a reply to: 2012newstart
speaking of colonization that would take enormous time by the current mainstream science engines, one should ask Hawking and all, what drives
will be used for that. Perhaps the experimental Alcubiere warp drive that ONE scientist of NASA develops officially, could be in a much more advanced
level than we were told.
Most of the interest on this thread seems to be in interstellar
colonization. I don't think that's what the good professor meant. I think he
meant that we should develop self-sustaining habitats elsewhere in the Solar System, at least to start with. They could be planetary colonies (on Mars
and the Moon, perhaps), hollowed-out and converted asteroids or gas-giant moons, or even just plain space stations, though that seems like the most
unpleasant option of all. Still, any basket will do to spread the eggs.
Spare a thought for those who may one day call these places home. Their lives will be regimented and circumscribed by danger and necessity to a degree
that will make most Earthly totalitarian states seem like paragons of liberty. It will be like being in the army — from birth to death. The
colonists will live out their lives enclosed within airtight compartments and spacesuits, and simply getting enough to eat and drink will be a
difficult, complicated, highly technical process. With resources so precious, everything will cost — ahem — the Earth. Privacy will be impossible.
Surveillance will be constant; safety and life-support integrity will demand it. And opportunities to 'get away from it all' will be nil.
If these brave pioneers retain their lives and their sanity under these conditions, they will evolve societies radically different from anything Earth
possesses. We need not assume that democracy and the rule of law will prevail. Nor need we expect the inhabitants of this far-flung gulag to love one
another. There may be interplanetary wars between cultures involving colonies whose interests and lifestyles clash. Earth may make war on her
children, or they on her.
You might think, given these hideous difficulties, that the interstellar option is the one to go for after all. The problem, as you say, is time.
Unless some of those magical technologies you mention actually materialize (I'm not holding my breath), we'll have to do it the old-fashioned way,
using rockets and tacking among gravity fields. A voyage will take many years, and since some kind of suspended animation is not yet an option (nor
showing any promise of being one), people in substantial numbers (we won't want inbreeding) will have to live with each other in close proximity
aboard our interstellar arks under exactly the same conditions that habitat dwellers will suffer
. So the same problems (except for
interplanetary wars, obviously) will still have to be faced and dealt with.
Two consequences may be foreseen from this:
- The planting and settlement of Solar System colonies must and will precede any interstellar endeavour. For one thing, it is easier to do. For
another, the social models and techniques as well as the life-support technology that must be developed as part of that endeavour can only be
developed in such colonies and habitats. These 'states in space' will be vital participants in a project that will undoubtedly affect, if not actually
engage, the entire human race.
- They will also drive it. Much of the political will and pressure to colonize the stars will come from the residents of these colonies and habitats
because of their eagerness to stand under open skies and look upon distant horizons again, to have room to stretch and explore and be alone (or alone
together). It is our basic human instincts that will drive us to the stars, as they have driven us up to now.
And we will take them with us. Never forget this.
edit on 1/3/15 by Astyanax because: you gotta start somewhere.