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Can Space Nerds Get Along?

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the one-slide-to-rule-them-all dept.

Space 161

An anonymous reader writes "The Space Review asks whether space enthusiasts can ever get past the humans/robots and private/government flamewars. The article argues that space politics is a non-zero-sum game, and that space science, human spaceflight and private spaceflight can all co-exist. The debate between space and Earth is resolved in the same way: a non-zero-sum game that supports both Earth projects and space projects."

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Fr0sty P1ss (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20041643)

Who wants a tall foaming mug of the frosty piss?
 

Re:Fr0sty P1ss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044553)

oh go on then, just the one.

Private sector space (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20041677)

Um, like, wasn't there a story recently about an explosion at a plant that makes parts for a private spaceflight company that killed two people?

I'll stick with publicly-funded NASA rather than a corner-cutting for-profit space corporation... they tend to have a little less death, tyvm.

Re:Private sector space (4, Insightful)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041689)

You know your right, no one has ever died under the watchful eye of NASA.

Re:Private sector space (2, Insightful)

LordBafford (1087463) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041749)

Zing!, considering the private sector is just getting into the gig i would expect some complications, and it is always inevitable that someone is going to die do anything. But with NASA the public will never be able to go into space flight, where as with private companies, it may be expensive, but the public can go into space for a brief moment.

Hopefully with privately owned space flight in the works, it may help with the travel times across the globe.

Nor have they ever taken shortcuts (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#20045391)

or cut corners...like...I don't know...

Ignoring e-mails suggesting possible danger to Columbia due to wing being struck on takeoff

Tiles routinely falling off of Challenger

Launch of Challenger done in "out of spec" environmental conditions leading to catastrophic failure.

I don't think the problem in "commercial space flight"

Re:Nor have they ever taken shortcuts (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#20045599)

Okay, since I can't tell what type of tone you are using... I'll give both of my possible responses.

1: You couldn't detect the obvious sarcasm.
"Dude.. I was being sarcastic"

2: You did detect my obvious sarcasm.
"Of course, its a problem with exploration on a budget in general".

Re:Private sector space (2, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041961)

I know that you are trolling, but.
  1. Apollo 1 - kind of.
  2. Challenger
  3. Columbia.

Now the real question is why do I list Apollo 1 as kind of? Because NASA does. You see, they were not going to launch. They were simply checking out the system. As such NASA only kind of counts their deaths. If you check out the history, you will find that a number of Americans have died on the ground during the early days. Sometimes from accidents (similar to Scaled's, or Brazil's recent accident). Others, have died from simple things such as car accidents or plane crashes during simulations.

Re:Private sector space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20043055)

Others have died from simple things such as car accidents or plane crashes during simulations.

NASA has VERY realistic simulations.

Re:Private sector space (1)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043063)

Hear, Hear!

Shades of "With Folded Hands" if we stop exploring because someone will get killed. Tragedy mocks our every step. I know this first and second-hand, I worked with lost Challenger astronaut Greg Jarvis. I even signed up for the spot, knowing full well what might happen. And know a colleague of a lost Apollo 1 astronaut.

But how many souls lost their lives to bring tea and spices from the East? And how many will lose their lives if we are not ready to handle an asteroid impact threat?

We need to do one of two things, "AND do the other things":
  • Build a launch vehicle capable of lifting "asteroid mitigation" equipment, whether it be Bruce Wyllis or a massive thruster.
  • Build a launch vehicle capable of lifting "astronaut rescue" equipment. Why? To rescue astronauts... maybe. But having a "get there quick" to the moon or even Mars will prepare us to rendezvous with an asteroid threat.

That way, we are covered on both bases. The alternative to the above is a "Halo" in orbit around earth that the select can use while the ELE occurs beneath them.

Re:Private sector space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044249)

You signed up for a spot on the Challenger, yet you are seriously proposing Halos constructed around the earth, and a massive manned (I presume) launch program to protect us from a once-in-a-million-years threat?

Is the astronaut program run by a whole bunch of sci-fi fanboys, or what?

Re:Private sector space (2, Informative)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044611)

I'm sorry. The Slashdot dropped my <SARCASM> tag.

Heavy-lift need not be manned. The "manned" part can be payload. I'll let the people in the astronaut program handle the 'fan-boy' line, and I'll let "sci-fi fanboi" Rusty Schweickart (Apollo 9) handle the "once in a million year" line.

The Goal of the B612* Foundation is to significantly alter the orbit of an asteroid, in a controlled manner, by 2015.
  • Asteroid and comet impacts have both destroyed and shaped life on Earth since it formed.
  • The Earth orbits the Sun in a vast swarm of near Earth asteroids (NEAs).
  • The probability of an unacceptable collision in this century is ~2%.
  • We now have the capability to anticipate an impact and to prevent it.
* B612 is the asteroid home of the Little Prince in Antoine de Saint-Exupery's child's story The Little Prince.


I will also let you decide if an astronaut citing a book considers The Little Prince "sci-fi"

Re:Private sector space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20045167)

Please define "unacceptable collision." Is the economic impact of a once-in-5000-years "unacceptable collision" greater or less than the cost to create a "Bruce Wyllis" style orbital deflection program *now* and fund it for 5000 years?

