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DARPA Building Futuristic Space Exploration Group

CmdrTaco posted more than 2 years ago | from the lasers-come-first dept.

NASA 141

coondoggie writes "What started out as an idea about how to further explore the outer reaches of space is now beginning to take more serious shape as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) today issued a call for industry information on how to form such as cosmic entity. Specifically DARPA said it issued a Request For Information intended to solicit ideas and information on structure and approach, and identify parties qualified and interested in furthering what's known as the 100 Year Starship project."

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141 comments

stop -- this sounds like investment? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36024578)

Wait a minute, how can DARPA get money to *invest*. Remember the reason Umurikans voted for Tea Party folks is to *cut cut cut* government spending. Shouldn't this really be carried out by a private business -- particularly those private businesses that don't worry just about quarterly profits and share prices--- now don't everybody rush for the opportunity --- line forms to the left for all those interested businesses --- .

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36024642)

The Tea Party doesn't care about spending as long as it's for: Medicare (NOT Medicaid - that's for good for nothing lazy poor people), Social Security and fighting "evil" in the World - AKA Moozlums.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (0)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#36024812)

Yeah. Cut NOAA [noaa.gov] funding. Who cares about tsunamis anyway? Whoops! No more tornado warnings either?

Now all those God-fearing Tea party rednecks can watch their mobile homes fly away.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (-1, Flamebait)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025994)

Those rednecks tend to believe that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by liberals to allow the UN to take over, and so would be most gleeful at cutting NOAA and eliminating the flow of money and thus power to all those evil scientists.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (-1, Troll)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025026)

What are you talking about? Maybe I'm mistaken or something, but didn't the Republicans just vote to cut Medicare?

In my view, the Tea Party wants to cut ALL spending, EXCEPT anything to do with the military or tax breaks for oil companies. For the military, the more spending, the better, whether it's more invasions, or more expensive fighter jets we don't need (along with their enormous cost overruns), more military bases overseas, or $1000 toilet seats. If it's for the DoD budget, it's OK to the Tea Partiers. And don't you dare suggest cutting the tax breaks for oil companies: they deserve record-breaking profits in the middle of a deep recession.

Medicare, Social Security, etc. are all socialist programs and should be cut, in their view.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025258)

What are you talking about? Maybe I'm mistaken or something, but didn't the Republicans just vote to cut Medicare?

Would that be the Medicare cuts that are part of Obamacare? Or another set of cuts?

Or didn't you ever bother to notice that part of the financing on Obamacare was Medicare cuts?

Admittedly, even while those Medicare cuts were being used as part of the "revenue-neutral" financing of Obamacare, the White House was saying that they expected future Congresses to cancel them.

In my view, the Tea Party wants to cut ALL spending, EXCEPT anything to do with the military or tax breaks for oil companies.

Personally, I expect that if we don't cut all spending by about 30%, we're not going to climb out of our deficit hole without massive inflation.

Note that even the bipartisan deficit reduction committee is only talking $4 trillion in cuts spread over ten years.

Which, by the way, leaves you with deficits greater than $1 trillion in each of those ten years.

And this doesn't even count the off-budget spending. Like, say, disaster relief.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36025292)

Maybe I'm mistaken or something, but didn't the Republicans just vote to cut Medicare?

You're mistaken. Republicans != Tea Partiers. Although, Tea Partiers are mostly Republicans with many Libertarians: Note capital 'L'.

Medicare, Social Security, etc. are all socialist programs and should be cut, in their view.

Again, you're wrong. Most of the Tea Partiers are old white people who want their SS, Medicare and America to keep her military dominance at all costs: it's mostly keep taxes low and cut programs that they think are a waste to (maybe) balance the budget . Of course, the Tea Party has lost it's way and now they are incorporating other issues that have nothing to do with fiscal responsibility: abortion, Christianity being the State religion, homosexuality, and other irrelevant non-sense that only appeal the Evangelical Christian nut jobs.

Here, read more on the Tea Party hypocrisy. [lmgtfy.com]

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (0)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025496)

I don't know about this: aren't the Evangelicals mostly younger to middle-aged white people, along with blacks? After all, the black vote was absolutely instrumental in passing Prop. 8 in California a few years ago. The old white people are mainstream Protestants, not Evangelicals; Evangelicalism is a fairly new phenomenon that's taken over the country in only the last couple of decades or so. Yes, it's overtaken mainstream Protestantism, but while I haven't looked up any figures, I doubt it's because of conversion by old people, but rather young people.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025404)

Let me simplify it for you.

If you want the TEA Party platform, read the 10th Amendment.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (0)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025526)

BS. Just like most idealogical movements, the way to judge it is by the way its members currently conduct themselves, not the core principles its founders started with.

It's just like Christianity. If you listen to Jesus, he'd have you believe it's all about tolerance ("let he who has no sin throw the first stone"), love, and other hippy values. But modern-day Christianity isn't about that stuff at all, it's about bashing homosexuals, killing non-Christians, invading other countries to establish imperialism, etc.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#36026060)

BS. Just like most idealogical movements, the way to judge it is by the way its members currently conduct themselves, not the core principles its founders started with.

Have you ever been to a TEA Party event? The people I have seen there have been nothing but nice, even to those that were there counter protest. The only people who were treated poorly were the ones who had signs that were in poor taste. I'm not sure if they were "astroturphers" (liberal plants there to make the TEA Partiers look bad) or just people who were bought into the Democrat talking points repeated as fact by the media. Either way, they were not welcome.

It's just like Christianity. If you listen to Jesus, he'd have you believe it's all about tolerance ("let he who has no sin throw the first stone"), love, and other hippy values. But modern-day Christianity isn't about that stuff at all, it's about bashing homosexuals, killing non-Christians, invading other countries to establish imperialism, etc.

Again, when was the last time you've been to church? Nearly all of the churches I've attended have been welcoming to all types, including gays. My church had protestors once. They were invited in to cool off when it got to hot, provided they didn't disrupt the service of course, and brought cold beverages if they decided to stay outside. Sure, there are those few churches that are a bit more intolerant, Reverend Wright's Church that was attended by Obama for 20 years and and Westboro Baptist in Kansas, but those are certainly not the norm. Claiming that they are the norm would be like claiming that Cindy Shehan is representative of the Democrat Party.

