The Window For Consciousness To Survive
I think we need to learn to be good Earth residents. Taking our current “civilization” to the planets and stars is probably a bad idea. On the other hand, since we-all at peak-prosperity like to try and delve into the truth, a little scientific understanding of our chances in space may be in order.
Humans have yet to leave the Earth’s magnetosphere. The moon trips where always timed so that the Moon was in the magnetic shadow of the Earth. (Happens to be when the visible side is lit by the sun too.) Space is not entirely a void. The planetary probes have measured that interplanetary space is filled with lots of hard radiation. The Earth shields us from most of it. Chemical rockets just can’t carry enough fuel to go truly fast. NASA figures it will take astronauts 6 months to a year to navigate to Mars. By their own estimates, a Mars mission is a suicide one, where returning astronauts will likely all get cancer, if they don’t die on the way.
There was a solution to this way back in the 1960’s. As detailed in George Dyson’s true account, Project Orion was to build an atomic spaceship. Nuclear fission releases 500 times the energy per pound of the best chemical rockets. They planed to drop mini nuclear bombs under a big shock absorber to push the ship along. Sounds nuts, but they had a working scale test rocket. The physics and math all work out. Their ship, made of steel, would be as large and heavy as a naval destroyer. It would protect a crew of 15 from radiation, both from space and the bombs, with a water jacketed crew compartment. It would be so powerful, that a trip to Jupiter would only take 3 weeks, (practically a straight line flight), land upright on a moon, support them with supplies and equipment for exploring for 6 months, and return to Earth upright like the “Starship”, and be reusable.
Fear of nasty nukes and the atmospheric test ban treaty nixed the whole thing. (I have to wonder if that Russian explosion might be their revisiting this idea. The treaties have been given up by Trump) Would such a vehicle get us to the stars too. Not likely. 3 weeks to Jupiter is still a hundred years to the nearest star. You could not carry enough spare parts.
Look, our predicaments as discussed so often at peakprosperity.com are not actually technological problems, they are culturally driven choices. Environmental degradation, exploitation and prolific fossil fuel use is driven by our current cultural paradigms. If we want different choices to choose from, we will need to abandon the old culture and replace it with a better one. Then maybe a more responsible consciousness would be worthy of going to the stars.
We just learned how to fly 115 years ago, and we landed on the moon 65 years later. A few hundred million years should be more than enough time to get us off the planet before the oceans boil off.
The time that’s running out is the time of relative calm, social stability, and excess energy that allows people like Elon to build rockets rather than just grow food. Stability and excess energy allow technological progress to move forward.
Without it, we move backwards (as we probably have in the past).
The positive view: If we can keep the wheels on for another 30 years, it will be like the renaissance times 100 in terms of progress. We have a few billion inspired kids, walking around with super computers, modular code, a culture of sharing, and limitless communication.
The negative: Limitless communication is fire to the gasoline of human ego. Tribal, delusional, banter looks like it will distract us from what really matters, and we will fail to emerge from the chrysalis of Earth.
I think there have been many civilizations in the past. Perhaps too many to count. They have time constraints, and inner struggles on their path to maturity. Not all of them make it. In fact most probably don’t
Do we humans matter . . . certainly our egos would like to think so . . . and does consciousness matter? Do we even really know what it is?
I have two opposing ideas . . . 1. That the world & everything in it is “perfect” by design or “accident”! It is evolving exactly as it should, by cosmic design!
2. That we are “floating on a barren rock in space” & not even “GOD” – if there is a God, cares. We are just an accident, an aberration of life! And just like yeast in a petri dish, we will consume/polute/multiply until we die off.
These existential questions have haunted us through time – just as the title of one of Viktor Frankl books suggests:- “Mans search for meaning” . .
- This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by Zerosum.
“That we are “floating on a barren rock in space” & not even “GOD” – if there is a God, cares. We are just an accident, an aberration of life! And just like yeast in a petri dish, we will consume/polute/multiply until we die off”
ZeroSum – No2 gets my vote. You could argue that believing that a Creator has a plan for you is one of the most narcissistic things we could believe. Imagine an entire universe was created and you brought into it because we are so precious and special. I’m with Tyler Durden on this.
That said, it doesn’t mean I can’t and don’t appreciate the fantastically ridiculous odds that we exist and can experience our own and shared collective consciousness.
The other comments on just growing good/farming vs space travel reminded me I need to rewatch Interstellar.
- This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by New_Life.
