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By 11223 in Culture
Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 03:06:21 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

I'm sure most of you are familiar with Sid Meier's excellent computer game Alpha Centauri. (If you're not, you really ought to be: you can get a copy for about $10 these days.) In this game, the survivors of a journey to a planet circling our nearest neighbor star split into factions due to a crisis on the spaceship Unity which carried them. The split, however, was not geopolitical, but rather ideological. Different factions had different ideas of how to succeed on the alien landscape, and pursued their success differently. As a species (unfortunately still constrained to planet Earth) we tend to make our distinctions culturally and geopolitically: the American Jew, Ottoman Turk, or any of a number of different labels we apply to form these distinctions. Their religious affiliation shouldn't fool you; people are still branded on their culture and not on their beliefs, as any non-practicing Jew will tell you. However, in an age of greater freedom for most people, important ideological distinctions are beginning to be made, separate from the geo-cultural divisions. It's time for the first clear ideological division to occur, and the way it will occur will effect the first of a clear series of divisions of the human species.

How many science fiction story lines have you read where space travel is viewed as an opportunity exploited by all, regardless of ideology or culture? Alpha Centauri is a prime example of such a story line, on this level. Peoples of all classes, beliefs, and cultures find their way to the stars to strike out a new life of opportunity. It's an intriguing vision; however, the first true space colonization will happen in a drastically different fashion. The first peoples who do colonize space will be those who want to reach to the stars above all else, and for no other immediate reason than reaching to the stars. While there may be a variety of secondary or eventual goals served by their move, they want right now to leave Earth more than anything else.

This is a rather broad classification. There are quite a variety of reasons why somebody could want to colonize space. They could be interested in scientific research from space and up close. While unmanned probes have been the weapon of choice for these people now, due to complexity issues and, yes, politics, it is recognized that one of the first steps we need to take for serious research of the whole universe is establishing a permanent human presence away from Earth.

There could be those who view the stars as our destiny and birthright. Arthur C. Clarke may have had it right for these people when he said that all these worlds are ours. Because these worlds are ours, we could use them to alleviate overcrowding, start over on a planet not disturbed by human environmental naivete, or just to increase our chance of success given the existence of a large number of asteroids just waiting to make Earth an unhappy place to live in.

Then there are those who are disillusioned with life on Earth. To those who might leave for this reason, Earth is a crowded place, but more so a difficult place to live in. It becomes difficult to get anything serious done when Presidents propose sweeping tax cuts in the interest of an economy, ingrained conflicts mar large swaths of the world, disease is rampant, and famine is common. To those looking for a higher purpose for humanity, these are the enemy's weapons, for each works against the pursuit of some higher purpose. The stars just might then be the destiny for these people, for they offer an opportunity for these purpose-seekers to conduct their investigations and activities unimpaired by conflict and politik. The most dangerous phenomenon to the purpose-seekers, though, would be the type of slow intellectual degradation that Huxley so feared for the human race, because it just might make it so that the world's largest cultures never produce another truly thinking man again. The most insidious weapons of the enemy aren't the distractions and conflicts, but the subtle psychological siren-song of the television, which draws men's attentions away from thought and toward the trivialities. If these purpose-seekers, thinking men, wish to survive, then they must separate themselves from those who succumb to this intellectual degradation, and the direction they just might choose is up.

I include myself among thinking men, purpose-seekers, who wish to separate themselves from these insidious weapons. I am not enamored with television and the media for which it stands, and I am disturbed by the lack of attention to finding a higher purpose for humanity seen in our culture. While there has been much debate as to at what rate the intellectual slide is occurring, it does not matter when in time it will happen. What I know is that it will happen before either the scientific establishment or birthright-claimers ever seek space, for they too are trapped in this degradation. To fight the degradation, they must become the disillusioned.

If the siren-songs of the enemy really are this dangerous, then the disillusioned need separate themselves from those fatally pulled in. If we do so, then we will be the first to seriously separate ourselves from an established culture based on a difference of ideology. Where the anarchists and communists attempted revolution, the disillusioned simply separate, and distinguish themselves through what they do accomplish.

