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Space Exploration


By The Professor   Follow   Fri, 16 Nov 2012, 5:47am PST   5,072 views   74 comments
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Brought to you by your tax dollars courtesy of NASA.

http://www.wimp.com/walkingair/

Our planet is so beautiful and fragile. This video makes it obvious that we are impacting our finite world.

When I was young America went to the moon. We were promised a future world of flying cars, trips to mars, and unlimited possibilities.

Instead we have endless wars, increasing uneasiness, and a poverty of vision.

Why aren't we expanding out into the universe?

I propose that we declare victory and end all the wars (terror, poverty, drugs, Afghanistan, etc.) and start getting off this little planet.

It is the only way growth can continue.

Dan8267   Mon, 19 Nov 2012, 3:35pm PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (3)   Dislike (1)     Comment 1

It's amazing what science and engineering can do, and what religion and superstition cannot.

marcus   Wed, 28 Nov 2012, 2:07pm PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike     Comment 2

NASA is working on a warp drive.

http://techland.time.com/2012/09/19/nasa-actually-working-on-faster-than-light-warp-drive/

Bellingham Bill   Sun, 2 Dec 2012, 10:25am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike     Comment 3

marcus says

programs supporting the poor could be better spent other ways.

problem is that 80% (?) of our welfare is just pass-through to the economic actors victimizing them, eg:

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/housing_choice_voucher_program_section_8

New Renter   Mon, 19 Nov 2012, 10:21am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 4

The Professor says

Brought to you by your tax dollars courtesy of NASA.

To be interpreted as: Our funding is drying up because we squandered our budgeted billions of dollars on stupid space stations, shuttles and sophomoric math errors.

The Professor says

Our planet is so beautiful and fragile. This video makes it obvious that we are impacting our finite world.

So do ants.

The Professor says

When I was young America went to the moon. We were promised a future world of flying cars, trips to mars, and unlimited possibilities.

I'll bet you bought into Santa Claus too. Can I interest you in a hydrogen economy?

The Professor says

Instead we have endless wars, increasing uneasiness, and a poverty of vision.

5000 years and counting.

The Professor says

Why aren't we expanding out into the universe?

Because its nothing but rocks, freezing vacuum and uberhot plasma as far as the eye can see.

The Professor says

I propose that we declare victory and end all the wars (terror, poverty, drugs, Afghanistan, etc.) and start getting off this little planet.

Bush tried that - didn't work.

The Professor says

It is the only way growth can continue.

Or we can make and sell stuff we can actually use right here on earth.

Seriously man, put the crack pipe down.

Bellingham Bill   Tue, 20 Nov 2012, 9:22am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 5

New Renter says

You say we have to get off the earth - I ask TO WHERE?

yeah, the truth here is that there's no shortage of anything here really.

Just artificial scarcity, and going to the moon isn't going to change that.

Anyplace on Antarctica or in the middle of the Sahara would be tons more habitable than anywhere we can get to off this rock.

Per-capita GDP now is over $40,000. That should be enough for everyone to live a productive, happy life here. We just have a distribution problem.

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=cZZ

Dan8267   Sun, 2 Dec 2012, 12:24am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 6

Melmakian says

Where's my flying car? Hell, where the fuck is my space colony!

Only private enterprise in a business environment w/o government screwing things up can deliver either of those to real life.

It is mainly the diversion of resources from long-term goals to short-term profiteering caused by capitalism that prevented us from developing space colonies.

Capitalism is inherently short-term. We could have had mp3 players back in the 1960s and fiber optic Internet connections in the 1980s. Business does not make long-term investments.

Here's how capitalism works. An idea comes about and lays dormant for years, decades, even centuries because no resources are devoted to it. No resources are devoted to it because there is no expectation for profits until years or decades later.

Eventually technological advancement reaches a point where is becomes plausible to profit on the idea with a few years. Then a game a chicken occurs. No one wants to be the first person to contribute resources to developing the idea since it's still a few years off. No one is willing to spend even a few years developing the idea even though once developed, it will return the investment many times over. It's still too long of a horizon.

As technology continues to advance and become cheaper, there comes a tipping point where all of a sudden everyone wants to immediately develop the idea as fast as possible before someone else capitalizes on it. A land rush occurs. The idea is implemented in a rushed manner with all corners cut, quality is shit, and smoke and mirrors are used in place of actual working components. The same assholes who wouldn't look at the idea a year or two ago, now expect the engineers to do all the work implementing the idea in a few months. The engineers, of course, have to do a rushed, crappy job as a result.