In other words, I'm calling BS to your BS. You have no idea what you are talking about.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36026288)

The churches my wife's dragged me to had people wearing anti-gay-marriage and pro-Prop 8 T-shirts, and the leadership openly spouted that philosophy. After getting sick of this kind of stuff, my wife's stopped dragging me to church at all.

What kind of churches do you go to? Obviously not any evangelical Christian ones, which are the majority here in America and growing.

As for the Tea Partiers, all you have to do is look at what their representatives in Congress are voting for. I don't give a rat's ass what individual TPers at events are saying, you have to look at who they choose to represent them, and what they do. All I see is a lot of anti-abortion crap, no ending of funding for all these wars, and no real solutions to the budget problem.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028286)

The churches my wife's dragged me to had people wearing anti-gay-marriage and pro-Prop 8 T-shirts, and the leadership openly spouted that philosophy. After getting sick of this kind of stuff, my wife's stopped dragging me to church at all.

You mean churches are teaching the Bible? For shame! How dare those evil Christians teach the book that their entire religion is based on!

Either way, opposing gay marriage is not "bashing homosexuals". Marriage is seen as a religious institution. Homosexuality is not. The two don't mix so churches tend to be against it. Churches bash homosexuality, not homosexuals, and they are against homosexuality because it's a sin in the eyes of the church. Churches tend to "bash" all sin. For example, my church has come out far more strongly against gossip than they have against homosexuality. Is the church bashing little old ladies now?

Also I have never heard of a church support "killing non-Christians, invading other countries to establish imperialism, etc." You're just making that up.

As for the Tea Partiers, all you have to do is look at what their representatives in Congress are voting for. I don't give a rat's ass what individual TPers at events are saying, you have to look at who they choose to represent them, and what they do. All I see is a lot of anti-abortion crap, no ending of funding for all these wars, and no real solutions to the budget problem.

You mean that REPUBLICANS are against abortions? Yes, I said Republicans because there is no one in Congress that lists their party affiliation as "T". How dare those bastards stand for something they got elected on!

Here's a hint for you. The TEA Party supported them because they are fiscal conservatives. That is the official TEA Party platform, or it would be if there was such a thing as the TEA Party. If there were any pro-choice Democrats or Republicans who were as adamant about following the 10th Amendment, then they would receive TEA Party support as well. For example, the TEA Party endorsed Walt Minnick, a pro-choice Democrat, because he voted against Obamacare and the stimulus. However, Minnick rejected the endorsement because the open minded Democrats like yourself would have used it against him, and the endorsement was recalled.

... and no real solutions to the budget problem.

What would you suggest? Cutting funding from unnecessary programs like Planned Parenthood and NPR? It was tried. Why didn't that pass? The government nearly shut down and all I heard about was how the Republicans were going to shut down the gov't over NPR and abortion. Strange how I never heard that DEMOCRATS were going to let the government be shut down over NPR and abortion. Maybe we could start small, like cutting a mere $60 Billion from the budget? Yeah, that didn't go over too well either.

So it appears that it doesn't really matter what plans TEA Party supported candidates suggest. None of it will pass. So rather than saying that TP supported candidates have no plans, why don't you look up those plans [house.gov] and find out whose keeping them from becoming law. Once that is done, you can come back and explain who has no plans to balance the budget.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

Loosifur (954968) | more than 2 years ago | (#36026224)

"BS. Just like most idealogical movements, the way to judge it is by the way its members currently conduct themselves, not the core principles its founders started with."

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Democratic Party.

Sorry, low-hanging fruit and all.

But seriously, I wouldn't dignify what you posted by even referring to it as a comment. Never mind the pompous cynicism of considering everyone you disagree with some sort of ignorant, monolithic mass of bad intent, you're even so arrogant as to believe (or purport to believe) that you know enough about a political movement and a religion to judge both in their entirety against what you refer to as "core principles".

I'd love for you to state categorically what the founding core principles of both Christianity and the Tea Party movement are.

Don't worry, I'll wait.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36026324)

"BS. Just like most idealogical movements, the way to judge it is by the way its members currently conduct themselves, not the core principles its founders started with."

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Democratic Party.

Sorry, low-hanging fruit and all.

What, is this supposed to be some kind of snarky come-back?

What I said applies equally to Republicans, Teabaggers, Democraps, or any other group you care to name.

You must be one of those stupid Americans who think everyone absolutely must be a Democrat or Republican: "You're either with us or against us". You probably watch a lot of sports too, and can't conceive of anyone that doesn't side with either team, right?

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (2)

smelch (1988698) | more than 2 years ago | (#36026246)

it's about bashing homosexuals, killing non-Christians, invading other countries to establish imperialism, etc.

Seriously I don't want to start an argument with you or anything, but I think you're way out of touch with christianity. All you do is cast generalized accusations at people based on parodies of them. You can find the lowest of the low on either side, and cast that in to the image of those who oppose you, but that isn't helpful at all. My father goes to Guatemala twice a year to help a village there by building a school and donating money. He is sent there by the church he attends and going there to help has pretty much infected him with an enthusiasm I've never seen him have. In what way is that not about love and instead about killing non-Christians and invading other countries? My wager is very few christians really think to themselves "we should kill brown people and establish an empire!" and the few that do aren't really christians. You may see that as the results of their philosophy, or the intentions of the people they support, but it is WILDLY wrong to suggest that is how christians think. So since they know they don't believe that, all you do by accusing them of that is make them blind to your real point, which is that those are the consequences of their policies of choice.

