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Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight

Posted by: Troubadour - Tue May 08, 2012 9:44 am
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Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight 
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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Thu May 17, 2012 8:08 pm
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One point for Socrates: I forgot where I got this idea, I think it's from one of the grand masters of science fiction, although it sounds like it could be a Feynman story as well. If you lived on a perpetually cloudy planet, but you had figured out the laws of gravity and of nuclear fusion, then you could logically deduce the existence of the stars even though you can't observe them. All you need to do is deduce what happens if you put a certain amount of gas together. The larger the amount of gas, the greater its gravitational pull, and the greater the pressure in the centre, until at some point (the Chandrasekhar limit) that pressure becomes large enough to cause the atoms in the gas to undergo nuclear fusion. Presto, star.


You can deduce it, but you can never know absolutely until you see the stars for yourself - because there is always the possibility that there is something that you don't know. That's why psychohistory (to borrow from another grandmaster of science fiction) would never work - history is not deterministic, because humans have free will. Logic is a very useful tool for organizing what you know presently, but useless for finding out anything new. All theories are, necessarily, based on present knowledge - and even logic, itself, is based on the reality of how logic works. We only know the laws of logic from experiment - we only know that 2+2=4 because we have put two and two together, and found four at the end. There is nothing in reality that says that in another universe 2+2 won't equal 5.

The problem with government is that no human can deduce what works, and what doesn't, from our limited human capacity for knowledge. We can only see what works, and what doesn't, develop a theory, and then test it. The history of human civilizations has been the testing of different theories, different philosophies of life, based on different values. The Italians value passion, the Americans, individualism, the English, intellect, the Germans, order (if I didn't describe these civilizations correctly, sue me). You can tell from the products that are produced in these countries: Italian design focuses on sensual beauty, while German products follow straight, Teutonic lines.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Fri May 18, 2012 5:02 pm
In my opinion, both Porsches and Ferraris are ugly :D. I'll have a Koenigsegg!

2 + 2 = 4 is true, and it can be proven from the definition. Using Peano's definitions, 2 is the number that comes after the number that comes after zero, or S(S(0)) (S for successor). Also, addition rests on the axioms S(x) + y = x + S(y) and 0 + x = x. So, we have 2 + 2 = S(S(0)) + S(S(0)) = S(0) + S(S(S(0)) = 0 + S(S(S(S(0)))) = S(S(S(S(0)))) = 4.

What you're saying is that there is no reason that the universe should behave according to mathematical rules, that we might have just as easily have had a universe that couldn't be described by mathematics. That's true, and it is a mystery that we'll probably never find an answer to.

I think you're underestimating Asimov a bit in your description of psychohistory. Of course humans have free will, and of course psychohistory could never make perfect predictions. In the Foundation series, Asimov describes humanity as a gas: every person, like an atom in a gas, can go in random directions, but the overall behaviour of the gas is predictable (which is not to say it's easy, getting a model rocket to be stable aerodynamically depends on accurately predicting the airflow, and it's not as easy as it might seem). As a chemist, Asimov was fully aware of the statistical nature of thermodynamics, an in fact he presents psychohistory as a fundamentally statistical science. A major plot point in the series (in Second Foundation IIRC) is the occurrence of a low-probability event which threatens to mess up the predictions.

You seem to be saying that for psychohistory to "work" it must be able to make perfect predictions. I'd say it just needs to be better than a random prediction to "work", and that whether something works shouldn't be a black and white issue, but a continuous scale. As for psychohistory, this seems to be a step in that direction...

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Last edited by Lourens on Sat May 19, 2012 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Sat May 19, 2012 8:13 pm
If 2+2 would come out to 5 in this world, mathematics would have been defined differently. Mathematics are created to describe the way the world works (at least in science), not in order to play with numbers for the heck of it.

Asimov's psychohistory was fundamentally deterministic - it was based on the fact that Harry Saden knew how humanity works accurately, if not precisely. The fact is, every time you try to control reality, it hits you upside the head. Humans do have free will - they have the ability to act irrationally, and therefore it is impossible to determine, with any accuracy, what humans should do (as opposed to what they will do - which is sometimes determinable), and therefore, to control them - no matter how much information you have available to you. You can't outsmart someone who is irrational.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Sat May 19, 2012 11:39 pm
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This is actually something I'm trying to demonstrate in microcosm in the structure of the organization I'm in the early stages of exploring - one where donors contribute to a budget and then vote on what to do with it, with votes somewhat weighted by the proportion of their donation (but within limits). It wouldn't be very impressive at first, but I figure if in the long-term the industry in general could get involved, you could have kind of a "space commonwealth" where companies, academic institutions, and civic organizations all come together to form a general human space program that transcends sectors and national boundaries. But I know that's kind of the distant game.


