1232: "Realistic Criteria"

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1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby rhomboidal » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:33 am UTC

Image

Title Text: I'm leaning toward fifteen. There are a lot of them.

Sixteen if we include three-starring level 3-5 in Angry Birds.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby da Doctah » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:53 am UTC

I agree with the alt-text. Whatever the answer is, it's probably closer to fifteen years than to ten.

Like, about five years closer.

Unless of course that huge asteroid shows up and cracks the planet in half next month, killing every living thing on earth. Then all the problems will be solved at the same time.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby Arky » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:10 am UTC

I feel like this is a reference to something I don't know.
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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby chridd » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:19 am UTC

da Doctah wrote:Unless of course that huge asteroid shows up and cracks the planet in half next month, killing every living thing on earth. Then all the problems will be solved at the same time.
You don't consider every living thing being dead to be a problem? (...although I guess one could argue that Earth wouldn't exist anymore, so it's not a problem on Earth.)
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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby Djehutynakht » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:29 am UTC

I feel like if we wait 15 years we'll accumulate more additional problems than we'll fix.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby pelrigg » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:43 am UTC

Arky wrote:I feel like this is a reference to something I don't know.


I think Randall is referring to the creaky old argument that says, "We shouldn't spend any money on space exploration until we've solved all of the problems here on earth." (Poverty, hunger, over-population, racism, reality shows, etc.) **
Never mind that many of these problems will always be with us (and have always been with us.) [In fact, if those arguments would have been used in previous generations, we probably wouldn't have left Africa. :roll: :wink: ]
However, there are those who say that going to space can help to solve many of those problems ("Doomsday Has Been Cancelled" by J. Peter Vajk and there's another one that came out around the same time, saying that the planetary exploration and colonization would help alleviate scarcity. {by a gentleman from India, or with an Indian last name. [my copies of these books are buried in boxes, I'm moving.]})

That makes the punch-line, one of absurd under-statement. I'd say it's more like the first Tuesday after 17 years, 2 months, and 14 days............. :P

**Edit to add:
I remember hearing this back in the days of Gemini & Apollo. In fact, that was being said about communication and weather satellites, too. Never mind that the government wastes more money in a year on cost over-runs, etc. than on NASA. And NASA expenditures do produce a "profit" in the form of useable dirt-side items (that might not be made if there wasn't a space problem to overcome).
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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby addams » Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:25 am UTC

da Doctah wrote:I agree with the alt-text. Whatever the answer is, it's probably closer to fifteen years than to ten.

Like, about five years closer.

Unless of course that huge asteroid shows up and cracks the planet in half next month, killing every living thing on earth. Then all the problems will be solved at the same time.

pfft. The Asteroid is not coming in next month.
It has a Lunch date (?) on the other side of the Sun.

Then it will swing back around.
It Might Get Us.
The number twenty years comes to mind.
Some team of Smarty Pants did The Math.

Google will fix it? maybe.

Until till then, Well?
End Poverty, End Injustice, End War, End All Bad Things using our collective will.
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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby AvatarIII » Mon Jul 01, 2013 8:45 am UTC

Couldn't at least some of the worlds problems be solved by a) having a massive international project that has nothing to do with killing each other, and b) shipping a bunch of the population off to other planets?

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby speising » Mon Jul 01, 2013 9:16 am UTC

AvatarIII wrote:Couldn't at least some of the worlds problems be solved by a) having a massive international project that has nothing to do with killing each other, and b) shipping a bunch of the population off to other planets?


b) would do nothing to the vast majority remaining on earth and instead export our problems to wherever these people are going.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby CharlieP » Mon Jul 01, 2013 9:37 am UTC

pelrigg wrote:
Arky wrote:I feel like this is a reference to something I don't know.


I think Randall is referring to the creaky old argument that says, "We shouldn't spend any money on space exploration until we've solved all of the problems here on earth." (Poverty, hunger, over-population, racism, reality shows, etc.) **


Indeed. Closely related to the one that claims it's wrong to issue speeding tickets etc. while a single rapist or murderer is at large.
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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby markfiend » Mon Jul 01, 2013 9:49 am UTC

CharlieP wrote:
pelrigg wrote:
Arky wrote:I feel like this is a reference to something I don't know.


