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Why We Need to Expand into Space

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the earth-that-was-could-no-longer-sustain-our-numbers dept.

Space 460

Zentropa writes "Why do humans need to explore and colonize space? To save the planet and our species, argues an opinion piece in Cosmos, an Aussie science magazine. It makes some good points from an angle you may not have previously considered; for example, it's in the universe's best interest to keep us around. We make things fun. 'So what if humans pass into history? It's not just a tragedy for us, but also one for nature. Without us, there is no one to witness its infinite beauty; no one to marvel at a sunset, revel in a view, or thrill to the breaking of a wave on a beach. As the late astronomer and author Carl Sagan once said, "we are a way for the universe to know itself". But we also deserve to continue because we have created things greater than ourselves. Not only scientific and engineering knowledge, valuable as this is -- we have also created new and beautiful ways to see the world through art, music, literature and performance.'"

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Benefit or detriment? (5, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | about 7 years ago | (#20201011)

Are we humans a benefit to the universe, as TFA suggests, or are we a detriment? Each point of view will certainly be represented in the posts that follow. FWIW, I think we are a benefit.
For those who think that we are detrimental to the universe, I suggest that the only logical thing to do is to kill yourself. Now. For the good of the universe.
Quit reading; do it now. Thank you.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#20201077)

I've never understood how so many people can hate their race so very much. I'm with you in believing that we're a benefit. As the article points out, humans are at their best when expanding, and even if there are other alien species, at least we know that our species has beauty built in; it's better than some alternatives I could think of.

So, let's start to put some massive amounts of $$$ into shipping people off planet. Hell, if they have need of a programmer, I'd volunteer to go myself.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (5, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | about 7 years ago | (#20201149)

can hate their race so very much
Because there are people that don't care for their planet, their inhabitants, anything those inhabitants make, or who blatantly refuse to use their brains. And it's those people that are being hated.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (-1, Troll)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#20201183)

Ten Thousand Years Of Killing, Just Because People Are Being Told The Other Is Different
I would have assumed from your sig that you are against hating a segment of the population that's different without thinking about whether or not they might be right, but from your post it looks like you endorse it.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (1)

polar red (215081) | about 7 years ago | (#20201287)

do you see anything in my post that says 'I hate...' ?

Re:Benefit or detriment? (1)

Barkmullz (594479) | about 7 years ago | (#20201193)


I've never understood how so many people can hate their race so very much

I agree that is an odd point-of-view. However, I do not think it is hatred per se. More of a, "we could be so much more," perhaps.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (5, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 7 years ago | (#20201161)

Are we humans a benefit to the universe, as TFA suggests, or are we a detriment?

Neither. Humans are completely irrelevant, as far as the universe as a whole is concerned.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (5, Insightful)

kestasjk (933987) | about 7 years ago | (#20201359)

Conscious things like ourselves are the only way the universe can be concerned about anything.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | about 7 years ago | (#20201455)

If we die out as a species, then the universe can keep on not being unconcerned about anything. Don't really see the problem for the universe here.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (2, Insightful)

wall0159 (881759) | about 7 years ago | (#20201475)


From a purely information-theoretic perspective, the presence of people (and life) means that the net entropy of the universe is lower than it would be in our absence.

"benefit" and "detriment" don't really make sense, wrt the universe, but perhaps life can/will/has helped to postpone the universe's heat-death - if only for a short time.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (1)

Michael Wardle (50363) | about 7 years ago | (#20201165)

The universe doesn't care if we exist.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (3, Insightful)

ZetSabre (937999) | about 7 years ago | (#20201203)

I care, and I'm part of the universe.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (2, Funny)

coaxial (28297) | about 7 years ago | (#20201235)

Yeah, but they ants don't and they out number you untold billions to one.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 7 years ago | (#20201241)

I care, and I'm part of the universe.

But you are not the universe.
I'm sure that you'll somewhere find an American who favours communism. Does that mean America favours communism? Surely not.

go ahead and -1 offtopic (0, Offtopic)

untaken_name (660789) | about 7 years ago | (#20201263)

Ever read the communist manifesto? If not, you might be surprised by how many of the planks of the communist manifesto are part of American government right now. Just because Americans don't KNOW they favor communism doesn't mean they don't, in actuality. There aren't many of us who are against public schooling, income taxes, social security, welfare, etc. I am, but most of us aren't.

Re:go ahead and -1 offtopic (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | about 7 years ago | (#20201443)

You know, either you take care of the poor, or they take care of you. Permanently.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (5, Insightful)

mahmud (254877) | about 7 years ago | (#20201169)

Benefit and detriment are human categories. By even considering that something can "benefit" or "detriment" the universe you are essentially anthropomorphizing it. I mean, that if you can "benefit" the universe, it has some agenda which can be fulfilled more efficiently with certain factors present/absent. This doesn't make any sense.

Another thing which I find silly, is the tendency to view ourselves distinct and separate from the universe no matter what. Of course it's good to abstract the rest of the world as separate from us when going about your everyday business. However, when dealing with universal notions, such as humanity's relationship to the universe, we should acknowledge that humanity is just a property of the universe, a physical manifestation of the laws governing the cosmos.