You see Jesus as a hippy, I see him as the model citizen, sent to show us what we should be like. Meanwhile our very libertarian God has all the power to force us to behave the way he wants us to, but allows us to live our lives as we see fit because it is our life. That's the point here. I can't speak for all libertarians, but as one of many I give to charities, I help people when I can and I do not believe in passing laws to force people to do what I do. I am me, I choose what is right and wrong for me, and I act accordingly. I believe the model person should give to charity, should help people on the street and should volunteer more than just money but also time to make the world a better place, but not even God forces people to do what in his mind is "right". That is the failing logic behind most liberals I encounter who rail against the tea party and libertarianism. They cast not wanting to force somebody to do something to mean they want the opposite of that thing to happen.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36026408)

My wager is very few christians really think to themselves "we should kill brown people and establish an empire!" and the few that do aren't really christians. You may see that as the results of their philosophy, or the intentions of the people they support, but it is WILDLY wrong to suggest that is how christians think.

Wrong. A few odd people who go on missions to Guatemala are not representative of American Christians in general. To see what American Christians support, all you have to do is look at who they vote for. The people they vote for support establishing an empire and invading other countries, and Christians here happily support this and vote for more of it. If they didn't like it, they wouldn't vote for it. Conservative Christians are overwhelming supporters of Republicans (such as GWB), and what have Republicans been doing for the last decade? Invasions and imperialism.

You see Jesus as a hippy, I see him as the model citizen, sent to show us what we should be like.

Where did I ever say that being a hippy was a bad thing? I only use that word because from the point-of-view of modern American society, values like peace and love are considered "hippy" values from the 60s.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027016)

Where did I ever say that being a hippy was a bad thing?

I didn't say you said that. I was just transitioning. Perhaps roughly. If Jesus is a hippy, god is a libertarian.

what have Republicans been doing for the last decade? Invasions and imperialism.

See, right here, this is your problem. I doubt christians voted for GWB a second time hoping he would start another war, or are just waiting for us to invade somebody else. In fact, stuff with Libya seems to have people a little wary. Even Christians. This could be caused by simple partisanship, or it could be that they genuinely don't agree with the blanket "lets invade other countries" like you keep asserting, and believed in the two invasions under GWB. You will only make enemies when you try to tell somebody they believe something they don't. This is why I don't tell liberals they believe in killing babies. See? If I called a liberal a baby killer, thats ineffective. They don't believe they support that at all.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027172)

Liberals DO support abortion, or at least the right to choose it, but that's a little different from "baby killing". Denying that liberals support abortion choice is denying reality, and it shows in who they vote for.

Same thing goes for Republican voters. They obviously wanted wars, that's why they voted for GWB (esp. the second time). If they didn't want the wars to continue, they would have voted for someone else, but they didn't.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027734)

Did Obama end the wars? The simple fact is that those wars were going to continue no matter who was in office. But it is easier for you people to blame Bush for everything, hell, some of you think he was behind 9/11. The funny thing is that you people also say he is completely incompetent.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027990)

Nope, Obama hasn't ended the wars at all, and what's really funny is the liberal morons who voted for him and "Change!" are now defending him, even though he's not much different from Bush. If Bush did something, they were completely against it, but now that Obama's doing it, they have some sort of twisted logic to defend him, whether it's continuing the wars, continuing Prohibition 2.0, molesting 6-year-old girls at the airports, etc.

The real test will be when Obama's up for re-election, if the liberals re-elect him or not. Then we'll see what their real opinion on things is, but on the blogs and such, most of them seem to back him no matter what he does. If Obama ends up losing the Democratic nomination to another Democrat, then we'll know that his backers were just a vocal minority.

As for the wars continuing, that's no simple fact at all. If the people had elected Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich, the wars most likely would have ended very quickly. Unless there's some sort of "shadow government" (which given your statement on 9/11 you probably don't believe in), the President absolutely DOES have the power to unilaterally pull out of any military engagement if he so chooses.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028430)

If Obama ends up losing the Democratic nomination to another Democrat, then we'll know that his backers were just a vocal minority.

I'm pretty sure a sitting President does not have to be nominated to run for a second term.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027714)

This is why I don't tell liberals they believe in killing babies. See? If I called a liberal a baby killer, thats ineffective. They don't believe they support that at all.

You forgot that they are for abortions.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028258)

But abortion is not killing babies, at least not in the mind of a liberal. So you don't say "You support killing babies" you say "you support abortion". You don't say "Christians support homo bashing and invasions and imperialism" you say "you are against the gay lifestyle and for the war in Iraq" and focus on those issues. For the abortion thing somebody against abortion would say "here is why I believe abortion is wrong" and if you are pro gay marriage you say "here is why I think gays should be allowed to marry" If you are against the war in Iraq you say "Let me tell you why the war in Iraq was wrong [ethically, financially, politically, practically]". If you are against a particular budget cut, address that. Don't say tea partiers are racists. It has nothing to do with the policy. Has the tea party pushed for all white salad bars in congress? I don't think so. Now on the other hand if you support abortion a bad argument is "old men want to control women's bodies!" and a good argument would be along the lines of "there is no way to determine when a person becomes a person, therefore as the only verifiable person involved, the mother should be able to terminate the pregnancy when it is disputable that the baby has become a person. Otherwise we would be giving up our rights to our bodies in favor of the rights of a possibility." Do you see the difference?

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36026442)

Seriously I don't want to start an argument with you or anything, but I think you're way out of touch with christianity. All you do is cast generalized accusations at people based on parodies of them. You can find the lowest of the low on either side, and cast that in to the image of those who oppose you, but that isn't helpful at all.

And finally, this isn't true at all. I don't pick out the "lowest of the low", I simply look at who people vote for to represent them and make laws for them. You can see this on both sides of the political aisle in this country. The only assumption I'm using is that people want what they vote for, and if that's a bad assumption, then there's something seriously wrong with the people of this country.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028212)

That is, indeed, a very bad assumption. Generally people end up voting for whoever they think is "the lesser of two evils". This is why Condorcet voting or Instant Runoff Voting would change politics considerably. (Over time, admittedly. But perhaps not too much time.)

Just for instance, I voted for Obama despite despising hm, because I considered that he might be a little less bad than McCain. Was he? I'll never know. He's pretty bad. And he didn't keep his campaign promises any better than I expected. I basically consider him a moderate-to-conservative Republican posing as a Democrat.