And what better direction have we to go in separating ourselves than up? The whole world has fallen under the influence of the media. It would be difficult to find a place on this Earth not under the economic influence of the US, and where their economy goes, the siren-song goes, for it is their chief economic tool. Space, on the other hand, offers an opportunity for us to make our lives separately, without dependence (for long) on the economy of the Earth. And, separate, we may find ourselves closer to whatever purpose for humanity we wish to pursue than we were on Earth.

So, then, I propose a departure. It is a departure from what has happened and is happening on Earth; a departure from war, famine, and the siren-song of triviality. The intellectuals among us will then have the opportunity to find and act upon a purpose for humanity. Eternity requires this, if we are to ever accomplish anything. It is in not having a purpose, not even having the one of finding a purpose, that would doom us to a trivial life, or to extinction. But if we do find our purpose, then we will succeed for all of eternity. What is required now, though, is to depart, and to take with us all those looking for this purpose, so that we may pursue it unharmed by conflict and in good intellectual spirit.


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I'd be most likely to live on the planet/planetoid:
o Earth's Moon 12%
o Mars 27%
o Saturn's moon Titan 17%
o Pluto 1%
o Pluto's twin, Charon 8%
o San Francisco 33%

Votes: 125
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by 11223

Display: Sort:
Departure | 49 comments (35 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
Etymology of Alpha Centauri (4.11 / 9) (#1)
by ucblockhead on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 03:06:45 PM EST

Those elements of the game are heavily influenced by Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy. (I've long lost the interview where Bryan Reynolds said so, but if you've read the books and played the game, it is fairly obvious.) In the books, the colonists end up separating (though not as explicitly as in the game) on ideological, not culture, lines.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
Interesting point (4.00 / 3) (#6)
by Simon Kinahan on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 03:15:31 PM EST

I had not thought of that connection, although I've read the books and played the game (oddly I still get more kicks out of Civ II, though).

There are fairly serious differences though. There are a pile of factions in Alpha Centauri, whereas in Mars, there are only two: the transnational corporations, and the "real martiians". The real martians are basically an exercise in vaguely-left-wing propoganda. Not that I mind, it just was not very convincing.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
A couple of others... (3.50 / 2) (#15)
by ucblockhead on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 03:34:49 PM EST

Don't forget that wierd group led by the biologist that disappears into the hinterland and the group led by the Russian anarchist. (Sorry, my memory for the names is hideous.) There was also the conflict between the pro-science faction led by Sax and the "Reds" led by, er, whatsername...

The factions aren't as clear cut, but they are there.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
THANK YOU! (2.66 / 3) (#8)
by Seumas on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 03:20:52 PM EST

I've been looking for that trilogy for months, but could not remember the author! And whenever I asked about it at a bookstore, I'd get every author of every similarly titled book, except the three I was interested in!

Now, I just have to find a place to buy them that isn't Amazon!
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

half.com (2.25 / 4) (#28)
by fluffy grue on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 02:29:59 AM EST

"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Didn't Amazon buy half.com? (2.66 / 3) (#37)
by Anonymous 6522 on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 04:56:38 PM EST

I remeber reading somewhere that Amazon bought half.com, or was it ebay that bought it? I don't remember exactally.

[ Parent ]
eBay (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by fluffy grue on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 12:03:19 AM EST

and it's been pretty much hands-off for now, except for having cross-pollinated search engine links between 'em (I use both sites regularly)
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

[Off Topic] "nt" is a pet-peeve of mine (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by YellowBook on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 11:56:38 AM EST

I don't know where this started, but it's really annoying to me. For those who don't know, it stands for "no text", and means the author wants to post a message without having anything to say that won't fit in the subject. it annoys me for the following reasons:

  • If you don't have anything to say, don't say it.
  • It's a needless piece of jargon, and something about it just rubs me the wrong way.
  • It's supposed to save readers from having to open up the link to the comment just to find that there's nothing there. This is b0rken on k5 because:
    • Many people read in nested or flat mode, in which case this wouldn't do them any good.
    • A no-text comment takes up as much space as a substantial one in nested or flat mode because of the header, sig, and rating stuff around the comment.

