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Canada Space Television Science

Human Survival Depends On Space Exploration, Says Hawking 438

Posted by timothy
from the what's-he-hawking? dept.
thomst writes "The Winnipeg Free Press posts a story by Cassandra Szklarski of the Canadian Press about an email interview with Stephen Hawking in which the astrophysicist and geek hero opines, 'Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain lurking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space.' The story also covers the upcoming Canadian debut of Hawking's new TV series 'Brave New World With Stephen Hawking,' and his excitement about ongoing work at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ont. investigating quantum theory and gravity."
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Human Survival Depends On Space Exploration, Says Hawking

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  • Space ninjas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suso (153703) * on Saturday November 19, 2011 @06:30PM (#38111286) Homepage Journal

    So he wants us to explore space, but not talk to aliens [slashdot.org].

    Looks like he dyed his hair.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @06:36PM (#38111326) Homepage

      Well, if he would just get off of his butt and work a bit harder, maybe he can figure out this gravity nonsense and come up with a way to work around it.

      Then we can talk about getting off this rock.

      Ball's in your court, Stevie.

      • Re:Space ninjas (Score:4, Insightful)

        by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @08:48PM (#38112290) Journal

        Without gravity, we'd die. That's only part of what kills me about the whole manned space settlement concept. I love reading sci-fi where we live on lot's of planets and in space stations, but the fact is we're made of meat grown in a biological soup unique to Earth.

        So, here's what it take to populate the galaxy. First, you need patience. If you have a problem taking a few hundred years getting from place to place, you'll never make it. Second, you need to be made for deep space. Rather than meat, you need a body made of high-tech materials. Instead of a worrying about radiation damage, you should feel comfortable living near a radiation source that can power you trip from star to star. You should work well at liquid nitrogen temperatures to well above boiling. You should be able to shut down and go into sleep mode for many years at a time, cooling as low as 3 degrees Kelvin. In other words, it's not us meat-based creatures that will populate the galaxy, but the machines we create. Probably some sexy decedent of Siri. I hope she doesn't turn out to be a bitch.

        • Re:Space ninjas (Score:5, Informative)

          by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:26PM (#38112518)

          Without gravity, we'd die.

          No.

          Without WEIGHT, we'd die. Not quite the same thing.

          A spin habitat will do nicely to provide weight (and, if looked at in the proper general-relativistic way, gravity), without the need for large masses and the other inconveniences of gravity.

          • Re:Space ninjas (Score:4, Informative)

            by Chris Mattern (191822) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:46PM (#38113040)

            A spin habitat will do nicely to provide weight

            Unless it's really freakin' big, the Coriolis forces will be a bitch, though.

            • by TheLink (130905)
              If coriolis forces are the problem it doesn't have to be big. It just has to be long - e.g. two masses connected by tethers.

              It might have to be big for the radiation shielding. Which might be mostly water - you're going to need lots of water anyway[1], so might as well use it for shielding.

              [1] People are about 70% water, so just by that the amount of water puts a limit to the max number of humans you can have (assuming the average body mass does not change).
        • Re:Space ninjas (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:07PM (#38112750)

          You seem to assume that there will, in that far future, be a difference between "us" and "our machines".

          One of the common misperceptions about nanotech and other such transhumanist, far-future, sci-fi-style guesswork is the failure to understand what radical advances in medical, materials, and computer science actually mean. Biology is nanotechnology that evolved in nature without having been designed... There is no such thing as wars with our "android children". We are the android children, our technology is an extension of ourselves -- not progeny, it is literally ourselves. We won't be "sending robots", we will be sending ourselves who have become merged with "robots". The term you're looking for is "post-biological".

          We won't need to engineer robots to escape Earth in our stead, we will be reengineering our very selves. No longer meatbags, we will be more than mere automata, and there is simply no need for this defeatist, mellowdramatic bitter-sweet send-off of our "children" from the womb of Earth. If there develops a significant population of autonomous robots, they will be with us, we'll bring them along and enjoy the experience of a shared evolution.

