A Space & astronomy forum. SpaceBanter.com

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Go Back   Home » SpaceBanter.com forum » Space Science » History
Site Map Home Authors List Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Web Partners

Questions about "The High Frontier"



 
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #21  
Old October 3rd 07, 04:21 AM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Michael Ash
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 128
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

In rec.arts.sf.science Jonathan wrote:
"John Schilling" wrote in message
...
On Mon, 01 Oct 2007 17:45:19 -0000, Damien Valentine
wrote
Mind you, some of the same problems apply to nuclear power, and we
do have that. But much of the necessary infrastructure there is
common to existing coal-fired powerplants, and much of the rest is
shared with the nuclear-weapons people. And governments have a
well-established track record of pumping huge ammounts of money
into unprofitable weapons programs.


I think the upcoming Olympics in Beijing will provide a glimpse
into the priorities of the future. China burns so much coal that
it's air is almost deadly. Dear Mother Nature will give us a
few very calm days in Beijing so the world can watch
the athletes flee the city for their very lives.


It may be deadly in the long term but it's hardly going to send atheletes
fleeing after just a few weeks. It's ugly and sometimes smells bad but
I've never dropped dead from short-term exposure to it, and those guys are
in way better shape than I am.

--
Michael Ash
Rogue Amoeba Software
Ads
  #22  
Old October 3rd 07, 04:43 AM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Johnny1a
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 25
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

On Oct 2, 12:51 pm, "Mike Combs"
wrote:
"Pat Flannery" wrote in message

...



It was only after the book that every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a
political or economic axe to grind began looking at space colonies as some
sort of do-it-yourself Utopias where the innate superiority of their
political or economic system would no doubt be shown to all.


It might have been T. A. Heppenheimer who said, "Space colonies are a kind
of political Rorschach test".

But I am sanguine about space habitats as political experimentation
laboratories. If one's society ultimately fails (or just consistently
performs poorly), it would have to be a result of its underlying philosophy.
In a space habitat, one could hardly blame resource depletion, an energy
crisis, population pressures, a crop failure, or inconvenient location.


Doesn't matter, 'cause it won't happen that way.

When you consider the gargantuan capitol investments were talking
about in building such machines, even once we're able to do so, the
chances that they'll be given out to fringe movements or minority
groups to 'experiment' with strains credulity.


Shermanlee

  #23  
Old October 3rd 07, 04:47 AM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Pat Flannery
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 18,466
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"



Mike Combs wrote:
Interestingly, the military seems to have revived interest in this
concept.


Yeah, but they also thought bees sticking their tongues out was a viable
means of detecting explosives and chemical weapons:
http://rapidrecon.threatswatch.org/2...ox-buzz-bombs/
They've got enough troubles already in Iraq between the sectarian
killings and the cholera without turning huge swarms of bees loose on
the populace. :-)

Pat
  #24  
Old October 3rd 07, 04:54 AM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Johnny1a
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 25
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

On Oct 1, 12:45 pm, Damien Valentine wrote:
So I just got through O'Neill's "The High Frontier". There seem to be
some philosophical inconsistencies -- O'Neill claims to be promoting
individual freedoms and small-scale economies by building monolithic
power satellites and kilometer-scale orbiting cities, for instance --
but that's neither here nor there.

What really bothers me is that the entire scheme seems too much like
something out of a Rube Goldberg cartoon. "We'll build a base on the
Moon to deliver material to Earth orbit -- and we'll need at least
some mining ships scouting the asteroids for water and organics too --
which will be used to build a 3-million ton, 10,000-man space station
the size of Manhattan; then that will build 80,000-ton satellites, and
those will transmit solar power back to Earth." (He offers other
justifications for his "Islands" -- building space telescopes, for
example -- but it seems that we've achieved most of those goals
already without them.)


Your impression, unfortunately, is dead right. It _is_ a Rube
Goldberg scheme of the first order.

The thing you have to understand is (IMHO of course), the point of the
exercise for O'Neill is not energy, it's the space habitats as an end
in themselves. The idea of selling electricity is simply an attempt
to come up with a plausible reason to build the Habitats. In a way
that puts O'Neill into a less dreamy category than some space
enthusiasts, he at least recognizes that there has to be an economic
incentive in it all somewhere. But it's still pretty doesn't work.

