Existential risk

I’ve been reading about existential risk lately. This article is not immediately relevant to Mars or our future there. But it also kinda is.

The Tanis fossil site, in North Dakota, appears to be showing us creatures directly killed by the Chicxulub asteroid impact. The picture of that leg is reminder that “geologic time” includes now, just as it did for these organisms on a day that changed the world, 66 million years ago.

From the article:
“We’ve got so many details with this site that tell us what happened moment by moment, it’s almost like watching it play out in the movies. You look at the rock column, you look at the fossils there, and it brings you back to that day,” says Robert DePalma, the University of Manchester, UK, graduate student who leads the Tanis dig.

Mars optimism

A succinct and optimistic piece from Chris Carberry and Rick Zucker at Explore Mars on why a commitment to putting humans on Mars is a good idea right now.
“After over 18 months of worldwide upheaval and social isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, people crave optimistic, ambitious, affordable and achievable programs that can help us overcome the negativity and division that hinders us.”

William Shatner visits space

I love this reaction (at 2:45:50). I don’t think I’d want a champagne shower and party as I stepped out of that capsule either. Life-changing events require time to process. Thanks, William Shatner, for giving voice to that wonder.

Perseverance on Mars

I took a few minutes last night to stand out in the cold and look up at Mars. That bright orange dot, right there next to the Moon: we built a robot, and we threw it at that dot, and that robot used its own wits to find the perfect landing spot, and now it sits there, ready to look for past life. On that bright orange dot, right there next to the Moon.

image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

There will come a time

“There will come a time,” said Sally, “when things will go wrong.” Her face was serious but kind. “Comms might go down. Your suit might get damaged. Your nose might itch.” Everybody smiled. And then everybody’s nose itched. “Things will go wrong,” Sally repeated, “often many things at once. It’s very easy to lose your cool when they do, and that’s guaranteed to make things worse. But if you keep calm and deal with each problem as it comes, there is always a way to make things better.”

Air: Generation Mars, Book One

Coming in October

 

image: NASA/JPL/MSSS; processing and mosaic: Olivier de Goursac (fr), 2014

How many people?

This is an interesting paper estimating the minimum number of people required for a self-sufficient colony on Mars. Using a mathematical model to estimate work time requirements vs. work time capacity, the researchers come up with a surprisingly low number: 110.

In the forthcoming second book of the Generation Mars series, I peg the colony population at around 5000, so I think I’m good there.

Interview with Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson, commenting on a bunch of stuff.

His comments regarding personal freedom in a Martian colony don’t gel with mine. The social system that I imagine in Generation Mars has a great respect for personal freedom.

However, that is tempered by a level of social responsibility that we would likely find unrecognizable here on Earth.