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Elon Musk

Discussion in 'Tesla, Inc.' started by graham, Nov 5, 2008.

  1. Sleipnir

    Sleipnir Member

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    Sending people to he moon is a total waste of time and money. Frankly I have the same opinion of sending them to Mars. Learning more about planets etc through robotics/probes/telescopes is way more efficient from both a cost and performance perspective. I admire Elon for his efforts to leave the carbon based energy economy but these 'humans in space' projects are just vanity projects for billionaires.
     
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  2. Nevek

    Nevek Overt Member

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    Whoohoo! This should provide some New Years Eve entertainment as the rebuttals start coming in!:)
     
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  3. mongo

    mongo Well-Known Member

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    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I do not understand the basis of yours. How is learning about planets we will never go to not also a waste of time and money? That would be like doing a land survey, test well, and perc test for land in a country you'll never visit for a house you'll never build.
    Or are you saying remote observation is less of a waste, but a waste all the same?
    The goal is not learning about Mars, it is about living there long term.
     
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  4. AZ Desert Driver

    AZ Desert Driver Rare combination

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    I recall an old barb that went like=> USA and Russia had a two team race, the US came in first. Russia reported that they came in second, but the US came in second from last.

    I'm not sure what coming in 11th from last means.
     
  5. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

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    And....mine was in homage to that old chestnut.


    Which apparently some knew not.
     
  6. wdolson

    wdolson Supporting Member

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    Elon has talked about establishing humanity on another planet as an insurance policy. There are several scenarios where human civilization could be wiped out on Earth and some where humanity could be wiped out entirely. Most people have heard the asteroid theory that wiped out the dinosaurs, but there are other scenarios too.

    The development of a hot spot volcano can skew the climate quite a bit.

    Hawaii is a very old hot spot volcano on the floor of the Pacific. There hot spots don't move with respect to the core of the Earth, but the continental plates move and the hot spot will seem to move with respect to surface landmarks. The entire Hawaiian chain are old volcanoes that moved away from the hotspot over time. There is a new island forming now SE of the big island of Hawaii and the volcanoes on the big island are in the process of shutting down. These ancient volcanoes continue up the Pacific and finally disappear into the subduction zone under the Aleutians. That hot spot has been forming islands for at least 100 million years.

    Hot spots that are primarily under water aren't that bad for the environment, but one of these formed in SE Oregon about 14 million years ago. Some Geologists think it may have been caused by a meteor smaller than the one the killed the dinosaurs, but still big enough to punch through the crust. This volcano spewed lava as well as large amounts of CO2 almost constantly for a few million years. All of eastern Oregon and a large part of eastern Washington state are a couple thousand feet thick layers of this lava. The hot spot moved eastward (because North America moved westward) and is now Yellowstone.

    When the hot spot was active in Oregon, the entire planet's climate became much warmer and much wetter.

    Yellowstone doesn't erupt constantly because it's under the granite of the Rockies. That acts as a cap and prevent the wound in the Earth's crust from constantly oozing. Instead, the lava will sit there warming the granite until the granite gets weak enough to fracture. When that happens, everything is released at once in a massive explosion thousands of times bigger than Mt St Helens.

    The last time Yellowstone erupted was before humanids had evolved anywhere near what we have today. It was 600,000 years ago. Recent in Geologic time, but a very long time in human civilization. Rocks from that explosion have been found on the Mexican border. It was a really big boom.

    The Geologic record does show what happens to humans when a super volcano like Yellowstone erupts. There is another super volcano on Sumatra in Indonesia. It's a lake today but it erupted 40,000 years ago when modern humans were pretty much in their current form. The eruption was big enough to basically cause a nuclear winter around the world. It's estimated the human population went down to about 6000 worldwide.

    Because of this, the human race has a lot less genetic diversity than many animals. Genetic testing on a group of bonobos in Africa found that one band of bonobos had more genetic diversity than the entire human race. We have our differences in appearances because inbreeding brought out recessive traits like blond hair, blue eyes, straight hair, lighter skin, the epicanthic fold on the eye (east Asia), etc. Bones have been found in India from this time showing signs of severe famine.

