Why we abandoned space exploration in favor of dwelling in dark ages?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Plazma Inferno!, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    We are already doing that, hence your ability to post the recent findings as evidence of its benefit.
    Space exploration is but one part of what science is doing, and it does it with robots, instruments, theories, as well as with human activity.
    How much longer would it have taken the experiments on the ISS to have been done without humans on board, humans who can react to events as they happen.
    Yes, it is more expensive and complex to put humans in space, to send humans to other planets, but it is a step that we should take for reasons of simple curiosity, for technical development, and as paddoboy says, because it is there to be done.
    But nor should space exploration be the sole focus.
    And it is not, as you yourself evidenced with ongoing exploration of the oceans, as one can also evidence with the progress of medicine, with material sciences etc.
    But only one area offers a possibility, however remote, of eventually extricating ourselves from our one-rock home.
    Only one area has the potential to provide humanity with a means of avoiding the inevitable collision of our home with another, less-friendly, clump of matter.
    We might not achieve that for thousands of years, if we survive that long, but any step forward is just that: a step forward.
    The only question in my mind is how quickly should we prioritise it above others, and I don't think we necessarily have to, but a budget sufficient to make even small steps keeps that progress going.
    And should be encouraged.
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  3. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    The priorities are all wrong, in my opinion. One man in a sphere that could do nothing but let him look out its single small window went below 10,000 meters about 56 years ago. Then there was a delay of 52 years before one man in a cigar shaped* vessel with an arm for collecting samples that could maneuver again went below 10,000m in the ocean. That vessel, Deep Challenger, did many practice dives and all told found 62 new life forms, but could not study them. This is much too slow an investigation process when the yield in benefits to man is very likely to be 1000 times greater than benefits of going to Mars.

    We can learn nothing about life on Mars, but already have found Ecteinascidin 743 - a very powerful anti-tumor drug, (more than 100 times stronger than #2, yet without toxic side effects) in a small ocean creature. It now has been sensitized and is so effective that many countries have already appoved its use. It is saving lives of those "doomed to die." What benefit can you even imagine sending men to Mars might have, that is not also available at about 10% of the cost with AI in Robots?
    Please try to answer this question, so you will understand how inverted our exploration budget is.

    * That shape, vertically oriented, let if descend and rise much more quickly (faster than most displacement ships go > 5 knots)
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
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  5. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    There's an "exploration" budget that space exploration and ocean exploration fight over??
    You also still seem to be arguing an "us or them" scenario.
    You also seem to forget that private companies are quite capable of exploring the ocean's depths for "miracle cures", in the same way that the two main private space companies are developing reusable launch vehicles etc.
    It would take Apple c. 1 week, for example, to generate $1bn profit which could fund an exploration.
    And if the potential benefits are that great...

    But ultimately all you're doing by exploring the earth is exploring the one rock on which we live.
    No discovery on earth is going to save humanity while we live on this one rock.
    Cure all the diseases you want, let people live until they're 200, but a collision will still wipe out humanity.
    Small steps outward.
    That's what the purpose of sending men to Mars is.
    Long term.
    Not short-termism.

    And it's not a case of either/or.
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  7. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    When I say "budget" I did not mean to limit it to government funds. At any time there are more financial needs than there are funds, so it is always question of priorities as to what we do /explore after essential life's necessities are supplied to ALL - We don't do that now, many are starving.

    Private companies, at least stock companies, have obligations to their stock owners to try for profits. They can fund some things that do not directly do that, but create "good will" which they hope will aid their profitability in the long run.

    My point is and has been, that our priorities that fund manned space exploration are way too high - not rational, but "glory seeking." For no more than 10% of the cost, AI robots give a greater return AND our our prioritizes that fund exploration of the oceans (especially the life forms in them) are way too low.

    Also I don't know if now or decades from now is the optimum time to start making an off Earth "life boat" for human survival.* But if and when we decide to do that, it should be on the moon, as more than 100 supply trips will be required to establish one that is self sufficient and genetically stable. I. e. this is a several decades (or perhaps a century long) project and builds to a few dozen fertile women there, raising males born there for the daughters born on the moon from the sperm in a cyrojug from more than 10,000 carefully selected men for easy, light weight genetic diversity (and 60% less food requirements than if men went to the moon).

    A moon based life boat is at least 100 times less costly to make than one on Mars plus the two way communication delay is less than a minute, not large (up to 33 hours). Also the Earth's magnetic field affords considerable protection (for the moon base, but not one on Mars) against lethal solar flares.

    I sometimes visit physicforms site. In addition to the many posts I have made about the damaging exposure to cosmic rays during a trip to Mars "mfb," one of the staff members, there posted this:

    "Every 1 milligram speck of dust will have the same energy of ~240 kilograms of TNT, and I don't see how you can detect or destroy them in any realistic way. You will get some explosions at the front {of your stellar space ship}." He was speaking about a future trip to near by star at speed of 0.15C. Point being, and one I have not previously made, humans are NEVER going to leave our solar system; except slowly in suspended animation lasting more than 300 years.

