[extropy-chat] SPACE: new planet?

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sun Feb 22 18:06:42 UTC 2004

On Sat, Feb 21, 2004 at 05:37:04PM -0500, David Lubkin wrote:
> Harvey wrote:
> >... We now can colonize thousands of worlds with interplanetary
> >spaceships without having to invent interstellar travel or FTL ships ...

There's nothing particularly difficult about building lightsail-driven
relativistic small vessels. It doesn't even take nanotechnology, though it
would of course require nanotechnology to packages enough functionality in a
few-kg payload.

> >... We also now know that Oort clouds and Kuiper Belts are normal 
> >structures around stars ...
> >Their close proximity means that massive parallel colonization is much
> >closer (both in distance and time) than we could have predicted before.
> >These worlds will be the primary space frontier.  We will colonize 
> >thousands
> >of these before reaching many (if any) stars.  Furthermore, we will reach
> >these Pluto-type planets around other stars before diving down into their
> >gravity wells to reach their planets.  This means that even in interstellar
> >travel, these worlds will be reached first.
> Moreover, they are convenient stepping stones.

I disagree. The Moon *is* a convenient stepping stone (for a conventional
culture, a culture far deeper into the Singularity doesn't need this
particular crutch). You only need this one step to reach any object within a
shallow gravitation well (these being the easiest pickings).
> We've debated and fantasized about star travel for most of a century, down 
> to the recent thread about the utility of interstellar exploration for a 
> foo-Brain.

You'll notice that the most advanced current proposals have nothing to do
with riveted-hull space opera bulkheads. Not even such quaint 1960s ideas as a
nuke drive.
> Absent a cheap, hand-waving magic physics, interstellar travel is presumed 

Where's the magic in a gray sail? There is none. It's a passive receptacle,
most of the engine is left at home, and is just radiating reaction mass via
microwave photons.

> to be expensive. Either a high energy cost propulsive system or a 
> long-duration flight (generation ship or suspended animation or immortals 
> or robotic).

This is 2004. Does anyone here really think you'll see flesh people going to
the stars? Or even to Kuiper belt, in person?
> But. The coolest thing to me about Kuiper and Oort is the possibility of 
> their ubiquity. If Proxima Centauri has an Oort cloud, it will overlap 
> ours. We don't need a trillion-dollar starship or an FTL drive. The 

Interstellar travel is very cheap with autopoietic machines. 

> natural, gradual processes of wanting some elbow room when civilization is 
> too cramping or wondering what's over the next hill that spread us across 
> this planet can spread us to the stars -- in planetoid-sized hops.

Sorry, sounds like a modern rehash of Jules Verne to me.

-- Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a>
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