Saturday, June 02, 2018

Space Pioneering: the passion and dream continue! (But leave the dusty Moon to others.)

I just returned from the International Space Development Conference at the LAX Sheraton in Los Angeles, where I had the honor to MC the awards luncheon, presenting to my friend (and NIAC colleague) Frank Drake the Pioneer Award for profound contributions to humanity’s outward vision.

Other award recipients and honored guests included Jeff Bezos, Freeman Dyson, Buzz Aldrin… and Toni Weiskopf, legendary publisher of Baen Books, presented the Baen short story award winners.

photo by Nadia Drake
The day before, I gave a talk about Defense and Potential Conflict in Space at Northrup-Grumman and - with my son Ben - got a fairly close look at the James Webb Space Telescope, being assembled for launch soon. (We’ll all be biting nails!)

The evening before that, I gave a talk about Our Place in the Universe at UCLA for the annual Julian Schwinger Colloquium.

And next week I fly to Washington meetings for the NASA Innovative and Advanced Concepts program (NIAC) and at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. Plus an event for the nascent DC Museum of Science Fiction.   (See my calendar at http://www.davidbrin.com)

So, all in all, a very spacey month! 

Which leads me to zoom back to something almost every space enthusiast (and I love you guys) seems to accept romantically, while ignoring actual facts. I'm talking about the self-destructive allure of the USA getting mired in a “return to the moon.”

== Building Mars abilities, so we can stay ==

For starters, I have nothing against Mars. In fact, I think it is a fine, mid-distant objective - a lure to entice us onward. An "inspirational goal," according to Scott Pace of the National Space Council. Alas, as a near term goal, it has problems. A rushed Mars program would have to use the Apollo Method, seeking a single, short-term victory lap. 

Compare two kinds of expeditions, to the top of Mt. Everest... or to the South Pole. In both cases, you spend 90% of your time going back and forth, building a base camp that lets you build an advance camp, that lets you supply an assault camp. With Everest, the aim is tourism and glory. When it comes to the South Pole, the U.S. wasn't first; but when we went, we stayed. And the scientific benefits have been huge. Still, everything needed by humans at the pole must be supplied from "Earth."

Mars expeditions will only make sense when we have truly sophisticated methods. Foremost, ISRU (In-Situ Resource Utilization) facilities, not only on the Martian surface, but also on Phobos, that can extract and store volatiles, like water, for use not only as fuel, but also in closed life support (CELS) systems.

(Note: like everyone else, I am dazzled by Elon’s spectacular plans for skyscraper rockets! These would up-end the economics and timing in terrific ways. But the order in which things should be done does not change. We still need ISRU and CELS and some asteroid work before Martian trips will be sustainable for reasons other than glory.)

If ISRU provides tons and tons of water (and oxygen and fuel) stored at both locations, then the cost of repeated (instead of one-off) Mars missions plummets and their odds of success go far higher. This effect quintuples if there are also automated greenhouses, using that water to grow food. (Indeed, Elon's original idea was to send a greenhouse to Mars  To demonstrate how CELS will bring the dream closer.)

Those techniques (ISRU etc.), happen to be the same ones we can develop by doing asteroids as our near future project.  So, Mars lovers truly should also be asteroid lovers, especially since Phobos is the key to Mars, and Phobos may be a volatiles-rich asteroid!

== Back to a … dustbowl? ==

None of this can be said about the sterile, empty, and — at least for now — useless lunar surface.

A deliberately provocative assertion. Can I back it up?  

First, recall how I cited Scott Pace, a few paragraphs back. Here he explains the New Presidential Space Policy, that the U.S. should Return to Moon. By all means listen in.  Better yet, get and read "The Moon: Resources, Future Development and Settlement," cited in the image you see here. 

Alas, though, I see no reason to back down.

1- Other than small amounts of polar ice, there is nothing of tangible value on the lunar surface. Nothing. Let me repeat that. Not one thing. 

Truly. Try asking any of the lunar guys to back up their arm-waved “resource” justifications, by showing us any actual, actual lunar “ores.” Except possibly for scattered meteoritic iron, such ores are not even theoretically possible. 

(See below an addendum explaining "ores" and how they came about on Earth and asteroids... and why I'll eat a bug, if you find any high quality ores on the moon.)

Or demand that they justify their assertion that the moon is an ideal “way-station” on the way to Mars.  It sounds logical, but it’s not true! Not at all. Not even a little bit. The numbers make that clear.

2- What about that lunar ice?  My doctoral advisor James Arnold predicted polar ice! I rejoice that it’s there… 

…and it belongs to future lunar colonists. For us to rape them by stealing their water for rocket fuel would be a crime, especially since the water and/or fuel would have to be hauled out of a gravity well, with a polar penalty! None of which is true for the vastly richer sources of water elsewhere.

3- Andy Weir (author of “The Martian”) wanted to write about a lunar colony in ARTEMIS. He wracked his brain for any economic justification for such a colony, and found only one reason to make a near term lunar settlement: tourism.

It’s why the U.S. went, as a nation, in the 60s!  It’s why (symbolic glory) the Chinese, Russians, Japanese, Indians, Europeans and billionaires are desperate to plant flags and dusty footprints on that useless plain. 

Indeed, it's why some business should invest in lunar capabilities!  Because making money off tourists is a perfectly legitimate business plan!

Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway
4- Hence, a Lunar Orbit Station makes sense! Set up shop above the moon. For one thing, it could peer down and search for ores-n-such to prove me wrong!

Plus, instead of being tourist-suckers, let’s sell tourism! Charge hotel and landing services for all those symbolism-obsessed lunar Apollo-wannabe tourists! Charge the Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Indians, Europeans and billionaires! 

A lunar orbit station is also perfect for analyzing asteroid samples and testing methods for human deep space flight. That was the plan approved by all the sage NASA advisory panels who actually know stuff and weighed all factors, till symbolism-obsessed politicians over-ruled everybody who actually knows stuff.

== The two biggest reasons not to get trapped in dusty quicksand ==

5- Dig-it. There is no reason for Americans to repeat past glories when we could be accomplishing things that only we can do

Read that twice. Why repeat what we did ages ago? Things the Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Indians, Europeans and billionaires are eager and ready to do?

Let’s do things they can’t!

6- Oh, then there's the dust itself. Nasty, nasty stuff. Sharp, brittle grains that... oh, look it up.

7- Prediction.  If we start a big “return to the moon” push, for American glory, it will prove expensive. And suddenly, a GOP president will declare a diplomatic victory! Remember when the jingoistic “Space Station Freedom” suddenly got transformed into the “International Space Station”?  Well, Trump and/or his successor will brag and preen over a great new agreement to do Return to the Moon jointly with China and Russia, yippee.

And, of course, this will require technology sharing. And yes, every single U.S. advantage and trade secret and advancement will be given away, while those nations get cost savings for their symbolism-tourism. America - and posterity - get nothing.

8- Finally, my biggest objection is guilt by association

“Back to the moon” has become a central catechism of the Republican Party. The very same people who are waging all-out war on science - and every other fact-using profession - are also the folks shouting “back to the moon!” 

Seriously, this is no coincidence. The correlation is perfect. And while guilt-by-association may be less than mature, in this case it is spectacularly apropos. Those who are trying to cripple every single aspect of U.S. science also want NASA to fritter away our one chance to lead the new space era, by repeating an insipid obsession with useless, dusty footprints.  This is what the sworn enemies of science and progress want.

That fact should be enough for anyone.

Ad Astra.

==

Addendum on why there are few useful "ores" on the moon.

Why are there fractionated - or already partly-refined “ores”-  on asteroids, but not on the moon?  Refinable ores are the result of some kind of natural separation process… or else the delivery of something already separated.

-  On Earth the separation processes usually involve water flows, sometimes volcanism, or else meteoritic impacts.  Most of Earth’s metal sank into the core, long before the Moon formed from Earth’s light crust.

- Most asteroids come either from volatile-rich comets, or else from a shattered proto-planet. Millions are from that planet’s core. So, you have some asteroids rich in water (which should be fairly easy to harvest, using the "baggie" method), and some that are stunningly rich in almost already refined metal.

- The moon started metal poor (from Earth’s outer crust). No water separation processes. Some scattered meteoritic iron (that came from guess where?) A little water at the poles. 

Oh… and Helium3! Mythological, with no actual evidence and no known customers.  Next time someone like Scott Pace armwaves vague reasons for shifting all of our efforts to the Moon, do ask for specific studies weighing the likely wealth and benefits that real scientists have assayed to be actually present on the lunar surface, and actual tradeoffs of the "way station" argument. If he doesn't offer decisive links... well... you know.

132 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! At last the Russians were useful for something. It seems that we will never have to recharge our cell phones again:

https://phys.org/news/2018-06-prototype-nuclear-battery-power.html#nRlv

Winter7

JohnF_SD said...

Helium-3?

Anonymous said...

Go So the Psyche asteroid is an 18-carat nickel-gold nugget. A gold nugget 252 kilometers in diameter. Humm It seems that the price of gold will go down a bit:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5148821/The-10-000-quadrillion-asteroid-revealed.html

Winter7

Daniel Duffy said...

Not only should we forget about the Moon, we should forget about the planets.

Screw planets.

The near term future of manned colonization of space should be the asteroid belt. So instead of Mars, we should colonize the dwarf planet Ceres (the largest body in the asteroid belt) in order to establish a logistical base for asteroid prospecting and mining. Ceres has no significant gravity well to overcome and lots of water for life and fuel.

So instead of Star Fleet planting human colonies on the surfaces of planets, we'll have the Weyland-Yutani Corporation contracting out the asteroid equivalent of arctic oil rig and crab fishing operations - extremely dirty and dangerous work with a high death rate. Think "rough necks in space" performing work that makes investors back home extremely wealthy, mankind more prosperous and the workers themselves a small fortune with each service contract (if they live long enough to return to Earth to spend their money).

Maybe we'll have the occasional scientific base established on Mars or floating in the atmosphere of Venus, but they'll be no bigger than a current Antarctic weather station. So forget about the bright, shiny and clean Enterprise piloted by bright young academy grads, our future in space is the dirty, gritty and dangerous Nostromo manned by blue collar truck drivers. In fact, our whole future in space will look more like the "Alien" universe instead of "Star Trek" (hopefully without face huggers and chest bursters).

Anonymous said...

Impossible to build a ship with a warp impulse? Well ... I could not tell you ... I must not say it. No. I will not tell you ... Oh well. I'll tell you! :

https://www.slideshare.net/cliffordstone/plasma-propulsionm2p2

There they are. Build your galactic Federation. (But without Donald Trump and similar)

Winter7

Steven Hammond said...

David Brin said: Andy Weir (author of “The Martian”) wanted to write about a lunar colony in ARTEMIS. He wracked his brain for any economic justification for such a colony, and found only one reason to make a near term lunar settlement: tourism.

As folks here, know, I have an interest in the Younger-Dryas Impact Hypothesis which mounting evidence makes more an more plausible. The current hypothesis for the source of the extraterrestrial impact(s) invoked is a shower of objects in the Taurid complex from a fragmented meteor. Apparently some scientists believe significant impacts (and air bursts) from extraterrestrial objects occur with alarming frequency. For example, . the Tunguska event would have been absolutely devastating over a populated area and that type of event may not be all that rare.

I know next to nothing about the astronomy and cosmology, but I have to ask if their might be a security justification for bases on either the moon or mars to counter a swarm of potentially civilization ending objects impacting the earth? Would there be any benefit in having the response system located on the moon or Mars as opposed to the earth?

As I said, I know next to nothing about this and I'm interested in knowledgable (or semi-knowledgable) thoughts on this.

Anonymous said...


Steven Hammond
Of course, I know you understand that many systems to divert asteroids could be aimed against us by the owners of the casinos on the moon. And I'm talking about laser beams and kinetic weapons. (Both systems are options for diverting asteroids). But ... Why should we sign up with those Donald Trump weapons? Hooo. I forgot it. He does not. But the Russians do. And all that is Donald Trump. It is also shared property with the Russians. (Below the water) (secretly)

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Because Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin shared everything since they met that night at the Moscow casino hotel. (Dimmed light, candles everywhere, mirrors on the ceiling, and of course, what sealed the secret love of both: A video camera hidden behind a mirror). Since then nothing can interfere between them. What history Someday they will make a hotel on the moon, and the two of them will be able to romp in zero gravity, between candles and soft music.

Winter7

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Steven Hammond

Consider two futures
(1) Colonies on moon and mars
(2) Colonies/asteroid resource extraction

Which one would be better placed to stop the impactors?

Would it not be better to save the earth rather than have a colony to re-populate it?

And I'm still incredibly UNCONVINCED about the Younger-Dryas Impact Hypothesis - still no evidence AND a total absence of the evidence that would be obvious

Anonymous said...

Hooo. I had not thought of that. Perhaps Donald Trump wants a colony on the moon because he knows that a huge asteroid is on a collision course with the earth. Donald and two hundred Russian prostitutes will wait on the moon and when the earth is destroyed, they will wait for it to be habitable again to return and repopulate the planet with children with popo emoji hair.

Winter7

Steven Hammond said...