And sometimes, as in this case, the comment author doesn't even use it right! You can't see the "nt" in this post until (assuming you read in threaded or minimal mode) you've already opened the comment. Aaaaargh.

Thank you for letting me vent. This is not an aspersion on fluffygrue or fluffygrue's moral worth. It's just something that annoys me that I want people to be aware of (and adjust their behaviour accordingly :) ) If one is annoyed by this off-topic rant, one should feel free to rate it down.

[ Parent ]
Meh (none / 0) (#46)
by fluffy grue on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 06:01:27 PM EST

I didn't have anything to say, except that half.com is a perfect place to shop for used books. And you need to have a comment body, so why not do the 'nt' there. People wanted to reply to my comment, so they went and had to click on it anyway (if they weren't using the nested view, which I happen to use).
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

So why would it be different next time? (4.20 / 10) (#5)
by alisdair on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 03:14:53 PM EST

I once liked to consider myself a thinking man and, I am ashamed to admit, had my moments when I thought myself better than my peers. In reality, I am not better; I am simply different.

The world really does need all the people you describe to make it work: the stupid politicians, the media-led masses, the polluting companies, even hippies. Well, maybe not hippies. But everyone has something to contribute, even if it appears to be wholly negative.

A wonderful new society would perhaps turn into a Brave New World; that is presuming it even got so far to become a society. When there are only intellectuals or `thinking men' around, acting for a purpose, the important yet simple things in life will not get done. Who will fix your hover-bicycle when it breaks down? Who will empty your trash compactor? Who will you throw your frustration at?

Eventually you will find yet another class of people to blame. Instead of those who simply accept things as they are, and don't think about `irrelevant' issues like politics and the environment, you will perhaps grow to resent the scientific discussion groups who never seem to have any outcome, or the mathematicians who waste their time wanking on irrelevant problems.

What I'm trying to say, in my long, rambling, and probably condescending way, is that our world is really a lot better than it looks, if you consider it more closely. And I don't think we have much to gain by starting again.

Ben Rumson in "Paint Your Wagon" (4.00 / 3) (#35)
by antizeus on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 03:33:35 PM EST

See "Paint Your Wagon" if you haven't already. I'm talking about the movie -- I haven't seen the play. It's a musical/western/comedy. One of the main characters (played by Lee Marvin) is Ben Rumson. He goes off on a nice rant/song about civilization and how it ruins things. Basically, he lives in the frontier where there aren't a bunch of bureaucrats and wimmen-folk around to mess things up. After a while, civilization moves in, and he moves on to the next undeveloped area.

Sure, any successful colony on another planet will probably turn into an overcrowded, overregulated mess like much of Earth, but there's some pleasure to be had (for that sort of individual) before it gets there.
[ Parent ]

Re: Ben Rumson in "Paint Your Wagon" (1.00 / 1) (#40)
by alisdair on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 06:22:31 PM EST

That sounds less like a better new society, and more like someone who likes to live alone in sparse country. If you want to do that, it's not hard: I'm sure there are lots of entirely untouched places you can live in without leaving Earth. Try South America somewhere in the Jungle, or Africa, or perhaps a nice bit of the Antarctic.

And I haven't seen the film, yet. I'll look out for it.

[ Parent ]
Bye, bye (4.53 / 13) (#7)
by error 404 on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 03:18:29 PM EST

Have a nice trip.

I wish you the best.

As for me, the off switch on my television is easily accessible from this planet. As are my books - including the precious ones that still have blank pages. And my tools, and my computers. And people who make me think.

I'd love to do some off-world exploring. But not to find purpose or to escape. Purpose happens before the ship is built. And wherever you go, there are people, with all the stupidity and sloth and shallowness that you are running from.

