Some of you are crazy about space colonization now! I can dig it; it’s always been a dream for me, as well. Still, elsewhere I talk about the harm this mindset may be wreaking, upon the chances that our grandchildren may actually do it well!
For example the “Artemis Program” aims to repeat a lunar footprint stunt that NASA accomplished 50+ years ago, on a useless sandbox of poison dust. Sure it was a proud feat, especially with 1960s tech and it set a new symbolic benchmark for what humans are capable-of! But we should suck space budgets dry to check a few symbolic milestones, when the same funding could get us started with asteroid mining, where the actual riches are?
I say leave the 'bar-moonzvah' - ('today I am a man!!') - symbolism stuff to the Apoll-wannabe kiddies, while we raise our gaze much higher.
Now comes a book by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith, creators of one of the best online series of one page, science friendly comix – SMBC - Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Their earlier book - Soonish: The Emerging Technologies that'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything - was very incisive! Now they have “A City on Mars: Can We Settle Space, Should We Settle Space, and Have We Really Thought This Through?”
Hey! I am not pissing on dreams here. I craft and peddle dreams for a living... and some come true! But this is gonna take some time. And lots and lots of homework, first.
== Wonderful 'casts online about this wonderful cosmos ==
As a former solar astronomer… (well, I worked for them 3 summers, at Caltech)… and as author of Sundiver, I highly recommend this gorgeous episode of Astrum, giving breathtaking views of our star across the spectrum. By all means, be inspired thereupon to get the new, upgraded and re-covered edition of Sundiver! And yes, it’s marvelous to be a member of such a civilization!
I often recommend the series of very tight and scientifically grounded speculation podcasts by Isaac Arthur. And I’ll tout especially his latest episode about Comet Mining. After much important background about comets as a rich source of vast amounts of ice for fuel, water and air (far more than the pittance at the lunar poles), he gets into the good stuff. At 9:30 into this episode Isaac describes the dust-crust model of comets, the current, well-accepted model that I originated in my 1981 doctoral dissertation... and portrayed -with Gregory Benford- in Heart of the Comet.
Later, Isaac discusses how comets may also be key to leapfrogging interstellar colonization via the Oort Cloud – another concept Greg and I introduced in that novel. And his tribute to my friend John Lewis’s Mining the Sky: Untold Riches from Asteroids was moving.
Oh, while we're at it, Isaac just posted a couple of even more lucid and comprehensive fact+speculation 'casts. One does a grand tour of concepts regarding the ill-named Fermi Paradox. (In my 1983 formal paper on the topic - in many ways the first one ever - I coined the much better term 'The Great Silence.')
More Space News!! ==
NASA spacecraft has high-speed asteroid encounter and finds a surprise. The LUCY probe, on its way to the Trojan asteroids at a Jupiter Lagrange point, snapped this fascinating picture of another rubble asteroid that’s in fact pair, barely kissing. Voyeurs!
The wonderful,11 year old Curiosity rover has just climbed past a region of small meteoroid craters to resume its arduous climb up the slopes of Mount Sharp.
A terrific interview with my friend, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees. Excellent perspectives on Space, AI, and intelligence in the Universe.
== And finally…where are they? ==
Sixty years I’ve seen these UFO manias come and go, about twice per decade, with absolutely nothing ever to show for them, other than hearsay and fuzz and eagerness overwhelming almost nonexistent 'evidence.'
Please, will you pause and ponder the plausible. If we did have ‘crashed ships’ what would happen? We’d urgently ask tens of thousands of our very best people to study em, right?
Well, I know many of the planet’s ‘best people’ - when it comes to qualifications to study such an important and fascinating thing as alien technology. And none of them were ever asked to ‘study an alien ship!’ They never moved with their families to a Manhattan Project urgency colony like 1943 Los Alamos. A very few flew in and out of Area 51 for a few years on secret stuff... but always 9-to-5 weekdays.
Above all, this cult insults the best minds on the planet, dismissing them as gutless lemming drones - clichés from a zillion dumb Hollywood flicks - instead of the free and rambunctiously individualist scientists and techies etc. that we taught them to be.
Even worse, this cult never explains how – with 10 million times as many active cameras on Earth now, than in the 1950s (and I do NOT exaggerate!) the ‘images’ keep getting ever fuzzier.
Look, I have studied the ‘alien’ all my life, not just in many sci fi thought experiments but in SETI and astrophysics. I would do a 180, if I ever saw anything but frantic/romantic jibber-jabber that detracts from our ability to seriously ponder our destiny in this vast universe.
If you have any actual, actual curiosity instead of cult fetishism, you might look at this: What's really up with UAPs? Re-linking my recent essay dissecting the “UFO Mania” from a dozen different angles that you’ve likely not seen elsewhere.
Oh, side-note: while it is not my method to create glowing balls to flit around the atmosphere like a Cat Laser (and I could make every ‘tictac’ ever described), this patent by the US Air Force is also pretty cool, and likely could be more practical than my method.
This is not harmless! Amid the stoopid but harmless UFO mania, a worse cult - METI - aims to beam "Yoohoo to aliens!" from taxpayer-funded facilities, breaking laws, moral codes & basic standards of decency. See my discussion.
Here’s one of my entertaining (I hope!) rants about why it is immoral, illegal and just plain dumb to shout “Yoohoo!” into the cosmos.
And if you’d rather read a more cogently expressed argument, try this.
“Shouting At the Cosmos” – about METI “messaging” to aliens.
Did that bring you down? Hey, we are in 2024, fated to be at-minimum 'interesting times.' More likely a wild ride. We need adults right now, more than ever! Do NOT 'curb your enthusiasm!' But try also not to be a sucker.