Reality Check - Civilization: Beyond Earth - Could We Colonize Other Planets?
Cam launches into space to investigate the science of colonizing other worlds. Thankfully, he's got a helping hand from Lewis Dartnell, an expert on how to rebuild civilizations.
by Sarah Lynch on
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Flex those mental muscles and join Cam Robinson on a journey of discovery in Reality Check, the show that investigates the science behind your favourite games, and spawns a few wild theories of its own.
Schedule: Thursdays at 12pm PT
Host: Cameron Robinson
Hell no! I would not be interested in leaving my couch let alone the Earth. Okay, maybe down tot the beach but NO further.
Sounds good and all, but how can we even begin to colonize and make another world habitable when we're doing the exact opposite here on Earth? We need to learn how to take care and harness the resources properly on our own world first before we can even think of doing it with another.
Love this show! I got Civ 3 out of a cereal box, and learned so much from playing it haha. Mars One is also a really exciting project, despite it's limitations.
We have all our eggs in one basket and we need to diversify our address. It's hard to tell at this point how common an earth-like planet is but I bet it's fairly rare (1 in a 1000?) . The nearest system to our own is Alpha Centauri. the light cast from it's largest star is 4.367 years old by the time it contacts earth.
To give you an idea of how far that is imagine our sun is an orange basketball. Now place a small marble 15 feet away to represent earth. The Alpha Centauri system is 200 miles away using this scale reference. That's a long trip.
So terraforming close to home makes much more sense to start. We could do it remotely from earth over hundreds of years. One choice is Mars but in my opinion the better one would be Venus. Venus is the same size as Earth so gravity would be the same. Sunlight and atmosphere are more intense than Earth and I see the problem of reducing something as easier than making something from nothing. How would you "pump up" an atmosphere that doesn't exist?
Venus otoh is mostly carbon dioxide. If we could bombard Venus with hydrogen (big if) the atmosphere would convert to nitrogen, oxygen and water much like earth. Because of the lack of continents 80% of the surface would be submerged with only 1/10th the water. Atmospheric temperature and pressure would subside to earth levels also.
The other big problem with Venus is there is no magnetic field and the Venusian day is 116 earth days. It's thought these two are related. If we could "spin up" Venus the molten core would once again induce a magnetic field to protect the new atmosphere from solar winds blowing away the hydrogen again. Also, those first colonists wouldn't have to sleep during the day.
Let's get started!
I would fully be interested in going with the Mars One journey. I would have applied on the website, but ya.. haha I've got nothing to offer, so I didn't bother. :P Still though, very very intriguing and exciting stuff. Even if it'd be extremely dangerous, it'd be worth it.
This reminded me af a movie clip I saw yesterday. A friend of mine posted a video of the first ever man with a bionic limb. I was stoked! The video showed a man at some sort of TED-convention talking about prosthetics and casually strolling about on the scene wearing two awesome-looking bionic legs. So the legs looked really awesome, but... they kind of were way below my expectations. I guess they were advanced beyond question, and a superhuge step forward when it comes to prosthetics... but I imagined this dude doing super-sommersaults, wall-running, showing off his new super speed when running, and generally impressing the hell out of everybody.
I guess this shows how close we are to unifying man and machine, which is both scary and awesome.
I loved the episode, but I am a little concerned that we are actively looking for new planets to conquer while we are destroying this one. I think we should focus on living in a sustainable way in harmony with this planet before we decide to go and mess up another one.
That was a cool episode. I like this new thing of having guest speakers on the show. It's not that I don't believe anything Cam says, it just breaks things up a little.
I get the feeling that nearly every technology needed to traverse the stars is at least feasible, it's just that damned faster-than-light travel method that's really holding us back. Crack that and we'll have it made in the shade.
Mars One is an interesting notion. The opportunity to live on another world is tempting, but I honestly couldn't think of another commitment that carries so much weight.
I was going to bring up Mars One if you didn't. I also remember that in the film, 'Red Planet', humans try to terraform mars by first sending probes with genetically altered moss/fungus/lycan type stuff aboard them. Them ission didn't go so well, but I thought it was a clever idea.
The thing about colonising mars and establishing a base is that you can use it as the start point for further missions into deeper space. Stage one would be mars, then what about stage two? It could be Triton or Europa -Io is much too... volatile... What about that? An observatory on Sedna? The views from out their with almost zero light interference would be cracking!
I actually applied to Mars One. It is my dream to live on another planet and a one way trip sounded very appealing to me. To apply you need to make a video of yourself in 10 mins talking about how you would love to be on this mission. They are working to make this happen. I think it will. Sooner than 2023 maybe 2020. :)
You made at least one error in this episod. When you spoke about humans having no antibodies against alien bacteria, you actually had that slightly backwards. The general consensus is that, bacteria rarely jumps species, so odds are that any bacteria you encountered would not survive a human host. It's not impossible, but it would not be a high risk either.
