"Space is cool"
bloody freezing cold, I'd say.
Science Fiction author Neal Stephenson has inspired the creation of a new project, dubbed Hieroglyph, which aims to promote discussion about big ideas humanity will actually build. The group is a response to Stephenson’s essay Innovation Starvation in which he bemoans the world’s “inability as a society to execute on the big …
>Both very good at portraying the sheer size of the galaxy against the size of individuals.
As good as Douglas Adams?
"Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."
Sending stuff to pave the way and set up for people before they arrive? Great.
Do we currently have the technology? Nope.
3D printers? Well, if people want stuff like freaky shoes... (clear heels - Chris Rock shout out!) but building homes, digging caves, setting up infrastructure? Give it another 20 years, I'm afraid.
Not just making strangely shaped shoes and jewellery that resembles diatoms. The point is that this technology would find applications (financially viable, low labour costs, safe because operators are a distance away) on Earth before being sent to the moon. It doesn't seem that tricky to scale up from millimeters in ABS plastic to meters in concrete. Failing that, it seems the sort of thing the military might throw a few dollars into.
On the subject of politicians being unable to implement anything useful, I have just been listening to 'ABC's Late Night Live' http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/america27s-decline/3983254 about the decline of America. A council of buzz-cut US military leaders at a strategic thinking college have concluded that the US military strength comes from its economic strangth (not vice versa), and that the serious intervention in their nations economic affairs required cannot be accomplished by horse-traders chasing a popular vote every four years. They are not planning a coup, but suggesting a cut back in military spending and deployment, to help get the balance sheets in the black.
It seems you can add military officers to the list of scientists, inventors and writers.
It's the economic strength but more specifically the strength of the US' manufacturing base; WWII demonstrated that with the rebuilding of the US fleet after Pearl Harbour and their ability to crank out tanks that, though inferior to the Panzer and Tiger range in head to head combat, were produced in several times the number that the Nazis could manage* thus defeating them Zerg Rush style.
*The Nazi engineers helped a bit by overcomplicating half the things they designed for mass production.
This is one of those ideas that sounds cool on the surace but is actually very silly. The reason we didn't go back to the moon is that there's nothing useful there .. It's just a big rock. 3d printers are also next to useless(how do you make feedstock ?). You'd be better off with a teleoperated cnc router that worked on rocks and if you had one of those you'd be better sending it to mars.
Nothing useful on the moon, except that it isn't Earth. Taking the first steps to developing another basket might be good for the future of us eggs.
I'm sure that research has been conducted on the properties of moon rock as a building material, but yeah, using explosives to create caves seems at first glance to offer a lot of bang for your Kilogram.
Mars- yeah, but the health issues of the journey there haven't been licked yet.
A big useless rock... stuffed with Helium-3.
Not to mention that it's a hell of a lot more convenient than Mars. Not all science has to have an end result in mind - most of it is research and development. The original moon landings had no particular end purpose (well, apart from political) but look at the resulting explosion in technology and computing.
Wait, better off sending it to Mars? Mars is a complete waste of time and effort. While we could plausibly establish a long-term manned presence on the moon in the foreseeable future, a trip to Mars would be purely for show. If we want to look for life on other plants, Mars is still a waste of time compared to Europa and Ganymede (you know, places where some of the water might still be liquid?).
Just: he's absolutely right about the paralysis of basically the whole of the West AFAICT in executing on anything new really, not just big stuff. Building *anything* new seems to be prevented by allowing objections on the grounds that people will go there, and the building traffic will be noisy and dangerous, so we're doomed to endure the infrastructure we have and no more; ever. ;-(
The main limitation to using 3D printers will be the energry needed to power them (and anything they produce). Assuming that solar power would be the only available source the first thing a 3D printer would need to do is create more solar panels but to assemble and deploy them would require some kind of robot. It's almost a chicken and egg situation. Once you have that problem solved you can then go on to making bigger and more complex machines which in turn can be used to make bigger and more complex machines until you have got enough to build a habitable dome. This of course assumes you can make stuff without water or any other liquid that hasn't boiled off into space and that mining for the necessary minerals is just an easy dig into the topsoil.
I like how the article and comments make a big fuss of one forum comment, missing the major point.
The man talks sense. I once read a novel called SABRE.. it had something to do with some sort of.. singe stage surface to space vehicle with these.. I don't know.. synergous air breathing something or others? I reckon the tech in that book was feasible.
I think maybe KSR's Mars trilogy (all four(?) books) had some reasonable ideas too.
There is a particularly taboo area of technology which I believe could benefit from some sort of passionately espoused manifesto, namely eugenics. Imagine if you will my friends, a world where nimbys have been removed from the gene pool.
3D moon printers? Idiot! Assuming anyone would *want* to live in da-glo plastic igloos, where in the moon are we going to get the miles of weedwhacker wire needed for the old RepRap to feed on? I thought scientists were bad enough at the moon-shot thing, but these 3d printerloons take the space-biscuit.
Thinktankers! Suggest sensible things!
Writing from Seattle...
Neal S wrote his essay after being witness to the longer history of light rail here. The Light Rail is itself the less-attractive option we'll all have to settle for, after the much more attractive monorail project got canceled. The monorail would have had a smaller footprint (being up on columns) than the light rail, and be built much faster, finally giving the Puget Sound area a decent mass-transit option. (Other than buses.) But monorail was eventually killed by local politicians over the objections of the public. (There had been numerous public votes where each time the city voters said "yes" to the monorail.) Light rail must have just meant more $$ hence it was kept while monorail shelved.
Oh, and regarding spoiling a lake, it's already "spoiled" by two very large floating bridges with multiple spans, for two major highways, which have been in place for decades. We are in the process of building a whole new span for highway 520. Which would do its damage, regardless of the addition of light rail (which is supposed to reduce dependance on cars) or not.
Stagnation...we got it.
Seems like the ideal way to divert an ELE sized (1mile+) asteroid without resorting to nuclear warheads and drilling.
Just send one or two replicator units to asteroid say 5 years out, have it dismantle said asteroid into buillding blocks and rebuild it into a mini Dyson Swarm or similar with thrusters to nudge it into high orbit round say the Moon.
Et voila, one habitable extraterrestrial habitat complete with atmosphere, cloned plants and other "Fun Stuff" (tm) without having to colonise Mars.
AC/DC 6EQUJ5 and if NASA rip this off good luck to them :-)