N.B.: Both the Democrats and the Republicans are centralists, and as such I don't really support either of them, but if we're going to get a stronger central government anyway I'd prefer to get some benefits from it. I'd hoped that a civilized health care might be made available. Pity, really, that we got something so watered down that is just going to be cut anyway. After Obama voted for FISA I knew better than to believe that he'd be conciliatory in foreign policy, but I was hoping for a more decent domestic policy, and for the closing of Guantanamo. (Guantanamo kind of things are pretty much useless anyway, so closing it would be a propaganda victory at little to no cost.)

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027910)

Please note that enumerated is not used in place of delegated.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The delegated powers includes laws written for the 'general welfare'. Every President, including George Washington, Madison, et al. have used the General Welfare clause. It's the basis of most federal power since the beginning, and why the framers 'snuck it in' and why they didn't close 'the big loop hole' in the Bill of Rights.

Re:stop -- this sounds like investment? (2)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025314)

Wait a minute, how can DARPA get money to *invest*. Remember the reason Umurikans voted for Tea Party folks is to *cut cut cut* government spending. Shouldn't this really be carried out by a private business -- particularly those private businesses that don't worry just about quarterly profits and share prices--- now don't everybody rush for the opportunity --- line forms to the left for all those interested businesses --- .

The TEA Party supports cutting government funds that go to programs not explicitly spelled out in the Constitution. DARPA falls under the defense budget, which is Constitutional.

Read the 10'th Amendment for more information.

NASA constrained by funding & politics (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#36024678)

I am glad to see someone else help pick up the long-term research slack.
NASA is on the top targets of the tea party mood under the misconception that is accounts for a large percentage of federal budget. Plus one president terminating the shuttle and the next president terminating its replacement.

Re:NASA constrained by funding & politics (2)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025368)

I am glad to see someone else help pick up the long-term research slack.

NASA is on the top targets of the tea party mood under the misconception that is accounts for a large percentage of federal budget. Plus one president terminating the shuttle and the next president terminating its replacement.

Can you show me where TEA Party members are calling for NASA to be cut or are you just making shit up because the truth won't justify your hatred of the TEA Party?

Actually, about 30 seconds of research [galvestondailynews.com] has revealed that you are lying your ass off:

The Save NASA, Stop Obama group was lead mainly by people who consider themselves Tea Party activists, even though many are well known as Republicans. Organizer Ken Clark, a county commissioner, said the effort was mostly grassroots from the Tea Party members in the area.

Re:NASA constrained by funding & politics (1)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025876)

I call BS. While the group that self identifies as "Tea Party" does want to slash government spending, it is for the most part what they consider waste. Yes, this includes a lot of what NASA does... or did you happen to forget that NASA wants to replace the Shuttle with Orion (another piece of bloat) instead of using one of the much cheaper alternatives (as well as ready sooner, more reliable, etc.) being offered by outfits like SpaceX.

Yes, I self identify with the Tea Party. I am not lower middle class, do not live in a trailer, and am not religeous. Don't currently own a gun (although I'm not against them). I am for the space program (and have been for ~45 years), and only regret that NASA and the politicians in DC screwed it up so badly that practically no one gets to go up.

Am I in favor of this DARPA RFI? Heck yes. I'd write something up myself, but I just don't have time.

Re:NASA constrained by funding & politics (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#36026028)

NASA wants to replace the Shuttle with Orion (another piece of bloat) instead of using one of the much cheaper alternatives (as well as ready sooner, more reliable, etc.) being offered by outfits like SpaceX

I don't think there are many in NASA who want to use Orion. The people who want that senators from states like Utah who would benefit from the program.

Just paper (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36024698)

This is just paper shuffling. How is this different from all the other grandiose Space Age fever-dreams from the '60s and '70s? They didn't happen then, and they certainly won't happen now, or in a hundred years. These dreams are just our modern-day religious dogma and equivalent to medieval church stained glass and ceilings.

Re:Just paper (4, Insightful)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#36024744)

Grow up. Dreams are our contribution to the universe and the foundation of our legacy. The individual's small contributions to mankind's monuments is the essence of life after death.

Re:Just paper (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025256)

You realize you just told an Anonymous Coward to grow up? That's like telling Gilbert Godfrey not to squint his eyes and sing bass.

Re:Just paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36027292)

And your religious response full of the liturgy of the Space Nutter Church is probably too subtle to register with the hordes of Asperger's video-gaming children that infest /. They don't "do" subtle, sarcasm, or irony, and will probably swallow your bait hook, line and sinker. Congratulations!

Re:Just paper (3, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025114)

Close, but not quite. Unlike religious dogma, which is pretty much all fiction (it has zero real evidence supporting it), space age dreams are completely feasible and possible. The problem is that it takes political will, hard work, and a lot of money, over a long time (not just one election cycle) to make them happen. That's why they'll never happen here in the USA. The populace doesn't want to pay for it (though they'll happily pay over half their tax revenues to invade other countries), the corporations don't want to invest in it (because there won't be a big ROI within 5 years), and frankly, the populace just isn't capable of it any more because there aren't enough people with technical (science/engineering) educations able to pull it off.

The USA dreaming of large space projects is a lot like Zimbabwe dreaming of large space projects. It's just ridiculous to think about it. Now China, OTOH, is a different matter. While it'll be a little while before they're ready to do anything big in space, they're getting there quickly, because they have the political will and the money, and don't mind putting in hard work unlike Americans these days.

Re:Just paper (1)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025796)

Now that I've actually worked in the corporate field for a while, I can say this: It's not that all Americans are lazy. It's that doing a better job than your boss, even at your own job and not his or hers, is political suicide. This is why you got the crap beat out of you by bullies in high school. If he or she can keep you from enjoying any benefits your intelligence and hard work provides, he surpasses you on the food chain. "If you're so smart, why'd you get your ass kicked." "If you're so smart, how come you work for me?"

It's a pain in the ass when your boss is simply incompetent, ol' chip will go ape-shit if you can do something he can't. His position entitles him to be inherently superior to you. It's nightmarish when your boss is narcissistic, God knows all and does all that is good. And, don't you dare do anything that would indicate otherwise. It's a taste of hell on earth if they are sociopathic, the devil will have his due. And if he doesn't get it, people will sacrifice you to appease him. "Trying too hard" is a nice way to get a target placed on your backside. Why Americans promote and encourage this kind of leadership is another matter, though.