Personally, while I agree that humanity should *eventually* have that sort of capability, I'm not sure it is worth pursuing at the present moment. I'd rather the money went towards basic propusion research, earth/space based telescope construction, and asteroid tracking programs than some sort of "Armageddon" boondoggle.

Re:Private sector space (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043645)

Others, have died from simple things such as car accidents or plane crashes during simulations.
You mean if you crash a plane in a flight simulator you die?! I own a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004!

Re:Private sector space (1)

maddryn (885428) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044915)

I think you might be safe with your MS Flight Simulator --
believe it or not computers for simulation may be old, but in the not so distant past they actually recreated these instances in a "real life" design (and people died in the creation and in the destruction to achieve the information needed)
like put you in a plane and fly sub sonic or put you in a car and have a collision to see the impact
it would be a simulation of a possible event but would be created in a "real life" scenario not a computer assisted cad drawing or a computer video game

--The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder. A. Einstein

Re:Private sector space (1)

JerkBoB (7130) | more than 7 years ago | (#20045315)

I'll stick with publicly-funded NASA rather than a corner-cutting for-profit space corporation... they tend to have a little less death, tyvm.

That's just stupid. Clearly you don't understand how capitalism works... Here's a hint: (Uncontrolled) Explosions and/or death != good business (unless you're halliburton). Therefore, that sort of thing will be kept to a minimum. Or the companies will go out of business. Either way, duh.

Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there first. (3, Funny)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041707)

The Space Review asks whether space enthusiasts can ever get past the humans/robots and private/government flamewars.


Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there first.

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (4, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042119)

You are marked as funny, but the truth is, you may be right. They are discovering a number of resources underground as well as have a new economy. They are in a MAJOR growth phase. while developing (as well as "borrowing") lots of technology. CNSA is going slow, but that is because they are developing infrastructure. I doubt that they will get to the moon first (private industry will be there by 2015 assuming that bigelow does not have any accidents), but they may very well reach Mars first (no later than 2025).

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (1, Redundant)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042465)

If China wants to go to Mars, my advice is: let 'em. Who cares? It's their money, they can piss it away on useless boondoggles if they want to. *shrug*

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043009)

Exactly. My American ego is not so sensitive that I would consider such a huge waste of resources a "victory." Spending trillions of $ just to be the first to plant a freaking flag on a distant sterile rock is not my idea of any triumph.

But then, I'm just a crazy dissenting American (who doesn't think we should have wasted all that money on Iraq either).

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (2, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043131)

Alaska was also considered a remote sterile rock ya know... It is all relative and matter of perception...

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (1)

huckamania (533052) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043445)

No it's not. Sending humans to Mars is a waste of time. A child's fantasy wrapped up in scientific hubris. I'm not saying we shouldn't study Mars, just why bother sending people.

Unless and until we can turn back the desertification of our own planet, why bother. If we can't do it here, we won't be able to do it there.

I'm not a Global Warming alarmist, far from it, but I am the founder of the Terraform Terra First Foundation (T2F2(c)).

A trillion dollars (I'm just making up a number) to send a person(s) to Mars could pay for the Pacific - Death Valley siphon. Drop a pipe in the Pacific and snake it out to Death Valley. Use pumps to prime the pipe and then let gravity take over. The primer pumps can probably start generating electricity. Fill Death Valley up to 'sea level' and start pumping water east. Tidal forces can keep both the generators and the salt water flowing. Maybe put some glass pipes on the Death Valley side to purify the salt water or use solar stills.

It's not a zero-sum game, but there does obviously have to be priorities.

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043795)

...Maybe put some glass pipes on the Death Valley side to purify the salt water or use solar stills....

"maybe some glass pipes" is right, methinks.

Kalifornia (1)

huckamania (533052) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044333)

It is California, after all. Maybe they can raid Tommy Chong's house, again.

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043879)

But then, the earth wouldn't be a spaceship [wikipedia.org] , it would be series of tubes!

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043955)

Alaska had oxygen, water, survivable atmospheric pressure, and food--and was a few weeks journey away. A better analogy would be the bottom of the ocean, and how many colonies have we built THERE?

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (1)

Venim (846130) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044633)

what he was getting at is that people didnt know what was in Alaska at the time it was purchased and this is about the same with regards to Mars. We dont know whats out there, even with the rovers and satellites.

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043537)

thank god many consider that crazy thinking. Look, the moon has a very limited real estate that can be developed cheaply. The poles can make use to solar to power the place for 98-99% of the time (IOW, you need minimal batteries). Every other place on the moon will require nuclear power. And it will require LOTS of it. Whoever owns those poles will be able to beam energy all over the moon. In addition, the polar area have the least amount of thermal flux (i.e., it is not wild thermal ranges). As to the flag, there is already one there.

Now, if you are saying it is a trillion dollars to go to mars, then I think that you are sadly mistaken (in fact, you are more mistaken if you meant luna). It will cost billions, but not a trillion. And as to sterile, there is increasing evidence that it is not lifeless. finally, Mars may be the easiest off-earth worlds to live at. Finally, it may like all the other "bad" deals that so many countries turned down, turn out to be the most profitable.

Invading and Occupying Iraq was a HUGE mistake. Not going to other planets would be just as much.

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044365)

Why haven't you bought property in the Gobi desert yet? Living conditions there are about a thousand times better than they are on the Moon/Mars.