And that's how capitalism works. It's a short-sighted resource allocation algorithm that results in substandard development, incorrect architecture, shotty products, and great wasteful of time and resources. Yeah, other economic systems may be worse, but capitalism sure as hell isn't the best we can do, especially in the technology age.

I guarantee you that once space travel becomes relatively cheap, there will be a tipping point where mega corporations try to land grab all the asteroids and planets for their natural resources. There's more gold in asteroids alone than has been mined in all of human history.

Dan8267   Sun, 2 Dec 2012, 8:20am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 7

Peter P says

Capitalism is the only system that will withstand time.

That's a bold statement. What proof do you have that there is no other possible economic system that could withstand time?

Dan8267   Sun, 2 Dec 2012, 8:56am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 8

Peter P says

Dan8267 says

Peter P says

Capitalism is the only system that will withstand time.

That's a bold statement. What proof do you have that there is no other possible economic system that could withstand time?

I just know it. Wait until the end of time to prove me wrong.

That's a really bad reason to believe that no other economic system could possibly be invented that would be better than capitalism. It's also a real bad reason to never try.

Considering that there have only been three economic systems ever tried, it seems a bit premature to say that no other economic system could be better than capitalism.

The only three economic systems ever tried are
- Market (capitalism)
- Command (communism)
- Traditional (feudalism)
and mixtures of these three systems.

That's it. That's everything. Three ideas. Seems a bit soon to stop research.

It would be like trying three foods (head cheese, haggis, and a McDonald's quarter ponder) and concluding that the McDonald's quarter ponder is the best possible food you could ever eat.

marcus   Sun, 2 Dec 2012, 10:18am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 9

Peter P says

Only capitalism (or a close derivative) can make individuals work together.

Is that your idea of an epiphany ?

Even Russia and communist China have capitalism. The question isn't whether capitalism works.

A far more specific and interesting question is, are there better ways to make capitalism work well ? Surely we are nowhere close to reaching that. And I guarantee that in the long run, governemt's role is here to stay (even if we briefly swing towards too much privatization and fascism).

Some coldly argue for social darwinism, and for the harsh view that poverty is in a sense necessary, to provide an ample source of cheap labor to our capitalist system. And they argue that too many programs supporting the poor (through taxation ) are evil and anti capitalistic.

I think the question is: Is it possibly to have a fairer and more economically sound (capatalist) system while still having plenty of room for incentivising hard work and rewarding talent appropriately?

I too believe that the money that we spend on prisons and on programs supporting the poor could be better spent other ways. And I believe that under a different system, many people who are in prisons or on "welfare" now could be gainfully employed and paying taxes instead.

thunderlips11   Sun, 2 Dec 2012, 11:40pm PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 10

The problem with the space program was the Space Shuttle. It didn't perform as advertised (we should be at STS-1000+ by now, not 133), with a 3-4 month turnaround per mission. Instead it was more like a year and a half-two year turnaround. It's also a very expensive way of getting payloads into space.

The Space Shuttle is the reason NASA lost a great deal of income, and the USAF had to step in just to launch their own needs as the Shuttle's schedule kept falling so far behind that military-critical satellite launches were delayed by years.

What we need are our heavy rockets back.

The program kept going because it was a big boondoggle for certain congressional districts. It was a good technology demonstrator, but the concept should have been retired 20-25 years ago.

We need to get our ass to Mars because it's there. And it should be a one-way trip with no expectation of return for the first astronauts, like other exploration missions. There would be no shortage of qualified volunteers, who could all be 55+.

Unlike the Shuttle, the Mars Rovers actually performed many times beyond their estimated life time, so we're ahead of the 8 ball there.

No Company is going to spend $50-100B a year over 10 years just to land somebody on Mars.

Dan8267   Mon, 3 Dec 2012, 12:16am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 11

CaptainShuddup says

Nixon is the only President that put a man on the moon.

He was also the only president impeached for lying.

1. Engineers put men on the moon, not presidents.
2. If you are going to give any president credit for the lunar landing, it would be Kennedy who allocated the resources to do so.
3. Nixon was not impeached for lying. Nixon resigned before he could be impeached for his role in the Watergate scandal. You see, back in the 1970s sabatoshing elections was actually considered illegal rather than a legitimate campaign strategy.
4. If you are suggesting that the lunar landing was faked, well, I can't say that I'm completely surprised.