If the primary goal were to build SPS, then the Habitats are
extravagances of the first order, you could achieve the same thing
more cheaply with orbital hotel type structures, utilitarian
facilities designed to house a rotating construction crew on a medium-
term basis. For a comparison, think offshore oil platforms. They
aren't luxurious, but they are tolerable/comfortable for a rotating
crew. To draw out the comparison (which I grant is imperfect),
imagine if someone proposed that the key to exploiting off-shore oil
resources was to construct floating towns that were ecologically self-
sustaining and designed to duplicate suburban living out of an
advanced Western state at sea.

O'Neill's plan called for totally unrealistic space access by the
standards of the 70s, he was assuming not only that the Space Shuttle
would live up to NASA's hype, but that it would do _better_ over time,
and he was assuming radically unrealistic constructions costs at every
stage of the game, including assuming the availability of working
models of technology that just hadn't been proven yet (and much of it
still hasn't been.)

What really makes me a critic, though, is not that O'Neill dreamed
big, I admire that. The problem is that his dreams became so hyped
that they actually became a negative force from a POV of space
exploration and development. Critics used them as 'proof' that the
entire concept of space exploration/exploitation was silliness, empty
pipe dreams, while they raised supporters expectations to levels
guaranteed to be disappointed.


  #25  
Old October 3rd 07, 05:03 AM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Pat Flannery
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 18,466
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"



Damien Valentine wrote:
No, sir; the copy I just read, at any rate, specifically promotes
colonies as bastions of individualism and freedom (although he
specifically avoids describing details of colonial government), and
also as a reservoir for Earth's population growth (which would at this
point have to be 200,000 people shipped out to L5 _every day_).


In my copy I'm reading about the fact that in a lot of ways, life on a
habitat would be considerably less free than on Earth.
Population would have to be strictly controlled, and any form of
dissidence that could present a danger to the habitat stopped in its
tracks. If I decide to secretly drill a hole in the ground here on
Earth, its unlikely the whole population of Jamestown, ND will
suffocate; that wouldn't be the case on a space habitat. This sounds
like a perfect set-up for something a lot more like a fascist state than
a libertarian paradise.

Pat
  #26  
Old October 3rd 07, 05:03 AM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Jim Davis
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 420
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

Jonathan wrote:

I think the upcoming Olympics in Beijing will provide a glimpse
into the priorities of the future. China burns so much coal that
it's air is almost deadly. Dear Mother Nature will give us a
few very calm days in Beijing so the world can watch
the athletes flee the city for their very lives.


Why would just the athletes flee? Why not everyone else? Are only the
athletes' lives in danger? Why aren't people fleeing now?

Jim Davis
  #27  
Old October 3rd 07, 05:03 AM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Johnny1a
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 25
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

On Oct 2, 8:38 pm, "Jonathan" wrote:
..


Why do sci-fi writers assume we must move into space to survive???
The facts on the ground strongly suggest that as societies become
more advanced and affluent, the population growth slows to
sustainable levels.


Population growth is a _good_ thing in the long term, survival-wise,
population decrease is a sign of a declining society and even stablity
is death in the long haul. Survival _requires_ growth and expansion,
because sooner or later something unlikely in the short term but near-
certain the long will do bad things to any given habitat.

A tribe of primitives could exist in 'sustainable' balance in an
ecological niche for ages, but if they stay there and don't expand
sooner or later something will get them, a volcanic eruption, disease,
earthquake, something. A group in 'sustainable' balance over an
entire continent would likely last longer, but again, sooner or later,
they'll fall to a supervolcano or a meteorite or a massive climate
shift, no niche is permanently stable.

A planet-wide 'sustainable' state is better yet...but again, sooner or
later you'll roll snake eyes. Your star will change, there'll be a
nearby supernova, a _big_ impactor may (actually given enough time I
should 'will', not 'may') come your way, or something we don't even
know about might happen, but again, on the open-ended time scale the
imperative remains: grow or die.



  #28  
Old October 3rd 07, 05:06 AM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Johnny1a
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 25
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

On Oct 2, 12:48 pm, Damien Valentine wrote:
On Oct 1, 2:10 pm, Pat Flannery wrote:

Damien Valentine wrote:
So I just got through O'Neill's "The High Frontier". There seem to be
some philosophical inconsistencies -- O'Neill claims to be promoting
individual freedoms and small-scale economies by building monolithic
power satellites and kilometer-scale orbiting cities, for instance --
but that's neither here nor there.