I am reading through here, and i want to comment on so many things you have said, but it would take ages.

I picked this one out because it is extremely relevant for what i am hoping to do as well.

A month and a half ago i realised i could actually become involved in the space industry without any money, political power, or papers connfirming a higher level education.

crowd funded crowd sourced space program

If we had one, anybody interested could be contributing.

The system you just hinted there was what i had pop into my mind.

Pretty much the exact same thing.

And so i started on my journey, started searching and talking to people, i ended up here, and now i just found 1 other person with the exact same idea.

Well actually i saw the idea hidden in one of the posts from 2 years ago, when somebody offered to use his surplus frequent flyer points to go around and query the industry about things and sharing that information here.

Basically what i am thinking of is liberating the movement of resources by trying to break down current perceptual/behavioral barriers, that make us pile them up, instead of letting them flow around and go where the resource is needed.

If you look at any living organism with billions of cooperating cells that is one of the key differences between multicellular life and single cellular life. The cells aren't competing as much, they are more about sharing, than piling up stuff for themselves. /of course there are exceptions but it's either cells that serve the function of storing resources, or cells that gone rogue/

Then the appearance of larger scale supra idnividual organisations like cities or countries also arose because of increasing our ability to share surplus around.

But it seems our mindset is still stuck on the single cellular level. We haven't evolved fast enough to compensate for these large scale social changes in the past couple of thousand years.

We are still in the paranoid "the other person is out to get me, i'd better get them first and get all the stuff for myself" mindset.

At it seems it's cripling our efforts of getting into space.

At least that how it seems to me.

Anyway, i was hoping to team up with people who also believe that we aren't developing this frontier as fast as we should be, and do something about it.

I want to do something, it bugs the hell out of me.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Sun May 20, 2012 12:06 am
SuperShuki wrote:
If 2+2 would come out to 5 in this world, mathematics would have been defined differently. Mathematics are created to describe the way the world works (at least in science), not in order to play with numbers for the heck of it.

Asimov's psychohistory was fundamentally deterministic - it was based on the fact that Harry Saden knew how humanity works accurately, if not precisely. The fact is, every time you try to control reality, it hits you upside the head. Humans do have free will - they have the ability to act irrationally, and therefore it is impossible to determine, with any accuracy, what humans should do (as opposed to what they will do - which is sometimes determinable), and therefore, to control them - no matter how much information you have available to you. You can't outsmart someone who is irrational.


We have learned to control a whole heap of chaotic systems.

It all is a matter of dynamic response to microscopic changes that could destabilise the global behavior.

That is how life works.

Our cells are full with chaos, and dynamic systems responding to chaotic behavior.

Diffusion is a good example i think: how random movement of individual particles creates a global behavior of dispersion. The prediction of how any individual particle will move is practically impossible without considering the whole system and knowing about all the particle interaction in fine detail. /disregarding quantum physics for now/

Yet the behavior of the system is very deterministic. It leads to dispersion and mixing of the particles.

And then our cells put that global behavior to work by daming different kinds of particles in different compartments of the cells, controlling how they move, and when they move.

If you do that in a dynamic enough way, you get life out of chaos.

It is one of the most eye opening parts of biology. The whole dance of chaos and order with one another.

So yeah. You definitely cannot predict the behavior of a single human being. But we can predict global behavior, and through those predictions we can design and build systems of interaction /order/. Nature already has been and is doing that. The problem is the natural thinking process is based on, "What survives to reproduce is a good solution.".

It is extremely crude. It is also one of the reasons why complex multicellular life hasn't left this planet yet, despite all the benefits of untapped niches up there all over the place.

The actual realisation of a rational human mind is that the solution field to any problem is way larger than the set of solutions that fulfill the "what survives to reproduce is a good solution" set.

And in some cases the solutions outside that set are far superior than solutions within the set. Meaning that they lead to way greater individual or community benefits than just merely pursuing short term survival of the individual.

In our case, if we never leave this planet, our species and this whole biosphere will evaporate when our sun expands.

Even if some life is left in the crust or somehow some bacteria manage to get foothold on outer planets, the low energy environment afterwards will not be sufficient for large scale complexity like our current biospohere to evolve.

Which means life will die.

Same happens even if we do leave the planet but never figure our way out of the heat death of the universe.

These are serious problems, but because of their lack of proximity, and because our mindset is set on "if i survive long enough to reproduce then it's fine" option, there is absolutely no future for our species as of now.

none

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Sun May 20, 2012 12:31 am
Sorry for the quote mining, after reading more of the discussion i understood more of the positions, and so my comment seems irrelevant now.