    Hot spot volcanoes can be even worse than the one in Oregon. About 500 million years ago one formed in what is now Siberia. It is the most active hot spot in the Geologic record. It put so much CO2 and SO2 into the air, it came very close to killing all life on Earth. When drilling for oil, Geologists look for basins laid down at the end of the Permian because life was so utterly wiped out the normal bacteria that caused dead animals to decay died and instead of decomposing, a lot of animals, especially small sea creatures were turned into oil when the sea floor was buried and went through Geologic processes over millions of years.

    Some life survived, and it came back, but the most advanced creatures when that happened are only known through their fossils.

    Elon knows there are risks to human survival and even more to human civilization and he wants to ensure humanity has a back up plan in case the worst happens. There are fewer scenarios that would kill life on both Earth and Mars (though a wave from a super nova coming through the solar system would not be good, it's now thought a super nova about 2 million years ago is the reason we're in an ice age today, our solar system is in a cloud from a super nova which was found by Voyager when it left the solar system).

    Another factor is the human race is large enough it's stripping it's resources. Some are only found on this world like food and oil, but metals and minerals are in abundance in the asteroid belt and once we develop the technologies to mine them, it will be relatively cheap to mine them. Mining ships would boost out to the asteroid belt empty, or just with provisions for the miners, then come back mostly riding on the pull of the Sun's gravity fully loaded (though in an orbit, flying directly into the sun is actually a fairly tough problem).

    We will need places with gravity, but lower gravity than Earth for miners to recover from time in zero g as well as a place for women to have children (experiments have shown carrying children in zero g probably wouldn't be good for the fetus, and high blood pressure is already a problem in zero g which would be even worse with pregnancy). A place with gravity, but less of it than Earth would make getting miners back and forth a lot cheaper. Earth is a very expensive planet to escape. The Moon is fairly easy and while Mars has a stronger gravitational field than the Moon, it's a lot less than Earth. Mars is also a place with an atmosphere and could be terraformed into an Earth-like place, tough it would take many, many generations.

    Mars also has the advantage of being the closest planet to the asteroid belt. Boosting from Mars to the asteroid belt would be a lot cheaper than boosting from Earth.

    Economically colonizing Mars will ultimately help Earth by providing metals and minerals that are getting harder to find.

    A TV show that illustrates this possibility is the Expanse. There is a lot of political intrigue that may never come to pass, but the realities of the Belters, Martians, and Earthers is probably a pretty accurate picture of what the solar system's civilization could become.

    Another add on to all this is historically humans become most creative when they are exploring. Solving problems for exploration has add on affects for everyone. A number of advancements in medicine in the late 20th century came about because of the problems faced monitoring astronaut's health remotely. It started a revolution in medical instrumentation that's still going on.

    To solve problems that would be faced in space we also developed things like teflon and velcro. The needs to pack as much electronics as possible into the smallest possible package led to development of integrated circuits and the technological explosion from there. This forum may not exist if it wasn't for the space program of the 60s.

    Just to get the first colonists to Mars will require a number of innovations in keeping people alive in space for the many months necessary to get there. Once there they need to start over again from scratch on a new world. A lot of technologies will need to be developed to allow them to establish a beachhead and then a self sustaining colony. We have no idea what the follow on affects of those technologies will be, but if history is any lesson, they will probably be good for everyone. We could see medical advancements, advancements in technologies that will help humanity here on Earth recover from natural disasters quicker and keep people alive longer when cut off after one, we could see more efficient living spaces developed, and who knows what else?

    Just to go to the Moon and plant a flag does develop new technologies on Earth, but due to lack of imagination we didn't build on it the first time. If we go back to colonize, we need to develop quite a few new technologies and it is a stepping stone to bigger things.

    In short, I think it is a good idea to colonize Mars. It's expensive to do, but the potential upsides are staggering to contemplate.
     
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  7. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Well-Known Member

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    Among other things, thanks for the pointer to The Expanse. Looks like a good series. I’m downloading season one now.
     
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  8. AZ Desert Driver

    AZ Desert Driver Rare combination

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    Wow - what a wonderful summary of geology and human existence. Boiled down to a couple of dozen paragraphs. Good job.

    Now - if Man is such a fragile creature, and has this suicidal tendency to pollute, over consume, over populate -- then perhaps we don't deserve the right to contaminate other places and should go extinct. Perhaps the struggle to colonize Mars is just the throes that most things go through during that last desperate quest. Fatalistic? On New Years?
     
