[ExI] Asteroid Defence (Was: Re: META: Overposting (psychology of morals))

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Fri Mar 4 23:28:44 UTC 2011

On 03/02/2011 11:16 AM, Damien Sullivan wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 02, 2011 at 07:57:12AM -0800, Ben Zaiboc wrote:
>> Yes, I know these arguments, my point is that while all this is fine
>> in principle, I don't think we'll have any chance of actually doing
>> this for quite a while, mainly because we can't predict the path of an
>> asteroid accurately enough to know for sure that it will hit the
>> earth, until it's too close to feasibly do anything about it.  This
> Don't need certainty; can simply push anything that remotely might hit
> the Earth to an envelope where it certainly won't.  That raises the
> costs in having to do more nudging, but lowers the costs in terms of not
> needing as much force.

Really?  How far out do you need to start pushing and thus to detect 
it?  There are thousands of asteroids that cross earth orbit.  Would you 
just push all of them without calculation on grounds of "maybe"?  Where 
are you getting that much delta v?

>> I strongly suspect that a practical defence against
>> civilisation-destroying asteroid strikes is simply too difficult for
>> us, at least at this point in history.  It's rather like the idea of
>> establishing a global network of solar power stations.  Great in
>> theory, we could do it if there was the will and universal agreement
>> and all the financial, political and social aspects could be ironed
>> out, but it's not gonna happen this side of the singularity.
> Stuff that's technically but not politically doable becomes doable if
> you change enough minds.  Universal suffrage was a pipe dream until it
> wasn't.  Giving up won't change anything, though.

And stuff that is not technically doable and/or not doable within a 
rational cost/benefit analysis should not be done no matter how many 
people you may be able to convince.   We cannot technically do viable 
space based solar power beaming energy back to earth.  There is no since 
decrying the lack of agreement it should be done when we cannot in fact 
do it with known or likely within at least 15 years technology.

- samantha

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