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June 18, 2007

Why colonize space instead of the Gobi Desert?

What made North America any better than uninhabited parts of Europe ?

People who left were able to start fresh.
They were able to tap into a different resource base.

We can think of the world as your parents house and the unfinished basement as the Gobi Desert.
What makes moving out better than living in your parents basement ? It is cheaper in your parents basement. It is tougher to move out, you have to do your laundry and maybe cook for yourself and landscape your new place. You would have enough room in your parents basement. Does your older brother have to remodel and live in your parents basement before you can move out ?


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Strike out on your own.
Make an independent life for yourself.

We could keep densifying your parents house and people living in the house could get weapons that could easily blow up your parents house. If we spread out across the block and city then we would not kill each other as easily and we would have more room to stay out of each others way. If you have guns and grenades or matches in the same house it is very easy to take out the whole family. The families survivability is better in multiple houses. This is unrelated to how well different family members get along or whether some people have trouble keeping a job or being able to buy their own food and feed themselves.

re: Perfecting ourselves before leaving the earth ?
Is there some standard that we should be perfect before we leave our parents house ? Do we solve all of our problems before we leave ?

Does moving out mean that parents do not need to keep working on their problems. Don't you have to keep working on your own problems. Would staying under the same roof help solve the problems any faster ? Does it prove anything that you learn to not kill your parents and you learn to live together with them ?

In the solar system the earth gets one trillionth of the total solar energy emitted by the sun.
There are a lot more available resources in the solar system that we can utilize if we crack the cost of space nut.

Those who think no one will ever colonize space are in the same mould as "I am living in my parents basement and I am happy and it is better economically than moving out, I cannot imagine anyone moving out of their parents basement ever"

The "lets not colonizing space until we colonize the Gobi Desert fallacy or until we have no problems fallacy" is the same as "lets not move out of our parents house until our family problems are all gone and have remodeled every square inch fallacies".

Let me also repeat that short camping trips in the backyard do not count as serious attempts to leave home.

The easiest way to get people to want to leave home is to have an abusive set of parents or those who are too domineering "if you live under my roof then you have live by my rules". Eventually someone will want to leave even if the parents are nice and cool..

UPDATE: Further analysis of the analogy based on a comment by Shubber Ali.

The leaving your parents basement analogy was for indicating that sometimes we leave someplace even if it costs more to do so. This indicates a clear and common case where you go even if it costs more and is harder to do than staying.

Shubber brought up issues of 1) air 2) water 3) food 4) ease of access 5) gravity. For those issues we go back to the title of my article. You would have to find ways to bring water and food to the Gobi desert as well. You would have the cost of growing food. There is also the issue that China claims the Gobi desert. So if other countries tried to colonize the Gobi desert then they would need to follow the rules of the Chinese government. This matches up with the analogy of the basement (my house my rules).

Air can be brought and for certain places (moon, Mars) can be processed from local materials. Moon and Mars have gravity and a spinning space colony would have simulated gravity from centrifugal force.

To match the basement analogy to these situations more closely:
Leaving the basement, to a house that you have to build. You have to connect to the local water line or if you move out to a place with no utilities (like space currently) then you have to dig your own well (it costs more but it can be done), you have to build a septic tank, you may have to grow your food if there is no store nearby.

Another option is that you buy a big mobile home that has more ammenities with it. You could start growing some indoor plants before you leave home while the mobile home is parked in the driveway. thus it will be easier when you go to that new plot of land off of your parents property.

Those two examples, I just brought up are ways that I think we should use as part of a plan. We can build or send infrastructure into space first. Robotically built or inflated structures for gathering energy. Sending machines that process and pre-genrate lunar regolith for oxygen or from the Mars soil and atmosphere. Structures with aeroponics or hydroponics can be sent after the energy and air infrastructure has been established.

The mobile home analogy is that you make and launch something big. Something as close to project Orion as the public relations will let you get.

7 comments:

Shubber Ali said...

Here's a few reasons:

My parents' basement has
1) Air
2) Running water
3) Food
4) Easy access to all of the above if supplies run low
5) Gravity

The problems with analogies is they are usually simplistic and appear to make a clever point, when in fact the situations are significantly different enough to make the analogy useless.

You might as well have asked "Why not go to the mall instead of colonise space?"

bw said...

The leaving your parents basement analogy was for indicating that sometimes we leave someplace even if it costs more to do so. The economic only argument to not going to space.

For the issues that you are talking about which go to the title of my article. You would have to find ways to bring water and food to the Gobi desert as well. You would have the cost of growing food. There is also the issue that China claims the Gobi desert. So other countries tried to colonize the Gobi desert then they would need to follow the rules of the Chinese government. This matches up with the analogy of the basement (my house my rules).