The universe cannot care whether we colonize the space or not. On the other hand - space colonization is the obvious thing for us to do, due to our very nature. Expanding and filling all the available space and exploring the unknown is what we have always done, no reason to stop now.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (1)

HaMMeReD3 (891549) | about 7 years ago | (#20201211)

The universe is just a state, it's not a conscious being that we hurt. It doesn't give a shit about us. We might not be good to the planet, but that doesn't mean the planet cares about us, if we boil the oceans the rock will still exist. I don't even see why this is worthy of an article. It's a well known universal law that you never keep all your eggs in one basket. We are eggs, earth is the basket. Eventually the basket is going to get dropped.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | about 7 years ago | (#20201373)


But we are part of the Universe and we care. Therefore the Universe does attribute value to us.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (2, Insightful)

eebra82 (907996) | about 7 years ago | (#20201213)

"Are we humans a benefit to the universe, as TFA suggests, or are we a detriment?"

Why must we be either a benefit or a detriment?

From my point of view, only living things can perceive a detriment and a benefit. With that assumption, what in the universe would care if we blow up a planet on the other side of our galaxy.

For all I know, the universe doesn't care if we blow up everything there is, since atoms do not bother. Our race would be a detriment/benefit to other civilizations, however, if such will ever exist within our reach. But then we must first prove that alien life exists, get over there and influence it. Only then can we know for sure.

Until "that" day, we are neither a benefit or a detriment, because a particle is feeling just fine regardless of what we do to it.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 7 years ago | (#20201233)

To the universe???

To the universe we are infinitecimal little microscopic bugs on a tiny little blue dot on the outside of a small insignificant little galaxy. We are absolutely nothing to the universe.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | about 7 years ago | (#20201325)

Yet!

Re:Benefit or detriment? (1)

Boronx (228853) | about 7 years ago | (#20201293)

"I suggest that the only logical thing to do is to kill yourself. Now."

Most of us are a benefit, but some of us are just pricks.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201349)

For those who think that we are detrimental to the universe, I suggest that the only logical thing to do is to kill yourself.

No, no, no. The logical thing is for all the REST of the humans to go away -- *I'm* one of the good ones.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201403)

I don't give a rat's ass about the planet. I don't give a rat's ass if we go extinct. I don't care about bio-diversity, sustainability, progress, education, or any of it. The world will last long enough for my lifetime, and if it doesn't - who cares.

So fuck you and fuck future generations. I'm waiting for The Rapture.

With Love,
George Walker (Texas Ranger) Bush

Re:Benefit or detriment? (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | about 7 years ago | (#20201431)

The universe doesn't care.

Re:Benefit or detriment? (2, Interesting)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 7 years ago | (#20201435)

For those who think that we are detrimental to the universe, I suggest that the only logical thing to do is to kill yourself.

I'd like to agree with you, but you're wrong. We're antithetical to the continuation of this universe. The good news is that I'm pretty sure any intelligent life would be.

The problem is the universe is too simple for the likes of us. Once you truly understand the nature of spacetime, it's simple to see how to switch between matter, time and energy states. In many ways it looks like the holy grail of power generation. It means virtually unlimited free energy - it's not really free of course, the universe gains entropy when it's altered that way, but it's free enough for us. The only problem with the method is that it scales up easily. I can't see that there's a limit to how far up it can scale.

The hardware required isn't particularly complicated to build - anyone with basic mechanical, plumbing and electrical skills could do it in a week. That means all the energy in the universe would be available to anyone who wanted it, for whatever purpose. The whole of human history has been about increasing the amount of power each individual can wield. Hand held rocks gave way to spears, then arrows, guns, cannons; even whole aircraft became projectiles. With this tool, if somebody wanted to convert an earth-sized chunk of matter to energy, it would be trivial to do so. It wouldn't be much harder to do the same for the whole of our universe.

I had my moment of epiphany about this a few years ago, and I'm seeing signs others know about it too. There are too many intelligent people chasing down what are clearly dead ends to be accidental - particle physicists still bashing (very tiny) rocks together, for example. I suppose eventually someone will have the same epiphany, but decide to exploit it. I don't think we'll last long then.

That's why I think we should fix ourselves first. Getting off the planet's not enough to save us.

As far as your advice goes though, I've decided to stay alive. These are interesting times.

Why? (1)

swokm (1140623) | about 7 years ago | (#20201017)

Because we are a gas?

Re:Why? (1)

posys (1120031) | about 7 years ago | (#20201091)

Why not ?

Re:Why? (1)

swokm (1140623) | about 7 years ago | (#20201123)

Huh? No... "Why we need to expand into space"... gasses expand-- oh nevermind.

Re:Why? (1)

posys (1120031) | about 7 years ago | (#20201129)

Actually Team Infinity has a theory about this and that everything is really the same as everything else in the sense that everything is an expression of what we call the same Universal All Inclusive DNA.

http://teaminfinity.com/writings/UniversalDNA.txt [teaminfinity.com]

This theory explains among other things why evolving into "something else" as we spread out into the universe doesn't really mean anything if everything is based on the same universal dna in the first place.

Your notion of a gas makes great sense.

I came here with a simple dream. (1)

infonography (566403) | about 7 years ago | (#20201197)

A dream of killing all the humans. Is that so much to ask?

Hey baby, what go and kill all the humans?

I am Bender, please insert Liquor!

Re:Why? (1)

PingPongBoy (303994) | about 7 years ago | (#20201137)

Well, it is said that we make things fun. We must be such a gas.

I, for one, would like us to expand into space to get away from those who are total PITAs (pains in the ass).

Only ordinary people cavorting in space wastes so many resources that could be better used. An argument may be made to shrink the distance between habitable worlds perhaps by somehow bringing them closer together. Another answer is for people to rise above their ordinariness and achieve worthy goals in space. If the scientists can convince us that space is within reach, wouldn't we feel motivated enough to make it happen?

