Worldly Talk

Civil discussion and debate on real world events and issues.


Xavier Dumusque's Alpha Centauri

   
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naleh View Post
Even if they're heading to a world that's Earthlike in every astrophysical way, they won't be able to live on it. There won't be any plants or animals to eat, or any oxygen to breathe.* Terraforming, aside from taking generations to do, would be so far beyond the abilities of a single ship as to be crazytalk. So, what... They're going to survive reentry, set up a little self-sustaining structure on the surface with the plants they brought, and hang out there 'til they've built an entire new spacefaring civilisation of their own?
I recommend reading the Red Mars series by Kim Stanley Robinson. yes, it's technically science fiction (and drags on at times), but it plays out like a realistic colonization and terraforming of Mars. Which has none of that stuff either.

If a ship is going to be large enough to be self-sustaining for a 50-year voyage, they will be able to start a self-sustaining colony at the same time. And then it's just a question of being able to convert what is on the planet into what is needed - yes, a lot more difficult than it sounds, but possible

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naleh View Post
* Unless there's alien life, which is a whole other barrel of worms.
In fact, the alien life may even *be* a barrel of worms. :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naleh View Post
Here's another question: What would the crew of our hypothetical ship do when they got to Alpha Cen?

Even if they're heading to a world that's Earthlike in every astrophysical way, they won't be able to live on it. There won't be any plants or animals to eat, or any oxygen to breathe.* Terraforming, aside from taking generations to do, would be so far beyond the abilities of a single ship as to be crazytalk. So, what... They're going to survive reentry, set up a little self-sustaining structure on the surface with the plants they brought, and hang out there 'til they've built an entire new spacefaring civilisation of their own?

* Unless there's alien life, which is a whole other barrel of worms.
The much simpler (cheaper, quicker) solution is just build a domed base(s) and be happy with perfect conditions inside.

Building some closed environment is possible at contemporary technology. Biosphere 2 almost worked

To be honest I'm less worried about food and oxygen. If you have source of energy (ex. a nuclear reactor) building and maintaining some sealed hydroponic garden seems easy. The real problem is building an industrial base to be able to locally produce robots and electronics, required for medium term civilization survival.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Wippit Guud View Post
I recommend reading the Red Mars series by Kim Stanley Robinson. yes, it's technically science fiction (and drags on at times), but it plays out like a realistic colonization and terraforming of Mars. Which has none of that stuff either.
Instead of SF I might advice, a usual scientific paper:

http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~mfogg/zubrin.htm

(Except of course that it is based on older, too optimistic guesses concerning the amount of frozen CO2 on Mars. Executive summary: using energy comparable to produced by a few dozen contemporary nuclear plants you can produce enough halocarbons to warm the climate by 40 C degrees. You might also drop icy asteroids)

Exactly. They can't colonise the planet so much as set up a self-sustaining enclosed dome on its surface or somesuch. (Which they certainly can do – they presumably had a self-sustaining ship, after all.) This doesn't provide a mass emigration destination, it doesn't provide humanity resources, and it doesn't even provide science experiments that we can't do in our own solar system. Now, I'm as sentimental about exploring the universe as anyone, but at any believable technology level* this seems like enormous trouble to stick some people on a distant world where they'll do little more than live out the rest of their lives.

I haven't read the Red Mars trilogy, but as it happens I have read a summary. And it agrees with what I said: terraforming takes generations. Also, quite tremendous resources. How much equipment are we expecting to haul there?

* It occurs to me that we will probably exceed what I consider "believable" within my lifetime. This may be my problem here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naleh View Post
I haven't read the Red Mars trilogy, but as it happens I have read a summary. And it agrees with what I said: terraforming takes generations. Also, quite tremendous resources. How much equipment are we expecting to haul there?
Given a few more years, very little actually, I would think. A few more breakthroughs to 3D printing, and a way to extract gasses directly from the air (air mining) would be all you really need. And you need to hope that whatever planet you're landing on has the necessary mineral resources.

Actually signifigantly more than that. What we think of as dirt is in fact the post biological output of a variety of organisms from lichen and worms to thousnads of different bacteria processing biological waste ranging from feces to dead plants and animals. Most life we see today is adapted to an environment created by previous life forms change sto their environment. Without some form of advanced genetic engineering it could take millions of years if it is even possible.

This is the reason why in the harder science books, terraforming was seen as a very long-term process. You start the process, give it a thousand years or more, and come back to check where it's at and how you need to tweak it for the next phase.

Brings a whole new perspective to the Engineers in Prometheus... obviously earth needed to be tweaked.

Yes, but earth had existing life. It's a little easier to adapt than to create.

To be honest, even life isn't really necessary. Water + select gaseous elements would do for a start.




 

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Myth-Weavers Status       Advertise with us