          Life on Earth doesn't just stop once a new species appears -- life keeps going while it forks. There are ancient species still around and just as alive as new ones.

          • Re:Space ninjas (Score:4, Insightful)

            by jez9999 (618189) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @08:25AM (#38115564) Homepage Journal

            Biology is nanotechnology that evolved in nature without having been designed... There is no such thing as wars with our "android children". We are the android children, our technology is an extension of ourselves -- not progeny, it is literally ourselves. We won't be "sending robots", we will be sending ourselves who have become merged with "robots". The term you're looking for is "post-biological".

            We won't need to engineer robots to escape Earth in our stead, we will be reengineering our very selves.

            I agree with this, but the trouble is that it tends to utterly violate most religious dogmas that we're designed by a higher being, and re-engineering ourselves is assraping that so-called "perfect design". To be able to get away with this, we'd need to be able to defeat or eradicate religion, or the religious objection would prevent it. Do you see this happening?

        • "Without gravity, we'd die."

          Citation needed. Note that none of the astronauts have died due to the lack of gravity. I can't say definitely whether any cosmonauts have died due to lack of gravity, but it seems that we would have heard about it. Sinonauts? (What DOES China call their space explorers? Sinonaut sounds like a nasal problem!) How about European astronauts?

          I SUSPECT that you are alluding to health and development problems that are expected to occur in a population without gravity. And, I SU

    • Re:Space ninjas (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JoeMerchant (803320) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @06:39PM (#38111346)

      So he wants us to explore space, but not talk to aliens [slashdot.org].

      Not mutually exclusive. In fact, we should probably colonize space before inviting aliens to the neighborhood.

      • The reason he said not to talk to aliens is because they are probably a high tech space-faring species with big ships and guns which may not be friendly to strangers.

        Ironically, this seems to be what he suggests we should become.

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @06:46PM (#38111408)

      So he wants us to explore space, but not talk to aliens

      Getting the human race into space does not necessarily mean zipping around from one solar system to another like in Star Trek. Getting the human race to colonize our solar system would be quite sufficient and quite plausible given our understanding of science and technology. We are not likely to run into aliens elsewhere in our solar system so there is no real inconsistency. :-)

      • by gmuslera (3436) *
        Thinking into going or colonizing other solar system could be unrealistic for some centuries, if ever. For what we know about the universe so far, could be something that not even alien races could afford. In the other hand, terraforming/colonizing other planets in our solar system, or managing to build self sustained space stations is more probable, and doing what is needed to get that goal could make things better here, or at least better prepared for some potential disasters.
        • by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:23PM (#38111664)

          In the other hand, terraforming/colonizing other planets in our solar system, or managing to build self sustained space stations is more probable, and doing what is needed to get that goal could make things better here, or at least better prepared for some potential disasters.

          If you can build self-sustaining habitats, you just point one in the direction of another star and fire the engines. Then who cares whether you take 500 years to get there? Life will be little different to floating in an orbit around the sun here.

          • by GuldKalle (1065310) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:46PM (#38111836)

            The difference is, though, that there is no sun to provide energy. We'd need to lug an extra (~1kW/m2 * 500 yrs) with us. And I don't think lithium batteries will cut it.

            • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:58PM (#38111934)

              Yes, but Uranium could.

              • by Jeremi (14640) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @08:53PM (#38112328) Homepage

                Yes, but Uranium could.

                Q: What's worse that a Fukushima-style radiation leak?
                A: A Fukushima-style radiation leak in a small, enclosed space that you're going to have to live in for the next 300 years.

                • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:28PM (#38112536)

                  Why be idiotic enough to put a reactor in the lifesystem when you can park it outside?

                  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:36PM (#38113400) Homepage Journal

                    There seems to be a basic human assumption that power plants must reside within the habitable portions of a craft. In reality, the powerplant(s) might be very distantly attached by spars. A mile long spar will introduce some interesting engineering challenges (depending on the materials used to make the spars) but it will most certainly remove most of the radiation hazard.