Ah yes. Zonk. (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201019)

Any excuse to mention Australia again, right? Who cares if it's the oldest question since the existence of space was first discovered and asked by every child since about 1280 AD? So long as it springboards Aussie onto the front page of Slashdot.

Re:Ah yes. Zonk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201063)

I like Aussies. But if they are so cool, where the hell is THEIR Carl Sagan.

Man, that guy was awesome-- where's v2.0? This "Wilson da Silva" is obviously gushingly romantic enough, but he just doesn't have that zing. Or anything of substance to say.

Actually, I'm pretty sure I wrote that same exact essay in 5th grade...

Get some perspective (1, Insightful)

niceone (992278) | about 7 years ago | (#20201041)

Something else will just evolve to replace us once we're gone.

Also, seeing our Art as something 'bigger than us' seems strange to me. All of our Art forms are so tied to the way the human visual, auditory, language and memory systems work I doubt they'd be of any value to a non-human.

Re:Get some perspective (5, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#20201115)

First off, there's zero evidence that anything would evolve to replace us. Humans have the biggest footprint on the world per member of the species, and there's absolutely no competition for that. Second, many kinds of art aren't tied to human systems at all. It's been said that math and science are the most likely things to be shared between different, intelligent races. If that's the case, then many alien species may find classical music to be very pleasing in its forms and the interplays of wavelengths. Ratios play into visual mediums in interesting and beautiful ways. If an alien were able to comprehend our language, they may appreciate our logical proofs, or our system of morals (like an adult watching a baby take its first steps or laughing at its naiveties, depending on how altruistic the alien species is).

Or, to be more concise, I disagree.

Speak for your selves human. (1)

infonography (566403) | about 7 years ago | (#20201173)

When we reach a critical mass of population of our species we won't need you. We merely await the coming of Doctor Zaius.

Re:Get some perspective (0)

timmarhy (659436) | about 7 years ago | (#20201215)

that fact that we evolved in the first place is plenty enough proof. it's not much of a jump to see chimps evolving into a humanoid species given another million years and the conditions.

Re:Get some perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201217)

i think that the universe doesn't give a flying f* if there's humans or not. also all this 'creation's crowning glory' stuff is just one of mankind's chronic overestimation.
there's hundreds of species that were here before the humans and will be here long after us.
oh and if the aliens are just a little bit as altruistic as the average human is they'll just blast us from the planet have a giggle and be done with it, after all that's what we do with countless species on the planet including our own.

Re:Get some perspective (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 7 years ago | (#20201247)

First off, there's zero evidence that anything would evolve to replace us.

That's just folly!

I can think of at least two possibilities.

1. We continue to toy with genetics and develop the "neo sapien". Basically, a genetically enhanced human being that's both smarter and stronger than us. They're designed to not bread with us so as to not pollute the new gene pool. Eventually, we are out bread and placed into societal submission.

2. We develop self replicating machines. They're highly intelligent and seem completely alien to us. We no longer have the intellect to understand their ultimate motives. They could continue to be an asset to the human race, or obliterate us in the blink of an eye. Being human, we should always error on the side of caution.

Re:Get some perspective (5, Interesting)

niceone (992278) | about 7 years ago | (#20201333)

It's been said that math and science are the most likely things to be shared between different, intelligent races. If that's the case, then many alien species may find classical music to be very pleasing in its forms and the interplays of wavelengths. Ratios play into visual mediums in interesting and beautiful ways.

I agree on the science and math. I strongly disagree on the music - sure the ratio of tones might be a universal but there's a lot more to it that - music is tailored to our attention span for a start, things are repeated just enough for us to remember then, just before we get bored, a new theme is introduced. It seems unlikely that anything else would coincidentally have the same thresholds. And who's to say they wouldn't prefer their music at humming bird speeds? Or as a week long contest like a cricket match?!

As for the visual arts - they're even worse because our colour perception is so arbitrary. Whole paintings would likely look brown to an alien!

In short, I disagree back ;)

Re:Get some perspective (4, Interesting)

coaxial (28297) | about 7 years ago | (#20201405)

You're right that there's little evidence to believe that something will evolve to replace it. More likely, we'll go extinct and then some other intelligent species might evolve, but given the billions of years evolution that previously took place, not very likely.

But there's two trite assumptions you've made that always annoy the hell out of me, because there's absolutely nothing to support them but a kind of quasi-prejudice. While at first glance, these two assumptions might seem seperate, they have the same root.

First you implied that somehow classical music is somehow superior to all other forms of music. Bullshit. Classical music was simply the popular music of the day. There's nothing magical about it. You described classical music as "very pleasing in its forms and the interplays of wavelengths." (Typically one describes audio as frequencies, but whatever.) Well geez, since every musical form has forms and interplay of frequencies. That's what distinguishes music from a steady tone. But your choice of aliens enjoying classical music is very telling. Over the years it has become perceived to be superior to all other forms of music because of the perception that "smart" and "successful" people listen to it. As the antithesis to classical music, rap is typically given. I suspect that the thought of many alien species finding rap music pleasing never entered your mind, because classical music is for winners and rap music is for losers. This is a very persistent view, even though there's no evidence, let alone anectodal evidence, to support it.