@ Duncan Cairncross who said:

And I'm still incredibly UNCONVINCED about the Younger-Dryas Impact Hypothesis - still no evidence AND a total absence of the evidence that would be obvious

Well, I wouldn't expect everyone to be convinced by the evidence that does exist regarding the YDIH. (I'm about 75% convinced myself). I suspect the evidence will continue to accumulate that will make the YDIH almost as certain as the K-Pg impact. It's going to be a harder job due to the smaller impacts/airbursts, the ice sheets etc, but I think evidence will accumulate. IT took 10 years between the Alvarez's original paper describing the impact theory any proxy evidence and the discovery of the Chiixculub crater and even since then, there are still scientists not convinced by that theory.and its evidence.

In any event, I suspect you DO believe in the Tunguska event and if that sort of thing is relatively common, is there any advantage to having humans on the moon, mars, etc to interdict these objects or can it all be done remotely by satellites etc.? That is my real question right now.

Alfred Differ said...

16 Psyche is a long way out there. We are going to need volatiles long before we will need refined metals in 100 km sized nuggets. Best stick with NEO stuff for the short term.

The best argument I saw FOR the Moon and what little it has in terms of resources is that it is in our backyard. Imagine being an investor in London and you have an option to mine tin in Cornwall and another somewhere out in Siberia. The Siberian mine could have far more refined metals in it, but the cost you'd incur by the long duration of your money at risk might tempt you to stay local... for a while.

Meteoric impacts on the Moon might be interesting in that sense, but not for long. Lunar oxygen cracked the hard way from the dust might be interesting, but not for long. The regolith itself for construction material might be interesting, but not for long. How long? Until people start poking around among the NEO's and bringing stuff home. If you want to make the Moon a good investment, you need regulations telling people not to go to the asteroids. Those should be fun to enforce. 8)

In the long run, I think the Moon's gravity will be the most valuable thing about it. Bring volatiles back from NEO's likely involves using some of the product to get the rest to market. The Moon can help there using fly-by tricks.

Anonymous said...

The Sudbury basin formed as a result of an impact into the Nuna supercontinent from a bolide approximately 10–15 km (6.2–9.3 mi) in diameter that occurred 1,849 million years ago[2] in the Paleoproterozoic era.
Debris from the impact was scattered over an area of 1,600,000 km2 (620,000 sq mi) thrown more than 800 km (500 mi); rock fragments ejected by the impact have been found as far as Minnesota.[3]
Models suggest that for such a large impact, debris was most likely scattered globally,[4] but has since been eroded away. Its present size is believed to be a smaller portion of a 130 km (81 mi) round crater that the bolide originally created. Subsequent geological processes have deformed the crater into the current smaller oval shape. Sudbury Basin is the third-largest crater on Earth, after the 300 km (190 mi) Vredefort crater in South Africa, and the 150 km (93 mi) Chicxulub crater in Yucatán, Mexico.

The large impact crater filled with magma containing nickel, copper, platinum, palladium, gold, and other metals. In 1856 while surveying a baseline westward from Lake Nipissing, provincial land surveyor Albert Salter located magnetic abnormalities in the area that were strongly suggestive of mineral deposits. The area was then examined by Alexander Murray of the Geological Survey of Canada, who confirmed "the presence of an immense mass of magnetic trap".
Due to the then-remoteness of the Sudbury area, Salter's discovery did not have much immediate impact. The later construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway through the area, however, made mineral exploration more feasible. The development of a mining settlement occurred in 1883 after earth moving at the railway construction site revealed a large concentration of nickel and copper ore at what is now the Murray Mine site.

Winter's note: therefore, I gather that the huge impacts we see on the moon may have left mineral deposits of some value. (I suppose).
Anyway ... Geothermal activity was recently detected on the moon. That implies that the core of the moon has "magma". And if there is volcanic activity now, there was probably intense volcanic activity at the beginning of the moon's existence. And where there are volcanoes, there are often metals and all kinds of minerals. Because often the "magma" drags the metals to the surface.
And because of other details, I suspect there are "rare earths" on the moon. But I can not say the cause without exposing a trick of "mineral hunter".
In any case. I wonder what we would find if we dug a mine shaft on the moon, with a depth of ten kilometers.

Winter7

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Steven
The Tunguska event knocked over about 2000 square Km of trees
the USA is 10 million square Km - so about 5000 times that size

If we had another one just now it could destroy a city - or do almost no damage

About 3% of the land on earth is built on - so maybe 1% of the total area of the earth
We could get unlucky - but the odds are against it

The key would be
Detection - and orbital would be no use - it would need to be detected at least months away
Getting to it and deflecting it

With all of those a society with significant assets out in the asteroid belt would be better placed to do something!

And this rolls into the problem I have with the Younger-Dryas Impact Hypothesis
An actual impact throwing millions of tons of crap into the stratosphere could have a major effect - but would be blindingly obvious in the ice cores if it was only a few thousand years ago
Anything less than that would not have effected most animal species - it would take thousands of Tunguska Events to have any chance of killing off creatures that had already survived seven? glacial periods

dav said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dav said...

The russkies will steal our rocket technology. The rocket technology so advanced that US astronauts have to hitch rides on Soyuz rockets. Another episode in David's saga of Russian boyars impurifying his precious bodily fluids to turn him into a serf.

Paul451 said...

While pure-metal asteroids sound sexy, you are better off metal-mining "wet" asteroids. They will have a certain percentage of metal in their surface regolith (1-10%) from impacts from smaller metal asteroids. (As does the moon.) Being iron-rich, it's easily separated from the rest of the regolith by magnets. And there is more than enough metal on a single "wet" C-type asteroid to develop your technology and satisfy any current metals-from-space market. Meanwhile the volatile-rich asteroid provides the fuel (and air/water) necessary for the permanent presence of humans in space.

Focusing on metal asteroids now is too early.

--

Re: Saving the Earth.

Colonies on Mars will be dependent on Earth for... a long time. During that time they will be a pure resource sink, and cannot survive a loss of interest by their sponsors. Think of how quickly public and political interest in space dropped after Apollo 11. I find it very unlikely that a Mars settlement will ever be financially self-sufficient, let alone able to survive a major set-back on Earth. And worse, you are going from one-planet, to two.

The only reason anyone will care about asteroids (other than a small scientific interest) is because you can make money from them. To support existing and near-future activities in space, commercial and government, and hopefully to develop resources that can be profitably exported back to Earth. Then to lower the cost of living and operating in space enough to make other activities cost effective (like SPS). If that continues, and you end up with an asteroids-based cluster of settlements, you develop not a single self-sufficient colony, but an ecosystem. Each element is dependent on others, but collectively they are robust against any loss. IMO, by the time a Mars colony could cope with the loss of Earth, a multi-asteroid ecosystem would be rich. (In the sense of the old line: "You may think space travel is expensive, but that's only because we're poor, because we don't have access to the limitless resources of space.")

The path to becoming a "multi-planetary species" does not pass through Mars. Going to Mars merely delays (and risks) the moment when civilisation truly extends beyond Earth.

(Aside: Steven, the technologies developed for asteroid utilisation are also the technologies needed to save-the-world from large asteroid impacts. Not only are you mapping everything you can find out there, you have a network of deep-space ships designed for asteroid missions.)

locumranch said...


Successful asteroid mining would have catastrophic consequences to the global economy & plunge humanity in a global depression.

You oversimplify when you assume that gold (or any material resource) equals wealth. Rather, it is the relative scarcity of said resource that makes it valuable.

We value gold because it is relatively scarce. It is so scarce that we could fit the entire global supply of refined gold -- all 170 thousand tonnes -- into a 20 meter cube.

The economic effect of harvesting Psyche, all 252 kilometers of it, would reduce the value of gold by over 10,000 times & render it valueless. The same holds true for every valuable mineral known to man.

Psyche would make a great radiation proof habitat though. That's what David has failed to tell you. Asteroid Mining only makes economic sense if those resources --and humanity -- stay forever in space, having only negative value for all those humans who remain behind in Earth's gravity well.

In effect, successful asteroid mining would be a big FU to earthbound humanity, especially when an asteroid half Psyche's size & mass would be big enough to exterminate all life on Earth in a single blow.

This makes both Space Travel & Asteroid Mining a tough sell, as no democracy is going to support an economic plan that screws over 99.999% of earthbound humanity in order to benefit a few privileged super-rich astrojerks.

But, if we could convince the people of Earth that our planet was doomed by climate change or some other life-ending catastrophe, then maybe -- just maybe -- we could panic humanity into buying into the space travel & asteroid mining lifeboat lottery:

Act Now! Mortgage your present & your children's future for the chance of surviving the destruction of Earth! Price of entry is all your worldly wealth & your unquestioning obedience. Odds of winning & actually going into space estimated at 1 in 500 million per entry.

Elysium awaits you if you possess either fantastic wealth or extraordinary luck.


Best

Jon S. said...

Winter, there has been no geothermal activity on the Moon. It's solid, and cold. I wonder if you're thinking of the cryovolcanic activity found on some of the moons of the outer gas giants? And as can be seen on a clear night, magma doesn't fill in lunar craters, because there isn't any.

Steven, there are two problems with using Luna as an asteroid defense. 1) The Outer Space Treaty of 1968 specifically prohibits placing weapon systems of any sort on the Moon, or indeed any "celestial body". 2) Luna's month-long orbit around Earth pretty well guarantees that whatever you want to defend against, it's in the wrong part of the sky.

Alfred, a better comparison might be your hypothetical investor being offered the opportunity to mine a rich deposit in Siberia, but opting to simply dig a hole in Cornwall in an area devoid of ores because it's closer. As David points out, there's simply no reason to suspect there are any worthwhile ores in Luna.

Steven Hammond said...

Thanks @Duncan Cairncross, @Paul451 and Jon S for the response to my question. That's all very helpful.

Duncan Cairncross said: And this rolls into the problem I have with the Younger-Dryas Impact Hypothesis
An actual impact throwing millions of tons of crap into the stratosphere could have a major effect - but would be blindingly obvious in the ice cores if it was only a few thousand years ago
Anything less than that would not have effected most animal species - it would take thousands of Tunguska Events to have any chance of killing off creatures that had already survived seven? glacial periods


This is essentially what the YDIH people are proposing and it's also what is especially frightening (if true) as dealing with a single large bolide may be much easier (as far as tracking and intervening to move the orbit etc) than a "swarm" of hundreds or thousands of large comet fragments.

Oh, and here is a very interesting podcast I recently listened to with an the host, an archaeologist, and a geologist discussing the YDIH with George Howard of the Comet Impact Group that you or others might be interested in. Seven Ages Audio Journal Episode Nine: Riddle of the Younger Dryas I found it to be a reasonable and honest discussion of the theory and research and the group seems to be very knowledgeable and reasonable.

LarryHart said...

Apropos nothing except the kind of thing that flits around my mind when I'm on support rotation past midnight, as I was last night.

If you flip the M into a W and move the letters around a bit, MAGA becomes AWGA:

"America Was Great Already!"

I need to have a hat made up.

Anonymous said...

With the passage of time, I have noticed that the space agencies have left aside the concept of the space station in the form of a wheel, which is ideal to create a substitute for artificial gravity: the centrifugal force.
I suppose that the lack of budget is the reason why the concept of the wheel was left aside. But every time I realize that spending months without performing exercises is devastated for the human body. I can not imagine myself working in the asteroid belt without the option of being able to return every day to the comfort of a gravity substitute and I can not imagine how I could avoid catastrophic damage to my muscles and internal organs without that device. If I were a businessman willing to create a mining company in the asteroid belt, I would not hesitate to include in my plans a pair of wheels with sections to grow plants. (of all kinds, especially algae) to have fresh food and some autonomy.

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@Jon S | I mostly agree about the Moon not having anything worthwhile to mine. I can only think of two _possible_ exceptions and they depend heavily on people NOT going to the asteroids. IF there was some reason for not going further afield (like no one putting up the money) then lunar oxygen and a few impact sites might be worth the analysis.

I have John Lewis' big 'resources' book on my desk and the authors of the articles in it have lots to say regarding 'how' questions, but I've never been impressed by anyone's financial analysis unless they actually worked in the mining industry. During my years at the SFF, one such guy took the time to educate a few of us and it was an eye-opening experience that my former academic self would not have understood.

'How' is only part of the problem. The real problem is so old and common people look right past it. Who pays?

It's the same issue whether it involves mining off-world resources or setting up colonies. Who pays? Answering that leads one down a trail of realizations regarding how humans ACTUALLY colonize places. Who pays depends on who trades. We modern humans displaced our cousins when we colonized their lands because we trade.

Marshall Boice said...

Locum, that is not what wealth is. See below.

"Distinguish between wealth, illth, and money.

Wealth is best conceived as all the changes in the “natural” (prehuman) environment that are to the benefit of humanity and/or other life forms. A bridge that gets you across the river without your having to stop and build a raft is wealth in this sense. So is an airport. So is the furniture in your house. Think of ten other examples.

Illth, a term coined by John Ruskin, can be conceived as all the changes in the environment that are detrimental to humanity and/or to life itself. Weaponry, then, should be classed as illth, not wealth. Think of ten other examples.