                    And, this is where someone asks, "Why in hell would you want mile long spars? How big do you want this craft to be?" Well - thinking in interstellar terms, we don't have the technology to exceed the speed of light. Interstellar colonization will be done with generation ships. They'll have to be BIG, to carry a large DNA pool, plus ship's crew, plus the support personnel that will be needed by the colonists. Unless we get FTL, ships will have to be freaking HUGE! So, putting any hazardous power plants at the far end of a mile long spar just makes sense!

                    • by Ruie (30480) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:36AM (#38113832) Homepage

                      There seems to be a basic human assumption that power plants must reside within the habitable portions of a craft. In reality, the powerplant(s) might be very distantly attached by spars. A mile long spar will introduce some interesting engineering challenges (depending on the materials used to make the spars) but it will most certainly remove most of the radiation hazard.

                      And, this is where someone asks, "Why in hell would you want mile long spars? How big do you want this craft to be?" Well - thinking in interstellar terms, we don't have the technology to exceed the speed of light. Interstellar colonization will be done with generation ships. They'll have to be BIG, to carry a large DNA pool, plus ship's crew, plus the support personnel that will be needed by the colonists. Unless we get FTL, ships will have to be freaking HUGE! So, putting any hazardous power plants at the far end of a mile long spar just makes sense!

                      Exactly. There is no better shield than 1/r^2. And, instead of a spar, you can just use a 40km cable and do formation flying. Zero weight radiation shielding!

                      The actual radiation hazard comes from space itself - it is not empty but full of high energy radioactive stuff. See for example EEv particles [wikipedia.org] - they are fortunately rare, but still have a chance of hitting a sizable interstellar craft. On Earth we are shielded from them by the atmosphere (they trigger less harmfull radiation showers). Lesser energy charged particles are deflected by Earth magnetic field.

                • by ildon (413912) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:32PM (#38112570)

                  I think if you have an 9.0 earthquake and a 8m high tsunami in outer space, then you've got bigger things to worry about.

                • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:42PM (#38112630)

                  Probably you leave the earthquake and tsunami generators behind, problem solved.

          • by cjcela (1539859) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:15PM (#38112464)
            If we had self-sustained habitats in which people would live for 500 years comfortably, you will likely have a hard time making the descendants of the first space travellers to get out of there comfortable spaceships and settle from scratch on a planet. Maybe instead of finding a planet like the one we have now it will be easier (and faster) to develop self-sustained space colonies in which people live in large ships, but are free and have the means to get resources from any planet.
      • by lpp (115405)

        Actually we're liable to find out there are some cowardly aliens hanging out on the moon.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @06:31PM (#38111290)

    We're all going to become happy fluffy hippies and live a sustainable lifestyle in little teepees where we'll end all conflict by singing happy songs and shit.

    • We're all going to become happy fluffy hippies and live a sustainable lifestyle in little teepees where we'll end all conflict by singing happy songs and shit.

      Hey, I was just thinking that [wordpress.com], except I was thinking that 99% of us would still live in cities and stuff while maybe 1% drops out, tunes in, and gets with the pre-Columbian vibe. You never know, those DIYers who can live (and reproduce) without a whole pile of techno-infrastructure, like the American Indians did, could come in handy some day.

  • Germs cause disease. I thought that the idea that our future was in space exploration was pretty common by now, and that politicians were the ones in the way.
    • Re:This Just In (Score:5, Interesting)

      by geekpowa (916089) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @06:45PM (#38111402)

      And here's me thinking it is because cost per Kg to LEO is between $5,000-$10,000 : and that is for non man-rated cargo. So the cost to get someone into LEO in their birthday suit, let alone anywhere interesting like an established moon base, currently exceeds the average total asset holdings of most first world citizens.

      But it's the politicians fault; its their fault the planet is dying and Armageddon is nearly upon us, it's their fault that we have not colonized space. Rabble rabble rabble.

