This file from Adra, http://www.mhada.info.

Set4: The People There.

Editorial opinion from

Martha Adams

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"Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing til it gets there." -- Josh Billings

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And when we finally do get Out There, what will we have? There?

We will have what in my view, our Apollo program started out for. Decades ago, but we fell into wars and more wars. And with our eyes open, into the population trap. And into a trap of world economic change with America lost in consumerism and religious ideology and falling badly behind. My hope is we can escape those terrible unending cycles. If we can, we will have frontiers again. We will have a future of rich possibility for change and social growth. We will have a strong competition against those wasteful (if profitable for a few of us) wars that go on and on here.

We will have people living in space. A human culture there, or several of them. And behind it all, our compelling principal reason for it all: insurance that when large catastrophe strikes Terra (as it certainly will, sooner or later), our species and our cultures can survive.

But more immediately, what will those people Out There be like?

They'll be different from us. (Maybe some with religious and political power today look forward to see that difference, and it's one reason this great step outward to the rest of our Solar System is so slow to happen.) As I peer into that possible future, there's a lot there and I can't see detail, but I'm reading and guessing a lot. But also, well-made speculations from many science fiction writers, outline the possibilities far better than I could do. I'm collecting a few relevant science fiction works into the following Reading and References area. Many more exist!

* * *

This final Settlements piece connects right back to the first, giving the overall topic an interesting circularity. Which circularity is not an amusing logical twist: it is central to the idea of human settlements in space. As a side benefit, this circularity illuminates the central failure of America's NASA programs and of much else that is going on around Terra on space topics. Read again that first quote at Adra's very top. Set it into a space context and see what it amounts to there.

It says, "one thing." One! Not all sorts of studies and engineering projects and what all, spattered across a multidimensional continuum of every imaginable objective, insecurity, question, and need. One! And why there seems to be any confusion about the topic, escapes me entirely. We have a compelling recent example: Apollo did near-zero to humans walking on Luna in less than one single decade. But after that, forty years later, we have only an ISS up there, brushing our atmosphere with frequent reboosts so it doesn't fall down again. No place on Terra is as well suited to exploring space, as being there. Soon.

------------------------------------------------- Notes, Resources, and Pointers:

The following materials are easy reading. They don't point to the engineering works central to space settlements, such as those of Tsiolkovsky and Goddard. If you feel your mind could use a little stretching now to better see this reality we occupy, start here.

As you review these options, some may seem a little "old." "Old" used carefully, is good. For example, nobody has built a time-travelling machine but you gain its practical effect (without the risks) by settling down to immerse yourself in something first published a century or more ago. Peer between its lines. In there, its writer invariably offers much about the world at writing time. For instance, academics and writers worked at night centuries before electric lights came along, how did they do that? Try Rudyard Kipling; try Arthur Conan Doyle; try Darwin or Gibbon or Shakespeare; .... Try their works, not others about them.

(Interesting note. I've seen news lately about some people planning in England to build the steam-powered programmable computer Babbage envisioned in the early 1800's, and run the programs in it that Lady Lovelace wrote then for it. This is Babbage's computer not his calculator which has been built and runs in a British museum.)

(2nd interesting note. See also, what you can find about the analog computer built around 80 BC for astronomical forecasting. It's called, the Antikythera machine.)

[] Olaf Stapledon, Last and First Men. First published in 1930. As fiction goes, this epic across two billion years offers a corrective many of us need. We grew up in a human culture that encourages short-sighted thinking on almost every topic. For an introduction to the idea of a Long View, read Stapledon.

[] Robert Zubrin with Richard Wagner, The Case For Mars. Paperback. Simon & Schuster Touchstone, 1996. ISBN 0-684-83550-9. LC QB641.Z83.

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