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  9. MikeQ

    MikeQ Member

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    When taking on a difficult journey, we learn things, develop new technologies and push the boundaries of what we humans thought was possible. These discoveries are always more important than the destination of our journey.
     
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  10. wdolson

    wdolson Supporting Member

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    All life will over consume if allowed to. One of the reasons deer hunting is allowed is to prevent over population, which leads to over grazing, and then a population collapse. We have thinned the natural predators so much they have a tendency to over populate unless humans cut down their numbers.

    Bacteria will over populate until it burns through it's food supply too.

    Humans are beginning to get their population act together. Hans Rosling is a world health researcher who has given a number of variations of his talk on population growth. I've seen a couple of them:
    Religions and babies

    He has found that human population is stabilizing all over the world. In every country where child mortality has dropped (including developing countries), the birth rate has dropped to about 2 children per woman's lifetime. However, there is a huge cadre of people under 30 who are maturing and having children, so he estimates world population will stabilize around 10 billion.

    Personally I think 7 billion is above the long term carrying capacity of Earth. Nobody is willing to face the problems because the only solutions that can bring our population down quickly are monstrous. There are some regions where humans haven't populated beyond the local resource base. Overall North America is pretty balanced, though people are too concentrated in some areas. Los Angeles and Phoenix couldn't exist without stripping resources like water from other areas and piping it in. Phoenix was founded where it was because there is an aquifer under the city, but over use of ground water is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Ground water gets exhausted.

    North America and Siberia are pretty much the only places left on Earth where there is any untapped fresh surface water. India and China have been able to feed themselves, but only by drawing on large underground aquifers in the northern parts of both countries. China has been at it longer and they face ground water exhaustion within a few years. India is a few years behind.

    They may be able to replace the water with some desalinization, but then they have to pipe the water inland a long ways. China could also buy surface water from Russia if they would sell it. But again a pipeline would have to be built.

    The Black Death ripped through Europe like it did because Europe was over populated and starving. The Medieval Warming period was warmer than today. England was known for its wine, the Vikings established self supporting colonies on Iceland and Greenland. Existing records show how the colony on Greenland went from a diet based on local agriculture to marine based, to finally starving out as the weather turned cold after the Medieval Warming ended. Greenland got named Greenland because the southern part of the island really was green.

    During this time, crop yields in Europe were fantastic and the population grew to meet the food supply. When the weather returned to something closer to today, people were starving and vulnerable to disease. The plague ripped through this weakened population and killed 1/3 of them.

    Humans are not immune to animal instincts, but modern humans can control their instincts and limit their reproduction. If something does happen that kills a lot of people like plague in Africa and/or Asia and we resist the urge to replace all the lost people, the human race may come out of the crisis with a population the right size to live on this world in balance with the resources. Unlike bacteria, we actually are capable to limiting our population. The developed world reached that point first, but the rest of the world is coming along.

    Unlike the colonists who came to the Americas, the likely colonists of the Moon, Mars, and the asteroid belt would be very well educated at the start and the colonies would probably never accept completely ignorant people. There are too many ways for someone who is clueless to kill themselves and a lot of other people in those environments. It would also be likely those colonies would control their populations from the start too.

    Utilizing resources from off planet, we might be able to support a bit larger population on Earth without over stripping the resources. But I still think the long term carrying capacity of Earth, even with off-world resources is lower than the current population.
     
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  11. S4WRXTTCS

    S4WRXTTCS Active Member

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    I don't think it should be seen as a right, but as an obligation.

    As far as we know Humans are the ONLY highly intelligent species in EXISTENCE. Until it can be proven otherwise we have to do everything we can do to survive.

    Now even if we're not alone we still have to preserve ourselves for various reasons.

    You wouldn't want to deprive an alien of a Donut, or in a worst case scenario the taste of our flesh.
     
  12. AZ Desert Driver

    AZ Desert Driver Rare combination

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    I want to accept your optimism - but after I've seen the dregs of mankind being so unkind - I would argue that the Obligation is to NOT contaminate other worlds. Being intelligent does not make the actions kind or benevolent.

    As to "are we the only intelligent"...perhaps if we look at Dolphins/Porpoises...they sure seem intelligent, playful , productive. They don't seem to be interested in building empires or starting wars. If an alien was to come to earth - would they not start in the water (that's what makes Earth different from rocky planets) and find a peaceful creature. Why even ask that violent land creature to "take me to your leader"?
     