Air can be brought and for certain places (moon, Mars) can be processed from local materials. Moon and Mars have gravity and a spinning space colony would have simulated gravity from centrifugal force.

Leaving the basement, to a house that you have to build. You have to connect to the local water line or if you move out to a place with no utilities (like space currently) then you have to dig your own well (it costs more but it can be done), you have to build a septic tank, you may have to grow your food if there is no store nearby.

Another option is that you buy a big mobile home that has more ammenities with it. You could start growing some indoor plants before you leave home while the mobile home is parked in the driveway. thus it will be easier when you go to that new plot of land off of your parents property.

I think the basement and parent analogy can work fine and that your mall analogy is inferior ;-)

bw said...

note: people should check out

the spacesolarpower blog

Hans said...

In my opinion we failed the "camping in our own backyard" test rather miserably.

(I'm thinking of the ISS here...)

bw said...

For me the camping thing is Apollo, Skylab, Shuttle and ISS. Each have 3-6 people going on short trips. They do not leave any significant (energy etc...) infrastructure for later work to build upon or infrastructure which makes it cheaper for those who follow.

Shubber Ali said...

The leaving your parents basement analogy was for indicating that sometimes we leave someplace even if it costs more to do so. The economic only argument to not going to space.


This, again, is why I hate most analogies. You leave your parents basement because you don't want to be a loser and you want the chicks to actually be willing to go out with you. Of course, if you still have van halen posters and star trek figurines on your dresser in your own apartment, I can't guarantee you'll have any more success in getting lucky on your own as you would in your parents basement...

We do things in space because they are CHEAPER than doing them with other means. Comsats, Navsats, Imaging - they all follow that paradigm. ISS, Skylab, etc. - they don't.


For the issues that you are talking about which go to the title of my article. You would have to find ways to bring water and food to the Gobi desert as well.


Oh please. I could bring a solar power generator and a air-water extractor and not even have to dig a well.

You would have the cost of growing food.

Perhaps, but at least I CAN grow food. Nitrogen and C02 abundant in that (also abundant) atmosphere.

There is also the issue that China claims the Gobi desert. So other countries tried to colonize the Gobi desert then they would need to follow the rules of the Chinese government.

Um, remind me again - who owns space? Or is this more of that tired "the martians are coming" drivel that followed the publication of 1423?

This matches up with the analogy of the basement (my house my rules).


hence why I don't like bad analogies :-)


Air can be brought and for certain places (moon, Mars) can be processed from local materials. Moon and Mars have gravity and a spinning space colony would have simulated gravity from centrifugal force.


Oh, I'm sorry - i thought you were discussing practical achievable with today's technology and budget issues. If you are simply hypothesizing based on sci-fi, well, then, I suppose there's no real response. I might as well engage you in a debate on the merits of warp vs. transwarp conduits in a galaxy class starship.


Leaving the basement, to a house that you have to build.


Most people leave the basement to move into an already built house/apartment/RV/whatever. Hardly anyone actually builds (I mean LITERALLY builds) their own home.


You have to connect to the local water line or if you move out to a place with no utilities (like space currently) then you have to dig your own well (it costs more but it can be done), you have to build a septic tank, you may have to grow your food if there is no store nearby.


See my point above.

Another option is that you buy a big mobile home that has more ammenities with it. You could start growing some indoor plants before you leave home while the mobile home is parked in the driveway. thus it will be easier when you go to that new plot of land off of your parents property.


I'm sorry - I must have dozed off.. when did Crazy Eddie open his L-5 dealership where you could go and buy a fully equipped space station with all the amenities..? :-)

bw said...

shubber. Why don't you take a look at my near term proposal
http://advancednano.blogspot.com/2007/06/taking-space-based-solar-power-to.html

No one owns space. If anyone claims to own it or the UN says that no one can claim it is meaningless. Whoever is there first can do whatever they want and no one can do jack about it.

The bring everything would be like project Orion. 8 million ton ship.It could launch 3 million tons. A city of 100,000 people, all their belongings, their factories, years of supplies. It uses Nuclear bombs (technology that we have had for over 50 years). Experiments proved feasibility. No one has disputed that it is feasible. Only that it has a big Public Relations problem.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_%28nuclear_propulsion%29

The expense of the fissionable materials required was thought high, until Ted Taylor proved that with the right designs for explosives, the amount of fissionables used on launch was close to constant for every size of Orion from 2,000 tons to 8,000,000 tons. Smaller ships actually use more fissionables, because they cannot use fusion bombs. The launch cost for the largest Orions was 5 cents per pound (11 cent/kg) to Earth orbit in 1958 dollars. In 2005 dollars, the cost would be 32 cents/lb or 70 cents/kg. The larger bombs used more explosives to super-compress the fissionables, reducing fallout. The extra debris from the explosives also serves as additional propulsion mass.