We have a society that prioritizes aggressiveness and charisma over innovation and results, folks. Hell, we have to create and fund an agency with the purpose of finding more effective and flashy ways to kill people in order to get decent R&D towards long range constructive efforts.

Re:Just paper (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36026130)

Our youngest generation is indeed rather lazy. I'm only 37, and I see a huge difference between my generation and the 20-somethings that are coming into the workforce now.

But there's also the big issue that we just don't have a lot of technical talent available for any big projects. Much of what we do have available is in the computer fields, which is necessary for, but in no way sufficient for, any space projects. You need aerospace engineers for that, and we haven't been making too many of those lately, because it's a very limited career field: your only possible employers are Boeing and a few defense contractors. And trust me, working for a defense contractor is NOT fun. It's not like a normal commercial salaried job where you have some flexibility on exactly when you arrive, what time you take lunch, and when you leave. You have to be there at 8 sharp, leave for lunch at 12, be back by 1 sharp (or else), and leave when the horn sounds at 5. This is not a work environment conducive to innovation by any means, which is probably why it costs tens of billions or more for every defense project. Why would any young person want to sign up for that, when he can go into so many other fields that pay better and have a better work environment?

Even if there were any political will and funding for some big space project, we wouldn't have enough scientists and engineers to actually do it. We'd have a bunch of politicians and laypeople sitting around saying "more people need to go into engineering so we can do these things!", but no one would actually bother to go to school for this stuff. Especially when getting a degree means $100k in student loans, and a very uncertain career path: our country has been anti-big projects for my whole lifetime (born mid-70s), and if the government does support something, it usually only lasts 4-8 years, until a new President gets elected. That's not a smart thing to base your career on.

Re:Just paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36026398)

Our youngest generation is indeed rather lazy. I'm only 37, and I see a huge difference between my generation and the 20-somethings that are coming into the workforce now.

For instance, the 20-somethings are prone to standing around on their elders' front lawns. Totally unacceptable behavior, socially speaking, and a sure-fire sign of incorrigible laziness.

I wish we were all as smart, enlightened, liberal, non-christian, and hard-working as you are. Seriously, the world would be a better place if it were full of pedantic twats who love to talk about how much smarter they are than everybody else. Tell us more about how we're clueless idiots - we're fascinated, really.

Re:Just paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36025860)

"space age dreams are completely feasible and possible."

They're not. Every decade that passes and still no Space Nuttery, they'll just come up with more noise, more obfuscation.

"That's why they'll never happen here in the USA. "

They won't happen anywhere else either because the basic physics driving the impossibility of these delusions is the same everywhere and everytime.

"Now China, OTOH, is a different matter. While it'll be a little while before they're ready to do anything big in space, they're getting there quickly, because they have the political will and the money, and don't mind putting in hard work unlike Americans these days.

No, they won't. They're just ramping up a modern economy in the late Oil Age, and are busy copying every perceived milestone they deem necessary. They won't get any further in space than the Russians or the West. Basic physics and chemistry garantees this.

In ten years, in twenty years, in a hundred years, we'll still be here. I think it's you guys that have a lot of growing up to do. But that's OK. I can wait.

Re:Just paper (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36026228)

You're a moron. There's nothing in physics that keeps people from getting off the planet; we've done it before many times, both with humans and with robotic explorers. It doesn't even cost that much to send robots to Mars, compared to how much it costs to wage wars. A few hundred million is chump change for an economy the size of the USA.

If you're talking about sending people to other stars, you might have something (or you might not; considering modern physics is only about a century old, I'd say it's premature to make any long-term predictions based on our primitive science). However, "space exploration" doesn't necessarily mean travelling to other stars. There's tons of stuff right here in the inner solar system (and outer too) to do: exploration, mining, etc. Heck, if we could just build a giant solar power station in Earth orbit, we could eliminate the need for most if not all fossil fuels. LEO is only a couple hundred miles away. Even terraforming doesn't require fast space travel: Venus is right next to us and, with the right technology, would be perfect for terraforming and turning into a habitable planet. It's the same size and gravity as Earth, and just needs to shed its atmosphere.

There's nothing in our modern understanding of physics that prevents any of these big projects, only money and technology.

Re:Just paper (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36026954)

considering modern physics is only about a century old, I'd say it's premature to make any long-term predictions based on our primitive science

The smart thing to do would be to wait until we have better physics, and thenexplore space. There's no point using old shitty physics that's not going work anyway.

And as long as solar power on earth is cheaper/Watt than in orbit, let's build it on earth.

Re:Just paper (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027052)

Modern physics is working just fine for tooling around the solar system. The various space agencies haven't had much trouble getting rovers on Mars, intercepting comets, getting MESSENGER into Mercury orbit, and many other things. NASA didn't even have any trouble getting men to the Moon on the first try way back in the 60s.

Re:Just paper (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027190)

Sure, for short distances and/or small probes, it works fine. With an insane budget, you can even have 2 men walk pointlessly on the moon for a few hours.

For bigger stuff, like mining, terraforming, or human travel to other planets, we need better gear.

Re:Just paper (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027304)

Yes, we need better gear, but not better physics. The physics we have is fine for short distances, and doesn't change based on the size of the craft. What we need is better ways to lift cargo to orbit, and better ways to get around the solar system, such as ion engines, nuclear engines, etc. All these things have either been partially designed, or even prototyped. And finally, we need money, which is the real limitation of it all, but if we didn't waste money on oil wars and a bloated military, this wouldn't be such a problem. The sources of energy available outside our atmosphere would pay for the the cost of getting to them, but we have to make the investment first.

The only thing our physics is really a problem for is FTL travel, if it's even possible. According to our physics, it's not, but our physics may be wrong or incomplete. FTL is really necessary for any serious interstellar travel. But as I said before, we don't have a pressing need to get out of this star system; there's still tons of stuff to do and look at right here.

Re:Just paper (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028400)

Actually, they had a LOT of trouble. This doesn't mean you're basically wrong though. The job is a bit harder than you seem willing to admit, and some of the payoffs are quite speculative. (And I do worry about some of the designs for an SSPS to power earth, though it should be quite easy to build one to power other space endeavors.)

