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Comment Re:1Million People (Score 1) 345

Turgidson: Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn't that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?

Dr. Strangelove: Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious...service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature.

Russian Ambassador: I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor.

Comment Re:Let's Get One Thing Fixed... (Score 1) 345

NK imprisons the condemned and up to three generations of their direct family members,

How do you know? Do you have first hand knowledge, or are you just regurgitating the propaganda that your government has been spoon feeding you? Most of these stories come from defectors who have a strong incentive to lie and embellish. If everything defectors said was true, there would have been a WMD in every Iraqi backyard.

subjecting them to hard labor for life for political disloyalty.

Engineering errors are not "political disloyalty". There is no evidence that NK punishes people for honest mistakes.

Comment Re:The Moon is first (Score 2) 345

Unfortunately, the problems are considerably more difficult, and the transportation costs almost as high. All the moon buys you is faster transit times, which is only relevant if your need for help can wait for several days.

The moon is interesting primarily as a fuel, and perhaps eventually construction base, conveniently near (energetically) Earth orbit. And perhaps as a location for major radio telescopes on the far side, nicely shielded from Earth's radio noise. Mars is practically Earthlike in comparison.

Comment Re:What kind of drugs (Score 1) 345

Well, first we'll have to calculate just how many cannabis brownies will be needed to last 100 people for 80 days...

And where are you getting "one way" or "survival of the fittest" from? The current plan is to re-use the transport ships many times, with free return passage to anyone who wants it on the returning ships. And colonizing a new world is likely to be a deeply cooperative endeavor - humanity hasn't been particularly "survival of the fittest" since we started pre-chewing food for our elders.

Comment Re:What's missing (Score 1) 345

A magnetosphere is rather premature, don't you think? We'd need to build an atmosphere first - and if we can accomplish that in less than several thousand years, then, maintaining it against the slow loss to the solar wind should be child's play.

Meanwhile, building and maintaining long-term artificial ecosystems should provide a great deal of knowledge that will be useful as we navigate the drastic climate changes Earth will likely be undergoing over the next few centuries. As yet, we've only seriously attempted the experiment twice, at small scale, in the form of the Biosphere 2 experiments.

Comment Re:H20 (Score 3, Informative) 345

Mars has icecaps estimated to contain about 3 million cubic km of water ice, roughly 1/3 as much water as exists as liquid fresh water on Earth. There may also be useful amounts of subsurface liquid water - that's one of those as yet unresolved features we've found tantalizing hints about.

It also has copious amounts of almost laboratory-pure CO2 freely delivered everywhere on the planet. Between the two, you've got most of the bulk ingredients necessary to build biomass.

Comment Re:terraforming (Score 1) 345

Unfortunately, to do that you'll probably need to either bombard the planet with asteroids rich in atmospheric components, or build massive soil-processing infrastructure to release them into the air - Earth's atmosphere masses about 5x10^18kg, and even with Mars's having 1/4 the surface area to cover, 10^18 kg still amounts to 2.5 million kg of air for every person currently on Earth. You're going to need some serious infrastructure to deliver that kind of tonnage, and Earth is a long way away.

Comment Re:Antarctica (Score 1) 345

Well, maybe. If you were living in an Antarctica whose most violent winds were barely as strong as a light breeze, and had the benefit of incorporating free vacuum-thermos grade insulation into all of your structures and garments.. That super-thin atmosphere has it's advantages after all - "air temperature" is more of a theoretical concept, and in practice you need only guard against radiant thermal losses and conduction into the ground.

Comment Re:Better to dream big than not at all (Score 4, Insightful) 345

Except the Moon is only a bit closer in terms of energy, and still too far away to evacuate anything more than a modest outpost unless you have a nice, slow, orderly catastrophe that allows you months or years to evacuate. You also have to deal with razor-sharp moon dust that, without the benefit of weathering, will make short work of moving parts and formerly airtight seals.

Mars also has far more accessible and abundant resources - a massive ice cap, potentially useful amounts of subsurface water, and all the CO2 you could want delivered to your doorstep. That and greenhouses can give you most of the raw materials needed to build and grow a colony, both in terms of biomass, and carbon and cellulose-based building materials - nanocellulose for example is translucent and airtight, with a strength comparable to aluminum, and can be produced from woody biomass with purely mechanical processing.

As for solar, the insolation on the Moon is more intense, but you'd need pretty huge batteries to hold you through the nights - they are almost fifteen Earth-days long after all. While Mars days are only 40 minutes longer than Earth's, conveniently within the range that most people's circadian rhythms can adapt to.

Comment Russian government (Score 1) 87

Here is the evidence that it is the Russian government:

The researchers at the aforementioned security firm are basing their conclusion on three signals: the hacker used Russian computers to edit PDF files, he also used Russian VPN -- and other internet infrastructure from the country, and that he was unable to speak Romanian.

That's really thin evidence to support the assertion that it's the Russian government. Once you start accusing governments, any government could leave those kinds of clues, including the US governemnt. Non-governmental actors can forge that kind of thing, too.

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