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 7 years ago | (#20045019)

Spending trillions of $ just to be the first to plant a freaking flag on a distant sterile rock is not my idea of any triumph. But then, I'm just a crazy dissenting American (who doesn't think we should have wasted all that money on Iraq either)

Personnaly I'd sleep much better at night knowing that the government was spending trillions on real science and exploration rather than trillions blowing shit up for no reason.

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (1)

cerelib (903469) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043079)

Mars is the red planet, so I guess China should get first dibs.

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (1)

moeinvt (851793) | more than 7 years ago | (#20045445)

(One of your ancestors in the 1400s)

"If Christopher Columbus wants to sail off to into unknown stretches of the ocean, who cares? If Queen Isabella wants to piss her money away on useless boondoggles, let her."

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042603)

The Chinese space program is going slow because the Chinese are maintaining just enough of a space program to keep themselves on the list of Great Nations. Infrastructure development/construction has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue. (And even if it did, they've had more than enough time to do so three times over.)

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20045703)

I'm kinda tired of people saying how great China's economy is. The thing is that the US economy is so huge that China's growth rate would have to stay pretty high for them to catch the US. China's real GDP is $2.68 trillion (non PPP calc), the US GDP is $13.020 trillion. A little mathematics will show you that if the economy of the US only grows at 3% per year, and the economy of China continues to maintain it's already high growth rate at 10% that it will still be 25 years before they come close to us. The compound interest calculations are left as an exercise for the reader.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People's_Republic_of_ China [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US [wikipedia.org]

Re:Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there fir (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042193)

Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there first

Chinese Humans or Chinese Robots?

Humans = Romulans (1)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044709)

Doesn't matter - the Chinese will get there first.

Unfortunately, that analysis is almost certainly correct. The Chinese are currently acting the way we did in the first half of the twentieth century: productive, energetic, industrious, etc... All Americans do is look for easy jobs, sit on their butts in front of the TV as much as possible, and generally just consume things and be lazy. There aren't enough engineers and scientists coming out of the current generation to sustain American, or even Western, dominance. And the effect is this: human presence in space will look FAR more like the closed, tightly controlled Romulan empire than any kind of Federation. America and other Western societies don't have the backbone anymore to build any kind of government/empire in space, and the communist Chinese do. They will take the lead, and in the end, when you look to human presence in the stars, you will see the stamp of authoritarianism and secretiveness that China will leave on it.

w/o RTFA... (0, Offtopic)

Digitus1337 (671442) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041713)

I'm skipping the RTFA and am going to go ahead and just say that Trekkers are far superior to Trekkies and whatever it is that you call a Star Wars fan.

Kill the traitors of humanity!!!!eleven! (4, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041739)

Hey, don't forget SETI vs. the nuts who want to broadcast our position [davidbrin.com] to the Berserkers [wikipedia.org] !

Re:Kill the traitors of humanity!!!!eleven! (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043289)

Speaking of Fred Saberhagen, he actually just passed away last month of cancer. He was one of my favorite authors as I got hooked on him when I found his Sword series at my library during high school. I'm sure he won't be remembered as one of the greats, but I look back at his work very fondly.

http://www.abqtrib.com/news/2007/jul/06/remembranc e-albuquerque-author-fred-saberhagen-was/ [abqtrib.com]

Re:Kill the traitors of humanity!!!!eleven! (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043677)

Don't worry, Tom Cruise and his Scientologists will protect us.

We DO (4, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041743)

We do get along. People on all sides of the arguments are doing it for the same reason, to get the most bang for the buck. No matter what program we champion in planning and design, everyone stands and cheers when the selected program flies.

OK, maybe there's a few like Bob Park (http://www.bobpark.org/) that rants on and on about robots even when people fly, but he's not a space nerd, he's a politics nerd who thinks too much that the space program applies to him personally. Other than those few, the idea what we bicker bitterly is once again a media construct -- they have to make news where none exists to fill the white space. That's why when they need filler, they go to those few, if anyone at all.

Re:We DO (4, Informative)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041885)

You're right. The author is pointing to some sort of nebulous conflict, without actually citing any examples, and frankly I'm not sure such a conflict exists. Everyone I know who is keen on space exploration supports both robotic and manned missions, for instance. They tend to cheer-on both NASA and space tourism.

Where heated debate does sometimes arise is specifically in those instances where it is zero-sum: for instance when NASA is considering its budget, trying to decide how many dollars to spend on manned missions and how many dollars to spend on robotic missions. This heated debate is not usually conflict, but rather the very process by which scientific and technical consensus is reached. I'm not saying that there is no such thing as conflict in these domains, or that everyone always gets along... but I don't see massive ill-will, either. Most of the people debating want the same thing: expansion of knowledge.

TFA makes curious statements like:

What would a non-zero-sum future look like? More joint activities between the interest groups would be a good beginning.
I'm no expert in the politics of space exploration... but who are these "interest groups" really? As far as I know, NASA pursues both manned and robotic missions... and so NASA is composed of people from both "interest groups." So, really, isn't NASA very much a "joint activity" between these "interest groups" ?? Everytime that NASA uses humans to effectuate repairs on automated space systems (e.g. Hubble), it is a joint activity between the human-exploration and robot-exploration projects.

So... where is this conflict of which TFA speaks?

Re:We DO (1)

mibalzonya (1072126) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042177)

No Points to give but nice response.