At any rate, any of you guys actually trying to put your seemingly large amount of knowledge to get a crowd sourced crowd funded space program up?

Do you want to try?

Just for the heck of it.

Like a science experiment of a sort.

I really need somebody to talk to about it, but it seems i fail miserably at convincing people why it should be done, and why it would be a whole lot of fun.

I need to show them. But i need more people on the same side to be able to do that.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Sun May 20, 2012 9:44 am
Box:
I think that a crowd sourced space project is a great idea! You have to define specific objectives, though (besides just "space stuff" :D ). I guess you could have a specific project to go to mars, or something like that, or even a long term project to develop certain technologies. You could also have a long term goal that all these projects are working toward, i.e., settling outer space. You could have people donate money and time working on different aspects of the project, and you could do all the organizing online. You have to be specific, however - and allow people the freedom to contribute, or not contribute, as they please.

If you're goal is to save humanity, however, you won't succeed. Even humans in space will blow each other up, and by the time that we're in space, we'll have figured out better ways to do that - ways of wiping out all humanity, whether we're on Earth, or not.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Sun May 20, 2012 11:01 am
Well i disagree on one ground.

You need to start saying "we". :)

The project is already running, and you just joined right then. :D

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Sun May 20, 2012 11:21 am
At the moment i am working on two things:
1. trying to get some sort of core crew together to work with
2. trying to get some data and do some science

At first i wanted to figure out how much of the current population would be interested, also how much of the people who are already interested in the space industry would be interested.

Then i wonder what sort of growth rates could we expect, and also how to achieve those growth rates.

My methods are a bit crude and unrefined, but i haven't done much with my science education yet, and it has been nearly 10 years since i actually been to uni, so my math is superbad at this stage.

Trying to dust it off at khan academy.

Luckily this place is here so i don't have to worry about the "forum" and "news" section which would be a core part of the project.

We need to get the people together, then we connect and inform them about whats happening. Then we need to offer them the opportunity to participate. Then we can offer the opportunity to fund things.

I am not sure about specifics, i would love to talk about that too. Have lots of ideas, not much written down or fleshed out yet though.

So much work to be done, but my education is so weak, and i don't have enough time for it all, still need to work a full time job and handle family life. :)

I am trying to stuff more stuff in my head.

I need to figure out a proper schedule for studying that would fit with all the rest of the project and my current life.

My impatience isn't helping at all...

I know this all would be a long marathon through possibly decades of work, but i want it all already. :)

Too much enthusiasm, too much impatience, too little of proper social skills and interacting with humans.

Anyway, i am ready to do whatever is needed to be done.
All for free.

And i am ready to put some money in too.
I do not expect any return apart from science being done, papers being written, and engineering being carried out.

So where do we start?

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Sun May 20, 2012 11:22 am
Actually i lied, i dropped out in 2006 so thats only 6 years since i last gone and seen a lecture live.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Sun May 20, 2012 3:52 pm
Well, first you have to define a concrete goal. Perhaps, getting humans settled in outer space. Would you agree to that goal? I think many people on this board would, and would be willing to participate.

Then we figure out a strategy, and then we work on tactics. But first comes the goal - a concrete, definitive goal; people can then decide whether they want to try to reach that goal and join us, or whether they don't care about that goal and would rather do something else.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Sun May 20, 2012 6:24 pm
And more importantly, you need to break the big goal down into really tiny subgoals. Things that are achievable in weeks or months. If you don't do that, you'll have no way of showing progress, and people aren't generally very interesting in things that aren't clearly going somewhere.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Mon May 21, 2012 5:50 am
Lourens wrote:
And more importantly, you need to break the big goal down into really tiny subgoals. Things that are achievable in weeks or months. If you don't do that, you'll have no way of showing progress, and people aren't generally very interesting in things that aren't clearly going somewhere.


Actually, that's not true (although it does seem logical). If you have a goal, and people really believe in that goal, they will be willing to have a lot of patience to reach that goal. They will use their time and money for that goal. That's how all big things are achieved - patience, and perseverance.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Mon May 21, 2012 11:20 am
I don't really want to steal this thread. I wanted to start one but it got rejected on the grounds that this forum is already here.

Anyway:
For "freespaceships" my vision was to work on the problem of expensive access to space.

So basically the goal for the project is to drive technological and economical advancements of the field to the point when anybody who wishes to go to space can get a free ticket from our organisation, or is capable of buying one because it is so cheap.

The crowd buys itself its own means to go out there and live out there as it develops or helps to develop the means for it.

It isn't free of course, we work for it, and we all pay for it. But overall the end result is a situation when it will "feel" like as if it was free.