    See original at: https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...elp-with-the-dust-shield.857626/#post-5382256

    Again: What benefit can you even imagine sending men to Mars might have, that is not also available at about 10% of the cost with AI in Robots?
    Please try to answer this question, so you will understand how inverted our space exploration budget is.

    * If memory serves me correctly we can expect a serious / sterilizing hit from a gamma ray burster about once every half million years, but it could be next week.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2016
  8. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Why do you keep bringing up the life-boat idea as if this is the only purpose?
    But on that subject, why would we choose the moon when there doesn't seem to be much in the way of natural resources that might sustain such a colony long-term?

    As for the benefits of sending men to Mars - it is not in the actual science that can be done on Mars - so let's move that off the table.
    Although it is questionable whether AI can perform the vast array of experiments than Man could do without a similar level of cost, unless you include in your costs of the AI robot the cost of developing the AI in the first instance, and in the mechanical manipulation mechanisms that experiments would require.

    But ignoring the actual science being performed, what the Manned-mission offers is sheer impetus and focus in the fields of propulsion, sustainable artificial environments, scrubbing thereof, recycling, miniaturisation of tech, self-sufficiency, materials science, and more etc, far beyond what a mere AI robot mission can do.
    And above all it offers the "glory mission" that humans crave, that humans need, to motivate them, as well as the step on the path to exploring the stars.
    But you dismiss this.
    Is it rational?
    Not if you merely look to balance short-term economic books.
    But rationality is not always determined by that.
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  9. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


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    Never? Oh come on now Billy, I really don't believe that you truly believe that. Do you?
    Thank f%$# we do have scientists/adventurers/Glory Hunters that totally disagree with your rather pessimistic outlook on humanity and what it can be capable of, and are at this very time, working towards achieving that end.
  10. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    People will work on most any end, if you pay them well too.

    The only, as far as I know, private firm working on manned space exploration without expectation of profit from the government is Virgin Galactic, but making an airplane lifted rocket ship that can provide a brief period of weightlessness for rich people who will pay at least 200,000 dollars for that brief experience is not really "space exploration."

    There are a lot of things one can safely say will never happen. For example man will never go to the center of the earth. Dust in space and Cosmic rays make men going to another star impossible, without hundreds of years being in suspended animation so the trip and craft can be slow enough to not be destroyed by collisions with cosmic dust specks, but then the accumulation of cosmic rays (and their many daughters if shielding is used) hits will be lethal.

    Man's robots can go to a star, but those who launched it and their children will never know if it did.
    Space is very big and very dangerous to human traveling stellar distances thru it. So yes I do believe man never will go to another star, and not only because of the problems I have mentioned, but also because AI robots can explore it much more cheaply.

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    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
  11. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Musk's SpaceX is a private company that certainly has contracts from the US government, and due to that has secured upfront payments for those future launches.
    Does it expect a profit?
    Yes, just like every commercial endeavour; it's not a charity.
    And the government only represents c. one-third of its currently contracted launches.
    But Musk intends to go to Mars whether the US government want to or not.
    As he once said: "I'd like to die on Mars. Just not on impact."
    [qupte]There are a lot of things one can safely say will never happen. For example man will never go to the center of the earth. Dust in space and Cosmic rays make men going to another star impossible, without hundreds of years being in suspended animation so the trip and craft can be slow enough to not be destroyed by collisions with cosmic dust specks, but then the accumulation of cosmic rays (and their many daughters if shielding is used) hits will be lethal.[/quote]Interesting that you assume a solution through the still-a-pipe-dream of suspended animation yet fail to consider improvements in tech / biology to ameliorate such risks.
    It is interesting that you fail to consider the possibility of improvements in materials science, or even simply reducing the risks through vast bulk ablative shielding (that could be constructed on the moon, or on Mars etc), or even more exotic methods such as magnetic field shielding, anti-proton spray etc.
    Then there is simply improvements in medicine, not necessarily to prevent the damage but to repair it acceptably.
    Who can say what tech will be around 10 years from now, let alone 100, or a thousand.

    But small steps are still steps, be they for glory or for commercial reasons.
    And thank goodness there are those that want to do it.
    And that will be fully understood and accepted by those who launch it.
    And no doubt there will be people standing at the side moaning about how even that is a waste of money.
    Apologies but I'm finding your negativity to be depressing me.
    You seem simply to want to say no, you trot out some known problems and then declare "never!"
    Why not look beyond the problem to the time when Man has found the solution, or at least one that provides significant reduction in what you see as insurmountable risk.
    It is hopefully simply a matter of time.
    It can't happen now, it won't happen now.
    But small steps.
    If you make enough of them in the right direction you will eventually reach your goal.
  12. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I don't assume it. I think is very improbable for 100s of years and that no one will agree to it. But there is no known reason why it is impossible; however the fact that cells are mainly water and will form ice crystals a few degrees below 0C almost rules it out as ice is an expanded form of water. Frozen cells that have not had most of their water removed are ruptured by the larger ice volume.