Money is neither wealth nor illth but merely tickets for the transfer of wealth or illth.

Proof: if all the money disappeared overnight, the national standard of living would not change (whatever happened to individuals in the interim); things would be back to normal as soon as the Treasury printed more tickets. But if all the real wealth and illths — all the industrial plants, natural resources, roads, communications, and “real capital” generally — were to disappear, we would be plunged back into the Stone Ages and no issue of currency would improve the situation.

Note also that for all the “real capital” to disappear, all the technical knowhow in human heads would have to vanish. No economist, to my knowledge, has tried to calculate how much of our “real capital” consists of ideas in human heads (brain power) and/or of canned ideas stored in libraries or on tape. A reasonable guess is that 90 per cent of our wealth and illth consists of such brain creations."

and again:

"The distinction between Real Capital and Money Capital can be elucidated simply. If all the Real Capital (which includes things like maps and roads as well as factories) were to disappear overnight, we would be back in the Middle Ages. If all the Money Capital (cash, stocks, bonds, etc.) disappeared, there would be one hell of a fight over who “owned” what, but the world would be the same. All the hard, tangible, real wealth would still be there."

You really need to comprehend and see the ramifications of the above.(Actually, I think you do, better than we know, but you insist on this downward spiral). There's a multitude of alternative economic game rules that can be used to account for super abundance. Silvio Gessell is an early innovator who offered alternatives to the current rules of money to better reflect real wealth.

Anonymous said...

Jon S:
¿ You say there's been no volcanic activity on the moon? Well; I guess that's what they used to think, but there are "new" data; and where there is "magma" there may be minerals and geothermal activity:

https://phys.org/news/2017-03-young-looking-lunar-volcano-true-age.html

https://phys.org/news/2014-08-hot-moon-tidal-deepest-lunar.html

https://phys.org/news/2012-04-scientists-evidence-lunar-volcanism.html

Winter7

locumranch said...


Steven_H deserves a medal for suggesting a security justification for both space travel and bases on either the moon or mars to counter a swarm of potentially civilization ending objects impacting the earth which, IMHO, would go something like this:

Goon in fedora & trench coat enters generic store front (bell rings)

"Howdy Pops, nice place you have here. It would be a SHAME if something terrible happened to it", says goon as he parts his coat to reveal a large gat. "It would be just awful if your place just happened to burn to the ground like that unfortunate Greek diner on the corner. Lucky for you that my 'organisation' offers a Fire Protection Plan starting at just a hundred clams a week".

Dressed alike from coat to gat, three more goons enter that shop

"A good choice," says the goon, "Now, let me introduce to a few of my associates: Al from climate, Jimmy from accidents and Vinny from asteroids."

The first associate steps forward

"Nice climate you have here", says Al Gore, "It would be a SHAME if something terrible happened to it."


Best

locumranch said...


Addendum--
I agree with Marshall_B's statements about wealth & money with a few minor clarifications:

(1) Money is neither wealth nor ilith (but merely symbolises one or the other);
(2) Wealth is best conceived as physical & material goods of value;
(3) Knowledge represents potential wealth rather than actual wealth; and
(4) Ilith, defined as everything detrimental to humanity & life itself, is an alias for my ex-wife.

Now, we are in total agreement :)

Donald Gisselbeck said...

Remember that Roger Stone ("conservative" "thinker" and advisor to the thin-skinned doofus) said he believes the moon landings were faked.https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2016/10/19/top-trump-adviser-roger-stone-moon-landing-video-was-hoax-filmed-new-jersey/213921

Anonymous said...


Correction: IBM says that our space travel partner will not be called HAL 9000. Actually, it will be called: CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion).
I see the ads in thirty years: "Do not go out into space without your CIMON 9000" (I would never forget my faithful artificial intelligence. (Especially in forty-five years)

Link:

https://phys.org/news/2018-05-aistory-2001aspaceodyssey.html

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Hooo.¡What a relief! ¡I already felt those drones buzzing in our ears!

Link:

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/google-project-maven-cancelled-military-ai-drones-pentagon-a8379821.html



Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | The same holds true for every valuable mineral known to man.

VERY simplistic of you.

We used to prize refined aluminum very high. It's a pain in the butt to reduce it... until we figured out how to do it with less expense and then the price plummeted... until we found new uses for it and the price went back up.

Folks who argue we will destroy the economy with cheap metals don't get it. Economics is a big substitution game. When one commodity becomes cheaper than it used to be, we find other ways to use it to substitute for expensive ones. If demand drops for the expensive ones, they become cheaper again and we go another round.

The only people who have to worry about prices crashing are investors trying to recover their costs and earn their expected returns. That's the game they all play, though. Some are good at it. Some suck at it. Everyone else benefits, though, as long as they keep trying.


One doesn't even have to look only at commodities to see this rule. Clothing used to cost huge amounts in real wages. Not so anymore and we've found many, many more uses for the stuff. Go to a convention and people give it away just to get you to wear their logos. 8)

Anonymous said...

Alfred Differ:

Good. I suppose those who manage to reach the asteroids will not bring everything to earth. For a few years (fifteen, probably) Well, they will not want the devaluation of gold to be quick. What case would it have? . They will spend the gold, platinum etc, discreetly, trying to cheat the stock market and when the market is obviously saturated, by then the miners of the asteroids will have spent their gold buying Apple; Google; Mercedes Benz; WallMart; etc.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

I wonder ¿what those billionaires who keep hundreds of gold bars in Swiss vaults will do when they find out that hundreds of tons of gold are on their way to our world? What will they do? ¿Will they stand with their arms crossed, smiling stoically at the twists of fate? I suppose so, because the billionaires of our world are supposed to be sensible and good-hearted people.

Winter7

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Nice climate you have here", says Al Gore, "It would be a SHAME if something terrible happened to it."


You perceive Al Gore as threatening to cause climate change as a threat unless we do...what exactly?


(4) Ilith, defined as everything detrimental to humanity & life itself, is an alias for my ex-wife.


Remember that old Benny Hill ditty:

Now your wife is smarter
Than ever you were,
'Cause she married you
But you married her!
...

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

I wonder ¿what those billionaires who keep hundreds of gold bars in Swiss vaults will do when they find out that hundreds of tons of gold are on their way to our world? What will they do?


The more important question is what will their sycophants and bodyguards do?

Daniel Duffy said...

What would be the economic benefits of mining the asteroid belt? What industrial activity in the belt would be profitable enough to justify this activity in the first place? Granted it has a wealth of mineral and metal resources that can be obtained and processed without the excessive cost of dragging equipment and material up from a deep planetary gravity well. As such it these resources will later be invaluable for building the infrastructure and transportation necessary to colonize the solar system.

But what would be the initial Earth market for such materials that would justify asteroid mining and give investors a profitable reason to invest? And could this industry compete with its terrestrial competitors? The answer unfortunately is no - it can't hope to be competitive. It simply makes no economic sense to feed Earth bound industries with asteroid resources. Even if an asteroid of solid platinum the size of a mountain could be found and dragged back to Earth orbit, all this sudden oversupply would accomplish is to crash its market value to the point where it wasn't worth getting in the first place (and to create a permanently depressed market value that would discourage further such ventures). And forget about baser metals like iron and nickel. We won't be dropping loads of iron from orbit (the price of which would greatly add to the operating costs of a material whose oversupply has just caused its market value to crash).

So what would be the economic justification for colonizing the asteroid belt? Colonies need to make money or they become expensive and unnecessary white elephants. Spain's New World empire was made economically viable by gold and silver. The Virginia colony survived because it grew tobacco. Brazil and the Caribbean provided sugar. Space colonization will require a similar economic rationale for existing. It would have to provide a commodity that can ignore the costs of climbing up a gravity well or dropping down through an atmosphere.

Only non-material commodities like energy and information meet these criteria. Scientific information brought back from planetary probes is invaluable in its own way, but doesn't have much in the way of actual market value. However, infinite amounts of clean energy from the sun however can transform our economy and our civilization – and it’s all done with mirrors. Mirrors and lenses.

(cont.)

Daniel Duffy said...

(cont.)

At present, mankind’s annual energy use comes to about 20 terawatts, and is increasing approximately 3% per year. But this is tiny compared to the sunlight received every second by planet Earth, which is approximately 175,000 trillion watts (175 petawatts), or 8,750 times more than our current energy use. Altogether, the Sun radiates 385 yottawatts (385 trillion trillion watts) of energy, or 2.2 BILLLION times more than is received by the Earth.

In space no one can hear you generate nearly infinite amounts of essentially free energy, all you need are simple – if very large - mirrors and lenses. And these are remarkably easy to make in the zero gravity of space.

Making giant lenses and mirrors of different shapes could direct concentrated sunlight to desired locations in the solar system. More than one lens or mirrors in multiple locations seems like a feasible task.

Large lensing structures may not be something of the far future. There was a 2007 NASA NIAC study for making large bubbles in space. Devon Crowe of PSI corporation made a study for making large space structures from bubbles that are made rigid using metals or UV curing.

A single bubble can be 1 meter in earth gravity, 100 kilometer in low earth orbit or 1000 kilometers in deep space. Foams made of many bubbles could be far larger in size.

The size of a 1000 kilometer bubble is nearly the size of Charon, the moon of Pluto. Charon is 1200 kilometers in diameter. Saturn's moon Tethys is 1050-1080 kilometers in diameter Ceres the largest object in the asteroid belt is 970 kilometers in diameter. A single tesselation foam (like in the picture) of 1000 kilometer bubbles would be about the size of Earth's moon. A Penrose tesselation like the one in the picture of 1000 kilometer bubbles would be in between the size of Neptune or Saturn. A Tesselation foam of 100 kilometer bubbles in earth orbit could form an object the size our existing moon or larger.

Metal can be evaporated to coat the inside of the bubble for reflective sails and telescopes.

Daniel Duffy said...

We need to find a way to re-create the triangular trade that created so much wealth during the age of sale (but without the slavery).

Then:

Slaves were shipped from Africa to the Americas
The slaves made sugar, tobacco, etc. which was shipped to England
England made textiles and other manufactured goods which were shipped to Africa

Future:

Robots and Humans are shipped from Earth to the Asteroid Belt
The robots and humans make ships, infrastructure and solar power satellites which are assembled in Low Earth Orbit
The solar power satellites transmit energy back to Earth

IOW:

Earth = Africa
Asteroid Belt = The Americas
Low Earth Orbit = England

And you create a self sustaining and expanding system of wealth creation.

locumranch said...


This just in from the BBC:

Preeminent Climate Scientist Margaret Atwood (whose climate science credentials consist of a BA & MA in English Literature) validates the science behind climate change theory, equates climate change with misogyny because "80% of the dead we register in climate disasters are women" & states her belief that climate change can be reversed by gender equality & the elimination of 'single use plastics'.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44338877

And guess what?

I also possess a BA in English Literature, so I must also be a frigging 'Climate Scientist' with unparalleled expertise in Climate Change. I look forward to seeing Margaret & David at our next big climate science get-together.

Toodles.
____

Exactly Alfred: Like an oversupply of clothing, abundancy REDUCES the value of every commodity, including gold & the once invaluable university level degree, as exemplified by all the Comparative Literature PhDs with Climate Science expertise pouring coffee at my local Starbucks. And, once all those valuable shirts become too cheap & plentiful, the cost/benefit ratio of shirt manufacture will drop below zero & their production will cease.

donzelion said...

Daniel Duffy: "We need to find a way to re-create the triangular trade that created so much wealth during the age of sale (but without the slavery)."

Why would we need to move anything from space down to Earth? All we need is some modicum of 'control' over gold in space, so that we could allocate ownership interests and trade them. That gold could sit in orbit - much like the gold in Fort Knox - waiting for some industrial use IN SPACE - without ever coming down here - and still be bought and sold six million ways from Sunday. Same with any other asset.

And why would we need humans shipped in any sort of numbers to the asteroid belt? What can we do up there that robots can't do better/faster/more safely? And of those things we CAN do that robots can't and probably will never do (make babies, raise them, etc.), is there any special reason we need to do them there, rather than here?

Anonymous said...


LarryHart:
In reality, the conquest of asteroids is something that would be convenient. Remember those GESTAPO SS officers who escaped and took hundreds of millions in gold with them? Remember that this gold is stained with the blood of thousands of Jewish families who suffered rape and torture to such an extent that we could not even imagine how it happened. They murdered them and stripped them of their jewels and tore the golden fillings from their teeth.
But now, thanks to the miners of the asteroids, all that bloody gold will turn to dust in the hands of those Nazi families. Poetic justice.
Some of those agents of the SS Gestapo managed to change their names and surnames. I wonder what name would choose a GESTAPO officer who arrives in the United States. Probably, that SS officer; full of evil pride I would choose a name that would sound very triumphant.
Moving on to another issue. I just remembered that the US dollars are backed by a certain amount of money stored in the form of bullion in the national reserve .... OR; O. I think there are storm clouds on the horizon ... Is not that situation something that Two Scoops would consider a matter of national security? I suppose it is possible that the usurper psychopath could legally block the space mining companies; leaving the road free to the Russians.

Winter7

Anonymous said...