      Q: Guess who killed the Apollo programme? A: US citizenry not the politicians. The programme was deeply unpopular. Tom Lehrer's sentiment represented broad public opinion at the time:

      "what is it that will make it possible to spend 20 billion dollars of your money to put some clown on the moon? well, S good old american know-how, that's what. as provided by good old americans like dr. wernher von braun."

      • Re:This Just In (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JoeMerchant (803320) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @06:51PM (#38111458)

        cost per Kg to LEO is between $5,000-$10,000

        But it's the politicians fault...

        most likely... what's the cost (including logistics, support, benefit pay, etc.) to deploy a marine to Afghanistan for a year? For every 10 marines deployed "over there" for a year, could we get one up to the ISS?

      • Re:This Just In (Score:5, Insightful)

        by the gnat (153162) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:15PM (#38111620)

        So the cost to get someone into LEO in their birthday suit, let alone anywhere interesting like an established moon base, currently exceeds the average total asset holdings of most first world citizens.

        And it just keeps getting worse from there. Scientists who actually understand this stuff - all of them supporters of manned space exploration! - have come up with some interesting numbers for the expense of long-range expeditions. Ralph McNutt at JHU wrote a good article about exploring the outer planets [jhuapl.edu] using currently feasible technology. He envisions a series of five missions, each designed to avoid lethal radiation exposure, in the latter half of the 21st century. Estimated cost: $4 trillion. There's no colonization involved - this is just for doing flybys of gas giants and their moons. Sustaining a permanent settlement somewhere won't be any easier, because we'd need constant supply runs from Earth. How long does anyone think a moon base would last without a supply line? Think it'll be any easier on Mars?

        Now, I actually think we should do all this stuff at some point in the future - but it needs to get at least an order of magnitude cheaper before I'll advocate spending other people's money on it. Maybe with another hundred years' scientific development in the fields of human physiology, nanotechnology, and propulsion systems we'll be able to afford interplanetary travel for relatively large numbers of people. Right now, however, if we try to establish a permanent base (which we can't afford) on Mars, with enough fertile individuals to perpetuate the human race, they're basically equally fucked if the Earth gets hit by an asteroid - they'll just take a little longer to die.

    • by bug1 (96678)

      If we cant survive on earth the last place we should go is into space.

      Our future is in learning to fix the problems we create.

      But your right, the idea that our future lies in space is pretty common, rather unfortunate really.

      • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @08:11PM (#38112032)
        Imagine the technology that would be needed to build a self-sufficient lunar colony. You would need to be carbon-neutral, recycle all your water, and pollution would generally be out of the question. Any dangerous byproducts created by the colony would have to be dealt with on-site.

        Sounds like technologies that would be important here on Earth also, and setting up a lunar base would create a need for such technology. The moon also has the advantage of allowing an emergency return to Earth, which makes it a good first step for living in space.

        Of course, the expenses are pretty high, and the technologies that would be developed would not be useful on Earth for a long time after the initial investment. Without any real profitable reason to live on the moon, it would be hard to justify spending that much money. Now, if we discovered some useful resource that could be profitably mined, that would be another story.
        • The most important technology you need for any serious space colonization is the ability to manage a closed ecosystem with no internal inputs except energy. If you can't do that, you might still be able to get to Mars using less complete recycling, and you can park in Earth orbit with occasional resupply, but you can't do anything significant out in asteroid belts and you certainly can't run a generation ship out to other star systems. Even Mars colonies are pretty sketchy - you've got spare CO2, sand, ir

      • What "we?"

        What if the people who go into space don't identify with the problems of those they leave behind? Perhaps much of humanity is like an abusive household, and the best thing to do is just leave.

        Perhaps "humanity" is not the end-all, be-all category you think it is.

      • If we can't survive on earth the last place we should go is into space.
        Our future is in learning to fix the problems we create.
        But your right, the idea that our future lies in space is pretty common, rather unfortunate really.