I think Randall is referring to the creaky old argument that says, "We shouldn't spend any money on space exploration until we've solved all of the problems here on earth." (Poverty, hunger, over-population, racism, reality shows, etc.) **


Indeed. Closely related to the one that claims it's wrong to issue speeding tickets etc. while a single rapist or murderer is at large.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby Znirk » Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:05 am UTC

pelrigg wrote:I think Randall is referring to the creaky old argument that says, "We shouldn't spend any money on space exploration until we've solved all of the problems here on earth." (Poverty, hunger, over-population, racism, reality shows, etc.)


That's a bit of a strawman, though (delivered by the guy in the boater, no less :D ). Maybe you get pelrigg's version in a culture where people tend to overstate their positions in a debate, but the people I'm aware of who are in favour of spending less on space exploration will say something more like "... until we've made sure (or: made it probable) that the one planet we already have remains habitable in the middle-term". I don't fully agree, but I can accept this as a tenable position. It's certainly critical to take good care of Mama Gaia while we go out to play with the funny rocks next door.

Note that the comic itself does qualify the statement further: here it's "exploring other planets", not the big blanket of "space exploration" which could cover pretty much everything all the way to glancing in an upwardly direction.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby Znirk » Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:12 am UTC

markfiend wrote:
CharlieP wrote:Indeed. Closely related to the one that claims it's wrong to issue speeding tickets etc. while a single rapist or murderer is at large.

Known generally as "the Nirvana fallacy"

I thought that was to assume that with the lights out it's less dangerous?

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby AvatarIII » Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:14 am UTC

speising wrote:
AvatarIII wrote:Couldn't at least some of the worlds problems be solved by a) having a massive international project that has nothing to do with killing each other, and b) shipping a bunch of the population off to other planets?


b) would do nothing to the vast majority remaining on earth and instead export our problems to wherever these people are going.


I agree it wouldn't do much, but it would at least decrease overpopulation, and the symptoms of overpopulation.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby Cubic_John » Mon Jul 01, 2013 11:22 am UTC

I agree that it's an exaggeration to say that there should be no spending on space exploration until we've solved all problems on Earth, but I also think it's irresponsible to spend too much money and effort on space exploration of limited expected practical benefit if the same money and effort could've been effectively directed towards significant alleviation of human suffering. Certainly few reasonable people would advocate diverting all social reform spending to the space program; it's a continuum of how much we should be willing to set aside for space, and at what rate.

Personally, I'd say something more like, "We shouldn't be exploring other planets until we've solved or are already doing everything we reasonably can to solve all our catastrophic problems here on Earth"; things like child soldiers, sexual slavery, violent religious and political persecution, and persistent regional violence. I think those are the kind of things that really rather loudly say that they deserve our attention more than exploring a bunch of other planets which are mostly uninhabitable to humans and cost-prohibitive for resource exploitation. If we can eliminate or reduce as much as possible those kinds of catastrophic humans right abuses, then I think we can justify turning the bulk of our efforts to the long-term project of space exploration.

Also, as far as the "timeline" point of the comic goes, the timeline for exploring any extrasolar planets is going to be a lot longer than 10 or 15 years anyway; I won't claim to have any expertise on the subject, but my understanding is that the time it would take to plan, send out, and hear back form a manned mission beyond our solar system would probably be many decades at the leave if we started now. So however we spend our focus, we're talking about a long timescale, here.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby cellocgw » Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:01 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:Couldn't at least some of the worlds problems be solved by a) having a massive international project that has nothing to do with killing each other, and b) shipping a bunch of the population off to other planets?


I don't suppose you're going to recommend the bunch to be shipped includes all the Telephone Box Sterilizers?

Anyway, it's easy to solve all Earth's problems. Just close the tickets with either "could not reproduce" or "that's not a bug, it's a feature"
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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby Klear » Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:06 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:Anyway, it's easy to solve all Earth's problems. Just close the tickets with either "could not reproduce" or "that's not a bug, it's a feature"


Let me put that in context for you: "Children are starving in Africa." "That's not a bug, it's a feature."

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby cellocgw » Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:20 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
cellocgw wrote:Anyway, it's easy to solve all Earth's problems. Just close the tickets with either "could not reproduce" or "that's not a bug, it's a feature"


Let me put that in context for you: "Children are starving in Africa." "That's not a bug, it's a feature."