Still ... If we're real lucky one of the outcomes of the Fukishima disaster will be a Japanese SSPS, And if that's done well ...

The Japanese are a country that has a real need for an SSPS, A dense population, not much native fossil fuel. And problems with nuclear power. (They do seem a little less twitchy about it now than they were a few decades ago, but even then their need was so great that they went ahead and put them in.) So maybe they'll do it. I wonder who they'll hire for the heavy lifting? China looks like a leading contender. Russia hasn't been putting much effort into heavy lifting, more the intermediate level stuff. Even Europe seems ahead of the US.

Re:Just paper (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027346)

The most useful thing to build in space I can think of is a solar power station with a metals foundry attached. Then it opens up mining asteroids and building structures in space, which opens up many other things such as colonies on Venus and Mars.

Re:Just paper (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027462)

Exactly. A solar power station either in geosynchronous orbit, or even at a Lagrangian point, could harvest tons of free solar power, then beam it back to earth, or do ore processing of mined asteroids. Then you don't have to mine all that material on Earth and lift it out Earth's gravity well for building space-based structures. Moon mining might also be feasible; after all, it's big, and it's always right there, unlike asteroids which pass by with weird orbits that bring them within convenient distance only every few decades or longer, but it does have more of a gravity well (though not nearly as large as Earth's).

Re:Just paper (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027968)

What happens to the tides when you remove a large amount of the Moons mass? Not to mention orbits. I believe it would be wise to not mine the Moon.

Re:Just paper (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028020)

Don't be ridiculous. How much mass do you think is going to be removed? Since the start of the bronze age, how much mass in Earth's crust has been mined? Compared to the total, a totally negligible amount.

If we start thinking about building ringworlds or Dyson spheres, then your concerns will have some merit. Moving 0.00001% of the moon's mass to earth is not going to affect anything.

Re:Just paper (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028002)

When people consider using a launch loop on earth, it makes no sense as the air resistance near ground level would make it infeasible to launch an item into orbit, but I wonder how well it would work on the moon. You could use a very large area for acceleration up to escape velocity, then have it move up a hill or something to launch the item out of the moon's gravity well. If you worked it properly, it would be an entirely energy based launch mechanism rather then chemical based and could be man rated (use lower acceleration) if it was long enough. Solar power is quite feasible on the moon as well, so perhaps the moon would be even better than orbital, but I had not thought of this much before reading your comment. It is quite doable with today's technology to build something which would open up the rest of the solar system to colonization, and may even allow the build of a generational based starship to colonize another solar system when we finally are able to identify habitable planets around other stars.

Maybe they can call it... (1)

earls (1367951) | more than 2 years ago | (#36024786)

Starfleet? The organization could be a United Federation of Planets. No, nevermind, that's stupid.

Re:Maybe they can call it... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36024942)

SMEG (SpaceMen Exploration Group).

Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast!

Re:Maybe they can call it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36027014)

what a guy!

Re:Maybe they can call it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36024978)

Number 1, if you'll excuse me, I have to go number 2

Re:Maybe they can call it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36025058)

I'd vote for "Starfleet" if DARPA accepted votes - fuck spacex, starfleet is cooler

Stop time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36024790)

The only way for humans to travel to the outer regions of space is to control time. It doesn't matter how fast you go if time stops.

Wormhole or quantum state teleportation might work too.

But it sounds more like subsidies to SciFi writers at this point. Or if they want to figure out what all you would need to build a 100% self-sufficient space station/ship, that would be an exercise for NASA.

Re:Stop time (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027436)

Physics has the possibility of compressing space. It happens near wormholes, so it is possible, so if you could compress the space between the Sun and Alpha Centauri, you could travel the distance quite quickly by not traveling between. In order to do this, we need to be able to manipulate gravity, which is why we are supposably using the LHC to discover the Higgs Boson which is generally thought to be used to pass gravity.

Re:Stop time (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027956)

Getting around Einstein's speed of light restriction with "wormholes" is the physics equivalent of saying "Maybe a magic unicorn will stop the volcano." It's nothing more than a wishful fiction.

Re:Stop time (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028054)

If you use gravity to compress space, you don't have to go faster than light. The way the warp engines in Star Trek are designed does not break the speed of light, it generates a field around the ship which compresses space in front of the ship and contracts space behind, the ship does not actually move, do it's effective speed is 0, not multiples of the speed of light.

To an outside observer, the ship would be moving faster than light, but to the ship they are no moving, so which is right? The speed of light restriction is based on what frame of reference anyways? As I recall, it is quite possible to have the closing speed of two objects be faster than the speed of light, as long as to each frame of reference is not going faster than light. Also, what is to say that E=MC^2 really means what we think it means? It could be that the speed of light is just a scaling factor, and not a limit, as we have never even approached the speed of light, it is still all theory anyways.

Re:Stop time (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028068)

Wow, so many typing mistakes, I wish I had proofread that...but I believe you get my meaning beyond the typos.

Re:Stop time (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028202)

If you use gravity to compress space (whatever that means), it will take at least as long as to send a photon the distance covered by the uncompressed space. Gravitational effects travel at light-speed. Moreover, small gravity fields aren't going to affect anything, and superpowerful ones are going to tear the ship apart. A wormhole, if they exist, has black holes for the endpoints, and the tidal forces in them are going to be fierce.

I don't know the way Star Trek warp engines work, but it has something to do with dilithium and technobabble. If you're talking about compressing space in front of the ship, see my first paragraph. There's no way to go faster than light with such techniques unless you already have something that propagates faster than light.

The speed of light doesn't change with frames of reference. Sure, you can observe an object going left at .99c, and an object going right at .99c, and conclude there's a closing velocity of 1.98c, but in the objects' frames of reference they're closing at sublight speeds. We have plenty of experience with accelerating subatomic particles to very close to light-speed, and that's what we're made of. Being able to accelerate starships better than protons is prima facie ridiculous.