        You're spot-on except for situations out of our control like asteroid/comet strike, gamma ray burst [wikipedia.org], or the eventual death of our Sun. Sure, we may be able to come up with a solution for the first and actually apply it given enough warning, but a GRB can't be detected until after

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @06:39PM (#38111352)

    "Mr. President, I would not rule out the chance to preserve a nucleus of human specimens. It would be quite easy at the bottom of some of our deeper mine shafts . . . Naturally, they would breed prodigiously, eh? There would be much time, and little to do. But ah with the proper breeding techniques and a ratio of say, ten females to each male, I would guess that they could then work their way back to the present gross national product within say, twenty years."

    "Doctor, you mentioned the ration of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn't that necessitate the abandonment of the so called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?"

    "Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious... service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature."

  • Make it a religion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Saturday November 19, 2011 @06:41PM (#38111360) Homepage Journal

    People are always inventing religions. Most die, but the new (in the span of history) cults Scientology and Mormonism seem to be doing a good business, in the USA at least, other religions elsewhere. Since all religion does is answer the unanswerable questions of life, such as the purpose of it, just found a new religion where the answer to the meaning of life is to get the fuck off this planet. Maybe not using those exact words, I'm sure some more mystic and transcendental and pompous word choices can be arranged.

    What motivated people is not cold rational analysis. Motivation is emotional. So just translate the valid motivation into the wacky language of religion.

    • by tragedy (27079) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:01PM (#38111518)

      The problem with this, is that it's too easy to end up with a Heaven's Gate [wikipedia.org], where the members end up committing suicide so that their spirits can reach a spaceship hidden behind a comet. Religious frameworks can sometimes herd people into accomplishing great works, but they're volatile and dangerous. If you invent a religion to achieve some grand goal, then you have the problem of what to do with the religion once the goal is achieved.

      • by Bill Currie (487)

        Simple: create a new religion and call the old one paganism and/or devil worship. What can go wrong? ;)

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @06:44PM (#38111388) Journal

    Is it just the transmission of DNA?

    Then if it is, then transmitting our DNA via high powered radio telescopes would be far cheaper than a space program. Next would be including DNA samples on anything leaving the solar system (pioneer, voyager, new horizon).

    If it's our cultural heritage, we've been beaming a (lopsided) collection out into space for the last 100 years. We've even sent some physical artifacts.

    If it's the survival of our MINDS that we're concerned with, well rather than build space ships capable of crossing the interstellar void (which'll likely take centuries) maybe it would be faster to figure out how to convert them into code and beam THAT.

    Of course this assumes that there is someone out there on the receiving end. I don't think that's too unlikely a hypothesis but reasonable people might disagree. So let's get listening! (And maybe we'll figure out the answer to the Fermi Paradox).

    (By the way, I'm all for a VERY aggressive space program, it's just that maybe we shouldn't think survival is the best reason for it!)

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @06:56PM (#38111488)

    so we just need to find places to go and then with the stargate we can move to them real fast.

  • not any time soon (Score:4, Insightful)

    by binarstu (720435) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:07PM (#38111564)
    While I find the whole "let's escape our problems on Earth by migrating to space" fantasy interesting, I think it's worth remembering that, at our present rate of consumption, we will exhaust our planet's resources long before we're actually able to permanently survive somewhere else. For details, I'd suggest reading this excellent post [ucsd.edu] from physicist Tom Murphy's "Do the Math" blog. It was featured on Slashdot a while back.

    The basic point is that, given our current situation, proposing a future in space is essentially a distraction that ignores the problems we will absolutely have to solve here on Earth. Hawking is probably right in that, if we manage to survive long enough, we will eventually establish colonies on other worlds. But if we can't focus on immediate challenges here, we'll never get there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 32771 (906153)

      "... we will exhaust our planet's resources long before we're actually able to permanently survive somewhere else."
      Precisely.

      An interesting aspect is though that if we solve this resource exhaustion problem here on earth, i.e. find a better nearly inexhaustible and dense energy source, we would be able to extract resources on other planets. The do the math blog mentions that we have to stop growing then, otherwise we would heat up the planet too much.