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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby peewee_RotA » Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:32 pm UTC

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby Barstro » Mon Jul 01, 2013 1:16 pm UTC

Cubic_John wrote:...I also think it's irresponsible to spend too much money and effort on space exploration of limited expected practical benefit if the same money and effort could've been effectively directed towards significant alleviation of human suffering.


Now you have turned it into a Guns vs Butter argument, but tossed in the even less reliable "expected practical benefit" than can change by millions of dollars depending on whom you ask.

Most nouns in that sentence can easily be replaced and still hold true. Its irresponsible to spend too much money and effort on education if the same money and effort could have been effectively directed towards protecting our borders.
Its irresponsible to spend too much money and effort on new windows if the same money and effort could have been effectively directed towards stopping my basement from flooding and becoming a mold issue.
Its irresponsible to spend too much money and effort on regrading my lawn so that my unused basement stays dry if the same money and effort could have been effectively directed towards getting new windows to prevent the drafts all winter that cause electric bills to triple.

Note also that in a closed system (which the earth is, until space exploration takes off) we cannot increase health (allow more children to survive childhood and live longer; thus increase population) without also increasing food production (and we seem to be at the limit without drastically changed farming techniques), or instituting severe population control (which people find immoral).

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby orthogon » Mon Jul 01, 2013 1:21 pm UTC

People used to say a lot "they can put a guy on the moon, but they can't x" (where x can be anything from "eradicate malaria" to "make the trains run on time" to "make a vending machine that works"). There was a real feeling that Civilisation had advanced to a stage where we really had no excuse for not tackling those big global problems. These days I fear there will be a tendency to shrug, and say "yeah, well, they can't put a man on the moon any more either..." I must just point out that I don't personally agree with the sentiment. Humankind has done really truly extraordinary things in the last few years, the LHC being just one example. We really aren't off the hook.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby Whizbang » Mon Jul 01, 2013 1:25 pm UTC

Maybe before we rush to solve all of the world's problems, we should stop to consider the consequences of blithely giving problem solving such a central position in our lives.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby addams » Mon Jul 01, 2013 1:37 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:
speising wrote:
AvatarIII wrote:Couldn't at least some of the worlds problems be solved by a) having a massive international project that has nothing to do with killing each other, and b) shipping a bunch of the population off to other planets?


b) would do nothing to the vast majority remaining on earth and instead export our problems to wherever these people are going.


I agree it wouldn't do much, but it would at least decrease overpopulation, and the symptoms of overpopulation.


Yes. You or We can and should Reach for The Stars.
Not for the Reasons of decreasing overpopulation and the Sx. of overpopulation.
That's Silly.

We have 7 BILLION people! That is a lot of People.
The Math has been done.

Wars kill a lot of People. Wars increase Population!
That is True! It is Not simple Elementary School Math.

It seems that anything that Drops our population is met with an impressive Increase in Population.
It is Worse than Newton's Equal and Opposite.

It is not possible to shoot enough of us to the Stars.
It is not possible to shoot enough of us in any way to decrease our Population.

Shoot us with Guns. There are more of us later.
Shoot us with Deadly Disease. There are more of us later.
Shoot us to The Stars. There will be more of us later.

That Asteroid may cure The Problem; Or, Not.

It does not matter how much money you or we spend on Any project.
Money is an abstract; Unless you don't have any.

The Stars are a good Project.
Humanitarian Projects are Good, too.

Those two activities Must be performed concurrently.
I don't care How many ships you have; Some of us will be Left Behind.

Hey! What about the MIB thing?
Humans and the way we think should Not be sent to the stars.

It is a Moral Issue.
We Are Horrible!
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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby orthogon » Mon Jul 01, 2013 1:45 pm UTC

addams wrote:Hey! What about the MIB thing?

Let's not bring SNMP into this. Some problems really are intractable.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby Whizbang » Mon Jul 01, 2013 1:50 pm UTC

Colonizing other planets/moons will not noticeably solve the overpopulation on earth. Even with a space elevator or 6, you can only move so many people out into space at any given time. That's not even considering the time and effort needed terraform these other places to make them habitable, or at least build structure to live in. If you've read the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, you can guess at some of the challenges that might occur. There might be enough solid surface to hold all of the world's population, but getting them there alive, and keeping them alove once there, requires a lot of time and effort. Shipping people off to the stars will not have an affect on Earth's population.

