Wednesday, April 17, 2013

One way missions to Mars will be open to applicants "imminently"

Excellent. The human species will either kill itself off in short order, or it will spread across the stars. I like to be an optimist (and I think there's good cause to be an optimist), so I lean towards the latter. We economists tend to think of the structural transition of the 19th century as a big deal. It was, in its own way, but it will pale in comparison to what we are embarking on right now.

Kate won't let me go. Even then I'm probably a few grades below "the right stuff". I think in other circumstances I'd take a one-way ticket, but not in the first wave.

Thomas Joy, my forefather, waited about ten years to go to Massachusetts after the first wave (and Massachusetts has comparable atmospheric pressure and gravity to England!). I still think he was a badass. So when it comes to Mars, I don't feel bad about visiting later. I would very much like to walk on Mars one day. Whether I die there or not depends a lot on where life takes me between now and then. If I outlive Kate I could see dying on Mars.


  1. "I like to be an optimist (and I think there's good cause to be an optimist), so I lean towards the latter."

    Who cares? What difference will this possibly make to anything?

    The hope of spiritual salvation doesn't die in those who deny its reality; it merely gets transferred to insane dreams of secular salvation such as "settling the stars."

    1. re: "What difference will this possibly make to anything?"

      As far as we can tell, reality is imbued with meaning by life. Life creates and it enjoys creations. Life appreciates beauty. You can't conceive of "what difference will this possible make" if you don't have life to perceive that difference. It seems to me that a universe full of that life, setting itself to that task, is more pleasant than life just kicking around the same plot of dirt it was born on.

      I think you have a good point about salvation, but I wouldn't make the distinction between spiritual and secular. We strive for something better. Sometimes what we strive for is illusory. Sometimes it's achievable. But one thing I can't accept is that these aspirations don't make a difference. These aspirations seem to be precisely the mechanism that transforms are lives, in big ways and small ways.

  2. Sounds like a "buying time" concept.

    I don't buy it (that the human species will "kill itself off"), rather I think that we'll be just another species to be at the whims of reality, that this will ultimately find our end. This is not to say that I don't have any value judgements or logical thoughts on humanity as a whole, but I just like to remain realistic. We aren't the "bee's knees" that we believe ourselves to be, we are just simply the only thing that we both do and do not know (we cannot escape our own human thinking).

    I'm optimistic that we as humans will reach other planets during my lifetime, I just question under what means this is made to be so.

    1. As well as the results thereof.

    2. If we are doomed here, then we are doomed there: our own humanity is the common link to such doom (if it exists in such an idea as yours), not the place.

      I would like to say that I would certainly be a volunteer for any such exploration, but that is only because that is my nature and I don't have any hangups.

    3. Agree very much on the "we aren't the bee's knees" sentiment, but I have reservations about "if we are doomed here, then we are doomed there". I think that depends.

      There is going to be a large gap between interplanetary humanity and interstellar humanity. I could see interplanetary humanity suffering the same fate we might mete out on ourselves here on Earth. I'm not so sure that's true of interstellar humanity - which seems like it ought to be far more robust.

      I say "settle the stars" because it sounds nice. That is definitely a ways off. But getting off the Earth is the first step.

  3. The human species will either kill itself off in short order...

    What leads you to make such a statement?

    1. Well, maybe "off" is hyperbolic.

      If we continue to progress we will settle the stars. The only reason I can see for us not progressing is if our penchant for violence gets scaled up again.

      I suppose an alternative to killing ourselves off is an environmental/astronomical/geological catastrophe that sets us back.


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