It wouldn't be only for the members of the crowd, it would be for all of humanity.

Same for any other spin off technologies that we would help to develop to reach our goal, it's benefits are for all of us, not just for the crowd involved.

There is also another subtle goal, possibly even harder than cheap access to space.

It is to figure out a better way of governing ourselves. It would be based on people taking initiative and working for creating a better system of cooperation, instead of waiting for others to create it for them. We love to complain about politics and the economical situations we get into, but in all reality they both emerge from human interactions. Humans interacting with eachother, and their environment. So really without every individual putting an effort in to changing things for the better, no change will occur.

It requires a completely different mindset to live out there than down here.
And it seems not many people are actually working on the social aspects of how such societies and communities would actually live and interact up there. The conditions are way different, i think it would require different social structures to handle the different situations.

We have to have that part of the system down pat before we even go, because it is just as important as life support, or radiation shielding. If society crashes because of the usual flaws in our behavior, then we can have all the coolest gadgets, we will still fail at colonising space. We will just have a whole heap of dead humans in neat airtight cities all over the place.

To brake it all down to smaller goals /the order is arguable, it certainly wouldn't be so linear/:
-Find other people to develop the system with. I have already found some here, but we need more.

-Start doing or collecting some science to figure out key parameters of the potential crowd
/size, potential buying power, man hour capacity, expertise etc.../

-Start developing the system to improve the way we cooperate and mobilize our surplus resources. So systems for collecting and allocating funds, systems for allowing other contributions. Things like donating "science", engineering, hardware, software etc...

-Start growing the crowd.

-Figure out projects to test the system on, incrementally more and more complicated ones. I thought we could try and have a go at one of the prizes happening now.

-As the crowd grows, we would increase the complexity and scale of the problems we have a go at. As we grow we would have more resources, so we could handle more complicated and more expensive projects or problems.

-As the crowd grows we would improve the way we interact and organise ourselves. We should continuously improve the way we do things to the point we simply cannot think of any better way to interact. :D

We have several parameters we can use to measure our progress along the way:
-How many active involved members do we have?
-How much money we have funneled towards relevant research?
-How successful were those projects?
-How much did we improve the "economics" of the industry? Did we actually help getting the price of accessing space down? By how much in what time frame?
-How satisfied do we feel about our progress?
-How much did we contribute to improving global knowledge base and technological capabilities?
-Have we contributed to solving global issues? How much did we contribute?

I think the key is all members being aware of the whole system and it's changes, and consciously trying to manipulate the system and react to changes by actually acting on the individual level.

It would be a "self aware, pro active, self governance" of some sort.
Not the current "ignorance based, post active, others will govern us for us" sort.

We simply cannot afford to be ignorant, we cannnot afford to wait for others to make our decisions, and we cannot afford to react to bad *** after it already happened. Space isn't so forgiving. It will just squash us in no time if we stuff up. There is not much room for error.

Now at the moment i am working on the first two points on the list.
-I am trying to get people to talk about this, and trying to get people to think about this. I am also trying to get a group together to work on this, and actually start figuring specifics out.
-I am also trying to improve my own knowledge base, not just about the crowd itself, but other fields of science in general. I need to significantly increase my science background.

Specifically about the crowd i am curious about the following things:
What portion of the population who is active on the internet can we count on for our operations?
And what portion of those can we count on from early on?
What sort of growth rates are we going to experience, or can we actually achieve?
How much resources will we have when we are fully mature, and how much can we count on from early on? How will that change in time?

I am pretty sure there are more important questions that we need to answer pretty soon, but those are the ones i have been wondering about for the moment.

Regarding the potential crowd size, i am already trying to collect some data using my blog, though i am not sure if the data i have so far will be useful at all.

I can see global distribution patterns quite easy, but i am not sure about the potential size, and also the size we can achieve very soon.

Also the data might be heavily biased by a whole load of factors, so it could be completely useless, misleading, or simply not enough yet /probably all at the same time :D/.

Lot's of uncertainty at the moment, and i really want to change that.

I think what space fellowship already has here could be a good start for this project. There is a good forum, we have a small but still active community. We also have a larger audience community that we will have to try and engage and bring to the frontline.

We just need to start concentrate efforts and try working towards a common goal.

How long will it take?
Hopefully we will never stop until all the lights are out. Reaching orbit and colonizing our solar system is only the beginning.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Mon May 21, 2012 12:12 pm
Extremely competent people, with lots of money behind them, are working on the problem of lowering the cost of access to space - with SpaceX leading the pack. There is no need for a bunch of people to discuss and discuss and discuss some more how to do it - people are already there.

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