Donzelion:
“Why would we need to move anything from space down to Earth? All we need is some modicum of 'control' over gold in space, so that we could allocate ownership interests and trade them. That gold could sit in orbit - much like the gold in Fort Knox - waiting for some industrial use IN SPACE - without ever coming down here - and still be bought and sold six million ways from Sunday. Same with any other asset.
And why would we need humans shipped in any sort of numbers to the asteroid belt? What can we do up there that robots can't do better/faster/more safely?”
True. That is the right approach. But I had forgotten the Russians in my calculations. Should we assume that they do not know what the mining companies plan? In fact, I must wisely assume that the Russians could be more advanced in the preparation of robotic missions to the asteroid belt. A new career between Russians and Americans. But this time, whoever wins will dominate the world.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Last minute announcement: ¿Did you see the photos of Johnny Depp on his tour in Europe?
I think the actor is on the verge of dying from a drug overdose.
How sad. those who possess everything throw life into drainage for senseless vices. what madness

Winter7

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Daniel Duffy

I agree using the materials in orbit would be the first stage

Nickel is worth about $10/kg - and that is not a "scarcity value" - if we can deliver it to a refinery on earth for $5/kg we could make money

Just looking at the final step - a hollow nickel ball with an overall density of less than 1 (so it floats) could be dropped into a lake and then towed to the refinery

Not sure what the optimum size would be - a 1 ton ball about 1.6 meters in diameter would be a first WAG

Jon S. said...

Okay, just took a quick gander at the uses of platinum (many). Looks like even if a massive chunk were to be delivered, the only thing that would crash would be the overpriced market amongst those who would hoard the metal as an investment. It's greatly in demand for such things as catalytic converters, cancer treatments, fuel cells, hard drives, jewelry (making it more common won't make it less attractive), and even glassmaking equipment.

The same applies to gold, as well - its industrial uses would outweigh its value as an investment, is all.

Alfred Differ said...

@winter 7 | It is not hard to figure out what commodity owners would do if they had a ton of gold (or water ice or whatever) in the bag from their space mines. Just imagine a small change to the story and then personalize it like this...

Suppose you had a small 18K gold ring in your pocket and wanted to turn it into cash. You'd probably want to find someone who would pay well for it, but if you spend too much time looking for them, you lose out on the advantage to having cash in hand now. At some point you will accept a bid lower than the theoretical maximum. You might sell it to a pawn shop or the local jewelry store in the mall. You probably won't get the attention of big market players for the small amount you have.

Now suppose you have 100 kilos of of .999 refined gold in bars with certificates demonstrating where it all comes from and that all export fees have been paid to authorities who governed the land where it was removed. You probably aren't going to take it to the local mall or a small jeweler, but you are still going to look for someone offers a decent bid. If your gold matched the quality and standards one finds in typical futures contracts for gold on various markets, you'd have options not available for selling tiny quantities. You might be inclined to talk to traders who are obligated to sell quantities they do not yet own and see what deals you could make.

Now suppose you don't have the gold yet, but you know where it is, how to extract it, how to pay the fees, and how to deliver it to market to those traders. YOU might start playing in the market for futures contracts AS one of those traders, right? The big question at this point is this. Which market? There is more than one. All of them you say? Good.

Now back to space resources. At present the only markets to which you can deliver commodities are on Earth. Anyone who knows anything about space, though, knows that commodities will be more valuable up there than they will be if they are brought down here. If I want to fly a spacecraft to Mars, I have to lift propellant OFF EARTH. If someone could deliver it to me in orbit at a lower price than it costs me to lift it, I'd be a fool not to buy it up there, right? That means it makes sense for us to extend our commodities markets into space along with any of our activities.

So... if you mine water on an asteroid, does it make sense to bring it back down to Earth? Nah. We've got scads of it here. If someone sets up a fuel depot a the Earth-Moon L2 point, though, they could be the trading post needed for a great deal of activity. As with other pushes into the frontiers, owners of infrastructure will be the men in the middle making money from every deal.

If you mine gold or some other precious metal up there, does it make sense to bring it back down to Earth? Maybe. It depends on how much it costs you to do it relative to the current price of the metals AND what people think the future prices will be. THAT is why futures markets matter so much. People make predictions and then bet fortunes on them. Huge sums of money flow through futures markets.

So, how to we get infrastructure up there? Convince investors there are already customers up there who would pay for services IF those services existed. How do we do that? Convince the people who already have equipment up there that we would sell them services that solve some problems they have IF they would tell our possible investors they'd be willing customers. It takes a lot of work and some excellent persuasion skills, but there are people doing exactly this kind of matchup right now. You might not see them in the news, though.

Alfred Differ said...

Jon S | Platinum also has the nasty little issue that it is incredibly messy to refine and almost never in juicy high concentrations. All the PGM's are tertiary ores at best even in the richest beds. We pick them up IF iron and nickel are paying well AND THEN ONLY IF the PGM's are valuable enough. Otherwise they get left on the ground.

The other metals in the platinum group can be incredibly toxic too. Don't make any mistakes if you want to avoid being hounded by environmentalists who have valid points to make about these metals.

Extracting and refining PGM's elsewhere would be something Mother Earth might appreciate. All we have to do is figure out how to make the numbers work which means making the engineering AND accounting work. Quite a challenge, but worth it. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | Regarding your climate science concerns, you are nut picking again. 'We' are unimpressed.

Regarding shirts having negative value, I'll just laugh and point out that textiles was the first industry to really, seriously industrialize. The price collapse has already happened, yet shirts still get made and sold. I've got a closet full of them.

You have to look past the shirt at some point and realize that's not what people are actually buying when they buy one. Back in the days when most of us owned one set of clothing, it was fashioned in such a way that our social status was clear. Think about your medical lab coat. Any of us looking at you wearing it can tell your profession at a glance and roughly where you should be on the SES ladder. So... if I buy a shirt that gives the impression I'm higher up that ladder than I actually am, am I really buying a shirt? Nah. I'm signaling. I might be heading for a job interview. I might be talking to investors. I might be persuading a woman to come home with me. 8)

We will ALWAYS use the things around us to do what humans do. Which things get used for what depends on current prices. Yesterday I might have offered her a shell necklace. Today she might expect a diamond. Tomorrow, I might need a water-rich asteroid. Some still want the sheepskin, though, to signal my ability to persist stubbornly at a difficult task. These things won't change at the abstraction level. Symbols never go out of style even if particular symbols do.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | What can we do up there that robots can't do better/faster/more safely?

Lots of things, but not in a cost efficient manner for some time yet. We are improvisors in ways the machines can't match... yet.

It's not really a question of man OR machines. It's a question of whether man AND machines makes sense in any particular endeavor. Projects actually employ 'centaurs' made of men and machines. The man/horse mixture ratio is something to tune for each project.

The same applies here on Earth. My employer hires a human, but pairs me up with machines. I WORK as a centaur. What the mix is depends on the tasks.

Anonymous said...



Alfred Differ:
Yes. That is an excellent business strategy for a future in which I can invest in infrastructure. (I know that it is not enough to convince someone that it is possible to do something.) To convince that person, you must be working in space and you must show that you already get very good results, it does not matter if you have obtained modest results, the important thing is have achievements that can be shown to potential investors, but to be able to achieve results, first money is required, and nobody is going to give money without seeing results, that is the irony of always, for example, companies request engineers with ample experience, but those engineers are scarce because nobody takes a risk with someone without experience.
And since nobody is going to invest at the beginning of a space mining company, it is the miner who must risk some money. But in this case it takes a lot of money. And there is a way to get it legally, without borrowing. But I reserve that data, because we are in a blog that everyone can read and we never know who can read our words. In fact, talk about the matter with a girl who is involved in the issue of space mining. (But I learned that it was not a good idea to tell the executive how to get the initial money) Hoo, anyway. The future is not written yet.

Winter7

yana said...

David Brin:

"The moon started metal poor (from Earth’s outer crust). No water separation processes. Some scattered meteoritic iron (that came from guess where?) A little water at the poles."

We're not going anywhere until we get quality radiation shielding.

Have you seen microphotographs of plastics that came back from the ISS? Cosmic rays rip through materials mercilessly. What's that exposure doing to flesh and DNA? I love radiation, believe it's a good driver of evolution, at least inside our shell of magnetism and gasses. But if we put astronauts out there without shielding, they're not going to evolve, they're just going to die heroes.

Hopefully, the answer will be easy, like unrolling fullerenes and studding the lattice with a heavy atom here and there, then running a light electric current through it.

Alfred Differ said...

@winter 7 | ...to convince that person, you must be working in space and you must show that you already get very good results, it does not matter if you have obtained modest results...

No. Not really. The closer you are to very good results, the more believable you are, but the less you should let an investor charge you (handing over equity in your company) for their investments. If you are merely at believable results, they may want to charge quite a bit and own most of your company. It's a choice you get to make. Own lots of a company that won't amount to much or a little of one that might be amazing or might completely flop.

Most investment arrives in multiple rounds if you are any good at it. Most of us aren't that good, so we start by convincing family and friends to put up small amounts of money. The investor on the next level up gets to see that you are at least capable enough to convince family (which can be harder to do than some think), so they might listen. For each step, it is work, work, work.

One of the bigger difficulties I've seen with space start-ups is that only foolish investors take risks outside their domains of expertise and there most of them know diddly about space. That tempted my friends to turn to the alternate approach where the customers themselves were the investors. It's called partnerships. Since the customer are already up there, they DO know something about the field. All you have to do then is convince them you know more and can solve some nagging problem for them... that they can't or for a smaller price than they can. Challenging!

Alfred Differ said...

@yana | Cosmic rays rip through materials mercilessly.

Water. It's amazing stuff.

The volatiles mining people want to turn the stuff into rocket fuel and oxidizer, but need pressurants and tanks.
I like the stuff for radiation shielding where the humans live inside a tank within the tank.

Joseph Discenza said...

"Eat a bug"? Isn't that a TWOTBDA?

Jon S. said...

Luna does have plentiful radiation shielding, though. We call it "rock". And there are apparently some ancient lava tubes, left over from the days when the molten bits of Earth's crust were still cooling in orbit, where our hypothetical lunar residents can set up shop.

So there you go. You can dig into a hole in the ground, drain what little resources Luna has to offer, and maintain a really inadequate "way station" that no sane being would use if free-space options are available - but you're "back on the Moon!", so I guess you can feel accomplished at that point. Pity there's no money left in the budget to do anything else...

Paul451 said...

Winter7,
Re: Artificial gravity.

There's nothing stopping you from building a rotating habitat inside an asteroid. (Indeed, any rotating space-settlement should be surrounded by a non-rotating shell of material, to protect from radiation, meteoroids, provide thermal mass, etc.)

Re: Johnny Depp,

Two seconds on Google suggests he's losing weight to play someone with terminal cancer.

--

Donzelion,
"All we need is some modicum of 'control' over gold in space, so that we could allocate ownership interests and trade them."

A common claim, but no. If that were the case, we wouldn't mine gold for bullion or coin, just allocate a percentage of ownership over the site. In reality, even a site with proven gold reserves, the gold is valued at the market price, minus the cost of extraction, minus a reasonable hedge against future market variation, ownership disputes and regulatory changes. Likewise, the price for gold in space would be the price for gold on Earth minus the cost of getting it to Earth, minus a hedge against the risk of it being way out there.

"What can we do up there that robots can't do better/faster/more safely?"

It might change in the future, but robots are shit at everything you need to do to mine asteroids. Their only potential save-grace is if they can be tele-op'd by nearby humans. (And it has to be nearby. The moon is about as far as you can get with direct control. Closer is better.)

Have a look at how far the Mars rovers have travelled over their lifetimes. Opportunity has been running for 15 years, it's travelled 45km. MSL has managed 20km in 6 years. Lunakhod 2 did 39km in just 4 months: robot, but much more direct control. The Apollo 17 rover did 35km in 3 days, total 4hrs driving time, thanks to Cernan and Schmitt.

locumranch said...


Alfred states that he has "got a closet full of (shirts)", admits that at least a "price collapse has already happened", but laughs at the very idea of shirts ever having negative value.

Q: Why does not Alfred possess 3, 9 or 18 closets full of shirts? Or, own more shoes than Imelda Marcos?

A: Because, for Alfred's purposes, more than a single closet full of shirts (or shoes) has ZERO additional value to him, whereas 18 closets full of shirts would represent a storage problem, a potential fire hazard & achieve a negative value for him.

Seriously now.

Just because Alfred's shirt count has not yet achieved what he perceives as 'negative value' situation does NOT imply that a negative value shirt situation can never happen. It only implies that this negative value situation has not happened YET as far as Alfred is concerned.

Industry wide, however, we can see this negative value process happening for shirts, automobiles & most consumer goods -- which is why the first world has outsourced their production to the third world because the cost/benefit ratio has simply made it infeasible to produce these low value goods at home -- and I have personally seen this process occur for value-laden prescription medicines like Doxycycline.

Yes, of course, these goods may still have a smidgen of positive value to some (ill) people, but not to those companies that have abandoned their manufacture due to a below zero cost/benefit ratio.

We call this 'market failure' when this occurs; our economy metaphorically implodes every time a commodity oversupply like this happens; and cheap asteroid mined goods promise do this BIGLY to the earthbound economy.