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  13. AZ Desert Driver

    AZ Desert Driver Rare combination

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    Well sir, wdolson, you have demonstrated a knack of capturing very complex issues and distilling into bite sized pieces. As far as I can tell, you tell no lies or exaggerations. Are you a professor? Just well read? Thanks for being here!!
     
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  14. MikeQ

    MikeQ Member

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    Dolphin are one of the few animals that kill for entertainment.
     
  15. GoTslaGo

    GoTslaGo Learning Member

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  16. wdolson

    wdolson Supporting Member

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    Caetations (dolphins and whales) may be quite intelligent, but unlike humans they can't do anything about it. Humans are the only creatures on Earth who use tools to make more complex tools. There are many animals that may make use of a stick or a rock, but they only use 1st order tools.

    Only a few animals have opposable thumbs and the human hand is more flexible than any of the others with thumbs. A chimp has an opposable thumb, but they can't hold a pencil like a human can.

    There were once other species of hominid, but homo sapiens absorbed and essentially wiped out the competition. Neanderthal genetics contribute quite a bit to variation in what people mistakenly call "races". Research on Neanderthal bones and recovered genetic material has found that Neanderthals had equal brain mass as homo sapiens, but it was distributed differently. Homo sapiens have better spacial awareness and can calculate trajectories better (to catch and throw things), but Neanderthals had better vision for close up work and Neanderthal spear points are done with finer precision than homo sapiens ones. Light skin, blue eyes, lighter hair, straight hair, extra body hair, and the epicanthic fold in East Asia are all traits that probably came from Neanderthals. The "pure" homo sapiens are the people whose ancestors never left Africa and the Australian aborigines who were apparently the first homo sapiens to leave Africa.

    Theories abound about why the Neanderthals went extinct, but my personal theory is homo sapiens had longer legs and arms which allowed them to use ranged weapons and made hunting safer. Studies of Neanderthal bones shows most bones, especially males show signs of abuse like you see in rodeo bull riders. They didn't have the arms to throw spears, so they had to get in much closer to kill their prey. Homo sapiens started with spears and over time developed ever better ranged weapons that made hunting a lot less risky. As a result, the homo sapiens caught all the food and the Neanderthals starved.

    I did tutor 4 years in college and did find I was pretty good at explaining things to people, but I have never taught formally. On various forums over the years I've ended up explaining some complex scientific and technical concepts to lay people, so I learned to distill things down to concepts non-technical people can understand. On top of that I'm kind of a jack-of-all-trades (and master of none). I ruminate and cross pollinate ideas from different disciplines. People seem surprised when they meet me though, I've been told I'm a lot "fluffier" in person. :)
     
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  17. ohmman

    ohmman Maximum Plaid Member

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    FWIW, Hans Rosling died last year. It's a loss, as his prop-filled presentation style was incredibly accessible.
     
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  18. AZ Desert Driver

    AZ Desert Driver Rare combination

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    So any links as to where his incredibly accessible stuff is?
    And BTW - Mr Maximum Plaid...are you going to acquire the newly released, first ever, Maximum Plaid Roadster?
     
  19. ohmman

    ohmman Maximum Plaid Member

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    Ah, I’ve been meaning to respond to that. Not yet on the Roadster. If deliveries begin and I haven’t bitten, I will - maybe - relinquish my tag line. ;)

    On Rosling, check out his TED talks or just search YouTube for his name. He was a joy to watch.
     
  20. wdolson

    wdolson Supporting Member

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    That's too bad. People who can make dry subjects like population growth policy interesting are rare to find.

    I linked to one of his talks in post #2090 above, but as @ohmman said, there are several versions on YouTube and TED talk sites.

    I saw one version that runs about 40 minutes or so where he goes into detail about the forms of transportation people use as their wealth increases. The poorest people walk, as they move up the economic ladder, they get a bicycle, then a motorcycle, then a car, and finally the richest travel mostly by plane (especially if more than a few hundred miles). And he looks at the implications of that. It was also interspersed with documentary footage of poor people in developing countries who were beginning to move up the economic ladder and how their decisions of family size and their access to transportation were affecting their lives.

    I didn't find it in the brief search I did when posting, but that's the most comprehensive version of his talk I've seen.
     

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