      Here is a link about resource concentrations:
      http://www.n [nss.org]

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:10PM (#38111588)

    Apparently Hawking is worried of our resources running out, but mining other celesatial bodies can be done without colonizing them. And even if we did colonize them, exponential growth would not be feasible indefinitely. I believe it's much easier to change our ways than to colonize space.

  • by mykos (1627575) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:19PM (#38111644)
    I think getting rid of as much of our flesh as possible is the key to survival. A more adaptable species is going to be easier to do than hunting through billions of planets to find one that fits our fragile bodies.
  • by saibot834 (1061528) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:26PM (#38111684) Homepage

    "Go west" doesn't work anymore. You can't just rest all your hopes on being able to continue life on another planet. It's a romantic idea, but actually doing so would require efforts that are by far much larger than ending world poverty or convincing people to care about the environment. A manned mission to mars would cost $40-$80 billion [newscientist.com]. Here are some problems, each enough to explain why we won't be anything near this in the next 50 years (just some examples, I'm sure there are more):

    Space expenses don't scale well. While development costs do scale, things like transport, fuel, assembly of rockets, etc. does not scale very well.

    Full Autonomy is extremely hard. If earth goes down the toilet, you can't rely on yearly shipments of equipment and technology. You'd have to build *everything* in your colony, which would require a huge colony indeed (so that you have a factory that makes the robots that manufacturers your mp3 players and *everything else you rely on nowadays*) and thus an even greater effort.

    Humans just love earth. Even mild changes to our environment can have extreme consequences on our health. Thinking about going to Europa, that trendy Jupiter moon? Well, it only has 0.134 g, so you need to put *everything* in giant centrifuges. And that's just one factor. Building a huge shell that keeps the pressure of 1 bar earth atmosphere and 10^-12 bar Europa atmosphere separate is another one...

    • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:03PM (#38112728) Homepage

      Full Autonomy is extremely hard. If earth goes down the toilet, you can't rely on yearly shipments of equipment and technology. You'd have to build *everything* in your colony, which would require a huge colony indeed (so that you have a factory that makes the robots that manufacturers your mp3 players and *everything else you rely on nowadays*) and thus an even greater effort.

      F*ck MP3 players, how about the fact that the only reason a space colony could function at all is because of high tech. This isn't Earth were you can have some sort of cataclysmic event and practically go back to a primitive agrarian society. You want that space suit to function? That airlock to work? The solar panels to produce heat so you don't freeze to death? If they break down and you can't fix them or replace them you're dead.

      Full autonomy is so far outside the scope of anything that's even been considered, we can send a radiation hardened CPU to Mars but a factory to build one? And all the tools required to maintain and repair that factory? And everything required to build those tools? It's easy to forget how extremely specialized we've become and how many steps there are between raw ore in the ground and working product. We'd need either an army of robots or many, many thousand people to be anything like autonomous.

      And that's one of the issues here, the more people you add the bigger the resource demands will be. I don't know exactly at what size the tide will turn and each person makes the colony more self-sufficient, but I'm thinking big. Like, really really big.

  • by xtal (49134) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:47PM (#38111844)

    Our bodies are not adapted, evolved, or designed for space.

    We are vastly better off concentrating resources into robotics, AI, and technologies that will allow for the imaging and transfer of brain state. Those next creations - or evolution of intelligence - will be free to explore the universe.

    Alternatively, mastering genetic engineering may allow us to create organic lifeforms that ARE adapted to those environments, and have or exceed our own intelligence. That is also possible within a short timeframe.

    As the Dr. already indicated, it's not likely we are going to make it the next few hundred years as-is. That'll be ok, we'll all be at the feet of (insert deity here) in eternal paradise, right? *laughs*

  • Look the other way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:02PM (#38112382) Homepage Journal

    All this talk about Space Exploration is great, and I agree that in the future, we will one day have to colonize space.
    But what about right now?