In space, even a shipping container full of valueless silica could impact the Earth's surface with the force of a nuclear bomb and, as I am currently earthbound, that's what I perceive as 'negative value'.


Best

sociotard said...

Transparency News:
Police in Berlin Intend to Press Charges Against Black Customers Who Recorded Alleged Racist Encounter at KFC: Report

Darrell E said...

Donald Gisselbeck said...
"Remember that Roger Stone ("conservative" "thinker" and advisor to the thin-skinned doofus) said he believes the moon landings were faked.https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2016/10/19/top-trump-adviser-roger-stone-moon-landing-video-was-hoax-filmed-new-jersey/213921"

A seriously ironic coincidence. Roger Stone was the name of the father in Heinlein's juveniles novel The Rolling Stones. A story about an adventurous family that lived on the moon. Loved that book. Heinlein liked tying stuff together. Grandma Hazel Stone was in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress as a young girl.

Anonymous said...


Paul451:
True. The idea of ​​a centrifugal wheel inside an asteroid is unbeatable. In fact, we can use with more useful area benefit, a rotating cylinder instead of a wheel. (because the radiation is something terrible)
And certainly humans are better than machines in mining matters. Or, anyway; The presence of humans in mines is vital to repair machines, place them in the appropriate place and to solve innumerable unforeseen problems that will appear daily. The mining company that combines heavy machinery; AI and human robots, it will be the most successful company.
But, evidently, the asteroid belt being a very distant place. Humans could not come and go quickly. Or it could be a scheme to serve for seventeen years in the mines of the asteroid belt and then enjoy a juicy pension on earth. But there is a more convenient option for mining companies: Create self-sufficient colonies in the asteroid belt. The mining industry will enjoy such huge profits that they will no doubt be able to place multiple colonies on the asteroids. Companies have always needed a plentiful supply of employees, and humans "trapped" in the colonies, thanks to the romanticism of their parents, will have no choice but to work for the mining companies with the low salary that companies offer. (a grim vision that must be foreseen and avoided) (Perhaps with the establishment of workers' unions (something unlikely in a place without government.) But, undoubtedly, the colonies inhabited by thousands of families are something vital for the future industry space.

Winter7

Jon S. said...

"Or it could be a scheme to serve for seventeen years in the mines of the asteroid belt and then enjoy a juicy pension on earth."

This year has been a little crazy for the Andersons -
You may recall we had some trouble last year,
The Robot Council had us banished to an asteroid,
That hasn't undermined our holiday cheer
And we know it's almost Christmas
By the marks we make on the wall -
That's our favorite time of year!

Merry Christmas
From Chiron Beta Prime
Where we're working in a mine
For our robot overlords -
Did I say overlords?
I meant protectors!
Merry Christmas
From Chiron Beta Prime...


- Jonathan Coulton, "Chiron Beta Prime"

donzelion said...

Paul451: my claim - "All we need is some modicum of 'control' over gold in space, so that we could allocate ownership interests and trade them."
Your response: "If that were the case, we wouldn't mine gold for bullion or coin, just allocate a percentage of ownership over the site."

Not at all: better to look at how capital operates in mining. The rules of valuation on Earth attach when a resource is extracted, converting 'potential value' into 'market value' - but the vehicle that makes the conversion happen is capital, which flows through to the more efficient mines and spreads risk.

Yet even here, we distinguish separate values for resources from different sources - Brent and WTI crude trade differently, and that's in a system where transit from Texas to global markets is easily achieved. For any resource in space, I would picture the same 'separate market' applying - a kg of 'space gold' would certainly have a totally different value from a kg of 'earth gold.' Those values could converge (e.g., if we found an exceptionally cheap way to move that gold from space to Earth, so that moving it here was very profitable); most often, they would deviate dramatically.

"...robots are shit at everything you need to do to mine asteroids."
I claim no expertise in mining, but it seems to me many of our largest mining operations are already robot-driven enterprises whenever it's more cost efficient to do things that way. Often, on Earth, it's simply more efficient to throw humans at a problem than invent, develop, test, and deploy machinery: getting the right human to the problem is little more than the cost of air fare + labor. That will not apply in space, where no human will ever be deployed without extreme costs and risks.

I took a look at those numbers from some of the claimants who tout the need for humans - but their assumptions do not appear justified. Yes, the Lunar module moved further in 3 days than Martian rovers did in years of meandering, but (a) Luna is close enough for us to easily get that sort of machinery there, and (b) were we to do the same work they did in the '70s today, we could go further, faster, safer, at a fraction of the cost: if our host is right, the only reason we don't do so now is because there's little compelling work left to be done, and there are other targets where much work can be done, but which won't be done without immense work.

Anonymous said...



Alfred Differ:
Well, I have tried to convince businessmen to support my plan to stop global warming and I have not obtained any support for the project for years. (And over time I have learned to refine my speech and have presented designs and some honest tricks, but no, actually, in practice, my proposal to companies has always received an answer worthy of Ebenezer Scrooge. of the most powerful companies prefer to sell the future of their own families that drop a couple of dollars) (And that is a fact proven for years by me).
Of course, that does not mean that humanity is doomed. If I manage to become a multimillionaire businessman, you can be sure that I will start the project to stop global warming myself. (Of course, the chances of me being able to become a multimillionaire are scarce, but there is a bit of hope for humanity)

Winter7

donzelion said...

Alfred: Perhaps I learned the wrong lesson from Apollo 13, but it seems to me that while yes, humans are "improvisors in ways the machines can't match... yet" - the bulk of the improvisation occurs from the work of a team, the largest share of which comes from humans on Earth telling humans in space what to do. The humans in space are our hands, eyes, ears - but their primary skill is following directions precisely (and occasionally relaying feedback that corrects mistaken views in the people issuing the directions to them who missed something important).

"It's a question of whether man AND machines makes sense in any particular endeavor."
Agreed - but for mining, I still see no clear reason why it won't be 'man AND machines' with the humans HERE, the machines THERE. The mix depends less on the tasks than the cost/benefit for deploying resources - many tasks one handles routinely MIGHT be handled by a machine - but only at immense cost and delay that renders such an approach inefficient. In space, I should think the calculation would be changed immensely.

locumranch said...


As Jon_S quips, space travel or even a short jaunt to the asteroid belt amounts to exile, the decision never to return to the gravity well of our birth, at least until the discovery of artificial gravity (so our bones & muscles don't atrophy) or the discovery of instantaneous FTL travel by warp or star-gate.

It is as described by Heinlein in 'Moon is Harsh Mistress', praised be his name, that any prolonged absence from Earth's gravity causes irreversible changes to physical capability & biological function, leading to unidirectional exile.

Again, assuming the absence of FTL & artificial gravity, those of us who leave this Earth are never to return (even though our seed may) in much the same manner that any extraterrestrial wealth we collect declines in value once it descends into a gravity well (with the possible exception of either raw energy or knowledge).

Read about it at https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/astronaut-scott-kelly-on-the-devastating-effects-of-a-year-in-space-20170922-gyn9iw.html

But, if you think about, the one-way nature of space travel is a good thing since it reduces the complexity of such an attempt by HALF.


Best

Darrell E said...

donzelion,

I'm not sure how much you and Paul451 disagree on the robot / human asteroid mining question. You seem to be saying that eventually, at some point in the future we will have the technological ability to make robots that can handle all off-planet mining duties. Paul451 seems to have admitted as much while pointing out, or opining, that we are far from that level of technical capability, yet.

For what it's worth I agree completely with Paul451. Right now our robotic capabilities are woefully inadequate for any kind of robotic off-planet mining, and the examples that Paul451 gave are right on point. I'm less sure how long it will be before the technologies advance enough to make it feasible but I am pretty sure that it will be longer than the typical robotics enthusiasts currently predict. It's pretty tough. As technology advances I'm sure that all dangerous and tedious tasks will eventually be done by robotics. But right now the best we've got is Mars landers that take dozens of people years to supervise moving a few tens of kilometers of travel and sampling. It's a long way from this to robotic off-planet mining with no on-site human workers.

Perhaps this means that off-planet resource extraction won't become a real industry until robotics is up to the task. Which I think will be a long while. Or perhaps it means that at least in the beginning there will be humans off-planet directing and maintaining the robots. Yes, that is much more resource intensive, but much of that is a matter of technology also. The technology to lower the cost of getting material that first big step off Earth and for ISRU to a significant degree. Not to mention life support. The problem comes down to a trade-off between time and cost. A human could do what the Opportunity rover has done in it's 13 years on Mars in days. Except the cost would have been, still is, prohibitive. But it might not always be. At least for some people. It may always be cheaper to use a robot but it may become easy and cheap enough to use a human that possible advantages of a human over a robot may be deemed worth the added cost, or it may be worth it simply because humans want to do it.

Anonymous said...

God forbid that republicans-confederates plant plantations and mines in the asteroid belt. That would be the slave paradise that they always wanted.
To prevent that, the real democrats must take possession of the asteroid belt.

¡Alba gu bràth!¡Alba gu bràth!

Winter7

Anonymous said...

It seems that we are suffering from a spam-trick attack. Or maybe our host enabled new google advertising options, which is good. But if he did not make changes, then we are facing a possible attack with spam-trick

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | Sounds to me like you are trying to describe ‘marginal value’ and struggling with the actually definition. If so, I hope you didn’t sell that text back after you took the class in college.

I stop buying shirts when their marginal value goes to zero for me. Same with food, water, and a lot of other things, but not everything. The value of a thing (to me) depends on who much of that thing I already own. The derivative of that value with respect to the volume/count I own is marginal value if I remember right. If I am piloting a ship at sea and have no anchor as a storm approaches. I’ll value an anchor high. If I have one of my own, I’ll value a second lower, but probably not zero. If I have lots and another would sink me, I’ll value the extra one negatively and maybe one or two of the ones I have as well. Spares are useful. A ship that waddles in a storm isn’t.

It is not a market failure when customers place near zero value in something offered them. It is more like market saturation which is actually a good thing for buyers. For sellers, it can drive some hard decisions, but that’s what markets do.

Economics is full of ‘marginal quantities’ in the Micro class. They are just derivatives of prices with respect to one of the dimensions of the problem. There are lots of them because economics problems have lots of dimensions.

You are right about storage costs and shirts. I have enough for now. If my job was to change, though, and I needed a more business professional wardrobe, I’d have to buy a bunch more. My current employer prefers I not do that, so I don’t. Plenty of other people buy the stuff, though.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | I think that is the wrong takeaway lesson for Apollo 13. Well… maybe an incomplete lesson. The astronauts WERE the hands, eyes, ears for the ground crews. More importantly, though, they EXTENDED the ground crews. An extension can involve far more than hands, eyes, and ears.

The LEM CO2 scrubber is an excellent example of extension. The ground crew saw the problem and worked out a solution, but the only way to implement it up there was to use something they could not have built back then. If the designers had all the time and money in the universe, they could have planned for a zillion different failure modes. They didn’t, so they planned for a bunch of them and only spent a few gazillion dollars doing it. The plan called for covering the gaps with humans. [That’s pretty much how we do it everywhere and not just in space.] Humans aren’t just individuals, though. The ground crews were able to give natural language descriptions of the work to be done and the humans in space were able to translate them into action. Hands, eyes, and ears don’t do the translations. Minds do. In the case of the LEM CO2 filters, it was adapting squares to circles and the humans onboard turned the LEM into a centaur. They extended the ground crews AND the machines.

As for keeping the humans here and sending machines out there, I have no doubt many will try that. It makes sense in terms of costs. There are serious drawbacks, though, that count in a trade off with drawbacks from sending humans out there. Everyone thinks about time delays and teleoperation issues. The biggest, though, is that humans learn FAST through immersion. I don’t need fancy sensors to tell me why a feed belt stopped if I can look at it and touch it. My senses will feed the best computing device we have available that comes with innate capabilities for abstracting physical models dropping the unnecessary data often faster than we perceive it. I’ve got natural haptic feedback skills that tell me not to push the gears that obviously have too much dust in them.

We really don’t have to debate humans or machines out there. Let the people with money decide how they want to spend it and they’ll have the only debate that really matters. That’s why I prefer this be done mostly with private money.

Robert said...

Actually, if anyone WAS interested in "mining the moon" then what we NEED to do is send some satellites to closely scan the lunar surface (or more specifically craters and impact sites) for concentrations of high metal. And then we send REMOTE lunar rovers to gather the debris and bring it to a central location to either REFINE those metals for use on the lunar surface... or ship them into orbit.

In fact, using them in lunar orbit would allow for construction of a lunar space station that is better shielded against solar radiation, larger, and better able to handle... mining of asteroids brought to lunar orbit. I mean, why not?

Do you notice what is NOT a part of this? Boots on the ground. You don't need them. You don't need men returning to the Moon to harvest metals that accumulated through impact craters... and in this scenario you FIRST scan the moon to find regions where it becomes economical to send a lunar lander in and several rovers to gather the material. In fact, the whole thing can likely be operated remotely from the Earth, with a far-side satellite to ensure contact with rovers and satellites are never lost.

