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

Small Notes & Observations

(i.e., Uffish Thots)


Martha Adams

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This node mentions topics I found in cyberspace, at a Con, in the news; or thru discussion with someone about ...something. This node is also a workspace, for any of its topics could grow up and reappear elsewhere in Adra. Its one constant element is that its entries all connect, somehow, to Adra's topic of space settlements.

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2010 Oct. Population.

Population is one of those topics that never goes away. Given the human population forecasters see, what will come of that?

Optimists anticipate millennial goodness is at hand. Television news images (NPR, late 2010 October) show squalid slums out to a far horizon. There, millennial goodness seems unlikely. Consequences will certainly follow those slums. ...What consequences?

Will more people across Terra offer more human resource to get out to space, away from Terra? We know from history that exceptional scholars and builders have occasionally emerged from slums. But -- will those swarming others out of the slums wash over all good works, a festering tide, and good is wiped out? (Gresham's Law.) Thus, more people consume resources, leaving not enough to do space too. Etc etc. It's interesting to read those forecasts. But which ones are to be taken seriously?

One apparently plausible forecast sees a world human population of 12 billion of us, a century from now. And another sees a population of 1 billion of us humans then, our surviving grandchildren, clustered around Terra's poles. Which after climate change are the remaining human lifespaces on Terra.

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2009 Jly. Who are you?

Interesting projects by young people from overseas appeared at ISDC 2009. These projects were good work and they pointed to a future I'd like to see. And that I believe we as humans here on Terra in an uncaring universe need urgently. I'd have liked to see comparable entries at ISDC 2009 from groups right here in America. Alas, America doesn't seem up to that these days.

One of those from overseas that I found at ISDC 2009 was an impressive engineering design project, a serious accomplishment. I have a very nice *.pdf file from the people who did that project. I think it shows the project's people are preparing themselves well for future space-oriented careers. But -- the file has no attribution. It doesn't seem to come from a person, nor from an office. It is, just there.

Any project needs a center, a place and a Web site it is identified and published from in the complexity and confusion of today's technological world. Without this center, the project and its people are like a good book in a large library that has somehow escaped the library's index and classification system. That a very few people know where to set hand to it, isn't useful to the world at large nor to the people doing the work.

I don't know why the people who did the work didn't advertise who and where they are. Maybe this absence is only apparent, a cross-cultural misunderstanding or an error in my own perception of what I saw at ISDC 2009. Maybe it's something more deep and serious, the warning vibes were there, and from my American background, I missed centrally important detail. (This possibility is why I haven't identified the project exactly here.) If that's the case, that's unfortunate.

It is unfortunate because getting out into space is a very large kind of work and nobody can do it alone. Space is community work. And it's unfortunate because it cuts off career paths. Anonymity is unfortunate because space is hard, and to get there calls for the best work the best of us can do in supportive environments, not closed environments.

We know out of history that in the very earliest stages of a science or technology, people working alone can accomplish large things. Relatively speaking. A single perceptive genius kind of person, ignored by the main stream and working alone, can set the course of centuries of development by others to follow. For travel in space, Tsiolkovsky in Russia and Goddard in America are examples today.

Maybe later on, I can provide detail here. I'm sending out emails to some addresses that I have. I hope for a response. I'd like to say who these people are and where they are; and to publish a pointer to their work. But until I know that by doing so I won't hurt anyone, I feel I've said enough now on this topic.

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Between the Lines.

I've noticed news items and discussions about wars and about space development, feature remarkably different perspectives. How is it that (early example) Washington held on to the Vietnam war like grim death? Against strong public opposition? (Remember Kent State.) But that the Apollo program "lacked public support" and was terminated? What do we have today from the Vietman war? As vs, what do we have today from Apollo?

The differences in how people of different political persuasions talk about Vietnam and Apollo, which were going on both at the same time, belong in a new Alice in Wonderland. The standards implicit in discussions of these two different topics don't seem from the same planet. What's going on here?

We can take the long view, saying it will all work itself out. Over time, history does that. But this version of the long view misses a key point. Which is, we can today make choices about the future we will be in tomorrow. Let's acknowledge the conseqences of these differences are going to turn up, one way or another, across decades and (if we don't exterminate ourselves along the way) across millennia to come. This topic has caught my attention and I'm thinking about how I can set good words to what I think I see in it.

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Kind of Late?

In 2009 July I'm hearing news items about exploring out to Mars, rather than back again to Luna. "Mars is more rich," the story goes. Does this surprise anybody? Isn't all of this topic decades old?

It's not news. It's what Robert Zubrin was telling us in his "The Case for Mars," published in 1996. And in today's apparently politically based reiteration of very old facts and thinking, Zubrin is not mentioned. I think that's dishonest, but isn't it too often the character of things in Washington?

There exists an option that might serve as real news. A few years ago, people working at space settlements were asking, why not one-way to Mars? Go there and stay there? The cost of going and staying is not much different from the cost of going and returning, and it's a safer option. There are people today who would choose go-and-stay, if they had the choice.

(See Zubrin again. He discusses the go-and-stay option as a program extending over several launches and years. The book is, Robert Zubrin, The Case For Mars. Paperback. Touchstone Books, 1996.)

This go-and-stay option could jump-start the future for us. We need to settle and use our local solar system, all of it, the more soon the better. It's a survival thing, I discuss it elsewhere in Adra.

Of course we can never catch-up to where we would be if the policy and money thrown into recent wars had been invested rather, to a grown-up Apollo with improvements. But a turn from wars to reason, would be immediately refreshing for America and for all of this world; and it would set the stage for great good longterm consequences.

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