I've the original book; as I remember it, it wasn't so much a political,
economic, or social system he was promoting as much as the technology of using space colonies for large scale manufacturing...


No, sir; the copy I just read, at any rate, specifically promotes
colonies as bastions of individualism and freedom (although he
specifically avoids describing details of colonial government), and
also as a reservoir for Earth's population growth (which would at this
point have to be 200,000 people shipped out to L5 _every day_).


As I noted above, for O'Neill the Habitats were the point, and yes,
there is a contradiction between his libertarian ideals and the
realities of what would be necessary to actually create the things. I
suspect he sensed that, and tried to create a convincing sleight of
hand to hide it from himself.

You could actually make a plausible case that an O'Neill Habitat would
of necessity be a highly _disciplined_ environment, certainly the
option of leaving if you don't like how things are run would be much
trickier in an O'Neill than on Earth. Most of the idealistic
component of the whole concept is more about dreams than thought.

  #29  
Old October 3rd 07, 05:21 AM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Pat Flannery
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 18,466
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"



Mike Combs wrote:

It might have been T. A. Heppenheimer who said, "Space colonies are a kind
of political Rorschach test".


That's a very good analogy; everyone sees in them what they want to.
Utopia or something like living in a giant tin can?
Amazingly enough, there is a very close analogy to living in a space
habitat here on Earth - a place untouched by most laws, where everyone
lives in fairly close quarters in the middle of a hostile environment
with only fairly rare visits from outside groups; that being the
Antarctic science stations. I've talked to two people who were stationed
at them, and they didn't exactly compare them to a vacation on the
French Riviera.

But I am sanguine about space habitats as political experimentation
laboratories. If one's society ultimately fails (or just consistently
performs poorly), it would have to be a result of its underlying philosophy.
In a space habitat, one could hardly blame resource depletion, an energy
crisis, population pressures, a crop failure, or inconvenient location.


How about if a neighboring colony blows a hole in yours to let the air
out, then seizes it for their own, as they want to increase their
population?
The other problem is political extremists and Utopian true believers;
the concept of little flying political laboratories is going to attract
those two groups like bees to honey, and a political uprising inside of
a space colony has a real potential for getting its entire population
killed.
The people it is going to attract are the last ones you would want on
board, rather like what happened to the L5 Society itself.

Pat
  #30  
Old October 3rd 07, 05:47 AM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Pat Flannery
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 18,466
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"



Johnny1a wrote:

When you consider the gargantuan capitol investments were talking
about in building such machines, even once we're able to do so, the
chances that they'll be given out to fringe movements or minority
groups to 'experiment' with strains credulity.


They'll probably be run very similar to a military model; a very strict
rank hierarchy and everyone being assigned their jobs and knowing who
they take orders from. That hardly sounds like a Utopia, more like life
on a Nimitz class carrier.
For starters, the reason they are going to exist isn't to give people a
really fun place to live, but make a buck.
Other than a business venture, about the only way you can see one
getting built is a cult leader getting money from his followers to build
the place on divine orders.
Places like that seldom come to a good end.
If they're lucky, it ends up like the Amana Colonies with everyone just
losing interest: http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/amana/utopia.htm
If not, it ends up like Jonestown, with everyone jumping out the airlock
to show their devotion.
I imagine step one is for any prospective designer of one is to read
Plato's "Republic", and avoid the Book of Revelation like the plague.

Pat
 




Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
The "experts" strike again... :) :) :) "Direct" version of my "open Service Module" on NSF gaetanomarano Policy 0 August 17th 07 02:19 PM
Great News! Boulder High School CWA "panelists" could be infor it! Starlord Amateur Astronomy 0 June 2nd 07 09:43 PM
"VideO Madness" "Pulp FictiOn!!!," ...., and "Kill Bill!!!..." Colonel Jake TM Misc 0 August 26th 06 09:24 PM
why no true high resolution systems for "jetstream" seeing? Frank Johnson Amateur Astronomy 11 January 9th 06 06:21 PM


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 06:35 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©2004-2018 SpaceBanter.com.
The comments are property of their posters.