Rob H.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re Robots in space

I have said that White Collar jobs will be the first to be automated with advances in AI and that Blue Collar jobs will lag because of the limitations of current robot "bodies" and power supplies

But in space the equations are different - current "body" and power technology is more than good enough to replace an astronaut - and the cost is much much less important

The limiting factor is the AI

Hollister David said...

The delta V penalty for polar launch is tiny. The main disadvantage is loss of any time return. Launch windows would occur once each two weeks. Which would be no problem for robotic assets. And it wouldn't be a huge problem once habs and in situ resources are established.

Water is a huge asset. Propellent not at the bottom of an 11.2 km/s gravity well would be a game changer. Not only Bridenstine but Jeff Bezos is also placing bets on lunar water.

Anonymous said...


Alfred Differ:
"The LEM CO2 scrubber is an excellent example of extension. The ground crew saw the problem and worked out a solution, but the only way to implement it up there was to use something they could not have built back then"

I think there's some telepathy in the group. I was just thinking about the Apollo 13 carbon dioxide filter hours ago.
It happens that a relative spends it locked up day and night in a room with an air conditioner that is not connected to the outside that I know of. Consequently, I suppose that the CO2 levels in that room could be high. I wonder if it would be convenient for me to make a CO2 filter for that room; and how. There must be an easy design to create. I do not think lithium hydroxide is easy to get.
I will try to find a website where they have a home design. That, by the way, knowing how to create those filters could be vital information to survive in space colonies.
Which reminds me of the movie "event horizon" in which, the crew tries to escape from a ship trapped in an infernal dimension. They try to escape in a small ship, so they take over all the CO2 filters in the main ship in order to survive.
But. In future colonies in space, I imagine that the filters will be saturated with CO2 and I suppose that these filters can be reused if the lithium hydroxide can be heated to release the CO2; which could then be pumped out of the ship. I suppose.
(It seems that the Confederate spam avalanche abates for a moment)
Winter7

Anonymous said...

If the usurper who is chasing teenagers in the white house manages to place their hotels and casinos on the moon, then it could be a good business to tow an ice asteroid to the moon, place it in the moon's orbit and we could sell it to the hotels of the moon all the water they need and lemon snow.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Because if you have lemons and an ice asteroid, then you can make snow lemon flavor.

Winter7

locumranch said...


Robert & Duncan are exactly right. Humans are inefficient, vulnerable, mentally limited and ill-adapted for labour at home & in space, so we should just cower in a padded cell on Earth, give up all of our all-too-human dreams of 'Infinity & Beyond', and allow ourselves to be replaced by a frigging mechanism, even if it means taking a knee as our robotic overlords subject us to TOBASH because that's what civilised progressives do, they succumb to progress with wanton abandon.


Best
____

@Alfred: Call it 'marginal utility' if you wish, my point was that most manufacturers will cease production when their product ceases to be profitable, even if others require it, and that's where market failure comes in.

Alfred Differ said...

If anyone wants to have a look at counter-arguments by people who have actually thought things out beyond the politics, there is this guy I met years ago at the SFF. Some of you won't like his politics, so I suggest looking past that. If you can't counter strongly enough the economics and science in his arguments, then you're looking at opportunities to learn something news.

Dennis supports going back, but not anything like with flags and footprints.

https://denniswingo.wordpress.com/2018/04/10/the-elephant-and-the-moon/

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | As long as others require it, they will pay for it. If a manufacturer cannot produce it profitably, supply drops and demand wouldn't, thus price goes up and...

This is basic economics dude. There are easy ways to get it wrong and you are following one of them.

Robert said...

Locu, you are an idiot and a troll. Further, you have no idea of what you're talking about.

The mining industry these days uses automated tools for mining. It is cheaper and easier than sending men into a tunnel with a pick axe, which you undoubtedly advocate for seeing you seem to believe automation is evil.

We also send remote submersibles to the deepest part of the ocean - something you no doubt feel is wrong-headed because humans should be diving in water that would crush their bodies rather than let machines do the exploring.

For that matter, we send robots to explore other worlds - humans have never floated past Jupiter or Saturn and definitely never looked at Pluto with the naked eye while floating in orbit. Given the tremendous cost, we'd never know anything of these other worlds if your mindset was used for exploration.

Of course if you want to walk on the Moon's surface with a metal detector to find choice pieces of ore from meteor impacts on the lunar surface, feel free. I'd rather use rovers to do the dirty work.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

It happens that a relative spends it locked up day and night in a room with an air conditioner that is not connected to the outside that I know of. Consequently, I suppose that the CO2 levels in that room could be high.


Pardon me if this is a language barrier problem, but are you saying the air conditioner vents inside the same room that it is supposed to be cooling? Does that even work? I'd expect it to heat the room as much as it cools it--even more because of entropy.

Darrell E said...

All hail King Trump. This is likely to end with the most serious constitutional crisis in our history. We are in danger of becoming a banana republic.

locumranch said...


In terms of safety, productivity & cost/benefit ratio, I agree with Robert that automation is SUPERIOR in all respects to human labour, especially in brutish fields of mining, warfare & space exploration, yet he forgets the WHY of such human endeavours -- which is to bravely sally forth, conquer nature & extend our habitat-- not to weld our increasingly fat arses to comfy chairs while we live vicariously through machines.

By asking the question "What are people for", Kurt Vonnegut deals with just this very issue in his 'Player Piano', a novel that you must consume immediately if you have not yet done so, lest you remain ignorant of human/machine dynamic for all eternity.

To be extremely blunt, 'Humans are NOT their things" in the sense that mere ownership of handsome clothes, a big library & a brave machine does not automatically transform the average fat ugly ignoramus into an exceptionally handsome knowledgeable hero.

Instead, what we are left with are fat average ugly ignoramuses who lay claim to the qualities & capabilities of NICE things, much in the same way that the beer-swilling sports fan mistakenly claims to have 'won a match' when a professional athlete does so in his stead.

Yes, of course, you BELONG to a society that has built & sent nice machines to Mars & Beyond, but what the hell have you personally accomplished -- besides eating an entire bag of crisps before lunch -- that you can take pride in as an individual?

If humans are to conquer space, then they must do so 'in person'.


Best
_____

@Alfred: What you say about the supply & demand dynamic would be true if the production & consumption of shirts occurred in an instantaneous fashion, but this is simply not so. Think of it this way.

Due to an oversupply of shirts, you rapidly acquire 3 closets full of inexpensive shirts & then you stop buying shirts because you now possess 'enough'. The price of shirts declines even further, the manufacturer ceases production because the shirt oversupply has rendered his product valueless.

How long, do you suppose, will it take you to use those 3 closets full of shirts before you require or demand more? And, how long will it take for a new shirt manufacturer to get his production line up & running after the shirt demand has increased to a profitable level again?

Now, replace the term 'manufacturer' with the term 'farmer' and you begin to see how precarious the food situation is in the west. You underestimate the corrective lag time in supply & demand.

@Darrell_E: The USA is already a Banana Republic which still has nice things, but that can change quickly as it has in Venezuela.

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

This is likely to end with the most serious constitutional crisis in our history. We are in danger of becoming a banana republic.


What's important to remember is that this is not just Trump. The Republican Party is aiding and abetting the destruction of American norms and customs. I hope that when we come out the other side of this thing, the traitorous Republican Party is treated as the Nazi Party was in post-War Germany, or as Holnists were in "The Postman".

BTW, The New York Times tells us what we already know:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/04/opinion/donald-trump-pardon.html

Now that Trump and his lawyers have opened the door, expect the president’s supporters to start parroting the idea that, as Nixon put it in an infamous interview, “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” Some, including members of Congress who voted to impeach Bill Clinton for obstructing justice, will insist that presidential obstruction of justice is a contradiction in terms. The inconsistency will not faze them, since the willingness to spout nonsense is part of how they show their fealty to Trump.


Is it possible to fully reject consistency, logic, and facts, and continue to keep winning? I suppose we'll find out, but it seems to me that there is a kind of psychohistorical force against it. Trump supporters sound increasingly like "Baghdad Bob" (aka "Comical Ali") who kept announcing that US forces were nowhere near Baghdad until reality cut the power to the broadcast. A third of our fellow countrymen are going to wake up one fine day, look themselves in the mirror, and realize exactly who and what they are. Welcome to Hell.

Darrell E said...

LarryHart,

Agree completely. A quick comment I wrote elsewhere in a similar vein to your comment.

"In my opinion Ryan and McConnell, and several other Republican party leaders and power brokers from the past couple of decades, are much more to blame than Trump. These reprehensible reprobates care nothing about principles or constituents, except as marks to be skinned. They’ve simply been engaged in an all out, gloves off power grab for themselves and their money masters. And even when Trump comes along and steals the machine they so arduously built right out from under them and ups the ante by an order of magnitude, the reprehensible reprobates are so immoral they let Trump blunder along almost completely unhindered because all they care about is retaining and stealing as much power as possible. These are some of the nastiest most traitorous people in the history of US government.

Not only do they not give a damn about any damage they may cause to our traditional form of government or the governing philosophies of our founding fathers they are straightforwardly changing our government to a dictatorship. The gloves really came off in Bush Jr.’s administration. Many new precedents were set with the express purpose of taking powers away from the other two branches of government and gathering them to the executive branch. My opinion in the days when that was happening was that this is what would turn out to be the most damaging legacy of the Bush Jr. administration. And that’s saying a whole hell of a lot. My opinion now is that I was correct. Obama, for whatever reasons, didn’t undo any of that. And now we’ve got Trump benefiting from those expanded executive powers and attempting to expand them so blatantly that his followers may as well call him King.

My fear is that if this Trump disaster does not inspire a “blue wave” and significant, rapid changes in the direction our government has been going for decades, then we may be in for a slow painful slide down to banana-republicville."

LarryHart said...

The headline should be "Why Are You Pardoning Yourself?" I wonder how the so-called "strict Constitutionalists" who insist that the Constitution means exactly what it's writers had in mind in 1789--and only that--will twist themselves into pretzels to insist that James Madison, John Jay, and Lin-Manuel Miranda intended that the president be allowed to pardon himself.

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Jun05.html#item-1


...
Taking Trump's tweet to its logical conclusion, it means he could put up a page on the White House Website saying that pardons are available for sale to any and all criminals. Prices start at $10 million, depending on the crime, and checks should be made out to Donald J. Trump. If he were indicted for taking bribes, he could just pardon himself and it would all be perfectly legal. It is doubtful that James Madison had that in mind when he wrote most of the Constitution, but the courts have never ruled on this.

Actually, though, we're not left entirely to guesswork when it comes to what James Madison did or did not have in mind. He and his friends Alexander Hamilton and John Jay wrote the Federalist Papers, in which they explored—in great detail—just about every issue raised by the (then-new) Constitution. It is Federalist No. 74 that specifically addresses the pardon power. Hamilton wrote that particular entry, but it's reasonable to assume that Madison was in agreement, or it wouldn't have been published. What No. 74 says, in essence, is that the Founding Parents understood that it might be nice to invest pardon power in a deliberative body—say, the Senate—to make sure that the power is not abused in the manner of the King of England. However, there are cases—say, armed rebellions—where speed is of the essence. Ergo, Madison & Co. concluded that it was best to grant the power to a single individual, the president, and to trust that the president would exercise "prudence and good sense."

Implicit in this whole argument is that the pardon power certainly could be abused (by granting pardons to friends and family members and benefactors, the way the king did); the Founding Parents just trusted that the president wouldn't do so. Hamilton did not bother to write, "Of course, the president can't use the pardon power on himself," because that was taken for granted—if using the pardon power to benefit one's friends is presumed to be an abuse, then of course using it to benefit one's self would be even worse.
...

Darrell E said...

I disagree with that NYT quote in one detail. I don't think the typical Republican congresscritter will completely contradict themselves in order to show fealty to Trump but because they are all in on whatever it takes to maintain or secure more power for themselves and their backers. I doubt they give a shit about Trump, probably hate his guts. I know they don't give a shit about the damage they are doing in their cynical pursuit of power.

Anonymous said...



LarryHart:

Hoo Yes. It is not translation error. I did not explain correctly:
Mini-splits are heating and cooling systems that allow you to control the temperatures in individual rooms or spaces. It is a heat exchanger. I wanted to say that there is not an air duct sucking and cooling air from the outside to channel it to the interior (system of washed air, which I also have, but that causes impressive humidity in the closets) (I am surprised not to see mushrooms growing on the clothes)
(As for the laws of thermodynamics ... I had the idea of designing a continuous motion machine years ago, so I guess some laws are not immutable ... But that's another matter.) Because of the mini Split, we leave that room closed, to avoid the entrance of heat.
Therefore, I suppose that the person in the room runs health risks, due to lack of oxygen.

Winter7

Anonymous said...


1663/5000
In fact, would not it be easier to create a continuous motion machine in space:
1) A wide axis, to place on almost all its surface superconducting magnets and contact wheels (only to start the system).
2) Two kinetic electricity generating wheels.
3) On both wheels, on the side where both rotate closely and very close, groups of solid neodymium magnets and coils on the opposite side to generate voltage.
4) I repeat: The two wheels would rotate very close to each other. They weigh half a ton each one, reason why, if a motor accelerates both wheels, the two wheels, when having axes without friction, will continue moving.
5) The superconducting coils of the shaft are powered by the energy generated by the movement of both wheels, so the wheels used to hold the shaft are only used when starting the rotation using the motor.
6) If for some reason the wheel is losing speed after a couple of days, you just have to restart the process. And in any case, the system can be supported by a few solar panels, to keep the circuits running in case of emergency.