The technology discovered/invented by colonizing space, though, just might fix some of the problems here at home.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Jul 01, 2013 2:01 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
cellocgw wrote:Anyway, it's easy to solve all Earth's problems. Just close the tickets with either "could not reproduce" or "that's not a bug, it's a feature"


Let me put that in context for you: "Children are starving in Africa." "That's not a bug, it's a feature."


Well, in the context of overpopulation concerns, yeah, it kinda is...

***

AvatarIII wrote:
speising wrote:
AvatarIII wrote:Couldn't at least some of the worlds problems be solved by a) having a massive international project that has nothing to do with killing each other, and b) shipping a bunch of the population off to other planets?


b) would do nothing to the vast majority remaining on earth and instead export our problems to wherever these people are going.


I agree it wouldn't do much, but it would at least decrease overpopulation, and the symptoms of overpopulation.


Currently, the Earth's population is increasing at around 70 million per year. To reduce that by 1% through emigration, you'd need to ship out 700,000 per year or around 2,000 per day. If a shuttle carries 8 people per launch, that's 250 shuttle launches every day just to make a 1% dent in the rate of population growth. Okay, over time, the loss of those people's descendants will add up, but even so, mass emigration wouldn't do much to combat overpopulation - in fact, having the option available is likely to make matters worse since people will think that they don't need to limit population growth so much.

***

Possibly the biggest problem with "we shouldn't spend an insignificant fraction of the global economy on exploration and/or pure research when there are more practical things to spend the money on" is that, historically, investments in exploration and research have, overall, paid off far more than any other form of investment. I am confident that a manned Mars mission, for example, will provide at least one insight that leads to something that improves people's lives on Earth.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby elasto » Mon Jul 01, 2013 2:02 pm UTC

Yeah. Realistically, it'd probably be far easier to colonise the oceans than colonise another planet.

Lots more room in the oceans too: 3D >> 2D!

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby snowyowl » Mon Jul 01, 2013 2:18 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Yeah. Realistically, it'd probably be far easier to colonise the oceans than colonise another planet.

Lots more room in the oceans too: 3D >> 2D!

And the oceans have more readily available resources than space does. You'd always have plenty of drinking water (at least, unless your power runs out or your desalination plant breaks down).
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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby Cubic_John » Mon Jul 01, 2013 2:26 pm UTC

Barstro wrote:Most nouns in that sentence can easily be replaced and still hold true. Its irresponsible to spend too much money and effort on education if the same money and effort could have been effectively directed towards protecting our borders.


True; I suppose my point is a general feeling that many of the people who bemoan decreased funding of space exploration are either entirely disregarding the foregone benefits in other areas from diverting funding from them to the space program, or are underestimating their actual value relative to that of the space program.

As I've said, a balance needs to be struck on what is the appropriate amount of space vs non-space spending; and as implied, I don't think that the appropriate balance presently requires us to substantially increase our space spending. Of course, since what the balance should be is such a complicated question, most people (including me) will come up with an answer based on a very rough mental estimate of the factors involved, and therefore it's difficult to argue over the answer because actually revising the estimations that went into it would require a great deal of time and research; so perhaps there isn't much to be gained from arguing about it.

Barstro wrote:Note also that in a closed system (which the earth is, until space exploration takes off) we cannot increase health (allow more children to survive childhood and live longer; thus increase population) without also increasing food production (and we seem to be at the limit without drastically changed farming techniques), or instituting severe population control (which people find immoral).


But of course, space exploration won't take us out of a closed system, it will only enlarge our system; and if population growth remains exponential, we will fill any closed system in a relatively short amount of time, astronomically speaking (see Asimov's "The Last Question"). That also goes for the discussion about shipping excess population offworld, even if that were remotely feasible (which it isn't). So space exploration isn't a solution to overpopulation, whatever other benefits it might provide. I think the only solution to that is a reasonably designed and responsibly implemented population control policy (but of course, that's a whole other discussion from the space program).

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby Hephaestus16 » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:12 pm UTC

If more resources were to be spent on space stuff then resources wouldn't be taken from the useful and helpful stuff budget but rather the useless and damaging stuff budget. Space dudes will know what stuff is in what budget because rocket scientists are by definition really really smart.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby da Doctah » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:21 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:Maybe before we rush to solve all of the world's problems, we should stop to consider the consequences of blithely giving problem solving such a central position in our lives.

"Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived." -- Thomas Merton

I can just see Randall's take on this: "P vs NP is not a problem to be solved, etc".

