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Comment Re:One possible argument for lunar industrializati (Score 1) 72

It seems like the Moon's surface could be a fantastic place for an absurdly large optical telescope.

I don't see the advantage over just having the telescope in space. And there a numerous disadvantages: the moon's horizon will always obscure half of the sky, the surface will reflect light and pollute the imagery, fixing the base of the telescope means that you will only be able to focus on certain areas of the sky when the moon is in the right position etc.

and plentiful raw materials for making fused silica and aluminum surfaces.

There is a notable lack of aluminium smelters and robots to operate them - making the presence of those materials moot.

It seems to me that the best option would be put the telescope on a higher higher solar orbit than the earth. This way, you can get imagery (mostly) without light pollution and objects in the way. The main disadvantage is that should the telescope need repairing it might be a year or so before robots could be launched to repair it.

Comment Re: Obama's space policy (Score 1) 91

" Insisting that meat bags must, under their own strength travel around space in order for space travel to be valid is faintly embarrassing,"

That would indeed be embarrassing, however it's not remotely what I'm saying. You seem obsessed with the idea of humans doing things using their own muscles. Once again - that is irrelevant, and nothing to do with my point.

If humans aren't using their muscles, then there must be a machine doing the work. This immediately raises the question - if the machine is doing the work (propelling forward, changing direction, communicating with Earth etc etc) what exactly is the human doing? If, after years of thinking about it, we can't think of ONE thing that humans do in space that isn't easier and cheaper to do with a machine, why does the machine that goes to space and already performs all the actual functions have to cart a human about?

As you say, we haven't yet dived into the Jovian atmosphere, or landed on Titan. But that's because it's technically easier to send a specially designed robot to those places, than a person. However, given the requisite technical know how, sending a person is highly desirable.

Why would it be desirable for a human to dive into the Jovian atmosphere? If you were planning a craft that was going to Titan, what is the compelling reason to send a human plus the tons of required food/survival machines instead of just sending tons more machines? What function would the human perform on Titan that is not better served by a machine?

"Spare us your religious diatribes. You don't decide on our behalf, what constitutes our destiny."

I can only think that you have utterly misunderstood what I have been saying. You seem unaccountably angry, so tell me this. Do you think that humans becoming a multi planetary species is NOT to be desired?

I've already said:But "becoming a interplanetary species" has no objective value. You might believe it does, but the value is based on religious belief.

Comment Re:The really sad thing (Score 2) 107

Not that sad.

We should celebrate the achievement, certainly. Were I to meet one of these guys I would thank them for their service. But regretting the passing of the era of manned lunar flights is like mourning the end of the steam age. Yes - the steam age was a great advance over what came before. Yes, it is steeped (now) in romanticism. But what have now is far superior to the technology to steam technology. Let's not pretend we've regressed because nobody rides a steam engine from London to Oxford.

The same applies to manned lunar flights (and to a large extent manned spaceflights generally). 50 years ago that was cutting edge. When Apollo was devised, hardly anybody realised the future of spaceflight lay in robotics, which at the time were not very advanced. Now, of course, we have machines which are orders of magnitude more capable than astronauts of yesteryear - that era is past. We can look back fondly, but we don't need to regret that we moved on to better things.

Comment Re: Obama's space policy (Score 1) 91

I have no such constraint: "...and I support their ongoing use to be sure". Yes, I was thrilled by Huygens, and as for New Horizons my name is on the onboard disc.

But before you implied that robotic exploration was "not really" exploring:

OP refers to the thrill of exploration. Robot craft are interesting and useful, and I support their ongoing use to be sure - but the explorer's urge is deeply ingrained in (most of) us, at a very personal level

How does 2 or 3 people going to Mars or the Moon satisfy an urge deeply ingrained in (most of) us ? It seems for the vast, vast majority of the human race the experience is the same regardless of whether warm bodies are present.

Comment Re: Obama's space policy (Score 1) 91

Firstly, whether Everest is a solo achievement or a team effort, achieved using machines or just muscle power, is not relevant,

Strange. First you said that Climbing Everest was analogous to a robot carrying a meat bag to Mars - but now when we have looked a bit closer, it appears that it isn't.

The point is that the utility of sending robots to Mars, even really good ones, is limited to the scientific information they can transmit back to us.

Which is, to date, the only objective reason anybody has given as to why we (our agents) should go to Mars.

This info could be valuable, but it's value is vanishingly insignificant, compared to the value of our becoming a multi planetary species.

But "becoming a interplanetary species" has no objective value. You might believe it does, but the value is based on religious belief.

We may be fleshy meat bags, but we're the ones that do things


Have we ever dived into the Jovian atmosphere? Got inside the orbit of Venus to grab nasty solar particles? Landed on Titan? Snapped pictures of Pluto? Left the solar system?

We've done none of those things, because in fact it makes no objective sense for us to do them when robots can do them better, and faster, and cheaper, and more reliably. Insisting that meat bags must, under their own strength travel around space in order for space travel to be valid is faintly embarrassing, like suggesting that the only "true" music is accapella, musical instruments are a tool of the devil, or that real farmers dig in the soil with their hands: plowing with steel behind a tractor is not "true" farming. It is just a doctrine with no basis in reality.

Sending a robot ahead, to prepare the ground, build some infrastructure - now that's a good idea, but it's only a precursor to people making the trip.

Spare us your religious diatribes. You don't decide on our behalf, what constitutes our destiny.