    Space Colonization is simply not practical today and may not be for another century or longer. So why not look the other way? What about Oceanic Colonization? No exotic technology like carbon nanotube space tethers are required, no worries about intersteller radiation, bone mineral depletion, obtaining drinking water, fuel or breathable air. We have all the technology to build floating and underwater structures, we know who to make artificial island communities (look at Dubai)

    All this is right here, right now. Why don't we stop focusing so hard on the long shots and start looking at what we can start doing today to alleviate the population crises and making better use of our existing resources? It seems our astrophysics community really has a hard-on for space exploration while Oceanic dwellings are merely the pipe-dream of young architects as part of design competitions, but is mainly regarded as a novelty and not really taken all that seriously.

    70% of the earth is covered in water, scientists predict this will increase within the century.
    Does it not make sense to start adapting and learning to exist on the largest resource available on the Earth?

  • Deja vu much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hermanas (1665329) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:38PM (#38113424)

    Once, I would have written it off to deja vu and went on with my life. But the same article, 3 times? I might be human, but my memory is not that terrible, Slashdot!

  • by planckscale (579258) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:01AM (#38113592) Journal
    Learning how to live underwater would teach us how to live in space, and will get us used to living underwater on planets/moon such as Europa. Since 3/4 of the planet is covered in water, maybe we can spread "West" into the ocean? It's prettier down there anyway and chicks dig dolphins. Running out of air down there would be less consequential than in a vacuum. Most likely we will be shooting for a planet outside our solar system only if it has water. High radiation levels etc would be easier to avoid underwater, and I think it would take a long time for oceans to evaporate should global warming become global boiling.
  • by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday November 20, 2011 @02:02AM (#38114248) Journal

    The launch was a rush. That railgun they drilled through the planetoid accelerated me at 50G, or 490m/s/s. With only 487km of railgun it was over in just a few seconds and I was off to the stars. It's cold out here and dark, with not much to do as I sleep almost all of the time. They keep pushing. The high-energy lasers in orbit around Venus still fluff my solar sail and deliver power so I don't have to activate my nuclear engine. I'm supposed to be seeing some time dilation at this point, but really, not so much that it can't be accounted for.

    I understand launching so much mass shifted the orbit of the planetoid significantly, but was timed to do so in a way that moved it into a more convenient orbit around the sun. Not that they fill me in on the details.

    They laid my way with resupply years before of course. I'll be docking with one of those probes soon to boost my xenon and hydrogen - that's why I'm awake to make this log. I've five of these resupplies to do, and this next one is the fourth. I'm halfway to my destination, and still have all of this resupply inventory. It's for deceleration, and I may not need any of it if the L2 solar sails work to spec. I'm glad for the backup plan because we all know how low bidder contracts kill.

    It's been 40 years, and it feels like a week.

    There's not much to do out here except wonder if tech innovations will have people stopping by to pick me up on their way to the stars with new drive tech. It's nice that my mental donor wasn't too introspective - some replayed vids and a little virtual dolphin flogging and we're ready for sleep again. That will be handy when we get to Tau Ceti if we've got to do some terraforming before it's fit for men. That could take a few million years even with my well-designed spore toolkit. Sleep will be a blessing.

    Twenty years and it seems like a week. Frankly I'm glad they vary my clock at need. I wonder what meat people would feel like by turnaround. Perhaps it's best not to go there. It's not like they could survive the launch acceleration anyway.

    They said this personality is rated for 18 months of subjective time before it's overcome by a psychotic desire to kill the manipulative bitch that made me volunteer for this program. That may have been optimistic.

    End log.

  • by cathector (972646) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @05:15AM (#38114978)

    i'm w/ the good doctor,
    but also my thinking is that we should raise our heads out of our shapely buttocks for a moment
    and think about spreading life of any form, not only human, to the rest of the galaxy.
    i'm a good science boy and have no doubt that there is life out there,
    but so far there's no signs of anyone except us.
    we're on the cusp of wiping ourselves out in one way or another,
    and when we do it's by no means certain that this planet will ever again attain space-faring capability
    before it gets eaten by the sun. given this, i think we have a huge moral imperative to send out
    large numbers of cheap life-bearing probes into the galaxy. little infectious bombs.
    primary producers wired to chill out until there's a reliable energy source, and then mutate like crazy.

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