Or show a student handing in a test paper with "Finding the roots of this quadratic is not a problem to be solved blah blah blah...."

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby orthogon » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:37 pm UTC

One day, Science will tell us how to build a space elevator. But will it ever tell us how to stop people pissing in it?
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby speising » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:41 pm UTC

Space exploration vs. problem solving is nonsense anyway. Our problems aren't not solved because of money constraints but for political reasons.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby orthogon » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:30 pm UTC

Hephaestus16 wrote:Space dudes will know what stuff is in what budget because rocket scientists are by definition really really smart.

I would say that, strictly speaking, rocket scientists are really really smart by popular convention. However, what they do is rocket science, by definition.

Pseudo-edit: actually that isn't even quite right. People who do rocket science are rocket scientists, by definition. But not everything that rocket scientists do is rocket science. Presumably they also cook, do the laundry and go to the toilet.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:53 pm UTC

I think, as others have gestured at, this is a false dichotomy to begin with.

Many of the technologies we need to successfully get along in space or on other planets are the same technologies we need to take care of things here at home. Conversely, many problems here at home are much easier versions of problems we will face in space. So lets start with solving the easier problems that will have immediate benefits here on Earth, with a constant eye toward leveraging those results into solving the harder versions of them we will need to get along in space.

Mostly I'm thinking of environmental problems (to live in space we need to recycle absolutely everything, including air and water; there are no forests, oceans, and landfills to handle absorbing and reprocessing our waste for us in space), but social problems are also a factor there (if we're gonna cram a bunch of people into a tight space on a colony ship and send them on a long trip somewhere, we need to make sure they don't all kill each other before they arrive, and whatever solutions we find to that problem could probably be used to keep people on an overcrowded Earth from killing each other too). Even the primary targets of our space spending right now, rocketry and robotics, have obvious defense and economic applications too.
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The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

jpvlsmv
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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby jpvlsmv » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:57 pm UTC

Don't worry, we have plenty of time. We're only ten years away from being able to say that it's not been conclusively proven impossible.

And besides, are there any planets that we have a realistic chance of sending a manned exploration to by 2028? I think even the most ambitious Mars plan targets 2030 for landing.

The22ndDoctor
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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby The22ndDoctor » Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:24 pm UTC

We should definitely solve the problems here first.

Problem one: All our eggs are in one basket.

"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 Aristophanes, and - all of this - all of this - was for nothing. Unless we go to the stars. " ~ Cmdr. Jeffrey Sinclair "Babylon 5: Infection (#1.4)"

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Jackpot777
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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby Jackpot777 » Mon Jul 01, 2013 8:36 pm UTC

snowyowl wrote:
elasto wrote:Yeah. Realistically, it'd probably be far easier to colonise the oceans than colonise another planet.

Lots more room in the oceans too: 3D >> 2D!

And the oceans have more readily available resources than space does. You'd always have plenty of drinking water (at least, unless your power runs out or your desalination plant breaks down).


Float on the surface. Catch rainwater. If you're technologically advanced enough to be an air-breathing species living full time in the oceans, a bucket on a long stick shouldn't be too much of a problem.

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Jackpot777
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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby Jackpot777 » Mon Jul 01, 2013 8:38 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:One day, Science will tell us how to build a space elevator. But will it ever tell us how to stop people pissing in it?


Anything higher than 3,000m (10,000 feet) above seal level, the problem begins to rectify itself.

bbgun06
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Re: 1232: "Realistic Criteria"

Postby bbgun06 » Mon Jul 01, 2013 8:42 pm UTC

The Earth is not overcrowded! Our population growth rate is falling. Yes, we are still increasing our population right now, but as developing nations get richer, their birth rate is going down. In 50 years we'll be worrying about negative population growth.
We produce enough food for 11 billion people, by some estimates. A lot of that gets wasted because we can't get it to where it is needed. Millions starve because of wars, corruption, or lack of infrastructure, not because there isn't enough food. Many developing nations don't have the food reserves or transport capability to survive famines and other disruptions in the food supply.
Using modern farming methods, Africa could feed the world by itself.

So yes, we do have some problems to solve, mainly making sure everyone has access to clean water, adequate food, sanitation and medicine, but the problem is not too many people.

Edit: The forum won't let me put in any links. Check out overpopulationisamyth(dot) com


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