Vicente   Fri, 16 Nov 2012, 3:56pm PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 12

http://youtu.be/oY59wZdCDo0

New Renter   Mon, 19 Nov 2012, 10:06am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 13

The Professor says

Brought to you by your tax dollars courtesy of NASA.

http://www.wimp.com/walkingair/

Our planet is so beautiful and fragile. This video makes it obvious that we are impacting our finite world.

When I was young America went to the moon. We were promised a future world of flying cars, trips to mars, and unlimited possibilities.

Instead we have endless wars, increasing uneasiness, and a poverty of vision.

Why aren't we expanding out into the universe?

I propose that we declare victory and end all the wars (terror, poverty, drugs, Afghanistan, etc.) and start getting off this little planet.

It is the only way growth can continue.

After you my friend. Can I have your house when you don't make it back?

The Professor   Mon, 19 Nov 2012, 12:30pm PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)     Comment 14

New Renter says

Or we can make and sell stuff we can actually use right here on earth.
Seriously man, put the crack pipe down.

I don't smoke crack but I do have utopian dreams.

New Renter   Tue, 20 Nov 2012, 8:04am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 15

The Professor says

Are you even more cynical than me?

Possibly - its a requirement for graduate school.

The Professor says

If you watch the video you would see all of the lights growing like a cancer on our (earths) continents.

You see cancer, I see progress. You'd love North Korea though.

The Professor says

Our planet is finite. It can only hold so much "stuff we can actually use". More and more people want more and more stuff. Growth upon a limited base of resources has to end, probably not well.

So use "stuff" more efficiently, recycle and embrace nuclear power. Its not hard.

The Professor says

We have to expand, change, or die. We have the theory, we merely need to develop the technology. Space technology is much like the technology we use to wage war on each other.

What theory would that be? What technology?

The Professor says

Our planet is small, the universe is infinite. We have taken "one small step" it is time we learn to walk.

I STRONGLY suggest you take a few math, science and engineering courses Then you can actually work towards your utopia.

leo707   Tue, 20 Nov 2012, 8:08am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 16

Dan8267 says

It's amazing what science and engineering can do, and what religion and superstition cannot.

I am always amazed that people are not continuously amazed at the "power" of science.

People, will gasp and stutter about "accuracy" of a vague horoscope, but shrug and yawn when someone tells them what sex their baby will be months before it is born.

No other discipline has been able to accurately predict the future, but science does it with such accuracy it has become boring.

Anyway, there may be limits to what science can do. We are not going to be able to colonize the galaxy without faster than light travel, generational ships, or "stasis." These things simply might be impossible.

But, yes I agree that we should be trying to escape the earth.

Automan Empire   Tue, 20 Nov 2012, 8:31am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 17

Haha. In such a discussion elsewhere, I threw out a Heinlein quote.
The meek shall inherit the earth; the rest of us will go to the stars.

Someone responded, "Aren't stars hot firey objects? I think I'll stay on Earth."

That is the mentality you are up against.

New Renter   Tue, 20 Nov 2012, 8:50am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 18

Automan Empire says

That is the mentality you are up against.

No, just the reality.

New Renter   Tue, 20 Nov 2012, 9:12am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 19

The Professor says

@new renter

Are you even more cynical than me?

Keep in mind I am the offspring of a Lockheed/Aerojet/Loral aerospace engineer. My father worked on numerous space vehicles, platforms, the shuttle and was a chief engineer on the ISS. My childhood and adolescence revolved around the space program including all the bust and boom times. My cynicism towards the space program is reflective of what my father shared with me about his experience working with NASA.

I also recognize the reality of what is out there - hard vacuum, lethal radiation, tiny rocks moving at speeds that make bullets look pedestrian, temperatures extreme enough to liquify helium or ionize anything with very little compromise. On top of that space is enormous. The NEAREST stars are 4.3 LIGHT YEARS away. How far is it to the nearest habitable rock? No idea, we haven't found one yet.

You say we have to get off the earth - I ask TO WHERE?

leo707   Tue, 20 Nov 2012, 9:15am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 20

New Renter says

I also recognize the reality of what is out there - hard vacuum, lethal radiation, tiny rocks moving at speeds that make bullets look pedestrian, temperatures extreme enough to liquify helium or ionize anything with very little compromise.

You forgot to mention the deadly probes.

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