I ask one favor, though: could you take all the people who know what the purpose of humanity is (or are sure there is such a thing) with you?
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

fleeing one's problems (4.63 / 19) (#9)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 03:23:43 PM EST

I have a very close friend who decided to leave all of her problems behind and move to Seattle, WA (from Dayton, OH). Once she arrived in Seattle she started a new life: new friends, a new school, a new job. Everything seemed fresh and different. Over time she noticed that, little by little, the things that were problems in Ohio soon became problems in Seattle. Eventually my friend decided to move back to Ohio and face her problems head on before attempting to relocate.

Fleeing the earth for the stars is essentially the same excercise in uselessness. Humanity's problem is not television, the US, dwindling resources, etc. Humanity's problem is nothing other than humanity. Wherever humanity may wander in this universe, the same old problems will follow. One simply has to look at the record of pioneers throughout history to see this pattern again and again. People fed up with life in the Old World fled to the New World and exhibited the same behaviors in a new land. The settlement at Jamestown wouldn't have even lasted through fall if the captain of the town didn't get right down to brass tacks and issue a simple rule: if you don't work, you don't eat. Similiarly the groups fleeing religious persecution almost invariably set up draconian governments where religious descent was not tolerated. The only difference between the old and the new was the name of the sect that controlled the militia/mob that did the tarring and feathering.

crud! s/descent/dissent (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 03:27:41 PM EST

Sometimes my ability to make tremendous grammatical errors astounds me.

[ Parent ]
The problem /is/ with humanity... (4.50 / 2) (#21)
by _Quinn on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 04:40:54 PM EST

   ... but that's why space travel will be worthwhile, at least initially: only a certain few will make it to the colony, and even fewer will survive. If NASA is doing the selection, you'll end up with a racially (but not ethnically -- they'd send Americans!) mixed crew of the 'best and the brightest.' And who knows -- maybe they'll have a better idea of how to govern themselves. Maybe it'll work. (Hint: remember how modern democracy started?) Other groups will select for other characteristics, like piety. Where it becomes worth watching is a few hundred years down the road: did the first colonists succeed in both setting up a culture both better than the one they came from (by some measure, or another) and the cultural, political, and technological mechanisms to ensure its continuance? The cultural and political mechansims are the interesting ones. It is possible, to a certain extent, to experiment here on Earth with different political mechanisms. (See again the beginning of modern democracy.) The more radical experiments seem to involve a war or two to get started, though. Cultural experiments are much harder; even Japan couldn't keep its One True Culture past a certain point (defined mostly by American economic and technological power/prowess). Isolation can lead to faster evolution, which may be useful in determining what to do about the problems in humanity. Some have speculated about an evolution of humanity, rather than its political and social constructs; as an example, the Gundam MS novels (0079, IIRC) deal with 'New Types.' CJ Cherryh's Cyteen considers a colony which has succeeded in making psychology a hard science, and its political and cultural systems. (Of the two, I recommend Cyteen, but hey. :))

   Anyway, I think it's at best distantly possible that we'll colonize the moon during my life time, so I won't worry about the stars until then :)

Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
[ Parent ]
Human Nature (4.00 / 11) (#10)
by Seumas on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 03:27:33 PM EST

Going on your own with a colony that settles some planets in peace and harmony sans globally disruptive weapons is a nice idea... Until one of the colonies from another planet that does have such weapons decides to kick your ass, take your women and settle your land.

Such is the way of the human species. Go out, conquer, control, posess, dominate. Those few who actually accomplish societies that skirt these goals in the greater attempt for knowledge, science and art will always be dominated and controlled by the power-mongers, whether you're a bohemian artist in Ashbury or a clay sculptor and musician on Mars.

I don't like it any more than the next guy, but while pacifist behavior makes a statement, it very rarely accomplishes anything. Ironicly, the best way to enforce your peaceful and civil space-society might require the posession and threat of very violent and powerful weapons. In such a case, it could be argued that freedom behind the "barrel of a gun" isn't really freedom at all, because once the threat/defense of the weapons are done away with, you're no longer 'free' either. Catch-22 I suppose.
I just read K5 for the articles.