Comment Re: Obama's space policy (Score 1) 91

It is absolutely possible. Any moment. Have a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

It was a relatively small meteor, but bigger asteroids repeatedly hit the Earth, and it will happen again. There is no doubt of it, the question is when.

No - the question is, if such an asteroid struck the earth, would the Earth be less habitable than Mars?

Plants do not need oxygen at all, it is even poisonous for them in a way.

Plants die in a vacuum. Humans also die in a vacuum.

In principle, they may turn a planet without oxygen into a habitable planet. But this technology does not exist yet.

The maths is relatively straightforward:


Earth: Habitable

Mars: Inhabitable

[Earth gets Struck by an Asteroid]

Earth: Habitable

Mars: Inhabitable

Comment Re: Obama's space policy (Score 1) 91

Bags of meat? We no of no more remarkable organo-electro-mechanical device in the universe than homo sapiens.

On the earth perhaps. In space, they just float about helplessly. If actually exposed to the harsh realities of space or another planetary surface, they die. The most remarkable part of a human (the brain) should tell you that sending humans to space when robots are already better adapted, in every way, is ridiculous.

Comment Re: Obama's space policy (Score 1) 91

Have you hugged your robot lately? OP refers to the thrill of exploration.

You weren't thrilled when Huygens plunged through the clouds of Titan and landed on the surface? You weren't thrilled by the recent flyby of Pluto? What's wrong with you?

Robot craft are interesting and useful, and I support their ongoing use to be sure - but the explorer's urge is deeply ingrained in (most of) us, at a very personal level - thanks evolution! "Fun" I think, is the operative word, although many on both sides of the issue would lift their noses at the very suggestion of such an emotion - how politically incorrect (*sniff)!

You've arbitrarily constrained exploring to requiring the actual explorer to cart along a bag of meat. This constraint is bizarre- why not replace the bag of meat with a pineapple? It's not exploring unless you carry along a pineapple, with a robotic arm to hurl out the pineapple and a recording that says "THERE! Now the pineapple has set foot on this (arbitrarily defined) surface, this planet/moon is EXPLORED!"

Your constraint means the end of exploration, because exploration will be confined to the places where technology allows robots to carry us bags of meat. This means, in practical terms, we will never explore and further than perhaps Mars or Venus.

Comment Re: Obama's space policy (Score 1) 91

When Mt Everest was first climbed the summit could not be practically approached by any means other than by foot. These days nobody climbs Mt Everest pretending that doing so is somehow on behalf of humanity and serving to advance humanity. It's the personal challenge. Notably, they would refrain from taking a machine most of the way to the summit and then walking the last 10 metres to the top, and then pretend that they (rather than the machine) did all the work.

If the personal challenge of going to Mars inspires you, all power to you. But for this to be an Everest style challenge, you'll need to walk there. Riding there in a machine is cheating. It's the machine (and the guys who designed, tested and built it) that did all the work, so from a "summit Everest" perspective, it's those guys who get the credit and the kudos.

Comment Re: Obama's space policy (Score 1) 91

Analogy fail.

A better analogy would be: because exploring had always previously been done on foot, in 1492 funds that would have been put into exploring by boat were instead spent on developing means to extend the distance that could be travelled by foot, including long poles that allowed explorers to cross bodies of water by walking on the bottom. Of course, the scale of the atlantic overwhelmed this mode of travel, so exploring was confined to well known spots that were easily reachable, and had infact already been settled with and traded with by people in boats for thousands of years. Nevertheless the long pole walkists looked down and mocked those who dared suggest that boats may in fact represent a superior technology and the notion of that exploring required one to travel by foot was impractical, dangerous, faintly ridiculous, and meant that no real exploring was even happening.

Comment Re: Obama's space policy (Score 1) 91

Mate, I think you miss the point of exploration.

Not seeing any evidence that that is true,

I for one hope they find the money to fund this effort sooner rather than later, I've not yet seen a man set foot on the moon in my lifetime (born in 1990) and be it the Russians or the Chinese I don't particularly care.

I haven't seen a man swallow a pinecone either. Not sure that that creates a compelling reason for anyone to take up pinecone swallowing. From my perspective, I'd rather we went exploring - sent a robotic sub to the oceans of titan, or drilling into icy crust of europa. If I want to see a glorified meat van, I'd bling up the butchers ute.

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Now robots take those leaps on our behalf.

Comment Re: Obama's space policy (Score 4, Interesting) 91

The other option is to not send redundant bags of meat into space. These days it makes just as much sense to send a pineapple or a meerkat as it does to send humans: none of the features of a human are particularly useful in the vacuum of space or near vacuum on Mars. Better to send a robot or bunch of robots specifically designed to achieve whatever the particular aims we have for that mission.

Comment Re:Deniers? (Score 1) 507

You are (name)calling completely different (DIFFERENT - do you know what that work fucking means) people "denialist" and expecting them to have the same opinion. Different people have different opinions.

Is denialism (a) factual or (b) subjective opinion with no link to reality?

So: which is it? Is the temperature rising, or isn't it? If it is rising, what is causing it to rise, if not CO2 and other GHGs? If it is not rising, why does the data say otherwise?

The nice thing about being a skeptic is that I don't have to explain or prove anything.

You aren't a sceptic. If you don't prove that your theory - be it either (a) that the temperature is not rising despite what the instruments say or (b) the temperature has risen for reasons that can't be observed - if you don't prove your theory, whichever it is, then we have no reason to believe it.

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