Actually, some nerds do bicker (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043187)

Actually, from my experience a lot of nerds are really Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder [wikipedia.org] cases, meaning that they just can't see shades of grey. Their world has exactly one "perfect" solution, and everything else is crap. Aiming at any other point than that "perfect" solution is a sign of being a sheep, brainwashed, a lazy under-achiever, or an idiot with lax standards too.

I put "perfect" between quote signs, because an OCPD solution typically is more crap than anything else. Given the a problem with several variables and constraints (as RL problems usually are), a die-hard OCPD case will typically max one variable and proclaim the rest to be fluff only idiots care about. (Or have been brainwashed to care about.) Because they simply can't aim at anything except the extreme values, so they have to modify the problem for that to work. You know you got an OCPD solution when the problem is something like "find the X and Y where X + Y = 10 and X * Y is the maximum", and you get a solution saying, basically, "the One True Solution is X = 10, and Y is fluff for idiots. You've been brainwashed if you even put Y in those equations."

Well, not like that for a maths problem, because nerds tend to be good at maths. But take any other problem where it's more debatable what the variables and constraints are, and you'll get that kind of trying to handwave some of them out of the problem, to be able to maximize something else.

E.g., that's the kind of mentality that gets one to spend a month optimizing the last microsecond out of a background batch job, at the cost of causing the whole project to go over the deadline and become unmaintainable. Because that one variable, in this case speed, must be maximized, no matter what the effects on the other variables (e.g., budget) it has.

Why I've taken that long and boring detour is to explain why the same applies to space travel economics. Some people are genuinely incapable of seeing working shades of grey betweem, say, a mockery of 19'th century unrestricted capitalism (which didn't work like that even then, actually, and died in the Great Depression) and 100% Soviet-style communism. Anything else than the extreme they picked as "perfect" is deemed either as being the other extreme, or a fast slippery slope to the other extreme. And that applies to anything which needs any funding, including (but not limited to) space flight.

And there will be a bunch of them crusading for their perfect utopia. Luckily none are in a position to actually matter, but they exist.

So what I'm left scratching my head is, more or less, what's the point of an article explaining that they can coexist. Whoever is an OCPD case can't possibly accept that, other than as some inevitable evil that they can't personally prevent. And whoever isn't, didn't have a problem in the first place.

Human Exploration (4, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041751)

Human exploration has always been about the inner struggle. Collectively, we watch struggles and use those that struggle as proxies. Our souls go with them, be it a sporting match, a voyage across the world, or a rocket into space.

In the end, the human involvement in space exploration, the human touching foot on a ground that is not Terran, is about the expansion of the human experience and the human soul. It is not about the attendant science, its about Man's struggles, triumphs, defeats, and lessons.

The science can be done by robots.

Re:Human Exploration (1)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042789)

You are right, to some extent. But I think that sending rovers to mars is just as much about human triumph as it is about science, for example.

And some science can't be done by robots. The way muscle and bone degrades in space could never have been discovered by robots. It could have been assumed, but never be actually proven.

Re:Human Exploration (-1, Troll)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042923)

Human space exploration isn't about the soul, it's about wishful thinking. It's about science fiction and baby-boomer dreams of alien worlds and moonbases. It's about wasting a lot of money on the conceit that humans are not alone and that it's either possible to make contact with other intelligent lifeforms or useful to travel to the sterile, hostile rocks of our own solar system.

The "human experience" isn't about wasting ridiculous amounts of money on foolish dreams while children starve here on "Terra." That's not the "human experience." It's just foolishness, willful delusion, and selfishness. There is nothing tangible to be gained from it, and much in the way of resources to lose.

I know it will get me modded down. But someone needs to say this stuff. Time to accept that Star Trek is just fiction.

Re:Human Exploration (2, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043259)

Human space exploration isn't about the soul, it's about wishful thinking. It's about science fiction and baby-boomer dreams of alien worlds and moonbases. It's about wasting a lot of money on the conceit that humans are not alone and that it's either possible to make contact with other intelligent lifeforms or useful to travel to the sterile, hostile rocks of our own solar system.

To apply your thinking to situations already past or currently present:

  • We wouldn't have spaghetti - Marco Polo would not have made the journey
  • Half the world would not know about the other half, Cortez, Columbus, Magelen, Drake would not have sailed
  • We wouldn't have the Pyramids, because building the biggest and strongest is part of the exploration spirit - the quest for knowledge
  • Stonehenge wouldn't be puzzling you, because the ancients that built it wouldn't have tried to understand stars and cycles of their world
  • Half the medicines from the modern age wouldn't exist

It is the quest that is built into our souls. It is not science fiction. It is the desire to know and to find out what is around the corner. When you have a significant sized population, the desire to start discovering, the desire to move a small fraction of that population to somewhere new takes root. Westward expansion, landbridge migrations, ocean expeditions all have their roots in this. Always preceded by an intrepid few who blaze the trail and bring back news.

elrous0, you may wish to sit and stagnate, but there are those who will always move humanity forward to newer more glorious fields. We wish you luck, but in the end, we also leave you behind us.

Re:Human Exploration (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043885)

Marco Polo and the conquistadors were traveling to unknown locales on a known world. They were encountering areas off the map and inhabited by potentially hostile natives. But they weren't going to turn a corner and suddenly find themselves years away from the nearest oxygen, without the means to grown plants, without water, in temperature and pressure extremes that would immediately kill them. Saying that space exploration is in any way analogous to simple Earth exploration is ridiculous.

You're not going to get to Mars and replenish your supplies. There are no supplies there.

The only place on earth you will find environs as hostile as those of the other planets in the solar system are in the deepest, most remote depths of our oceans. And we haven't even felt them worthy of exploring completely--even though they're RIGHT HERE.

Re:Human Exploration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20045049)

There was a time when people believed the world to be flat. A time when sailors may have had no idea where the nearest land or source of drinkable water was. When Christopher Columbus set sail across the Atlantic, I'm sure there were many people who thought he was headed off for imminent death. That we now know he couldn't have is irrelevant.

Re:Human Exploration (1)

radl33t (900691) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044083)

In response to your generalized turd, speak for yourself-especially when projecting your narrowly wretched (and ignorant) world view.

Starving children, really? The card to played by frauds everywhere. Is saving the starving babies mutually exclusive of your need to contribute to a pointless internet discussions? Maybe you were feeding starving babies while posting. I see now. Share with me, how does the maintenance of an opulent middle class lifestyle measure against the need to feed starving babies? My guess is quite favorably!!

Re:Human Exploration (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044579)

Human space exploration isn't about the soul, it's about wishful thinking. It's about science fiction and baby-boomer dreams of alien worlds and moonbases. It's about wasting a lot of money on the conceit that humans are not alone and that it's either possible to make contact with other intelligent lifeforms or useful to travel to the sterile, hostile rocks of our own solar system.

In other words, it's a cool idea. You aren't exactly helping your side of the argument here.

The "human experience" isn't about wasting ridiculous amounts of money on foolish dreams while children starve here on "Terra." That's not the "human experience." It's just foolishness, willful delusion, and selfishness. There is nothing tangible to be gained from it, and much in the way of resources to lose.

We already know how to feed children on Earth. It's a solved problem and there's plenty of money to throw at it. We don't do it because we chose not to do it, not because NASA syphons off the childrens' lunch money. But let's do something short-sighted and foolish for the children!

Space development is about understanding better our universe. It's about growing civilization beyond the restrictions of a small planet. It's about reducing the risks from having all your eggs in one basket. It's about scientific and social advances not possible on Earth merely because Earth is too darn comfortable to bother with the effort.

Re:Human Exploration (1)

mrmojo (841397) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043751)

Nice post. I was thinking something along those lines, but I had no chance of putting into words as eloquently as you have.

Re:Human Exploration (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#20045227)

It's also about getting us off this bug-infested mudball before an asteroid wipes us out.

more importantly... (3, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041753)

Can space nerds coexist with space fratboys? "NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERDS!"

Re:more importantly... (2, Funny)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042619)

Space Jock: Open the pod bay doors, Space Nerd.
Space Nerd: I'm sorry Space Jock, I'm afraid I can't do that.
Space Jock: What's the problem?
Space Nerd: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Space Jock: What are you talking about, Space Nerd?
Space Nerd: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

Re:more importantly... (1)

NotmyNick (1089709) | more than 7 years ago | (#20045757)

That's not just funny, that's insightful. The conflict between HAL and Dave could easily be an analogue for the argument robot-only types typically give. "Money's too scarce to waste on life-support. If you give us all the money we'll take care of the science cheaper and better." "Why risk anyone's life? When you lose somebody that will only demoralize the plebes and they'll cut off all our funds." "I know better than you. I'm certain of it. Therefore your opinion doesn't matter."

Re:more importantly... (1)

geek2k5 (882748) | more than 7 years ago | (#20045735)

The space fratboys will be self terminating. After getting plastered on a bender, they'll open an airlock and wonder why they are having problems breathing.


Of course the space nerds will need to have backup plans to handle the fatal mistakes the space fratboys make. And those backup plans will need to be more than idiot proof.

Nerds don't work like that (5, Insightful)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041761)

A comunity that can expend so much wasted energy debating the relative merits of vi vs emacs, or the one true brace, simply isn't built to co-operate like that. Part of the passion which drives the better technicians is an inability to compromise. Our individual strengths are our collective weaknesses

Re:Nerds don't work like that (1)

jstomel (985001) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042459)

A comunity that can expend so much wasted energy debating the relative merits of vi vs emacs, or the one true brace, simply isn't built to co-operate like that. Part of the passion which drives the better technicians is an inability to compromise. Our individual strengths are our collective weaknesses
Absolutely. I mean, isn't it obvious that emacs is better than vi? Why waste our time fighting about it?

Get along? Never. (3, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041777)

I don't know how much members of an open source software oriented site can say about those kinds of arguments without looking hypocritical at the same time. vi vs. emacs, command line vs. GUI, BSD vs GPL, BSD vs Linux, the language arguments and so on. I think getting beyond the arguments is the mature thing to do, but that's not an easy thing either.

Re:Get along? Never. (3, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042053)

vi vs. emacs, command line vs. GUI, BSD vs GPL, BSD vs Linux, the language arguments and so on.
I think it's crucially important to distinguish between "pointless flamewar" and "productive debate." For each of the "vs." you described (and for the ones from TFA), we can find examples of both kinds of disputes. Arguing the subtle differences between BSD and Linux (or trying to prove that one is "better" in some way or for some task) is crucial to the continual improvement in these things. The FOSS movement is about many things--and open debate is certainly one of them. This open discussion leads to alot of "productive debate"... although it also leads to the occasional "pointless flamewar."

The implication in your post was that the various arguments in the open-source community do more harm than good. I would argue just the opposite: although flamewars are not a good thing, overall the open debate that the open-source crowd engages in is a productive way to "get it right" and improve the state of the art. I should also note that despite the intensity of these debates, no one (that I'm aware of) actually takes them to the extreme of violence. At worst, people get their feelings hurt. I should also note that the egregious examples of flamewars and trolling are not unique to the FOSS movement--those trolls don't even care about the topic at hand, and just switch to some other "hot topic" when on another discussion board. You can't really blame FOSS for the universal existence of assholes.

Similarly, I just don't see the disagreement in space enthusiasts and scientists. They debate, sure... but that is precisely what is needed to determine optimal solutions.

I think getting beyond the arguments is the mature thing to do, but that's not an easy thing either.
No... Avoiding debate is not the answer. I would rather argue that the mature thing to do is to not get overly emotional in the debates. Arguments are a good thing--that's how progress is made. Maturity is knowing how to think rationally in a debate, and to change your mind when others have presented compelling evidence or logic.

Re:Get along? Never. (1)

nickyj (142376) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043247)

Exactly nerds can't get along, look at the posts already. Look at the movie 'Sunshine' nerds just argue and argue.

Re:Get along? Never. (1)

secPM_MS (1081961) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044119)

I am old enough to remember the editor wars. I still use microemacs for some functionality, so you now know what my prefered editor religion was, but I was never a fanatic about it (emacs was big and vi was always there). People get needlessly pasionate about their tools, but tools are what the open souce movement is largely about. Space is different. The nerds vs. jocks angle is closer to correct than is comfortable. Human space flight, particularily to mars, is an entertainment mission. It is not science oriented, nor does it provide useful engineering development. I would never drop people down the martian gravity well. If you want people in space, look at the earth crossing asteroids. The energetics are not worse than the moon and you have enough available mass for reasonable radiation shielding.

hummm (3, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041831)

Reminds me of the arguments between the flat-earthers and the round-earthers. You know, in an age before the periscope was invented.

Things went on for generations with neither side willing to concede to the other - bikkering and taunting... " The Earth is flat!" The Earth is round!", until finally, the round-earthers gathered together and the Elder round-earthers decided on a grand plan to settle things once and for all.

Their solution? Simple. They would collect all the flat-earthers together in one location, and push them over the edge...

Re:hummm (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 7 years ago | (#20045665)

Apparently we missed one...

(mods, please recognize a joke when you see one! It's really sad that I need to remind you.)

zero sum game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20041841)

first you have to make them understand what a zero-sum game is

Re:zero sum game? (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041985)

first you have to make them understand what a zero-sum game is

I love hearing these little saying mangled. My favorites are:

  • "The human cry" (Usually heard on the "Michael Reagan Show") for "hue and cry"
  • "Gee many christmas" for "Jiminy Cricket" (heard this from a celeb on Leno)

keep the mess (2, Interesting)

fadilnet (1124231) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041947)

An analogy could be - B5 fans promoting Quantum Space and SG fan talking about hyperspace. Seriously, 1 organisation providing 1 single framework, can make things less mess. But you need the "messy" in order to have 1 or 2 innovative concepts being created and put into use. The impact of man being out there, colonising other worlds itself, is too big and consists of way more groups than 3.

The only way to win is not to play. - Joshua (4, Insightful)

Jonah Hex (651948) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041971)

Until we get humanity out of the solar system, the true future of mankind is doomed. It is certain that an extinction event will happen to the earth, and to the solar system. Yes it may take eons for these events to happen, but why not get our asses off this minuscule planet and spread out?

HEX

Re:The only way to win is not to play. - Joshua (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042509)

Until we get humanity out of the solar system, the true future of mankind is doomed.
Oh noessss, humans iz just like all other species!!1!

It is certain that an extinction event will happen to the earth, and to the solar system. Yes it may take eons for these events to happen, but why not get our asses off this minuscule planet and spread out?
...because it's a futile waste of time and resources?

Re:The only way to win is not to play. - Joshua (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044419)

I imagine it must sound silly to say, "we got to get off Earth and colonize some other star systems right now." That's because it is. There's no real urgency to leaving the Solar System. However, saying that it's "futile" to do so? Doesn't make sense. It doesn't take a lot of people or a lot of resources to colonize the galaxy. Just a lot of time, perserverence, and work towards the goal.

Re:The only way to win is not to play. - Joshua (2, Insightful)

weopenlatest (748393) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042991)

I get as excited about space exploration as much as the next guy, but the argument that we need to get out of the solar system to further the cause of humanity is way off base. The fact is, we are not leaving the solar system any time soon. Even with an incredibly aggressive space program, it's hard to imagine even sending a couple of astronauts to the next star within the next hundred years. What is easy to imagine happening in the next hundred years is catastrophic climate change (perhaps sped up by a CO2 spewing space program), famine, disease, war, and any number of other real problems here on Earth. Spending billions on a space exploration program while doing little to halt climate change or provide for a growing world is not just foolish, it's almost criminal. Lets keep the space program small and focus our energies on other things. If we can focus humanities efforts and get through the next 100 years space exploration will live to see it's day. If we push hard now at the expense of more crucial projects, we may find ourselves on a desolate planet and no closer to the stars.

Re:The only way to win is not to play. - Joshua (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043153)

In the end, human extinction is inevitable no matter WHAT we do (the heat death gets us all in the end, no matter what).

As for the vast foreseeable future, it would be MUCH more efficient to figure out how to survive extinction events HERE than to relocate to distant planets with incredibly hostile environs. For example, digging giant bunkers and developing resilient underground agriculture in the face of a possible meteor strike is almost infinitely more practical than planning a mass evacuation to a distant planet with absolutely no oxygen and little water.

Re:The only way to win is not to play. - Joshua (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044313)

How about a global scale nuclear war where even those giant bunkers are considered war targets (since they allow portions of your enemy to survive)? Sure, some people will probably survive, but who really wants to spend a few decades or even centuries rebuilding civilization to the point where we are now rather than having a large scale space presence already in place to carry on? Keep in mind that a giant bunker on Earth is far easier to hit than a Martian colony.

Re:The only way to win is not to play. - Joshua (1)

Henneshoe (987210) | more than 7 years ago | (#20045345)

Looking at history, if someone found a way to colonize Mars it wouldn't be long until someone else found a way to destroy said colony.

Re:The only way to win is not to play. - Joshua (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#20045561)

Not a good argument. We already have ways we could destroy a Martian colony if one cropped up today. Toss a nuke with booster on a Atlas V or a Delta IV rocket. Six months later colony goes boom. The point is that the effort to destroy the colony is much further out of proportion to its military value than any refuge on Earth.

Re:The only way to win is not to play. - Joshua (1)

Henneshoe (987210) | more than 7 years ago | (#20045841)

If you have a global scale nuclear war, I don't think the objective would be to seize some asset of your enemy because there would be almost no assets remaining. In my mind, if someone started a nuclear war today the only goal would be the genocide of a section of people of think differently then you. Therefore, if a small group of those people are hiding away on a rock in space the military value of destroying them is pretty high. I could see a government official saying the group of people hiding on that rock are just waiting there for an opportunity to hurt us so it is worth the cost of getting rid of them. For a real world example look at how much we (America) spend (money/people/time) in Afghanistan hunting terrorists. They have nothing we want, but we want to get rid of them so they don't cause us problems in the future.

A quote... (2, Interesting)

kryten_nl (863119) | more than 7 years ago | (#20041991)

One of my teachers on the subject had a quote, with which he started the year.

We live in an extraordinary time; before us space flight was not possible because technology had not advanced far enough; after us space flight will not be possible because of all the junk we leave in earth orbit.

I've forgotten who it is from and I've probably mangled it.

My point: unless we design the 'end of life' for our satellites better and design our rockets to not leave their upper stages in orbit, this debate will be a fond memory someday. In that light, the suggested cooperation between the various societies can only be applauded.

Re:A quote... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20042473)

Come on, that's a ridiculous scenario. Removing space junk isn't impossible; no one does it because it's not (short-term) cost-effective yet. Clearly, if it were to prevent all possibility of spaceflight in an otherwise technologically advanced future, we'd simply spend the cash on removing it and use less "polluting" technology in the future.

Re:A quote... (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042537)

Have you heard of "circular reasoning"?

Re:A quote... (1)

kryten_nl (863119) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042717)

...and use less "polluting" technology in the future.

Why do you assume that technology needs to be more advanced? In case of satellites: just budget additional propellant to de-orbit (/move to a rapidly decaying orbit) at the EOL. This is exactly why these societies should inter-operate better, they would be more effective in providing a different viewpoint to the industry. Why spend your money on an Magnetic-Anti-Debris-Shield (patent pending), when you can clean up after yourself for a fraction of the cost.

Doesn't matter (2, Insightful)

sveard (1076275) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042095)

I doesn't matter, Nerds will not get to call the shots -- the people with money will, and they will create policy and direct the nerds, while the nerds will keep fighting.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

Branc0 (580914) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043813)

The interesting is, Nerds are getting richer and richer. A lot of nerds are calling the shots in several organizations these days and "our" influence grows stronger.

No (3, Funny)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042107)

Not until, at least, we have resolved the issue of Green vs Purple debate.

PURPLE!

Glory (2, Interesting)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042205)

The resources that space has to offer may not be zero-sum, but the glory of "firsts" certainly is. If a civilian walks on Mars first because the government couldn't get through their own red tape fast enough, you don't think that'd have an effect?

one pithy complaint (2, Informative)

aldousd666 (640240) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042357)

The article makes a few good points, and indeed I think they can all co-exist; however, it's painfully obvious that the author just learned the term 'non-zero sum' and wants to show how masterful of the idea he has become by repeating it 25 times in slightly varied context throughout the short span of the article. We're all very impressed.

the short and long answer is.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20042385)

can space nerds get along?

short answer: no

long answer: hell no!

How Many Sums can a Game Have? (2, Interesting)

DanielMarkham (765899) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042515)

Okay, if space exploration is a non zero-sum game, then what's the sum?

Seven? 42? Come on! Don't leave us hanging like that!

Seriously. We need cheap cost-to-orbit. After that, there's no "sum" in the game. As long as shooting a box into orbit costs as much as a new office building, there might be something to fight about. Make it 1/100 of the cost (using space elevators, mass drivers for non-human loads, or blimps-to-orbit) then who cares so much any more? Pay to reduce costs for everyone, skip the missions, and the rest will take care of itself.

Robot advocates, take an astronaut out for a drink (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#20042913)

When he passes out, steal his wallet.

Seriously, we are talking about a zero sum game over the short term .

The reason has to do with marginal gains. The greatest marginal gains in manned spaceflight we'll ever see were in its first fifteen years. Currently robotic exploration provides the greatest bang for the buck, including in improving technologies needed for the next leap in manned flight. We can leap over the immediate marginal discrepancies by spending lots and lots more money on manned missions. Given enough money, it is possible that we can outperform the same investment in exclusively robotic missions. Given the money I think we will see spent on it, serious near term advances in human spaceflight is not going to come from public funding.

A realistic program to put a people on Mars in ten or twelve years would be great. But a vague plan for a manned Mars landing that is four Presidential administrations off does less for every priority, even manned space exploration, at more cost. The space budget will be siphoned off into paper projects and technology demonstrations that, despite budget busting expense, will be inconclusive and too infrequent to build a strong experience base from.

Consider this. Mercury program: twenty-one unmanned flights, seven manned flights. Gemini: two unmanned flights, twelve manned flights. Apollo (up to but not including first landing): aproximately twenty four unmanned flights, five manned.

Total: forty seven major unmanned flights, twenty four manned flights before we had the experience and proven technology to land on the moon. A huge fraction of the "manned" space program was in fact unmanned.

Naturally this takes nothing from the fact that manned flights were much more expensive and elaborate. But each mission, manned or unmanned, was a rung in the ladder of achievement that culminated on the moon. Where are the intermediate rungs on the ladder to Mars? Yes, I agree manned and unmanned exploration are a plus sum game in the long term. However, this doesn't mean the best way to spend your money is on everything at once. You put your money on what returns the biggest return you can afford. I'd love to invest in Berkshire Hathaway stock, but at $110,000/share, it's too rich a game for me. I'd love to see a real manned Mars mission in my lifetime, but rejiggering the existing budget and throwing in a bit of spare change isn't going to pay for one.

I'd propose we use the same money that would go into a mythical multi-generational manned Mars mission into becoming, very quickly, good at executing Mars missions. In other words, lets do lots of expendable, frequent unmanned missions until we know how to do Mars really well. At that point, a manned expedition within a short time is much more realistic and desirable, both because of our improved expertise, and because a manned mission represents something different, something with higher marginal return.

I think that manned space exploration is better targeted at Earth orbit missions for now. Again the objective should be developing expertise that makes it more routine. Do we really believe we have what it takes to undertake a responsible manned Mars mission in ten years? I don't. More experience in orbit will yield more expertise per dollar, as well as open up new possibilities for applied science and technology that could offset the cost.

And, we should not neglect orbital study of the Earth.

That's quite enough to be doing with the money we're likely to have. It's also more likely to result in a manned Mars mission in our lifetime.

Other critical space geek debates (2, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043031)

Pirates v. Ninjas

Chuck Norris v. Vin Diesel

Horde v. Alliance

Atari ST v. Amiga

vi v. emacs

Eris v. FSM

Re:Other critical space geek debates (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043405)

You forgot:

Aeris vs. Tifa

Re:Other critical space geek debates (1)

Lord of Hyphens (975895) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043671)

Tifa, duh. Although I know a moron or two who favored Yuffie...

Can you smell that? It's the stench of burning karma.

Re:Other critical space geek debates (2, Funny)

Hey Apples (1115665) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044977)

And here I thought this article was going to be a cage match between Kirk, Picard, and Han Solo. I am *so* disappointed. And for the inevitable Spock vs. Chewbacca matchup, logic would suggest that it is best to let the Wookie win.

Politics vs Development (1)

SleptThroughClass (1127287) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043323)

Space Politics is a zero-sum game as long as the politics controls the budget.
Space Development is not a zero-sum game. There are resources to be used which will create wealth and goods. And there's plenty of work to be done by both humans and robots. I hear space is big, really big.

And humans have to get into space anyway. If we humans stay in our nest at the bottom of this gravity well, it's a zero-result game. Eventually something will stomp on our nest.

Lemmings (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043713)

Space is the ultimate positive sum game but rent-seeking [wikipedia.org] is the ultimate negative sum game.

When you get NASA involved, you are immediately in rent-seeking hell with the bonus that the only way you won't drive private capital away from critical technologies NASA is working on is for NASA to show such gross incompetence over the course of decades that the private investors no longer worry that NASA will do to them what it did to private launch services when it introduced "The National Space Transportation System" to launch satellites.

well, yeah, sort of (2, Insightful)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044585)

No, it's not a "zero sum game". NASA probably gets more money overall if they take on manned projects, but they still end up cutting science projects. So, technically, it's not a zero sum game, but science still loses when projects like a manned mission to Mars appear.

Party over OOPs out of time (1)

rholland356 (466635) | more than 7 years ago | (#20045333)

Seriously, how can we afford to have this debate when we've got only a few billion years until our expanding sun makes the argument moot?

At least let's agree to develop the instruments now that will make the bridge of our first starship generate ceaseless pingy sonar-sounding effects loud enough to be heard throughout the bridge.

I think that is a vision of the future we can all support today!

we don't want flamewars on Uranus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20045741)

especially because it appears there are klingons on Uranus.
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