We are supposed to take a Paypal bureaucrat’s vision of space travel seriously? It sounds like he has watched too many Star Wars movies. I have seen way too many bureaucrats in the aerospace industry to take him seriously. To begin with, lets see him make the Tesla 100% reliable and self propelled for several years. If he wants a space travel challenge maybe he could take on this DOD project (a neocon wet dream) that was recently cancelled after 20 years of development: https://www.raytheon.com/capabilities/products/ekv
If he thinks living on Mars is self sustainable lets see him make the Biosphere 2 project actually work for a decade. Better yet, lets see him make it work on the south pole. The conditions there are much better than Mars.
This also reminds me of that famous photo of the last helicopter leaving Vietnam. Dozens of people are fighting to get on. If life on earth becomes so uninhabitable, would we see a scene like that multiplied by a billion? Maybe the 0.01% who are building all of those New Zealand bunkers are also building launch pads. I think their bodyguards would make them go to the back of the line, to put it mildly.
As far as consciousness goes, I don’t spend too much time on it. I think that whatever it really is, it’s far beyond our comprehension. I don’t spend too much time on religion either. If the atheists are wrong I’ll find out about spirituality soon enough. If they are right I will never know it since I will no longer exist. Who knows? Maybe I’m a god and this is one crazy dream. Alternatively, if reincarnation is real, I hope I don’t come back as a dung beetle. 🙂
Can’t resist contributing this.
“If God does not exist, then everything is permissible.” — The Brothers Karamazov
Depends what we mean by “God” of course. But regardless of the definition, it all comes back to this: we all accept certain behaviours and not others.
In the absence of any sort of deity, and if this universe is all that has existed, does exist, and will exist (Carl Sagan), then life is a big So What? We can define standards of morality, ethics and behaviour for ourselves all we like, but still, there’s no point to it, no rewards, no punishments, no telos.
Convince me of that and logically I should abandon Peak Prosperity and every other cause and purpose except my own comfort and self-gratification. It’d make life simpler and perhaps easier, until of course the substances hit the fan.
Thanks for the reference to Jordan Hall. It made me think.
The concept of Blue Church (which I think others have brought up here before, dimly remembered) is really apt.
Things feel more complex than simply Blue Church running the place, but certainly the nexus of top-down control-via-broadcast-media with the emphasis on SJW winning the culture wars by 1990, using labels of “racist” etc as a means of keeping people from straying from the narrative. That nexus being used to keep everyone rowing in the same direction does feel completely accurate.
How that meshes with the eternal war gang in Washington – perhaps Blue Church is just the current flavor of the standard top-down axis of control – the tool at hand that the eternal war gang use to get their way. Maybe in the old days it was the Catholic Church. Now its the Blue Church. Same shit, different day.
And there’s the sickcare cartel, and the banking cartel, and that 21 trillion in missing money…and they all make use of the Blue Church as their allies/vehicle in controlling the narrative and in striking down threats to their harvesting machinery.
Anyhow. Blue Church is a neat concept, and using that lens, we can really see just how horrified all the veteran Blue Church members (and funders) are of Trump and everything he does, and stands for. The go-to control axis is under threat. According to Jordan Hall, under mortal threat, and its days of supremacy are numbered. And maybe even past.
Musk has already accomplished a lot with SpaceX in a short time, so while I don’t think its long-term success is a sure thing I wouldn’t bet against him either. I worked in the aerospace & related DoD fields for over a decade, and the way he’s pushing things at SpaceX bears little resemblance to the insanely bureaucratic-heavy, mediocre performance, cost-plus projects that I’ve seen. Musk by all appearances is trying to make innovation a high priority, whereas the established players emphasize profit and maintaining a monopoly over innovation (which is a big reason why I don’t do that work anymore). I’m more than willing to let Musk use his own time & money to see what he can do with expanding space exploration. It’s certainly better used there than creating another hedge fund, or whatever the US gov’t would spend on (bombs, the “wall”, surveillance state, etc.)
BTW the cancelled link you gave is to Raytheon’s EKV, which is still in use in the GMD system (sadly). Did you mean the redesigned EKV? Though I will be the first to say that the GMD system represents many of the worst qualities in American aerospace/DoD contracts… in how it’s managed, how it was sold to the taxpayer (a solution looking for a problem), and how much it over-promised & under-delivered.
Czeslaw Milosz summarizes the dialectic with a beautiful axiom on public intoxication.
Religion, opium for the people. To those suffering pain, humiliation, illness, and serfdom, it promised a reward in an afterlife. And now we are witnessing a transformation. A true opium for the people is a belief in nothingness after death—the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders we are not going to be judged.
- This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by robie robinson.