Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Daniel_Burfoot comments on Open thread, September 11 - September 17, 2017 - Less Wrong Discussion

1 Post author: Thomas 11 September 2017 07:46AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (47)

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 12 September 2017 04:36:08PM 2 points [-]

Why do people see Mars as a better target for human colonization than the Moon? Most comments on lunar colonization seem to refer to two facts:

  1. the Moon has quite low gravity, so it cannot maintain an atmosphere for a long period of time.
  2. the Moon has no magnetic field, so it will not protect us from solar radiation.

In my mind, both of these problems can be solved by a ceiling or dome structure. The ceiling both retains the atmosphere and also blocks harmful radiation. Note that a failure in the ceiling won't be catastrophic: the atmosphere won't drain rapidly, and the amount of radiation exposure per unit time isn't disastrously high even without the ceiling.

Comment author: CellBioGuy 12 September 2017 05:49:37PM *  5 points [-]

People usually point to there actually being hydrogen and carbon accessible on the surface of Mars, in the form of widespread permafrost/humidity and the CO2 atmosphere, whereas the only biomass/fuel precursor element that exists in large quantities on the moon is oxygen (in the rock, along with various metals and ions, just like rock on Earth, requiring interesing chemistry and/or molten rock electrolysis to get it out). Not much in the way of precursors to organic material on the moon.

Personally I think both places are kind of absolute shit-holes for canned monkeys. Both are science bonanzas, the moon for information on the proto-Earth, and Mars for looking at a body which has had much less geological recycling since Hadean times and an ancient second hydrosphere and for all we know biosphere.

Comment author: morganism 14 September 2017 08:29:43PM 1 point [-]

There seems to be plenty of chem fuel for local area transport on Luna. There are literally tons all around. You can use the aluminum, and the oxy in the soils. If you sift the regolith with a regular magnet, and pull out the micro iron, you can blend the aluminum with water ice, (that is formed in micro-cracks in the dust) and make perfectly fine solid rocket boosters. The iron can 3D nozzles, and thermite igniters.

As to the carbon, there should be plenty there, along with nitrogen, in most of the crater walls, a couple meters down. The moon has been collecting comets and asteroids for billions of years. Since almost every asteroid (and comet) we have seen is covered with hydrocarbons, phenols, thiols and PAHs.

Organics Preserved in Ancient Meteorite-Formed Glass

ORGANIC ANALYSIS IN MILLER RANGE 090657 AND BUCKLEY ISLAND 10933 CR2 CHONDRITES: PART 1 IN-SITU OBSERVATION OF CARBONACEOUS MATERIAL T. Cao1

Comment author: turchin 12 September 2017 07:36:55PM *  1 point [-]

There is water on Moon's permanently shadowed craters on poles. But carbon is still is the problem. Anyway, Moon could be good for not self-sustained colony.

There is also opened lava tubes on Moon surface, which could be entrances to the large caves, and could provide protection against radiation.

Comment author: turchin 13 September 2017 08:14:21AM 3 points [-]

I uploaded new presentation based on our article (with Brian Green) in Futures about global risk survival using already existing nuclear-powered submarines. They are robust military grade survivors and could be converted into refuges with low costs. https://www.slideshare.net/avturchin/nuclear-submarines-as-global-risk-shelters

Nuclear subs could provide the same level of protection as Moon or Mars colonies for most of the catastrophes where life on Earth survives - for the fraction of cost, starting from 1 mln usd, compared with trillions for Mars colony.

Comment author: morganism 14 September 2017 07:20:52PM 2 points [-]

Was talking to these folks back before the Seasteading site and community was taken private. He has some solid ideas, but everyone likes floating cities, even with their weaknesses.

http://concretesubmarine.activeboard.com/f544145/concrete-submarine-project/

http://imulead.com/tolimared/concretesubmarine/anuncios/af/

Comment author: turchin 14 September 2017 07:28:10PM 0 points [-]

Thanks, interesting!

Comment author: Thomas 12 September 2017 05:20:55PM 3 points [-]

Can't use the Moon. It's already booked and reserved for a computronium.

Comment author: turchin 13 September 2017 08:21:51AM 1 point [-]

The great thing about Moon colony is that it ruins could survive a billion years, and will be found by the next civilization on Earth if it appears. They will found our DNA and data and return humanity to life. There are also ways to attract the attention of the next civilization to the place of our former colony.

On Mars a colony remains can't survive for so long, as Fobos will collide with Mars in 50 million years and weathering is also stronger.

The self-sustained colony on Mars probably is not possible without self-replicating robotics. If such robotics will be created it would create new space risks and new opportunities for colonization and interstellar travel. This would make Mars colony less relevant for survival.

Comment author: WalterL 13 September 2017 12:48:05PM 1 point [-]

Certainly, self replicating robots will affect our survival. I'm not sure it will go in the way we want though.

Comment author: turchin 13 September 2017 06:04:38PM 1 point [-]

It looks like that there is very thin time frame after we can build a self-sustainable base on Mars, but before the arrival of the self-replicating robots. I estimate it may be in 5-10 years.

Comment author: Dagon 12 September 2017 11:03:34PM 1 point [-]

I think there's a ton of overlap in the problems faced for colonizing anywhere off-planet. So I strongly expect that colonizing either implies colonizing the pretty quickly (half a century or less).

IMO, for pre-colony habitation (not self-sufficient, not going for exponential growth) the Moon is so much closer that it's almost guaranteed to be the starter and test location, with Mars and then maybe Jovian moons trailing by a few dozen years. At that point, it may turn out that one of the other places has enough more starter atmosphere and ready raw materials than the moon, and it's better to transition base->colony somewhere other than Earth's moon.

Or maybe we'll collapse under the singularity or decide to fill the oceans with people before we deal with space.

Comment author: Thomas 12 September 2017 07:14:18PM 1 point [-]

There is a mountain on the Moon's south pole, where the Sun is always shining. Except when it's covered by Earth, which is rare and not for a long time. A great place for a palace of the Solar System's Emperor.

Comment author: morganism 14 September 2017 07:15:46PM 0 points [-]

Mars has pretty low gravity too, maybe Luna has enough to protect health. Mars atmo at .05 of Earth.

Mars has pretty much no magnetic field also, just a few (unexplained) loops that look like solar prominences.

Luna much easier to supply.