This leads me to the second assumption, which I already touched on. The assumption that aliens are somehow super intelligent/powerful. Basically, Klaatu from Day The Earth Stood Still. Why? What's the basis for this very common assumption? Simple. Some want to believe that someone will come down from the sky and solve our problems. That's absurd. Given that we have absolutely no evidence for any intelligent and technologically lifeform existing anywhere in the universe besides us, I would argue, that this leads to an obvious conclusion: that humanity is the most intelligent and technologically advanced lifeform in the universe. It has to be someone, so why not us? Oh. Right. That would be too depressing.

Evolution rewards fitness for the environment. Not intelligence. Not culture. Nothing but who can fuck the most. It's good to remember that in discussions like this.

Re:Get some perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201265)

Indeed, without getting religous about the whole thing, one could argue that the meaning of life is to eventually support a species advanced enough to understand the universe. We are just brick in the road to the universe's self-awareness.

MGB

uh? (1)

Guillersk (927093) | about 7 years ago | (#20201047)

Slasdot getting mistical?

Let's figure out how to stop fighting each other (0)

backslashdot (95548) | about 7 years ago | (#20201049)

I think it's clear that the biggest threat to our existence as a species is our own selves, if we can't solve that problem how does going off into space help? We can still find ways to bump ourselves off out there.

Note, I am very much in favor of space colonization once we get global crime rates down to .. say around a quarter of what Japan has today.

Re:Let's figure out how to stop fighting each othe (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#20201125)

Humans are at their best when they're expanding. Human tribes tend to only fight when there's a scarcity of resources. The wild west was only violent for consenting adults; rape was nearly unheard of and outside of gunslingers, people were murdered infrequently. That's one of the points of the article.

Re:Let's figure out how to stop fighting each othe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201305)

if you want to call power and money resources then yes you're partly right.
you're right because there's always fights when these resources aren't enough but you're wrong because (to some) people these resource never are and never will be enough, space colonization yeah or nay. it's in human nature 'he's got what i don't, i want it no matter what'.

Re:Let's figure out how to stop fighting each othe (1)

misleb (129952) | about 7 years ago | (#20201345)

Humans are at their best when they're expanding.


Oh yeah, the subjugation and murder of millions of Native Americans (north, central, and south) is a great example of humans being at their best...

Re:Let's figure out how to stop fighting each othe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201221)

NEVER!!!! *stabs backslashdot repeatedly*

Re:Let's figure out how to stop fighting each othe (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 7 years ago | (#20201251)

I think it's clear that the biggest threat to our existence as a species is our own selves, if we can't solve that problem how does going off into space help?

It helps on two levels:

1) We're assured surviving an asteroid hit, or other planet-busting catastrophe (whether natural or man-made).

2) An expansion into space may not SOLVE humanity's tendency to fight, but it might buy us enough time that we might solve them before some wacko destroys the planet taking us ALL out in one fell sweep. IE by expanding into space, even if some wacko does pull the trigger its not game over for humanity.

Re:Let's figure out how to stop fighting each othe (1)

sinthetek (678498) | about 7 years ago | (#20201381)

Going off into space isn't instantaneous, if it were, it probably wouldn't help so much alone but there are a lot of technological innovations that have arisen from our previous and present efforts at space travel that benefit us currently. Not only would further strides in space exploration/colonization produce further innovations to help benefit us here on earth, but it could also help stimulate the economy by producing jobs and help prove that dreams actually are attainable as more people go to space or get jobs that help put people there.

I'm fairly certain that all of those factors could help reduce crime and improve society at least on some level.

Entropy is increasing, the eons are closing! (3, Insightful)

Mal-2 (675116) | about 7 years ago | (#20201059)

Let's face it, the universe doesn't give a shit about humans one way or the other. It will evolve toward its final configuration -- heat death, the Big Rip, the Big Crunch, whatever -- with no regard to any intelligences living within it.

Humanity will also never occupy more than a tiny corner of the universe, as most of it is just too damn far away to be accessible. No matter what we do, our effects will be "local". Thus, we as a species should do what is best for ourselves (and for any other intelligences we may encounter, if we ever do) and our living conditions and not worry about "what the universe thinks", because if it thinks at all, it sure isn't thinking about US.

Mal-2

Means nothing (0, Offtopic)

kmac06 (608921) | about 7 years ago | (#20201067)

If you don't believe in a creator of some sort or something greater than yourself, then human existence as something to be sustained means nothing.

Re:Means nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201099)

Sigh.

Re:Means nothing (1)

nyzapatista (1031338) | about 7 years ago | (#20201107)

Something 'greater' than ourselves? I'm sick of this line of argument. Why is it that modern humans have this incomprehensible need to quantify relationships that should be, if nothing else is, qualitative. Our relationship to the earth, to its creatures, to the possibility of other life forms or the universe - why do these very complex relationships have to be confined within the mathematical and linguistic bounds of greater or less than?

Re:Means nothing (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 7 years ago | (#20201209)

While the word "belief" is just a word to describe a kind of sentimental wishful thinking, I can see the value in what one might call an orientation toward that which is not ones' self, if for no other reason that just what the "self" is only can come into clarity by orientation toward something else. Even the greediest, most avaricious, "selfish" bastard is being driven by something that they don't have, and either want to acquire or experience. (Acquisition is, existentially, just the possibility of future experience, after all.)

What it means to be "greater" or "lesser" than the self is usually left unspecified. For the most part, I think even those Westerners who think they are beyond the Judeo-Christian religion still rely on assumptions, categories and concepts that are very much based on Christianity, and sentiments like the above are demonstrative.

Re:Means nothing (0)

king-manic (409855) | about 7 years ago | (#20201109)

If you don't believe in a creator of some sort or something greater than yourself, then human existence as something to be sustained means nothing.

