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A Vigorous Discussion of Our Future In Space 111

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

    Where's the link to the transcript?

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

  • Re:Robots (Score:2, Insightful)

    by boristhespider ( 1678416 ) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @12:35PM (#37777160)

    And your dream is worth pissing hundreds of billions of dollars down the shitter for? We can all dream, but I've never seen a sensible rationale for putting men any further into space than we already do - frankly, even that is questionable. Going back to the Moon would be an enormous waste of money unless we plan on exploiting its minerals and the fact that we can pollute the far side however much we like, and even that would be prohibitively expensive. Going further than the Moon would be horrifically expensive, horrifically dangerous and ultimately horrifically pointless, and astronauts would return half-insane through the tedium and loneliness. As for tourists, that's always going to remain a pipe-dream. It's just too costly to get out of Earth's gravity well, and *nothing* is going to change that. No new propulsion device can remove the simple truth that it costs that much energy to get away from Earth, and that energy has to come from somewhere, and there is absolutely nothing in the pipeline that could make it cheap enough. Not fusion, nothing. Science fiction is lovely, but reality is harsh and unfortunately we live in reality.

  • Re:Robots (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @01:06PM (#37778040)

    Just a question

    How many engineers and scientists did the Space Race inspire?

    Dreams are important. Fuck you.


  • 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...
  • Re:Robots (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Internetuser1248 ( 1787630 ) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @02:40PM (#37780416)

    And your dream is worth pissing hundreds of billions of dollars down the shitter for?

    You seem to be forgetting that money is imaginary. When talking about the future of the human race in general, which space exploration is certainly about, money is moot. The reality is about manpower and raw materials. While the cost of space exploration is high in both categories, the raw materials are an investment, as we are guaranteed to run out on earth (as long as we don't die out) and space promises vast untapped sources. In terms of manpower, we have a manpower surplus at the moment, the only sustainable labour sinks we have are war and space exploration. I stipulate that manned space exploration is rarely worthwhile, specifically it is only worthwhile in cases where humans are superior to machines at doing the required work. In 99% of space exploration the machines are far better. There are exceptions however, the ISS being a big one, I am fairly sure we cant fully automate all 0g research. The fact that there are exceptions also means that missions where humans aren't absolutely necessary are nevertheless useful as they pioneer techniques for the ones where humans are necessary. It also seems to me that one day machines will surpass humans in all remaining areas of space exploration, but when we get to that stage we should have various refueling stations around the solar system and the added cost of a bit of tourism is unlikely to be a major factor. Money is irrelevant and this world wide obsession with it we are currently experiencing is absurd and counter productive. I will pay you a billion monopoly dollars (digital images, you will have to print them off yourself) to allow us to continue the relevant parts of the discussion.

  • 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?

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre