On to Mars

June 6, 2008

Me, too:

McCain said ever since reading Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, “I’m intrigued by a man on Mars. I think it would excite the imagination of the American people . . . Americans would be very willing to do that.”

I meant the part about being inspired by Bradbury’s book, but I agree that a manned Mars mission would spark Americans’ imagination, and I wouldn’t mind my tax money being spent on it.

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6 Responses to “On to Mars”

  1. larry morris Says:

    I know this will probably invoke a “What, why of course, we can” response from Harl, but, … go ahead and spend your money on it, not mine. Getting us to Mars will serve no useful purpose in the long run and the money would be better spent here. Even that is still science fiction in our (and probably my kids) lifetime, at times six months there and six months back makes a minimum of a full year in weightless space – the people who’ve spent less than half that time on the space station suffer bone and muscle loss at a staggering rate. Until we solve the gravity problem, we should spend the bulk of that money here. (And, please, I agree that someday we probably WILL solve that problem, but it’s gonna take a while – using the money here, now, where we need it most will perhaps prepare us better for figuring it out later.) And, what a thought, letting each of us decide what we want our tax money spent (and not spent) on, …

  2. Harl Delos Says:

    It’s OK to disagree, Larry; it’s called “opening arguments”, not “fait accompli”.

    go ahead and spend your money on it, not mine.

    No argument with that. However, we need to work on a treaty of space that allows for private investment. Suppose they found that there were immense reserves of oil on Mars, and Exxon decided to drill for it and bring it back. They couldn’t do that, because existing treaties say nobody is allowed to own land off this planet.

    There are also problems with governing extraplanetary colonies. Far more often than not, when companies have set up colonies on Earth, colonists ended up getting murdered, raped (both literally and figuratively), enslaved, and exploited, and any contracts they had completely ignored. The colonizing company has complete life-and-death control over colonists, with no practical recourse.

    I’m not sure how to solve that problem. Unlike the colonies of old, communications with the rest of the world would be easy, and perhaps that’s the key to solving that problem, but I don’t know.

    Getting us to Mars will serve no useful purpose in the long run and the money would be better spent here.

    So if you spent it here, how would you put it to good use?

    Research, even “pure” research intended to serve no economic end, has almost always proven to be embarassingly profitable. There are a number of research institutes set up to waste dollars that have a problem figuring out places to put the money they’ve earned.

    And you’re right, getting to Mars would have no useful purpose; we’d have to set up a permanent base, not just play tourist. But there are lots of resources there, and we’re running short here.

    It wouldn’t pay, short term, but at my age, neither does planting walnut trees. I’d be dead decades before they could be harvested for veneer. That doesn’t make planting walnut trees a bad idea.

    Mars isn’t just minerals, either. It’s energy. One big resource that Mars has, that Earth hasn’t, is solar energy. No weather to interfere, and there are vast expanses where you can simply lay solar collectors on the ground. In space, you have to build supports.

    You’d see massive climate changes if you start shading vast areas here of the desert or of the sea from the sun by covering them with solar collectors, and if you try shading populated areas, you’re going to have to deal with vandalism, etc.

    And, what a thought, letting each of us decide what we want our tax money spent (and not spent) on

    Now you’re being silly. They don’t allow even us to spend our NON-tax money the way we want to.

    There are pretty severe restrictions on alcohol, for instance, and they get nasty if we buy herbs to smoke, or even tobacco. We aren’t supposed to gamble except in certain ways, at certain times, in certain places. They aren’t happy if we buy pr0n, and if we want to hire the services of, ahem, those who are professionally women, they get downright uncharitable.

    They won’t even allow US Senators to dance while seated in the restroom stalls at the airport.

    It seems like the gummint simply wants us to waste our money on such silly expenditures as food, clothing, and shelter.

  3. larry morris Says:

    You made my point, …

  4. gadfly Says:

    Hmm …a trip to Mars is science fiction, but man-made global warming is not.

    The wonders of the world will never cease to amaze me.

    The scary part is that the guy who wants us to go to Mars also believes in man-made climate change.

  5. Harl Delos Says:

    The scary part is that the guy who wants us to go to Mars also believes in man-made climate change.

    I want to go to Mars, McCain wants to go to Mars, Leo wants to go to Mars. Which of the three of us is “the guy”?

    There’s no question that man-made climate change occurs. We’ve known for 50 years that cities are “heat islands” that affect local weather.

    The earth’s temperature appears to have peaked in 1998, and has slightly dropped since then. So much for that fellow who invented the internet, years after it was already in use.

    That doesn’t mean clean air isn’t a good idea. It is. It’s just that faith-based science is laughable, whether it’s “creationism” or “global warming”. Valid science requires skepticism, not faith.

  6. Leo Morris Says:

    Larry: The kind of problems keeping us from Mars –“We just can’t do it now!” — were raised about going to the moon, discovering America and every other great human endeavor. The way to solve the problems is to keep tackling them, not just keep redistributing money on current needs in hopes that will somehow make us ready to solve the greater problems in the future. If you’re trapped on an island, do you urge all your fellow refugees to spend all their time on food and shelter, or do you direct a few of them to spend some effort on building a boat? Well, we’re trapped on this island earth.

    Harl: You’re the first person has seemed to appreciate what I tried to say about this blog by what I named it. For the benefit of others, I’ve cut and pasted my first post three years ago, which addressed the issue, into a new page called “Mission statement.”


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