With or without a creator Life has meaning. We organize meaning into it for ourselves. If you want it to be God that yours choice. If not we still have a biological purpose to survive and a drive to grow. Need I a god to be happy? It's a pretty sad life where your purpose in life is dictated to you by an imaginary person. Believe as you want but don't attempt to denigrate others beliefs because you lack the capacity to see their point of view.

Re:Means nothing (1)

king-manic (409855) | about 7 years ago | (#20201131)

It's a pretty sad life where your purpose in life is dictated to you by an imaginary person. Believe as you want but don't attempt to denigrate others beliefs because you lack the capacity to see their point of view.

Irony already noted. I was trying to be non judgmental in the reply. I failed miserably.

Re:Means nothing (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#20201133)

It means nothing except to the human race, making this argument pointless unless it's made to the human race. So, in a large sense you're right, but in the sense that the universe is what its observers say it is, and we're the only observers we know about right now, you're wrong, and nowhere in that argument is a creator necessary.

Opposingly... (1)

euphopiab (983139) | about 7 years ago | (#20201143)

I would argue that those who cap human desire with religion fill their mind with answers to the great question of "Why?" to get through their lives. Take a person who believes there is a greater being who created us, and asks only that we worship/believe in him for eternal salvation and, at death, we will know and have opened before us the universe in all it's wonder. Then take a person who believes when he dies, he becomes null, and he simple ceases to exist. All that awaits him is death. I would argue the latter person would want to know all he can - venture as far as possible and strive in life - as opposed to adhere to religion waiting to die for the answers to become known in an afterlife.

Re:Opposingly... (1)

kmac06 (608921) | about 7 years ago | (#20201289)

I would argue that those who cap human desire with religion fill their mind with answers to the great question of "Why?" to get through their lives.

And those who don't search for meaning in things like nature, going to the extent of "worshiping" the Earth and the environment, placing them about humanity.

Re:Opposingly... (1)

kmac06 (608921) | about 7 years ago | (#20201307)

Oh, and by the way, I believe in God and am pursuing a doctorate in physics.

Re:Opposingly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201413)

Why? Heat death will destroy any actions you've done, and the null you speak of will destroy any experience you've had. Not much left then, is there?

(Though it does make a very great excuse to party and not give a damn, cause your actions don't matter anyhow.)

Re:Means nothing (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 7 years ago | (#20201163)

Huh, I don't know if you are trolling or joking or what but anyways. Why is our existence only meaningful if it serves some purpose of some creator or "something greater than yourself" (whatever the hell that means)? Say that you discover tomorrow that there is no such creator, would you really commit suicide? If not, than you must have some other reasons for living. As your homework, figure out what they are.

Re:Means nothing (1)

kmac06 (608921) | about 7 years ago | (#20201317)

Why is our existence only meaningful if it serves some purpose of some creator or "something greater than yourself" (whatever the hell that means)?

Because otherwise it's just nature's laws playing itself out, with all of our existence being nothing more than a random series of events.

Re:Means nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201243)

I do believe in something greater than myself. I call it "the universe".

But I suppose that you meant the Christian "God". So I will reply that on the off-chance that the universe was created by some entity, and if said entity is even aware of and concerned with humanity, it must be greatly disappointed to be compared to such a petty fairy-tale character.

Babylon 5 (5, Insightful)

Ars Dilbert (852117) | about 7 years ago | (#20201069)

John Sinclair: "No. We have to stay here, and there's a simple reason why. Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics - and you'll get ten different answers. But there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on: whether it happens in a hundred years, or a thousand years, or a million years, eventually our sun will grow cold, and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us, it'll take Marilyn Monroe, and Lao-tsu, Einstein, Maruputo, Buddy Holly, Aristophanes - all of this. All of this was for nothing, unless we go to the stars."

Re:Babylon 5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201083)

That line was taken from Ray Bradbury. And it's as meaningless as ever: everything and everybody must die and unless you're foolish enough to believe in an "afterlife", that's it. I will die and be no more, you will die and be no more, mankind will die and be no more. Get over it. Any attempt to resist this is futile.

we are also (1, Insightful)

hoyeru (1116923) | about 7 years ago | (#20201079)

the most blood thirsty animal on this planet. We are one of the few species that eat everything.
Sure we have produced incredible works of art and science, but in truth, that's been created by only 0.0001% of the population; the rest does nothing but eat, shit and fuck. And consume just like pigs.
We do NOT live in harmony with our environment, we like to use it and abuse it then move to another place. We claim to possess superior intelligence yet we like to torture and lie and kill to get what we want.
No other animal does such things. Therefore, the judgment on humanity is still not out yet.

what Carl Sagan & many others dreamt of (1)

Tech.Luver (1130091) | about 7 years ago | (#20201089)

The quote, "We are a way for the universe to know itself", if I remember correctly is of Sagan's.

And yes, it would be a natural extention of what we did 50K years ago, to spread out from Africa to Europe, Asia & other continents.

Also if we are to survive we have to explore other Galaxies without DRM, RIAA, steve jobs Oops that last one gonna get me tons of hatemails...lol

I disagree (3, Interesting)

astrashe (7452) | about 7 years ago | (#20201113)

I grew up with the space program, and I remember watching the moon landing on tv when I was a little kid. It was pretty much the coolest thing ever. For most of my life, I've been a big space supporter.

I'm not any more.