Space-XKCD (1, Interesting)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 2 years ago | (#36024970)

Amazing at how well-timed the previous XKCD turned out to be.

http://xkcd.com/893/

Re:Space-XKCD (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025152)

I think that XKCD is either incorrect, or pessimistic. It would be absolutely true, however, if it said "number of living Americans" instead of "people". I think it's likely we'll have more people walking on other worlds in the next few decades, but they sure as hell won't be Americans (unless they're billionaires paying some foreign space agency for the privilege).

Re:Space-XKCD (4, Insightful)

Unipuma (532655) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025798)

I thought even more though provoking was the little alt-text that accompanied the comic:

'The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space -- each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision.'

Re:Space-XKCD (1)

no1nose (993082) | more than 2 years ago | (#36026164)

That is poetic! In order to become more than we are perhaps we do need to seek out new life and new civilizations. To Boldy Go.

Re:Space-XKCD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36026334)

Wow, talk about religion right there! There's no evidence for this, it's your faith. There's also no evidence that the laws of nature would allow space-faring technology at any meaningful level. For example, with what materials and energy sources will you do it? Only real, practical solutions, please. No mumbling of sci-fi jargon. Oops, difficulty just went up a bit, eh?

Maybe cultures are just transient things in the vastness of the cosmos? What's so special about yours?

PS: The Earth is HUGE.

Re:Space-XKCD (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027468)

Of course, we should stop nuclear fusion research and the LHC right now, because according to you, they will never work.

Re:Space-XKCD (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 2 years ago | (#36026376)

I saw it last night, and it was the most depressing thing I've read in a while.

Unfortunately, the human race appears to have little (if any) desire to leave mommy's basement and explore the neighborhood, much less anything else.

Re:Space-XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36027700)

No, it's actually pretty funny. The geeks who never leave mommy's basement unless they're out of hot pockets & mountain dew are all hopped up with visions of space travel being just like Star Trek / Babylon 5 / Firefly - they're the ones who are the only ones truly *excited* about "exploring the neighborhood."

Know what your science fiction fantasy would look like in reality? It's going to be hundreds of thousands of days of:
"Day 1: Black. Empty."
"Day 2: Black. Empty."
"Day 3: Still black. Still Empty."
"Day 4: Found some belly button lint. Still black. Still empty."
[...]
"Day 3,650: All work and no play make Homer something something."
[...]
"Day 36,500: Grandpa finally passed away, still tied up, still raving and screaming "REDRUM". Oh, and we still haven't seen fuck-all that looks like anything not-black and not-empty."
[...]
"Day 365,000: Fuck you ancestors. Fuck you fuck you fuck you. It's still fucking black, and it's still fucking empty. Get fucked you fucking fucks, then die, then come back and fuck your fucking corpses a fucking thousand times."

And let's see... that'd put us at +1000 years, which means that there's only 18,000 more years to go before we reach Proxima Centauri, a mere 4.22 light years from earth, traveling at 240,000 km/hr - about as fast as we've ever gotten any spacecraft to move, using gravitational assists.

Yeah, sounds like a fabulous time. I'm sure that anything human, or even vaguely human-shaped would start looking like Kaylee Frye after about 3 years of jerking off into a vacuum hose, so maybe you'd get your Firefly fantasy. But you sure wouldn't want it broadcast on Syfy.

Re:Space-XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36027932)

Sadly, the image of thousands of geeks reading this post and exclaiming, "Wait, they let you use VACUUM HOSES for that?! Think of the possibilities!" sounds more plausible than manned interstellar travel.

I imagine mothers everywhere puzzled on their geek sons' sudden obsession with the household vacuum cleaner, and subsequent nicknaming of the device as "Kaylee," "Zoe," "Inara," or (*shudder*) "Number One."

Re:Space-XKCD (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028110)

Reminds me a of science fiction story I read once set aboard a "generation ship" several hundred years into a journey of several thousand. Each year, they would celebrate "Founders Day" by spitting on effigies of the original crew (whose selfish dream had essentially stranded their descendants in deep space).

Re:Space-XKCD (2)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028070)

That's because the "neighborhood" has little air pressure, only a minuscule amount of oxygen or water (mostly in a form that would require extensive processing to even get at it), intense cosmic radiation, little in the way of complex minerals or ores, and no topsoil. It's also either very hot or very cold (depending on which direction you head). And it requires a huge amount of time and energy to get from house to house.

That's why we stay in the basement, and probably always will, whether we like it or not.

Re:Space-XKCD (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028006)

And the multiple-planet graves of cultures who didn't appreciate how unsurvivable and unsustainable the other planets and moons in their solar system really were.

Re:Space-XKCD (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028304)

Thing is, getting people off-planet is not going to increase racial survival unless they can form self-sustaining colonies. Right now, if we were to have permanent colonies on the Moon and Mars, and Earth were eaten by a star goat, the colonies would die pretty darn fast.

There's only a handful, if that, of off-Earth locations in the Solar System that don't make Antarctica look like Paradise, and Antarctica is a whole lot easier to get to. There are probably more hospitable places in other systems, but there's a heck of a lot of space to travel that's colder than anywhere in Antarctica in order to get there.

It's cool that people have walked on the Moon, but it's of only symbolic importance for human expansion. Skylab and ISS taught us much more of what we need to know to even get started. Let's learn about long-term space survival, how to set up self-sustaining colonies, and get real heavy-lift capacity. Then it will be time to get outta here.

money (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025028)

From the fine article

Methods to incentivize researchers,

Ummm, I'd try money.

Re:money (4, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025548)

Money-ish. Most academically/philosophy-motivated people I know (inluding myself) are happy to have moderate income with high job security and substantial housing subsidization.

Re:money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36028298)

Or how about a place on the first mars colony?

Requirements (2)

richdun (672214) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025074)

Said organization must comply with the following requirements: - Uniforms should be brightly colored, vaguely indicating role, and adaptable to look good while allowing for command-level officers to engage in hand-to-hand combat on a regular basis. - All senior officers should be skilled in everything. Yes, everything. We'll decide who does what based on who's standing around at the moment, not based on some specialized set of skills or designated responsibilities. - The organization should construct a fleet of vessels, with one vessel getting all the priority assignments while the rest of the fleet does Sudoku until needed for a well-intentioned but otherwise ineffective show of support. - The organization should be composed of scientists and explorers who just so happen to run around with the most powerful weapons currently available. Asteroids can hurt, right?