And there are the Winter wheels of energy. The legacy that I leave to humanity and for which I will be remembered for a couple of hours. (if details are missing, complete the system for you)
(If there are details, but I am sure that the system can be refined until the two wheels turn practically indefinitely, beyond the life span of the human species and the other species that will follow)
¡Enjoy the machine ho brave colonists from the asteroid belt!

Yes. I know. I must not break the laws of thermodynamics. But; I can not stop breaking the laws a little from time to time.

Winter7

LarryHart said...

The laws of thermodynamics are not "laws" that you'll be punished for if you're caught breaking them. They're just laws that don't break.

Anonymous said...

LarryHart:

Great. Then I will not be punished.
I imagine that Isaac Newton must be wallowing in his grave, shouting: Why did not the idea of those energy wheels come to me first?
And moving on to the subject of the Moon. It just occurred to me that, on the moon, the punishment of stoning to punish politicians like Donald Trump would be simpler. Even a ten-year-old could throw five-kilo stones in the moon's gravity!
And; Larry; You did not answer my question about home CO2 filters.

Winter7

David Brin said...

Yeah, Margaret Atwood represents science! How perfectly this illustrates the microcephalic confederate notion that selected anecdotes can counter overwhelming facts and statistics. I’d say WTF? Except what would be the use?. The left CONTAINS some overblown dopes at its far fringe. L’s cult CONSISTS of maniacs and fact haters, across its entire breadth and depth.

There’s a difference between CONTAINS and CONSISTS. And between FAR and ENTIRE. And sure, I am wasting my breath on a cultist. But the rest of you need to remember the power of this riff.

Anonymous said...


Darrell E:
Si, a eso me refiero. El usurpador está haciendo cosas que jamás haría en una de sus propias empresas: Jugar a hacer actos dementes para ver que ocurre. Algo así como jugar a la ruleta rusa, usando en el juego a los estadounidenses y a sus socios comerciales (como en la película “The deer hunter” con Robert de Niro y Christopher Walken. Donald Trump es el Viet-cong que dirige el juego macabro.
El usurpador juega ese juego con la nación que les robó porque {el sencillamente no tiene nada que perder. Únicamente, me pregunto cuándo se despertarán los estadounidenses. ¿Cuándo las calles de los estados Unidos sean cambiadas de nombre; por los nombres de rusos famosos?
Hooo. Como debe estarse divirtiendo Vladimir Putin con todo lo que está ocurriendo.
Hummm Ya retrase demasiado el desayuno. ¡Hora de ir por combustible!

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Darrell E:

My apologies. I think the machine translation failed. (Or maybe I forgot to copy the text that was already translated) I meant:
Exactly! That's what I was talking about for months. The usurper is doing crazy things that he would never do inside one of his own companies: Play to do demented acts to see what happens. He is doing something like playing Russian roulette, using the Americans and his business partners in the game (as in the movie "The deer hunter" with Robert de Niro and Christopher Walken). Donald Trump is the psychopathic Viet-cong who leads the macabre game.
The usurper plays that game with the nation that stole them because he simply has nothing to lose. If the country sinks, he wins and if by mere chance some madness works, he wins too.
Only, I wonder when the Americans will wake up. When the streets of the United States are changed names; by the names of famous Russians?
Hooo. How Vladimir Putin should be having fun with everything that is happening.

Winter7

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

And; Larry; You did not answer my question about home CO2 filters.


That's because I know nothing about the subject.


I imagine that Isaac Newton must be wallowing in his grave, shouting: Why did not the idea of those energy wheels come to me first?


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but aren't you just putting the same amount of energy into the system by starting up the wheels and then keeping them going against the resistance the magnets create when they generate current?

Anonymous said...


Wawww. The sex robots are already on sale. (Donald Trump is going to request a dozen, but it will be necessary to modify the cultured language of the robot by a language of prostitute of canteen.
Of course, having sex with a robot is the same as having sex with a car. That is to say. It is something meaningless and totally sick. However, I hope that the "fembots" can be useful to reduce the levels of sexual abuse against women. Perhaps the sex robots serve as a pressure valve for sexually ill patients like Donald Trump.
(Donald's fembot could be modified with a small internal guillotine) Jua jua jua.
I already imagine the publicity: Does everyone hate him for being a stupid president? Do not worry anymore! Our sex robots do not care. Our fembots will treat you like a king. Like a god.
Link:
https://phys.org/news/2018-06-sex-robots-healthy-humans.html

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

And guess what?

I also possess a BA in English Literature, so I must also be a frigging 'Climate Scientist' with unparalleled expertise in Climate Change.


You're conclusions would still be wrong. Credentials don't change that.


By asking the question "What are people for", Kurt Vonnegut deals with just this very issue in his 'Player Piano', a novel that you must consume immediately if you have not yet done so, lest you remain ignorant of human/machine dynamic for all eternity.


Much as I'm loathe to put these words in this order, that's actually good advice from locumranch. I'd make the same recommendation myself, albeit without making it sound like a threat.

Anonymous said...

LarryHart:

¿Do you mean that the coils act as magnets when electric charge is generated in them? Good. Anyway, either with 80% efficiency, the system could be very useful to generate electricity. ¿Or not? ¡Heavy wheels Larry! ¡Very heavy wheels! ¡In zero gravity!...

¡Time to go quickly to prepare the food! Today's fuel: ¡Tacos! ¡Yomy, yomy!

Winter7

Anonymous said...

locumranch:
Hablando de Margaret..
One of the necessary skills to survive in these sinister times, is the ability to learn everything for yourself. (knowing little is dangerous in these times) I'm sure many writers; biologists; engineers; astronomers; etc., have continued on their own with thorough investigations into the issues that interest them. in such a way that a writer could come to find out more about global warming on his own than Atmospheric scientists / Meteorologists. It is a matter of passion. If something interests you excessively, you yourself will devour all the existing books on the subject and analyze all the recent information on the subject. It's something like Mozart's passion. it is, a passion that devours you and drags you beyond what common professionals would arrive.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Hups. Forget to sign the above:

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Ho had not forgotten to sign. I think today I added too much caffeine to my smoothie

Winter7

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

¡Heavy wheels Larry! ¡Very heavy wheels! ¡In zero gravity!...


Heavy wheels have lots of inertia. Yes, once they're spinning, they'll spin for a long time, even against resistance, but first you have to get them up to speed. That also takes a lot of energy input.

You're saying you'd use some sort of motor to start the wheels moving? Where does the energy to run the motor come from? Why not just use that energy in the first place? I think you'll find that the wheels can't possibly produce more energy than you put into the system to get them moving. Newton wins again!


Anonymous said...


LarryHart.
The engine is used only for a few moments, to give impetus to the power wheels.
A group of capacitors could store enough solar energy to give that first charge that could last much longer than the time required to recharge the capacitors.
Accordingly: Winter-1 Newton -0

Winter7

Jon S. said...

Winter, zero gravity does not mean zero mass. Things in free fall still maintain inertia.

Just because you can imagine it, doesn't make it real. That's why our police aren't armed with phasers set to stun.

Anonymous said...



Jon S:

Of course there is inertia! That is necessary to keep turning the two heavy "generator wheels"
And that is the reason why we insane inventors are necessary. Have you ever known of a brilliant inventor who was not crazy? That is an indispensable requirement.

Winter7

J.L.Mc12 said...

Dr brin, is it possible to make money out of the moon by using the lunar dust as an abrasive? Maybe a novelty sandpaper?

locumranch said...



Winter7 fits right-in in this here progressive community,
A site that dismisses empiric observable reality, arguing that
Progress equals what reality 'should', 'ought' & 'is supposed to' be,
Encouraging those who confuse physical actuality with fantasy.


Best
_____

Why stop at sandpaper? Why not market moon-dust as patent medicine, powdered cheese, floor wax or dessert topping? Moon-dust OUGHT To be delicious!!

Anonymous said...

Locumranch:

Everything that ever existed had to be a fantasy in someone's mind.
¿Do you wear underpants? Well, there was once a caveman who thought it would be a good idea to cover the bird with something. Crazy; said the other cavemen and made fun of the idea. The descendants of that caveman are now the millionaire owners of Fruit & the Loom. 8)
Have you driven a car? I remember all those drawings published by the Victorian newspapers in England, ridiculing the new steam chariots. But now automotive companies are among the most powerful in the world.
It all starts with someone's fantasies. The difference between a fantasy and a reality lies only in whether or not the inventor obtained the money necessary to build and mass produce his idea.
You did not tell me what you think about my idea of applying public stoning to murderers and serial rapists. ¿What do you think? Most of them here have been outraged… But I must assume that you do not… ¿True?

Winter7

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Winter

Great idea - I had the same idea when I was about 11 - just after I tried to make a meccano car with the rear axle geared to the front axle

Unfortunately it won't work - when you attempt to take energy from your flywheels they slow down - the electromagnetic force slows them down

The Laws of Thermodynamics

First Law - You can't win
Second Law - You can't break even
Third Law - You can't leave the game

CO2 meter for your closed room -
Try borrowing one from your local council or any large organisation that has underground machinery or tanks
They will always check the air before going into sealed spaces and they should have the appropriate meters
Other wise you can tape up the door with a fan and measure the pressure change with a manometer - that will tell you how well sealed the room is

David Brin said...

"Winter7 fits right-in in this here progressive community,
A site that dismisses empiric observable reality, arguing that
Progress equals what reality 'should', 'ought' & 'is supposed to' be"

Har! Wagers are on the table, coward.

Anonymous said...

Duncan Cairncross:
Hummm Yes. Mining companies probably have some CO2 capture devices. I will investigate.
As for the matter that my idea can not work. Actually, I am aware that if the wheels are likely to slow down a bit. However, it happens that, in my city, the first trams at the beginning of the century, used a steering wheel-generator that was driven by a knob placed on the heavy steering wheel. That is, the driver pushed the steering wheel and when the tram slowed down, it simply gave more momentum to the steering wheel manually.
That worked. And they had to deal with friction in the bearings and they did not have motors that would propel the steering wheel automatically. So certainly, I doubt very much that my idea can not be applicable in zero gravity.
¡By the gods of Cobol! ¡I had no idea that the laws of thermodynamics were considered sacred!

Link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dc-m9dumEaw

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@J.L.Mc12 | The cost of the abrasive used in sandpaper is pretty low. The cost of getting regolith back to the Earth's surface isn't and won't compare well to terrestrial sources unless you invent a magical transporter machine like the one in Star Trek. 8)

If you want to sell the stuff as a novelty, you probably don't need to attach it to paper with glue. Just put the stuff in bottles and sell it as Moon dust. That probably WOULD sell well for a little while. Once the novelty wore off, though, they'd be like 'pet rocks'.

Lunar simulant can be purchased today if you want it. That means you can get a sense of what the going price is. It's not cheap, but the market is pretty tiny. I got to play with some for a while at a conference. It looked like someone took rocks from my backyard (when I lived in Iceland) and ground them up except for one odd difference. The stuff was very dry and the rocks in Iceland were not. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | I’m going to agree with you that conquering space will require a human presence, but it will also require those fat arses cheering on from their recliner chairs... and buying our stuff.

but what the hell have you personally accomplished

You should be more careful. Some of us here have actual personal accomplishments that count. Besides, it takes quite a few people around us in support of our efforts, so there is plenty of accomplishment to go around that you might not be inclined to count but we would. As a simple check, try to figure out how many people helped put 12 men on the Moon during the Apollo era. Some built and flew hardware. Some pushed paper. You’ll be inclined to draw a line somewhere marking what counts and doesn’t count, but you need to be able to list the people who don’t count to some degree to make sure your boundary is properly defined.

Personally, I've flow stuff I built to about 30 km up. It's quite a challenge to keep the stuff functioning even there let alone in space. Some who were on my team built and flew stuff that hit the Moon before I met them. Some we courted were active Astronauts with flight experience.

Some of us have grease under our fingernails.
Some of us have done original work and added to what this civilization can do.

Think of it this way. 

You are describing overshoot as if our markets hadn’t dealt with that since forever. In this case, shirts are seasonal things that sell for too much (in my humble opinion) at the start of the season and are dumped to discount sellers later in the season. Prices change as the season progresses. Even more formal, business attire has seasons and planned obsolescence. Anything consumable works that way. Durable goods do too, but they take longer. In fact, pretty much all capital degrades, so the analogy is extendable.

This isn’t a simple oscillator. It is driven from multiple sides, damped from several others, and has it’s own nature for each product.

The problem with your concern is it should have already happened. Long, long ago. It didn’t, so there is obviously an issue with your understanding of the model.

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

¡By the gods of Cobol! ¡I had no idea that the laws of thermodynamics were considered sacred!


Heh. I'm tempted to say "Winter7 fits right in with this locumranch community, where the response to unpleasant reality is, "Oh yeah! Who's gonna make me?!"

