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 Hawking on Space
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  08:49:25  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
In this USA Today piece, Stephen Hawkin argues that
quote:
It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species,[and] Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of.


I tend to be in favor of sending people into space, but I know that there's a lot of debate among the science community (and those interested in such things) about its value. Now, Hawking has stepped into the debate. What do you all think?

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  10:32:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Well, it's clear that there is a 100% chance that all life on Earth will end in about five billion years. Hawking seems to be arguing that we shouldn't wait 4,999,999,000 years to get off this rock, since disasters more localized than the erasure of the whole inner solar system may bring down our particular species much earlier than that. I would agree.

Now, this might seem like I'm going back on my previous "manned space flight is a waste" statements, but those were, in reality, only in relation to space exploration. Establishing colonies and the like is, of course, going to require human presence, and on a much larger scale than even Bush had planned. Perhaps farting about with these little three-person rockets is still a waste of time and resources.

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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  13:08:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
So we send the robots first.
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JohnOAS
SFN Regular

Australia
800 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  17:24:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit JohnOAS's Homepage Send JohnOAS a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Cuneiformist
I tend to be in favor of sending people into space, but I know that there's a lot of debate among the science community (and those interested in such things) about its value. Now, Hawking has stepped into the debate. What do you all think?


I say send them to make observations and/or perform tasks that can't easily be done by other means. There are still plenty of these, especially when things break, as they inevitably do. Of course, things breaking are also a likely cause of death for the astronauts, so the risks are considerable.

I think we're a long way from actually colonising anything extra-terrestrial in any significant way, but we've got to start somewhere, once we've decided we're going to do it at all.

John's just this guy, you know.
Edited by - JohnOAS on 06/13/2006 20:41:04
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Hawks
SFN Regular

Canada
1383 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2006 :  16:36:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Hawks's Homepage Send Hawks a Private Message
quote:
It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species,[and] Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of.

Really, wouldn't it be easier to build structures under the sea, say 100 meters below? You would be fairly shielded from naural disasters, energy could be acquired from waves and getting access to water should be easier than on the moon (I would have thought).

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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2006 :  16:53:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Hawks
Really, wouldn't it be easier to build structures under the sea, say 100 meters below? You would be fairly shielded from naural disasters, energy could be acquired from waves and getting access to water should be easier than on the moon (I would have thought).

Well, I think this poses problems similar to that of space. Namely, one leak and you're screwed.

The problem with permanent space colonies (or underwater colonies) is the environment is so inhospitable. A moon base would be nothing more than a spaceship that lacks the ability to move. You still need an impenetrable shelter and running machines to provide everything from air to water to electricity. One generator goes down and it's game over. It's far too fragile to support any sort of long term colonization.

In my opinion, the only practical option is to either find planets with environments able to support human life or find planets which we can alter to do so.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 06/14/2006 16:54:34
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9672 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2006 :  11:14:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by H. Humbert
The problem with permanent space colonies (or underwater colonies) is the environment is so inhospitable. A moon base would be nothing more than a spaceship that lacks the ability to move. You still need an impenetrable shelter and running machines to provide everything from air to water to electricity. One generator goes down and it's game over. It's far too fragile to support any sort of long term colonization.

In my opinion, the only practical option is to either find planets with environments able to support human life or find planets which we can alter to do so.


I think that's where Mars comes in. Though the atmosphere on Mars is only 0,5% as thick as on Earth, at least it's there. A few good compressors should be able to cope with a leak, and oxygen could be extracted from the CO2 in the atmosphere.

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