Plato... (3.71 / 7) (#12)
by jasonab on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 03:29:39 PM EST

I think Plato already covered this in his Republic. The philosopher-king is an eternal myth....

America is a great country. One of the freest in the world. -- greenrd
Is it really the first? (4.50 / 6) (#13)
by schporto on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 03:29:42 PM EST

I would suggest that a move to space is not the "first clear ideological division" or even the "first of a clear series of divisions". Instead I would suggest that this has always been the case with the borderlands of our world. The Vikings who founded Greenland did so because they we're unwelcome in their tribes, the Colonies in North America were founded as a means of escape from religous persecution. However along with the escape of 'thinking men' has followed the escape of those who you may seek to escape. Criminals wanting to live on the fringe of society, common laborers who just aren't happy being taxed, people who just want a new challenge. All will follow you to your thinking man's paradise.

Of course you could disallow them under some sort of standards. And say "No we will not accept you for you are not here to think." And they can say right back to you "And we will not sell you food or resources." And you will be in a quandry.

I disagree with the idea of an ideal world being one of thinking men only. If everybody agrees with you then you will never gain a new thought. Or you may build a wonderful theory to explain everything, except when the one simplton comes along and pokes one hole in the core tenet crumpling all your work.


War (2.71 / 7) (#16)
by {ice}blueplazma on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 03:59:26 PM EST

It is unfortunately human nature to want more. People can not be content with what they have, they want more. No one could have a society without war. History has shown that every society that has not had an army stronger than their neighbors would be destroyed. So isn't the only way to avoid war to have everyone like you?

War is caused by differences and a want for more. Look at what is going on in the middle east. Why do they fight? Because they are different.

So what if your enemies couldn't find you? If any of you have every read the Dune series then you may remember the Guild would hide people in a place no one could find. What if that is the future of diplomacy and peace. Simply making it impossible for anyone to find you. Will leaders start doing this in the future to ensure peace? Will there be a giant monopoly that will not allow people to move about freely without payment? What? Does anyone think any of my ideas would work? Tell me.

"Denise, I've been begging you for the kind of love that Donny and Smitty have, but you won't let me do it, not even once!"
--Jimmy Fallon
A few points (3.90 / 11) (#18)
by jabber on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 04:06:01 PM EST

+1 to section, because I think it's good conversation.

I know that you know better than to suggest that leaving an imperfect political system for another planet actually makes the situation better. I know that you realize that instead of censorship and noisy neighbors, you would have to worry about little details such as breathable air, water, food, heat, pressure, radiation... I know that you thought about this, and consciously chose to neglect mentioning these things in your write-up.

I'm sure that you also realize that the big difference between a video game and reality is that one is real and the other isn't. A few hundred people living on Mars would depend completely on the good graces of Earth - and their own Earth-based government - for the essencials of their survival. If you think that turning your back on the government would be easy for neo-Martians, try not filling your taxes this year. Then consider what would happen if your next food shipment just did not get to you as a result.

Also, you advocate the departure of the disillusioned intellectuals from our little cradle of humanity. As you do this, I hope that you keep in mind the fact that only those who are a proud and active part of this top-heavy system you reject, have access to the means of leaving the planet. Nobody, but nobody, will let a grumpy and cynical geek near a billion dollar rocket.

There's a good reason why virtually all of the astronauts are former military. They know how to obey. The ones who see the systems of the world as corrupt and "degradation" are exactly the people who do not get the benefits of these systems.

You can not reject a system as 'inadequate', and hitch a ride into space on one of that system's greatest accomplishments. Although, the proponents of The System would be glad to ship many of us there, I'm sure. :)

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Speaking of departure.... (2.00 / 7) (#20)
by Smirks on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 04:19:59 PM EST

... you appear to have 'departed' from a little project we had started a bit ago, 11223. I've tried to email you, post comments, etc, all without any success. So, 11223, are you departing from this venture?

[ Music Rules ]
Star Trek Syndrome (4.08 / 12) (#22)
by trhurler on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 04:40:56 PM EST

Inhabiting other places than Earth will not allow the solution of all our problems. It is an important step in our future, but it is not a way to "find a higher purpose." That's the mistake that made Star Trek ludicrous to those of us who understood what it was really about - the ones who actually listened when the creator of the show described it.