Dude, we're not afraid of the wrath of Newton if we blaspheme against him or anything like that. We're just saying how stuff works.

Or as Dave Sim put it, "There's no Church of Newton's Laws in which we give thanks that an object in motion or at rest remains in motion or at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. What exactly would we be giving thanks for?"

That last rhetorical question can be taken two ways, both of which are appropriate.

locumranch said...


Much like Descartes, Winter7 puts the effect before the cause, since it is not "Cognito ergo sum" (which is a nonsensical assertion), but "Sum ergo cognito":

I am; therefore, I think

Existence precedes Fantasy which is why I am neither surprised nor outraged by Winter7's desire for bloodthirsty vengeance (as in his 'death by stoning' fantasy) as it is this rather common & unremarkable mindset -- the product of Magical Realism -- that has virtually created the third-world Mexican shithole wherein he resides.

The Magical Realist believes that reality exists to conform to their desires and, as this is a common delusion shared by the typical western progressive, its philosophical ascendance corresponds directly to the ongoing 'Brazilification' of the First World.

This belief in reality as it 'should', 'ought' and 'is supposed' to be creates the inherent contradictions of modern society, as in the application of 'Equalism to Meritocracy', 'Anti-Romanticism to Passion', 'Conformity to Diversity' and 'Impartiality to Identity Politics'.

As the old saying goes, 'wish in one hand, shit into the other, and see which hand fills first', illustrating that base reality will always triumph over baseless 'shoulds', 'oughts' & 'supposed tos'.


Best
___

@Alfred: My 'What the hell have you accomplished' question was a rhetorical one that I ask myself frequently & was not directed at anyone in particular. And, as far as 'overshoot' resulting in market failure goes, what makes you think that it has not already happened a thousand times?

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | Rhetorical? Okay. A question like that as a way to impose the self-discipline to get off one's fat arse is a good idea. Anyone who accomplishes anything through hard work as to have some kind of whip like that.

You are hard to read sometimes. It sounded like you were cracking that whip around here. It wouldn't do much good because the people who know its purpose have one of their own. The people who don't won't understand the pain it causes and will just blame you for annoying them. 8)
____________
Back to economics for a bit. Overshoot isn't market failure. It is part of market process. Failures happen when markets don't function. One 'little' example happened in the late 90's when the Russian Ruble collapsed. Lots of bond buyers went home and stayed there awhile. Without their willingness to keep other bonds liquid, the prices on those bonds became ambiguous. Liquidity is required for price to be meaningful. Ambiguity drove many others to stay home too. This effect rippled around the world and caused massive damage in SE Asia. It also caused a collapse of the sub-prime debt market in the US. There were still sub-prime borrowers to be found, but no supply for them to consume.

If that sounds like your example, you are confusing two processes. The collapse of sub-prime came about because no one would finance the debt to be purchased. No SUPPLY. The market evaporated on one side, thus the failure. If the PRICE of that debt (interest rate) had collapsed toward zero instead, that would be closer to the shirt story. Supply IS present, but selling near zero.

Both situations can happen in pharma. A strict, new regulation might cause a market to fail. The introduction of a generic might cause prices to collapse causing original producers to stop supplying. These aren't the same situations.
____________
Now back to space. The whip you use isn’t really needed much. There are a bunch of us with arses in motion. In fact, there are so many of us that we are actually a problem for each other at times. The people who want to open the frontier come in many shapes and sizes and belief systems. You and I might agree that humans have to be involved and at risk, but there is still quite a lot of room to argue (reasonably) over just how much and when and at what cost. We can also argue (reasonably) about how it is all to be done. One thing that is really hard to argue for, though, is what amounts to scriptural knowledge about what should not be done. Our host can say there is nothing on the Moon worth pursuing right now. Someone else can say we shouldn’t bother with planetary gravity wells for awhile. I can say we won’t be colonizing distant places until we’ve turned intervening spaces into relatively human spaces for trade. If you add all of our opinions together and look at the gaps, there probably aren’t any. Between us all, if one believed us all, we’d contribute to a belief that the frontier can’t be opened at all.

Combatting that requires that some of us simply shut up and let people try their stupid ideas with their own money. We have to be prepared to admit that it is acceptable to let other people demonstrate through action that they are as stupid as we think they are. There is always a possibility we are right and they will prove it. If we are wrong, though, it can be awfully convenient not to have gone on record saying they were so stupid. Maybe they’ll get filthy rich and give us a job. Maybe no one will laugh at us. Maybe, though, our idea will work too. No one REALLY knows until its all in the past. Even then, it’s really hard to know.

Anonymous said...

LarryHart:
Larry I know they do not have a church of science ... (I do not think so) (Haaa, what a great idea) I was just kidding about it. I have great respect for Isaac Newton. He is an inspiration to all of us. (And I know he will not be mad at me if I modify the laws of thermodynamics a little bit).
I see that you are still angry about my proposal to stoning serial rapists and serial killers. (If I know, you think that if those laws are implemented they could be used by the serfs of feudalism, against us someday.
But you would not be mad at me if you knew what a certain book that I intend to write someday is about: the subject is a critique of torture. (I can not reveal what it is, but it is historical) (It could be written as a novel).

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Locumranch:
You fell short when describing my country. Yes. Mexico is crap. Mexico is the holiday section of hell. Mexico is a country where local confederates managed to obtain slaves without any interference even today. Mexico is a land of thieves; etc etc.
But you must remember that the US government is partly to blame, something that does not need to be repeated.
It is amazing how tourists from all over the world, come to our beautiful beaches, and then be murdered in the hotels of passage or kidnapped. That happens again and again and it seems that foreigners never understand reality.
As for magical realism ... I detest that literary style. I prefer scientific facts. (although it often seems that this is not the case). I would like to write Science Fiction and horror novels.
Did you really study literature? Do you write something now? Magical realism?

Por cierto. La verdad es que no entendí casi nada de lo que dijiste en el ultimo texto que enviaste. Pero conociéndote, sé que intentaste decir que apoyas totalmente mi punto de vista. ¡Gracias!

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

CO2 meters can also be found with local firehouses. If they serve commercial areas with fire suppression systems that go beyond 'hose everything down', they've probably got ways of detecting CO2. The server room where I work used CO2 for fire suppression and I was there when the system went off. The guys who showed up had meters they could carry with one hand to probe areas of the building while they walked around encased in their air tanks and masks.

Anonymous said...

Alfred Differ:

Thanks Alfred. Certainly, the first step is to measure if there is excessive CO2 in the room in question.
What you mention about the visit that the firemen made to your company. You mean the fire you mentioned earlier? I guess after that they took more severe security measures.
By the way. I learned over time that the most frequent cause of accidents in the workshops is the nocturnalism. That is to say; that there are many people who know that they have to wake up the next day to work, but anyway they keep awake, watching television or attending with friends to a bar. Which can be deadly if the night owl is handling cutting equipment; presses; heavy machinery; or driving a car.
Interestingly, in all the companies in which I worked, I never saw accident prevention programs in which they took into account the night owls.
Sleeping well is vital.


Winter7

Anonymous said...

Alfred Differ:

“I can say we won’t be colonizing distant places until we’ve turned intervening spaces into relatively human spaces for trade. If you add all of our opinions together and look at the gaps, there probably aren’t any. Between us all, if one believed us all, we’d contribute to a belief that the frontier can’t be opened at all”
True. If humans are going to be very far from our planet, it would be prudent to have transit stations at various distances all the way to the asteroid belt and the moons of other worlds. It is clear that the colonization of space is a very dangerous task and many things can go wrong.
If I were a settler inside a ship and suddenly a meteorite shatters half the ship, it would be useless to restore ten percent of the ship's engines if there is no place near which to escape at low power.
The stations of step do not necessarily have to count on crew. The most important thing is that they have many provisions and capacity to serve as a refuge for all passengers of the largest ships used at that time. Although, certainly, the ideal would be that these transit stations have the capacity to return to Earth orbit or the moon, if by then there is a huge base there.
I remember a story, from Brádbury, or from J. G. Ballard, in which Mars explorers suffered under an acid rain in Venus, but managed to save themselves because in a large part of the planet there were shelters in the shape of a dome. As I read that story, I understood how important it is to take precautions when exploring far away places.

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | The argument I make in a book I'm working at (slowly) is that humans don't really leap across large distances to live separate lives all that often. Successful colonization of remote places is usually more incremental and it involves movement and trade.

Trade enables division of labor which actually makes all involved just a little bit richer. We don't give that up easily. So... those way stations up there should be something like trading posts. Earth's Moon probably won't be one of them for a long time. The Earth-Moon L2 point might be, though probably not staffed by people for a while.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred
Why L2?
L2 is not stable - would need continuous station keeping
L4 and L5 are the stable points

Anonymous said...



I was going to suggest lagrange 1 of the earth-moon system, to be closer. ¿It is not stable?

Winter7

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Much like Descartes, Winter7 puts the effect before the cause, since it is not "Cognito ergo sum" (which is a nonsensical assertion), but "Sum ergo cognito":

I am; therefore, I think


That sounds clever the same way "No, I believe in death after life" does, but really isn't. My car, my house, and my stack of comic books all are, but none of them think. Being does not logically imply thinking.

That "I think" is proof that there is an "I" doing the thinking, and therefore that I do in fact exist. Descartes's assertion makes perfect sense, albeit as a kind of tautology, since all it allows me to know for sure is that I myself (only) exist. I can't know for certain that you or Alfred or Dr Brin think, so I can't be certain that any of you are. I can only make inferences.


Existence precedes Fantasy...


Yes, if what you're trying to say is "I can only think because I am", then you've got a point. But then you're misusing the word therefore. Existence is indeed a necessary condition for thinking, but it is not a sufficient condition. OTOH, thinking is a sufficient condition for existing, as in "In order to think, I must exist." So if you are in fact thinking, you therefore must exist. Descartes wins again!

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

I see that you are still angry about my proposal to stoning serial rapists and serial killers.


Que? :)

I don't think I've mentioned that at all recently. And when I did, it wasn't so much about anger as about disagreement.

locumranch said...


Our lack of agreement notwithstanding, our recent attempts at communication appear to have generated a satisfactory level of understanding, so I am content.

Tantamount to 'Manifest Destiny', the majority of pro-space arguments are romantic because they all seem to require teleological idealism, as does a belief in 'progress':

We are 'meant to be' in space, David seems to argue, so we may better ourselves, grow in selfless altruism, transcend our human limitations & become 'angels' in a literal sense.

Although I also desire space, I call bullshit on these romantic notions, believing the inherently selfish 'lifeboat model' to be the only valid utilitarian pro-space argument.

Being a thoroughly discredited evolutionary theory, altruism has absolutely nothing to do with anything as 'self-preservation' is the primary reason that we design, construct & utilise lifeboats.

Asteroid resources promise to enrich & facilitate the survival of the spacebound individual, but offer little or no benefit to the earthbound, much in the same way that those left behind on a sinking ship derive little or no benefit from those fortunate few who occupy the lifeboats.

While the earth-bound may be able to purchase those asteroid resources for a (hefty) price, those resources would also hang over the earthbound like a Sword of Damocles, ready to rain fire & death upon those below.

But, for a lucky few, those lifeboats & off-world habitats would be invaluable and a pearl of great price, and that's how we SELL SPACE to the earthbound:

Said Homer Simpson, "Who wants lottery tickets ?"


Best

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | It's about energy. They are stable for reasons like gravity wells being stable. L1 and L2 do take some station keeping effort, but not a lot and the benefits out weigh the costs I think.

For a fuel depot, you want people to be able to slide in and out relatively easy. Think about why we put gas stations on street corners. Those locations are a little easier to access.

The reason I pick L2 over L1 is one is out near the fuzzy boundary of the Earth's gravitational sphere of influence. There are a lot of directions one can go from L2 with very little energy expended. Just like the corner location for gas stations, one can exit in more than one direction.

L4 and L5 would be decent places for warehousing and industry with the understanding that one pays a penalty getting to those locations. The penalty is small compared to lower orbits around the Moon or the surface, so for many applications it won't be an issue. For a fuel depot, though, I suspect it would be.

David Brin said...

Onward!

donzelion said...

LarryHart/Locum: argh,'cogito' not 'cognito.' There is no 'cognito' in Descartes' formula.

The tautology in that formula really emerges after Meditation 1, when Descartes pulls God into the equation to prove that reality also exists. The main problem with 'cogito ergo sum' is raised most powerfully by Hume and his successors, who showed the limitations of cogito alone: we may exist, but we know nearly nothing about anything else.

Two fairly solid lines of reasoning proposed otherwise: Kant, who said math exists 'I think mathematically, therefore causality/geometry are real - and science, reliable' and Sartre 'I think fearfully, therefore other observers are real, since I could not generate fear from nothing.'

David Brin said...

“This belief in reality as it 'should', 'ought' and 'is supposed' to be creates the inherent contradictions…” Like the drooling hypocrisy of parroting those words when they apply to the face and cult you see in the mirror.

Do you believe that saying such lies insulates you against that truth? Geez. loonier than I thought.

It's like Republicans, masters for fake news, screaming "Fake News!"

David Brin said...

onward

onward