There are other considerations as well, if you wanted to create a permanent self-sustaining colony. Genetic diversity is one thing that most people do not consider. Also, remember the end of the movie "Doctor Strangelove", where the titular character is talking about the necessary ratio of males to females. You'll actually need to have many more women than men and optimally you'd want to have non-monogamous family structures for breeding (if you have to limit the number of people in your early struggling society, that's the optimal way to do it -- I think in "Doctor Strangelove", it was stated that something like 10 women for every man, though I'm not sure if that's the actual optimal ratio or not). BTW, it was meant to be funny in the movie, but I remember discussing it in a film class, and the point was that reality was not very far away from this.
Remember, you are going to want to travel as light as possible, and there will NOT be time to terraform a new planet in the disaster as described in the video. If you had terraforming technology and the time, the optimal solution, after all, would be to reterraform Earth, and not a new plahnet, which would be MUCH more resource-intensive.
I would be game for exploring the stars on a multi-year mission on a very large cruise-like spaceship, but that technology does not exist yet, so I'll be working down on the ground until then. That being said, I definitely want to be part of a civilian or federal space program and do my part to advance the tech.
Dr. Hugh Ross has written about colonizing other planets as apart of his book like, "Why The Universe Is The Way It Is" and others.
First, it's not enough to have an earth-like planet. You need the solar system and the star to go with it that will support and protect life on that earth-like planet from asteroids, lethal doses of gamma rays, ect. The orbit has to be very earth-like so things don't get too hot when the planet is closest to its star and too faraway so it get too cold while it's at it furthest. The star has to be stable, ect.
Your space ship probably wouldn't survive the trip through space to get to that earth-like planet when traveling at a super high speed. The occupants in that space ship would probably turn on each other too being confined in close quarters for such a long trip.
I'd rather stay behind on Earth and die than try and manage the day-to-day tedium and survivability of sailing slowly across the void for dozens of generations, hoping for something interesting to appear on the horizon... I expect a lot of cabin fever and mental illness in general in that poor group of people... and I have doubts of their ability to recreate a decent society upon their arrival to a new world.
Something much, much closer, like Mars sounds a lot more plausible to me. No matter what age of technology you think of I have serious doubts of "long distance" travelling for humans.
great episode Cam!! Genuinely my favorite episode by far.
If I were to be going with the group on Mars One, I'd at least leave behind the wife (not married yet) pregnant, to at least pass on my genes since I wouldn't be returning XD
I'd be game for the long haul across our solar system and beyond but would need tons of PC games on my laptop to pass the time.
It's strange people freak out about alien microbes. We might not be adapted to fight them off, but neither will they be adapted to live in us. There are plenty of microbes on Earth that get wrecked when they accidentally try, due to the unsuitable chemical environment or because of pre-existing microbes that block them out.
When I was younger I would've said yes to go to Mars but now forget it. It would almost be like camping. Roughing it, living off the resources around you, and no modern appliances (amenities). And no multiplayer gaming.
Forget that. I'm too comfortable now to do that. LOL
Can you actually be called an expert on something if you've never done it? Pretty sure that guy has never actually rebuilt a civilisation, unless there's something unspeakable going on in the cellar of his house right now.
The only hope would be to colonize Mars or one of Jupiter's or Saturn's moons by changing their atmospheres with Science technology. Mars has no magnetic field to hold an atmosphere. moons around Jupiter & Saturn are far away from the sun and their atmospheres would need to be more drastically changed. The sun would have to grow larger towards Super Nova in order for enough heat from the Sun to reach out to Jupiter & Saturn. Bio domes would have to be built on Mars to start the process and Scientists would begin changing Mar's atmosphere from there.
I initially applied for Mars One. Then I saw video applications from other applicants and I was all like "No, no, no, no...."
Errrrr wait a sec how can we make the air breathable on mars? As earth has a hot liquid metal core it generates a lovely protective energy field that stop the solar wind stripping our atmosphere to ohhh maybe current Martian levels. As the Mars core is now solid anything we did to increase the density of the atmosphere would be stripped away by the solar wind before it would be relevant or sustainable.
Before they look at going anywhere, they should look at building a moon base of some sort so we could at least try to construct a ship or ships that are large enough to carry people between our systems planets.
We should get the north Koreans to help us get to mars, they have already been to the sun and back within 24 hours!
If there's technology that even approaches what would be needed to terraform Mars, shouldn't it should be used here to help fix climate change? Or are we looking at Mars as a test bed for that technology should it go horribly wrong?