Simply put, where there are more people than a close circle of friends, there is political friction. Where there is political friction, there are problems. That's life. Moving away with a bunch of idealists won't change that. People have gone off and lived in communes away from civilization, totally cut off, and usually these end in disaster - but not externally caused disaster. It would be even harder to do away from Earth, where any screwup is liable to prove fatal.

If you really want to make a change for the better, there are three things that are vital. First, you must learn the distinction between that which is malleable and that which is not. You cannot change human nature. You cannot make rock gaseous at room temperature. Second, you must learn that for a good part of the time, well past the stage you're at now, you need to listen, watch, and think. Yakking about your utopian views now merely makes you look like an uninformed crank. Third, you must admit that it is more important to improve things than it is to be right all the time. You may well find that what you think now is completely wrong - and you must not hesitate to modify your views if you do find this. The problem is that this will conflict with your idealistic tendency to assume you know what is right.

Not to worry, though, because if you're interested in space travel in any serious way, you're going to be way too busy getting involved and then staying alive to bother with any higher goals.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Guh'mint or private? (3.83 / 6) (#23)
by tailchaser on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 05:05:02 PM EST

It seems inevitable that the first wave, or potentially waves, of "mature" space travel will be the product of a government project. Given this basis, it is difficult to imagine that a program set up and run from within a political system would be free of the political entanglements that you so desire to escape. If memory serves, Heinlein's Harriman was responsible for affordable, practical space travel for the masses - as a corporate project. Such a project would obviously peak sharply towards favoring the rich initially, but the market would stabilize soon enough. As a government project, space travel would be so smothered in red tape and procedure that the process would be ground to an infinitely slower pace.

Solution? *shrug* Don't ask me. => Once several large governments start selling their scientific departments out to global corporations who are free to compete with each other in an open market, we'll see what happens.

Just curious (3.50 / 12) (#27)
by finkployd on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 11:50:31 PM EST

It becomes difficult to get anything serious done when Presidents propose sweeping tax cuts in the interest of an economy

Is it just me, or does this make absolutly NO sense? You find it easier to get things done when you get to keep less of your money? How does this relate at all?

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
Getting Things Done (none / 0) (#47)
by j on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 03:41:14 PM EST

This is one of the few lines in the article that might make sense: While the individual might have more opportunities if they retain a larger portion of their paycheck, this doesn't necessarily hold true for the society as a whole.
The president that the original poster is talking about is proposing to finance the tax cut with a projected budget surplus. The rationale that the president gives makes sense, in a way: People will have more money, hence they are going to spend more, boosting economy and averting recession.
While this is probably going to boost his popularity, you also have to be aware, that the money might have been used for purposes that are less popular, but reap larger long-time benefits, i.e., paying off federal debt or (*gasp*) funding research - enabling the American people to get things done way after the surplus is used up.

Disclaimer: I'm not even really American - I just live here. So what do I know?

[ Parent ]

-1 (1.16 / 6) (#31)
by axxeman on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 06:31:04 AM EST

Post it as a diary entry, or maybe a "manifesto" somewhere, but as it stands, a story it ain't.

Being or not being married isn't going to stop bestiality or incest. --- FlightTest

Why this idea is garbage... (4.33 / 9) (#32)
by theboz on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 08:45:09 AM EST

When you were a little kid perhaps you moved to a new house. You and your siblings were excited for a while but then marked your territory and started fighting the same as you did in the old house. A change of location does not change the people. It would be bound to change some of the culture in that certain things are no longer practical, but people will have the same emotions and ambitions as before.

Also, you seem to be fairly ignorant of other planets, as you think it would be easier for us to pick up and settle another world. We don't have the ability to travel very far, and probably won't for a long time if we ever do. Even the speed of light isn't fast enough for us to travel very far out of our own solar system. So we are stuck with the planets and asteroids here. Well, I don't know about you but the planets range from burning to freezing ass cold, some are gasseous, and really the only one that humans could possibly go settle the easiest would be Mars. However, it would be so much easier to stop polluting and fix the problems we have caused on the Earth than to go somewhere else. It's highly impractical at this time. Maybe in the distant future we will go to the stars.