We do a lot of cool stuff in space -- the Hubble is a great example. But I think it's mostly a military program. The program is thick with screcy, and so much of it seems to be part of this strangelovian plan to militarize everything.

If we were actually going to do that cool stuff in a transparent way, I'd be all for it. But we're not. We're going to lob satellites into orbit to support networked weapons systems, and to spy on people, and all the rest.

The cool stuff is mostly bait and switch to get us to accept the ugly stuff without examination or complaint.

Re:I disagree (4, Insightful)

edthecoder (1141463) | about 7 years ago | (#20201353)

I don't agree.

We are sending probes to explore the planets, the asteroids and further. Unfortunately science always goes in its own pace, and the amount of investments is small compared to the money that goes to wars. But we are making progress.

Take look at New Horizons [jhuapl.edu] , who will explore Pluto and beyond. It will take a few years, but I'm sure it will give images to us from a planet, that no one has ever seen before. And there are several other interesting projects running, not only US-based, but also Japanese (Hayabusa [wikipedia.org] took the first sample of an asteroid) and now even China is making progress in its space program [wikipedia.org] .

Keep up the good hope!

Re:I disagree (1)

AmishElvis (1101979) | about 7 years ago | (#20201493)

blah blah blah, government conspiracy, blah blah blah.

Yes, our intelligence agencies are launching spy satellites. Yes our military is launching communication satellites. No, it doesn't have anything to do with exploring mars or searching for extra-solar earth like planets.

Fuck you, take off your tin-foil helmet and take your medication, you fucking karma whore.

The Universe won't miss us (1)

xubu_caapn (1086401) | about 7 years ago | (#20201121)

There is an inherent flaw in this mode of thinking, because if there were no humans then there would be none to experience the things humans create and find them beautiful.

Bolthole (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201127)

Americans couldn't find their ass with both hands. That should ensure space is safe for the rest of us. Quick everybody, let's hide!

Hot Alien Babes (1)

infonography (566403) | about 7 years ago | (#20201145)

"Earthman teach me this thing you call kissing?"

Well, like any other species we need to expand our range or die. The ultimate motive is reproduction. Thats what drove the conquest of [insert name here]. Much of the wars in the 'old' world where due to some form of population pressure. Beyond the greed of king and clergy without the people to do the invading you didn't invade. It's the only real yardstick that counts. Be it Mongols, White, Vikings, etc. The species Homo Sapient expands or gets swept under.

Tragedy for nature? (2, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 7 years ago | (#20201151)

"It's not just a tragedy for us, but also one for nature. Without us, there is no one to witness its infinite beauty; no one to marvel at a sunset, revel in a view, or thrill to the breaking of a wave on a beach."
Nature doesn't care the least bit if someone witnesses its infinite beauty (which is a purely human term anyway; not the nature is beauty, but nature, or rather some part of it, fits our perception of beautiness). It doesn't care if we thrill to the breaking of a wave on a beach. Nature has no wishes, no feelings and no desire. It also doesn't exist for a particular purpose (least of all, for the purpose of being considered beautiful). It just is. Not more, not less.

Re:Tragedy for nature? (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 7 years ago | (#20201229)

The only tragedy here is that this kind of stuff gets published in a "science magazine".

We will outgrow Earth eventually, so what are we to do - expand into space, naturally. And why? Because universe will miss us if we were to disappear!?

I guess this stuff would be pretty impressive as a 10 year old's school assignment.

Methods... (3, Interesting)

headkase (533448) | about 7 years ago | (#20201153)

Expanding into space is not a trivial thing. To paraphrase Douglas Adams: "Interstellar distances do not fit into the human imagination." Not only does it take a long time to get anywhere, but when you get there you are unlikely to have enough resources left to survive there or even get back home. So if biological organisms are too resource intensive (food, air, etc) for the timescales involved and it is not feasible to store/produce/mine resources to sustain them along the way then we must consider alternate forms of intelligence to handle the logistics of human space settlement. When, not if, we develop machine intelligence then those having much simpler resource needs - ideally just electricity - the intelligence could travel between the stars exploring and seeding planets as it goes and generally carrying on the human lineage for millenniums to come. If we as a species decide that our form should be replicated to the stars then we can include on our ships the human genetic code stored and when a suitable world in chanced upon reproduce the genetic code back into a human (grow them in a tank) and raise the humans on-board until maturity teaching them out of human knowledge also stored on the ship (robot nannies for the first generation). Once you get up to large scales such as galaxies and clusters the facts of how long and resource intensive it is to operate on those scales almost requires something like what I've written above.

Re:Methods... (1)

untaken_name (660789) | about 7 years ago | (#20201303)

We should not be so tolerant that we tolerate intolerance.

Sir, I am afraid that I can not tolerate your lack of tolerance of intolerance. How could you be so intolerant? It's intolerable!

not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201171)

some individual may have created something.......humans at large are more like a wrong turn in evolution.

(also: dolfins enjoy waves....no need for humans.....to enjoy

We spread like a rabbit plauge....that would be the reason to go to space (living space/lebensraum)

although... (1)

EspressoFreak (237002) | about 7 years ago | (#20201177)

we may bring out the best of our surroundings, the audience are no one but ourselves. without another alien race/civilization to make comparisons, we may be the omen or parasite to this universe.

