field (like go to Mars), you will be saturated w
        • by Coren22 (1625475)

          The only reason Social Security has issues is because the politicians won't keep their hands out of the pot. That huge pot of money is just too tempting for them to ignore.

      • I wonder if you would feel the same way if, in 1956 they had felt as you do. You would not have computers. You would not have internet. You would not have refrigeration technology that is clean, self contained and safe. You would not have "freeze dried" foods, you would not have satelites, or geo-imaging. You wouldn't have super sonic aircraft. Among the many other things you would not have today, if it were not for the cold war and the space program.

        I understand your point, it's time to get the bu
        • It is mutually exclusive. Going to mars is a trillion dollar + nightmare and HUGE waste of money. If china wants to go to the moon and mars, let them. There is nothing out there that we need. We can invent plenty of technology without going and who cares if china succeeds (I promise you they won't - even living on the moon for an extended period of time is a death sentence due to radiation exposure and low gravity). We don't need to waste our money and stupid adventures like this any more. We have mor
          • by jwilso91 (1920940)

            It is mutually exclusive. Going to mars is a trillion dollar + nightmare and HUGE waste of money. If china wants to go to the moon and mars, let them. There is nothing out there that we need...

            I would submit that humanity is in serious need of new frontiers.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126)

    Too long; didn't watch. Can someone with more free time please summarise, since TFS didn't bother to?

    • by MachDelta (704883)

      C'mon. It's Bill Nye the muddafuggin Science Guy, Neil deFrikkinGrasse Tyson, the Slacker Astronomy chick, and the physicist who wrote "The Physics of Star Trek". Bill is awesome (as always), Tyson and Krauss spend half their time lobbing verbal jabs at each other, and Dr. Gay throws in a couple insightful points.

      The fuck else do you need here to buy in? A flashing neon sign saying "Naked Ladies" ?
      Trust me, It's an hour well spent. :)

    • by geekoid (135745)

      True awesome can't be summarized.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There is a fabulous oration by Neil deGrasse Tyson during the Q&A, in response to a statement that "we can't afford" space exploration. Alone this makes the 53 minutes a worthwhile investment in time.

    • I love his passion.

      I was in the audience at this event and this was probably the most popular session of the weekend. There were some restless murmurs in the crowd when Tyson didn't speak for several minutes at the start. He just stared straight ahead, but he soon made up for it.

      I likened it to a scene from one of those kung fu movies where the master drinks quietly while a fight breaks out around him, before he suddenly jumps in and starts kicking ass.

    • by Mycroft_VIII (572950) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @02:42PM (#37780460) Journal
      No mod points and the ac above me is sitting at 0.
          "There is a fabulous oration by Neil deGrasse Tyson during the Q&A, in response to a statement that "we can't afford" space exploration. Alone this makes the 53 minutes a worthwhile investment in time."

      and the ac is mostly right except that it was in response to no money for manned space exploration, though Tyson's response applies to the whole of science and space exploration.

      Mycroft
    • by Sarius64 (880298)
      We have no low gravity develop or test facilities for research. Robots take too damn long to develop a single research line. Ten people on a Moon/Mars base would develop more in one year than 100 years of robots researching. Business cases that take 5 to 10 years for a single research line. We have no industry developed in space to take advantage of there might be in a space use case.
  • I think all this arguing over cost helps to illustrate my frustrations with the manned space programs thus far. While I support manned exploration if for only that fact that it is hugely inspiring to a people (and don't discount the intangible effects of morale) their prohibitive cost and single mindedness of national pride keeps us from being able to successfully pursue it. All of the detractors in here keep going on and on about how expensive it is to send people into space and all of the supporters keep
    • by Coren22 (1625475)

      Lets cooperate on it. Have China build the orbital manufacturing, the US can build the moon and asteroid mining complexes, the ESA can coordinate the orbital construction. How hard would it be to have those two countries and ESA do all that? It is well within their ability to do it. If we have all of them cooperate on building a launch loop (doable with current tech, unlike space elevator which requires materials we can't even make), it would make it near enough to free to put stuff into orbit. While t

  • link to video (Score:3, Informative)

    by mu22le (766735) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @05:56PM (#37784052) Homepage Journal

    For direct download:
    http://av.vimeo.com/48323/967/69379567.mp4?token=1319148574_68f532a970ac33e3a5fb0a2b7cb02a82 [vimeo.com]

    If it does not work you can use this: http://savevideo.me/ [savevideo.me]

  • Excellent video! This is exactly news for nerds and stuff that matters.

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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