Also, if we did end up being able to colonize other planets, I would think it could end up just like the Europeans discovering the Americas and conquering them. The people that go would end up pillaging even worse than we do Earth simply because it's expendable and so fresh that they don't have to worry about resources running out any time soon. I hope there are no native intelligent species there, or they will suffer greatly at the hands of humanity. Then, remember what happened with the Americas. You had the ultra rich and the poor come here. The rich wanted to be richer and have empires that would be easier to do than in Europe, and the poor wanted to come because they heard what the rich were capable of and wanted to rise up to their standards, and escape the problematic society they lived in. Well, they traded problems for different problems. Sure you might have escaped the church but you had natives that wanted to kill you for stealing their land, animals, and other resources. You had new diseases to fend with. You had to support yourself more than those in the old country because there were no corner markets and such for you to go buy your food at. I wouldn't say that life was necessarily better, it's just that they decided which problems they would prefer to deal with, or went ignorantly. The poor ended up being indentured servants to the rich, making the rich richer and making the poor suffer more for the time period allotted. I don't see how space travel can solve any of these problems.


Well... (3.40 / 5) (#33)
by Anonymous 6522 on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 01:57:39 PM EST

I don't think we should leave the planet to find a higher purpose; I just think that we should set up some colonies because it is the prudent thing to do.

The colonists could keep all the problems that are present here on Earth, I don't care if they do. Having colonies is just a way to safeguard the human species against extinction. If a comet hits the Earth and kills everything on it, there will still be some people living on a colony somewhere, and we won't be extict.

Having colonies that are widely sepated and hard to get to would also be a benifit. If the sun goes nova and all our colonies are destroyed, we still go extict, but if we have colonies around different stars, then we do not. Having colonies that are hard to get to would be protection against species killing plagues. If infected refugees can't get to another colony, then they can't infect it, and some will still live.

At some point, we go extinct. Regardless. (4.50 / 2) (#38)
by error 404 on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 05:39:49 PM EST

I honestly can't see why preservation of the species is a reason for space colonization. Whether we go from an asteroid hit or a supernova or the heat-death or collapse (depending on total mass) of the universe, or as a result of terminal stupidity, we aren't going to be around forever.

I'd like to see us acomplish some things before then, and space travel is among those things. Avoiding extinction due to terminal stupidity long enough to go out with a little self-respect (extinction by asteroid impact or solar glitch is respectable, rendering the atmosphere unbreathable or nuking the place or spreading chemicals that render everybody sterile isn't) is another.

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Yes... (none / 0) (#43)
by Anonymous 6522 on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 12:47:12 AM EST

Humans will die out eventually, but I would like to have that happen later rather than sooner. Having colonies around multiple stars rules out a whole score of species killing events. We would only be vulnerable to our own stupidty, very large scale catastrophes, and chance (such as every star that we have a colony around going nova at about the same time).

I wouldn't consider going extinct because of a natural disaster respectable if we have any means to avoid it. It would be dieing of stupidity. I'd rather have the human race go out in some catastrophe there is no physical way to avoid than one that is in any way preventable.

[ Parent ]

leaving... (3.22 / 9) (#34)
by CaptainZornchugger on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 03:26:16 PM EST

It becomes difficult to get anything serious done when Presidents propose sweeping tax cuts in the interest of an economy...

Not good enough just to leave the country because Bush got elected, gotta leave the planet too, huh?

I could be wrong, but you may find yourself much happier in the long run the sooner you come to realize that this great elite of 'purpose-seekers' you consider yourself to be a part of is largely in your mind...