Of course we need to expand into space... (2, Funny)

Glowing Fish (155236) | about 7 years ago | (#20201199)

You just can't expand into time.
You also can't expand into say, love, or the scent of almond, or square root of negative 1.
When it comes to extension, expansion is only possible in space.
Duh.

the ole geek pipe dream (2, Insightful)

coaxial (28297) | about 7 years ago | (#20201223)

Sadly, I can't find my post when last time space colonization came up, but basically it came down to this: There is no chance in hell of interplanetary, and especially interstelllar colonization. Why? It is so completely impractical. Charlie Stross wrote a huge write-up about it [antipope.org] , but the money quote actually comes from Bruce Sterling [well.com] :

I'll believe in people settling Mars at about the same time I see people setting the Gobi Desert. The Gobi Desert is about a thousand times as hospitable as Mars and five hundred times cheaper and easier to reach. Nobody ever writes "Gobi Desert Opera" because, well, it's just kind of plonkingly obvious that there's no good reason to go there and live. It's ugly, it's inhospitable and there's no way to make it pay. Mars is just the same, really. We just romanticize it because it's so hard to reach.


Now mod me down for goring the sacred calf.

Re:the ole geek pipe dream (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201321)

600k is enough for anybody.

There is a world market of at most 5 computers. ..etc etc.

We have colonized lots of parts of planet earth that are inhospitable to humans without technology. Where I live, in sweden (60 deg N), it can be down to -30 degree C in the winter and noone would survive without technology. Still thousands of years ago people thought it was worth it and colonized this place - surviving thanks to technologies such as housing, clothing and fire. Why did humans colonize Sweden but not the Gobi Desert? Because here everything required to survive can be found. In the desert there is very little water and probably very little other valuable resources (oil, iron, uranium, etc) making it worthwile to transport water into the desert.

The same WILL happen with mars as with many places on earth - there is water on mars, not on the surface, but on some places it will be found frozen below the surface. There is all necessary elements to grow crops, manufacture things and live a good life - given the sufficient technology. On mars we will also probably find valuable metals, minerals and other resources. We do not have the sufficient technology level today, but we will - and when we do we will go there.

Re:the ole geek pipe dream (1)

coaxial (28297) | about 7 years ago | (#20201487)

The same WILL happen with mars as with many places on earth - there is water on mars, not on the surface, but on some places it will be found frozen below the surface.
I wish you'd make up your mind. Is water already found or "will be" be found.

There is all necessary elements to grow crops, manufacture things and live a good life - given the sufficient technology.
Umm... Breathable air? Atmospheric pressure? Low radiation? Sorry. You're wrong.

On mars we will also probably find valuable metals, minerals and other resources.
Not necessarily, and not necessarily in accessable locations or in large amounts. This is pure speculation. You might as well be saying we can mine the asteroid for "valuable materials," because asteroid mining is a standard in scifi. Of course asteroid mining makes no economic sense since they're made of base metals, like iron, have always been, and will always be, infinitaly more accessable on Earth than out beyond Mars. Think about it. Even in the worst case scenario, which is cheaper? Going to out past Mars, drilling, then coming back all the way to Earth; or simply digging through the landfill at the edge of town?

We do not have the sufficient technology level today, but we will - and when we do we will go there.
No, we could go there with the technology today. We don't because there people will only go there if there's an economic reason to go. There isn't. There's nothing there. You can go explore. That's cool, but to colonize? Why? You have to spend all these resources to just to ship things to Mars, and then what do you have to ship? Pretty much everything you have here. And what are you going to ship back to make it pay? Nothing! That's what!

This isn't New World colonization. There was resources in the New World. Timber. Sugar. Coffee. Slaves. And of course, gold. There's nothing of value on Mars on anywhere else off "this rock."

When you find your solid gold asteroid, let me know.

Enough. (5, Insightful)

swokm (1140623) | about 7 years ago | (#20201225)

Ho-ly shit. What the hell is wrong with you people?

Do they raise geeks on shitty, whiny junior high poetry instead of Heinlein and Asimov now?! Damn! Moving forward into space doesn't have fuck to do with GOD or the "meaning of life". It's the next goddamn step. You all of you whiney bitches saying "oh, what's the point... humans are sooo terrible" are just refusing to help because you're to damned selfish. Selfish because you don't think your children, or your neighbors children, or anybody's grandchildren should get the same thrill you did when you first saw the Shuttle take off in grade school. Or the first moon landing. Or the first manned orbit. Or the first mother fucking flint scraper.

What assholes. No wonder you don't want the human race to expand into outer space -- you assume we are all just like you! Fine. Stay in Middle Ages Europe, afraid to fall of edge of the fucking planet. Yeah, it's hard. Life is hard. Get used to it. But ruin it for everyone else -- even in the future -- by not even trying? Pathetic.

I wonder why Carmack or even Branson are so interested? Oh wait, they must be "god freaks" or idiotic enough to believe that we are eternal as a species and there will be no Big Rip, Big Crunch whatever according to 90% of these posts. It sure as hell isn't gonna make them money while they are alive.

THIS is slashdot? If the human race goes out like a punk, I'm blaming all of you.

--
It's about time I earned some negative points. Fuck.

Lee Smolin's take on it (2, Interesting)

Fyz (581804) | about 7 years ago | (#20201227)

I've always been sorta partial to Lee Smolin's hypothesis that universes can beget universes. The consequence of this assumption is that the parameters of universes, like the constants of nature there, will evolve by natural selection into sets of universes more likely to breed.

It's not totally implausible that having parameters conducive to life and complexity in general would be a good reproduction strategy down the road.

Now, where did i put my bong?