Re:Requirements - Purple Wigs (2)

7bit (1031746) | more than 2 years ago | (#36026742)

# 1: Female uniforms must include mandatory Shiny Purple Sexy Wigs.

http://fortresstakes.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/ufo_moonbase_girls_purple_wigs.jpg [wordpress.com]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UFOTVDVDnew.jpg [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UFO_(TV_series) [wikipedia.org]

Said organization must comply with the following requirements:

- Uniforms should be brightly colored, vaguely indicating role, and adaptable to look good while allowing for command-level officers to engage in hand-to-hand combat on a regular basis.
- All senior officers should be skilled in everything. Yes, everything. We'll decide who does what based on who's standing around at the moment, not based on some specialized set of skills or designated responsibilities.
- The organization should construct a fleet of vessels, with one vessel getting all the priority assignments while the rest of the fleet does Sudoku until needed for a well-intentioned but otherwise ineffective show of support.
- The organization should be composed of scientists and explorers who just so happen to run around with the most powerful weapons currently available. Asteroids can hurt, right?

Duh! (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025224)

It's called Starfleet! It's formed by gathering up civilizations after they develop warp drive technology. Everybody knows that!

Want to be optimistic... (5, Insightful)

bughunter (10093) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025374)

I want to be optimistic. When I chose engineering as a career, my goal was to aid humanity in colonizing space, because I could see that we've run out of terrestrial expansion room.

But TFA is Michael Cooney's Layer 8 blog. Cooney mines the Federal Business Ops website [fbo.gov] for RFIs and RFPs and then writes entire articles based on conjecture and conclusions reached by means of Boots of Springing and Striding [coryj.net] . I've worked on programs that have received Cooney's attention and was amazed at how wrong he was on so many points, and how he presented his erroneous assumptions as facts. It's hard to take anything I read on Layer 8 credibly.

For instance, Cooney regularly glosses over the transient nature of the RFIs he cites. Keep in mind that an RFI is merely a "Request for Information." It's an unfunded solicitation of ideas and white papers, used to identify whether there's anybody credible out there who has an idea plausible enough and attractive enough to warrant going back to the DARPA Director and, eventually, Congress with a budget request for a real RFP and phase I study program. Many RFIs result in either nothing, or an RFP for an unfunded IDIQ or a shoestring SBIR type contract. They're fishing expeditions. And sometimes they're done for internal projects just to get new ideas for free, or for programs hardwired for an existing contractor just as a sort of threat. (But on the other side of the coin, DARPA is usually not tricksy like that... but there's still no guarantee of any money available.)

Still, I'm very glad that DARPA is soliciting ideas, at least... there's a phrase in the R&D world: "DARPA Hard." DARPA doesn't consider ideas that are just matters of engineering -- making existing tech lighter/faster/cheaper. They want to push the state of the art and hope to sponsor real, fundamental science that opens up new possibilities. Starships are indeed DARPA Hard.

Re:Want to be optimistic... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36026068)

When I chose engineering as a career [...] because I could see that we've run out of terrestrial expansion room.

Population of the world: ~7 billion;
Population density of New York City: 27,532 / sq. mi.
Population density of London, England: 12,450 / sq. mi.
Area of Texas: 268,581 sq. mi.

The entire population of earth would fit into a city roughly the size of Texas, at the same population density as New York City. Cut the density in half (slightly more dense than London), and you're talking about everybody on earth fitting into an area 2x the size of Texas. This would leave every other piece of land on earth completely uninhabited by humans - yes, the rest of North America, and the entirety of South America, Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Antarctica would be untouched.

There is no shortage of terrestrial expansion room - our issue is with population & food distribution, not with "space to put everybody." And I promise you the following:
1) population densities in space are going to be FAR higher than anything you'd find in New York City;
2) It's going to be a hell of a lot more expensive and less efficient to grow food on earth and ship it off into orbit, or ship an entire self-sustaining ecosystem into orbit than it is to grow food and drive it to the supermarket.

Apparently all that engineering training didn't give you a sense for the practicality of your solutions, and generating realistic estimates.

Re:Want to be optimistic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36027152)

Twice the size of Texas is just larger than the size of the entire earth. Just ask anyone from Texas.

Re:Want to be optimistic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36028204)

Son, twice the size of Texas is just about big enough to fit a proper gun collection in.

Are they still waiting? (1)

Grelfod (1222108) | more than 2 years ago | (#36025634)

Remember Jefferson Starship?
Are they still waiting for the first star ship to Hijack? It has been so many years that the original bunch may be too old now but I wonder if they trained their kids?
The star ship stonies rocking their way across the stars!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUT1xvdrlDA [youtube.com]

Re:Are they still waiting? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028158)

Aren't those the fools who tried building a city out of rock-and-roll instead of concrete and brick? Sure, worked great until the first big storm came through. I can still see those bloody Members Only jackets scattered everywhere in the rubble.

Re:Are they still waiting? (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 2 years ago | (#36028448)

Aren't those the fools who tried building a city out of rock-and-roll instead of concrete and brick?

Rock and Roll? Wuss-music, more like!

BEST BAND NAME EVER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36026020)

"100 Year Starship Project"

Starship is wrong answer (1)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | more than 2 years ago | (#36027588)

The energy to send a description of an object to another star is roughly a million times less than the energy to send the object itself. So the right answer is to send a small nanotech factory which builds a receiving station at your destination. Then you scan a person at an atomic level here, transmit the data, and build a copy at the other end. Besides being frugal from an energy standpoint, it allows you to travel at the highest possible speed (that of light), and the trip time from the traveler's point of view is zero. The nanotech factory still is limited to some sublight speed, but it is likely to be much smaller than a starship carrying humans.

As to when will we be able to do stuff on an atomic scale, Intel announced their 22 nm chip process today. That's roughly 64 atoms across. At the rate things are going, they should be down to single atoms in about 20 years.

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