Look at that chord structure. There's sadness in that chord structure.
Who are you expecting to leave Earth? (4.50 / 2) (#39)
by roystgnr on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 05:47:44 PM EST

The first peoples who do colonize space will be those who want to reach to the stars above all else, and for no other immediate reason than reaching to the stars. While there may be a variety of secondary or eventual goals served by their move, they want right now to leave Earth more than anything else.

In the past, perhaps it was possible for a new frontier to accept the poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe freee... even if indentured servitude paid for a few of the boat passages there.

In the future, it will take a good thousand dollars of rocket fuel, spit out of the back of a billion dollar launch vehicle just to get you halfway to anywhere. By the end of this century it may be possible to buy a ticket to Mars for a quarter million (FY2000) dollars, and to have a habitat waiting for you there for less than a million bucks.

I consider myself an optimist, by the way. The pessimists don't believe there will be tickets for sale at all, and the circumstantial evidence since Apollo has been going their way.

So in the year 2100, who will be living on Mars? Not the people most disillusioned with the current system, but the people who are so successful working within the system that they can pay their own way, or people who are so valuable to the system's expansion that their government or employer will pay for them to emigrate. Most of those people (like most of any group of people) will be dissatisfied to some degree with the way the world we have now is run, but the real disillusioned souls tend to opt out of the system before building their million dollar grubstakes.

It would be difficult to find a place on this Earth not under the economic influence of the US

It would be difficult to place off this Earth not under that influence, too. Two nations have put men in space so far, after all. If anything, the high cost of getting to and living in space will make those economic ties stronger. (On the other hand, those new ties are just as likely to end up in Japan as in the US)

The first people who colonize space will not be there to reach for the stars; they will be there to repair and assemble satellites, to operate and maintain military and scientific instruments, and to extract power and resources from a new environment. Most will be motivated to go into that line of work by higher aspirations, yes... but when decisions have to be made, they will be decided on a financial or political basis. Pure idealism or "purpose-seeking" can be expensive on Earth; it will be unaffordable off Earth for quite a while.

Never underestimate ingenuity (none / 0) (#44)
by fires10 on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 09:34:39 AM EST

It is currently expensive to go into space the traditional way. It used to be expensive to go to India from Europe the traditional way (over land). As people decide they want to go into space they will find away. Many people moved to the fringes of society so they could live as they chose. I suspect people will do the same in space. Land that is not claimed by a government on Earth is currently scarce (I know because I have been looking). Space is now about the only opportunity. This is an area I have begun to study (I started back in school just to study this). If someone wants to go then I support them and will (as long as they respect my way of life) join them. I ask those of you who desire to go into space why not turn this into a practical exercise. The technology is here. Be innovative in its application.

[ Parent ]
Don't underestimate economics, either (none / 0) (#48)
by roystgnr on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 09:25:46 PM EST

It is currently expensive to go into space the traditional way.

Perhaps I'm not being clear enough. It is currently impossible to colonize space the traditional way. There are no existing orbital transfer vehicles capable of carrying human beings to any place in the solar system where they could be self sufficient, and there are no existing launch vehicles which could get you to a hypothetical OTV for as little money as the average first world citizen will make in his lifetime.

Did you casually dismiss that "quarter million dollar ticket to Mars" quote as if it were a reporting of current extravagant launch costs, soon to be obsoleted by magic new technology? It certainly is not. That $250,000 is the ticket price after all the promising currently feasable space transportation technologies are developed, not before.

You're telling me that you expect the price of space to drop by two orders of magnitude? Fine. I'm telling you that I expect the same thing, and I've already taken that into account!

As people decide they want to go into space they will find away.

Perhaps in large balloons?

This is an area I have begun to study (I started back in school just to study this). If someone wants to go then I support them and will (as long as they respect my way of life) join them. I ask those of you who desire to go into space why not turn this into a practical exercise.

There are lots of people who want to make this a practical exercise. I am another one of them. But practically, it isn't enough to assert that "people will find a way"; to get past the dreaming stage it is necessary to get into details on just what that way will be. Unfortunately, getting the level of detail required will take millions of highly trained man-hours, and turning it into a reality may cost billions of dollars. If you have better ideas, I'm all ears.

[ Parent ]

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