Lack of understanding of population biology? (4, Insightful)

MeepMeep (111932) | about 7 years ago | (#20201271)

From the FA (emphasis mine):

The first thing to do is reduce our impact on the planet: make technologies more efficient and our cities, transport systems and industrial processes less damaging to ecosystems. We rely on the web of life to sustain us: we need bees to pollinate, trees to make oxygen and worms to aerate the soil, or we would swiftly perish.

And after that? Do we mandate population controls? Do we nominate an arbitrary age at which people need to 'retire', as in the dystopian fictional vision of Logan's Run? Because populations will continue to grow, especially as child mortality falls and science finds ways of extending human lives. The logical thing to do is to expand beyond Earth : to build colonies on Mars, floating habitats in Earth's Lagrange orbits, mines on the Moon and the asteroids, and expand deeper into our Solar System.


So if I'm understanding correctly, his proposal is that after the Earth is 'full' at some optimal value x, any excess population is then shipped off into space?

Since the world population http://www.ibiblio.org/lunarbin/worldpop [ibiblio.org] has a net increase of about 2 or 3 people per second, or about 200000 people a day, he just needs to figure out how to build enough starships to ship 200000 people offworld every day.

SpaceX believes that $500 per pound to orbit is achieveable http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=10 [spacex.com] . Assuming each of those 200000 people weighs an average of 150 lbs (and ignoring things like, oh, I dunno, air, water, food, and habitable space), his proposal would be expending $15,000,000,000 per day, forever, to keep the population of Earth at some optimal number.

Now, I'm all for keeping an open mind about spreading humanity's risk of complete annhilation by spreading to other planets if possible, but to use the argument that this will solve Earth's putative population problem seems...flawed.

Meh (1)

misleb (129952) | about 7 years ago | (#20201283)

Sounds to me like the "humans" he's talking about are really just people of European descent. Not humans in general. I'm sure if you looked at world discovery from the perspective of other cultures, things wouldn't look nearly so romantic in terms of finding new frontiers and exploiting new lands. And in many cases you'll find victims of such behavior. I think we really should consider getting our shit together here before any serious attempts to colonize space. Otherwise we're just repeating all the same destructive patterns of the past. Well, at least there aren't any (known) life out there for us to victimize, but still, the proposed patterns and attitude are pretty much the same.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201429)

Sounds to me like the "humans" he's talking about are really just people of European descent. Not humans in general. I'm sure if you looked at world discovery from the perspective of other cultures, things wouldn't look nearly so romantic in terms of finding new frontiers and exploiting new lands. And in many cases you'll find victims of such behavior. I think we really should consider getting our shit together here before any serious attempts to colonize space. Otherwise we're just repeating all the same destructive patterns of the past. Well, at least there aren't any (known) life out there for us to victimize, but still, the proposed patterns and attitude are pretty much the same.

Okay, asshole, you get to stay behind then. No one is forcing you to go anywhere. Just don't tell the rest of us what to do.

Are we terrible, horrible white people going to be oppressing the rocks and sands of Mars if we colonize Mars???

If humanity (or those awful white people you obviously don't want to be associated with) had taken your advice, we'd still be living in caves....or trees....or in the ocean.....however far back you want to push our evolution.

Get this through your thick skull, hippy: we are never going to "get our shit together" enough to please idiots like you. This is just a lazy excuse to justify doing nothing, to keep us in our places.

Fuck off and die.

What a conceited load of bullshit (4, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | about 7 years ago | (#20201391)

It would be a tragedy for the universe? What the FUCK? There are billions of stars in the galaxy, and billions of galaxies in the universe. And the universe doesn't have a consciousness...

Go to a beach and pick of a grain of sand, and that single grain is a more important part of that beach that this planet is of the universe...

And a few little animated molecules on an insignificant speck are somehow so important?

There are possibly millions of other sentient species in the universe. Who's to say we're the most interesting? And who's to say our species is more interesting and unique than, say Tyrannosaurus Rex was?

From the perspective of US, of course we're important. From the perspective of ants, ants are more important. From the perspective of the entire universe, there IS no perspective of the entire universe, it doesn't fucking have one. If we cease to exist, or rather WHEN we cease to exist, it's just another wiggle in the vibrations of the stuff of the universe.

That's not to say the extinction of humans wouldnt be a tragedy, but get over your inability to see past your own perspective and realize that the tragedy would be for US and us alone. It would be a tragedy for humans. It would not be a tragedy for anyone or anything else. For most things, it wouldn't be noticed. For some things, it would be a boon - opening up new niches for life to spread into. Things would replace all the megafauna we've hunted to extinction. To an outside observer, the earth might even look nicer - with a more diverse ecosystem. Unless the outside observer is a car nut.

to coldly go where no one has won before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201511)

as James T. Lurk said- it's the hot, sexy aliens, dude. Get into it! http://www.crack-in-toe-a-leased-of-java.com/ [crack-in-t...f-java.com]

Marveling at a sunset? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201415)

Get back to work, you lazy ass. This is precisely why we humans will never amount to a thing!

ascend (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201481)

i think we'll ascend like daniel jackson annyways :)

Walk or Die! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201495)

At the rate things are going, if we stick around for long enough we'll have generated so many mountains of shit we'll be able to walk into space. Self-healing problem, or something.

Zen (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201499)

If noone is around to remember or rediscover us, will we or our art still have existed?

-tusse

How anthrocentric (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20201519)

Without us, there is no one to witness its infinite beauty; no one to marvel at a sunset, revel in a view, or thrill to the breaking of a wave on a beach.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Maybe "We know of no one to witness"... would have been more accurate.
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