    Hibernation is not suspended animation but reduced rate of metabolic and other activity like breathing and heart beating. - This activity requires energy. Bears lose most of the extra fat they added to their bodies in the fall to supply this energy.

    A cosmic ray that hits the nucleus, converts that struck atom in a half dozen or so lesser atomic number atoms (different chemicals). These "daughters" are still very energetic and do to same to other nuclei they struck. Thus, the initial energy is converted into several thousand "ionizing particles" each of which greatly disrupts any cell it passes thru (forms a lot of chemically reactive "free radicals" inside the cell which cause its death very rapidly. Exactly how rapidly depends on your definition of cellular death, but in less than a second the cell is dead or irreversibly dying.

    Shielding of realistic nature can make this "daughter production" worse. Unfortunately they all go in the same direction as the primary ray did with tiny angular differences and realistic magnetic fields can only very slightly bend their path. Although the divergence angle is tiny if the primary hits a nucleus say 100,000 feet from you, most of the daughters, if not all, will not pass thru you. So high energy cosmic rays colliding with a nucleus in the upper atmosphere are not a lethal dose to surface of Earth dwellers.

    If you could have your space craft inside a gas filled sphere* of radius at least 10,000 meters with its wall thick enough to have most primary rays collide with a nucleus of an atom in the wall, then you might be able to survive a trip to a star in deep hibernation for most of the trip's years (awakened to eat some high calorie food for say a month before going back into hibernation state.), but you are not going to either change the nature of the collision of the primary with a nucleus or be able to "repair" a cell that is dead or dying in less than a second.

    These are the main considerations that let me say space travel by humans to a star is impossible. I'll just note, as discussed before, traveling at 0.05 C can shorten the trip duration (less accumulated cosmic ray damage) but then the hydrogen atoms just drifting slowly about in space become ionizing particles and the dust speck of space become high explosives when your craft runs into them, so going faster is no solution either.

    * It must be "sphere like" as the cosmic rays come at you for all possible directions.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
  13. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    I'm certainly happy that Christopher Columbus or Captain James Cook were not as negative.
  14. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    They had no reason to be, as they laws of physics did not prohibit doing what they did. Cosmic rays do exist and you can not change what happens when one hits a nucleus. Like wise many free radicals and other broken chemical bonds inside a cell, form in a microsecond or so by an ionizing particle passing thru the cell will kill it in a second or so.

    I'm not "negative" - just aware of facts you want to ignore.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
  15. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    And the laws of physics and GR do not prohibit sending men to Mars, or to the stars, or to create a warp bubble ala Alcubierre drive, or even time travel.
  16. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive#Difficulties
    Here is brief summary (from: http://jalopnik.com/the-painful-truth-about-nasas-warp-drive-spaceship-from-1590330763)
    Of how Sean Carrol responded when asked about the feasible this warp-drive ship, he responded:

    "The Alcubierre warp drive is a very interesting arena for thought experiments to try to better understand general relativity and quantum field theory, but it should give you zero hope for actually building a spaceship some day. Some of the many problems are discussed on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierr...

    In short, it requires negative energy densities, which can't be strictly disproven but are probably unrealistic; the total amount of energy is likely to be equivalent to the mass-energy of an astrophysical body; and the gravitational fields produced would likely rip any ship to shreds. My personal estimate of the likelihood we will ever be able to build a "warp drive" is much less than 1%. And the chances it will happen in the next hundred years I would put at less than 0.01%."

    I'll add that in additions to the extreme gravitational / warped space stress ripping apart the space craft, even if solid steel, that gradient is a very powerful accelerator of particles with mass, like the hydrogen atoms found through out space. Thus if possible and made, any life inside would be killed by the high energy proton flux.

    You also mentioned "time travel" but I don't see how that is on thread; however if it were possible, why has no one come back from the future to explain how to travel to the stars?
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
  17. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    What you describe do not make it impossible: just difficult.
    They are simply obstacles to overcome, that we might do either through technology, biology, discovery etc.
    There again, we might never overcome them, but the challenge is there and we will strive toward it.
    They originally said that travelling faster than about 40mph would be lethal, then that travelling faster than sound was impossible.

    You likewise seem to see a significant difficulty and cry "that's impossible!"
    You probably agreed with Luke when he said that about his father!
    Look how that turned out!

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  18. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    What he said just above.

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  19. river

    The people in government are from the 60's and 70's .
  20. river

    People have no desire on the whole to be informed. Well we don't.

    The mainstream media gives you what they think you want.

    Where the in-depth information is ; is on the internet .
  21. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Some more incredible deep philosophical thinking from our number one philosophical thinker.

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  22. Gage Registered Senior Member

  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    In-depth though the information may be, the downside is that of its veracity. How do you differentiate what's honest from what some plonker with a laptop published?

    The upside of the media is that they (perhaps with the exception of Fox) stake their reputation on verifying their information. Granted, that doesn't make it gospel, but it provides at least a modicum of fact-checking.

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