That`s a good question to be studied. It is not possible now, but who knows in a near future. But none of us will be alive until there.I think I`d like to be a volunteer for mars one.
I think that the firsts big human space colonies will be mining colonies. The location of rare and precious materials with large deposits in others worlds or in space will start a large scale colonization of the universe.
@JethroThePoet Mine too! Some history says he was actually not that peaceful or likable... but either Fraxis or the Ghost in the Machine sure made him a serious pain in my nether regions.
@imjust1n Is that seriously all you have to do?
@GrahamZ Actually there are a lot of disadvantageous effects from travelling close to light speed, especially time dilation. While the travellers will be able to find other star systems and worlds to colonise in years, decades or even centuries would pass on Earth. That means any communication or future colonisation would be impractical.
Instead we should be aiming for further-than-light travel, be it through wormholes or spatial manipulation.
@SaintsRowLA "Your space ship probably wouldn't survive the trip through space to get to that earth-like planet when traveling at a super high speed. The occupants in that space ship would probably turn on each other too being confined in close quarters for such a long trip."
very true, the untold psychological impact of being in a confined area for long periods of times is an immensely huge factor, kinda a bit like the film Pandorum but without the strangely mutated people & instead its just normal people that have been driven to the brink of insanity.
@charlesgrey999 Solar winds arn't actual winds -they're blasts of energy. Put an atmosphere on Mars and it will stay put, it's gravity that holds our air in place. What will happen is that you'll end up resembling one of those spare-rib done-in-90-second burger thingies.
@charlesgrey999 I was thinking the same thing. They'd have to invent a way to create it faster than it is being stripped off. The process of blowing away the atmosphere is however probably quite slow.
@charlesgrey999 I think turning mars' core molten is less of a problem then finding all that air.
Correct. Bio domes to start & Science technology would have to advance to find a way to deal with that.
Dude aliens left a device that will melt the core, the issue is can our ex californian governor stay alive long enough to activate it. Cause we all know Irish Douglas quaid isn't going to do it.
@Bobdog52 That'll probably take them a century or so at the rate space exploration is really going.
@Gelugon_baat Yep - they are all screen shots.
@snailz different story. they need to make mars hotter, earth colder.
@AlexNSN ok now just think about that for a minute. how much do you think it will cost to get to another planet and back again now how much would it cost to bring back whatever it is that they mine and then how would people afford what ever they make with this really expensive stuff
@pongley @GrahamZI was never talking about ftl or sub-ftl travel or any kind of travel specifically. I was merely commenting on the expense of travel and the amount of time and expense involved in terraforming anything not in your immediate galactic neighborhood. Here are some issues though that most science fiction does not address (or address with a lot of hand-waving and technical mumbo-umbo)
1. If you are talking about travel within the confines of known or near-future science, then you are limited to either generation ships or ships with slow, but steady acceleration towards the speed of light. Either way, you are talking about something that is beyond any undertaking that mankind has ever done, with regards to expense and resources. Plus, you have to take into account that you'd have to depend on old data as far as where to head to find a theoretically terraformable (or even habitable) planet, unless you get REALLY lucky, and you find one within a few dozen light years. Whatever vehicle you built, would not only have to carry hundreds of human beings plus resources to keep them alive for the journey (some kind of hibernation could help, but that's also really beyond known science at this point). But you'd also have to carry everything that the new human race needs to get a foothold and boostrap itself into a self-sustaining colony, not knowing what the nature of the conditions at the destination will be. The scale of such an undertaking implies a WHOLE lot of planning, and not something you would expect to accomplish with very little warning. Assuming that the engineering piece is even practical (something that science fiction always likes to forget about), this is not something you are going to build with little to no notice. Which alone, makes it even more unlikely. And remember -- all the resources that are being diverted into such a huge project, are resources that are not being used to keep the current at-risk population alive. You think that the backlash about preparing for global climate change is bad, think again. This would likely be much worse.
2. Even if wormhole travel were possible (I'm not saying it's not, but we are way beyond known physics at this point), You either have to create a wormhole, or travel to a wormhole, and you have to have the technology, energy, etc. to both build and traverse said wormhole. My guess is that if it were easy to do, someone would have done it by now. So there's no indication that this is any easier or more practical than sub-lightspeed travel. It's a nice trick in science fiction for when you want to tell a story involving galactic empires on a large scale, because it enables you to tell such grand tales. But that doesn't mean that it's actually possible (or practical).
@GrahamZ Your first point is spot on though, plus they'd likely be on a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics for the landing.
@sadface1234 You forgot the part where SPOILER ALERT it was all just in his head :)
I suppose that Sid Meier and company never did make claims of authenticity about their games. :P