As more and more exoplanets (at first) and earth-like exoplanets (eventually) have been discovered, the way thy are described to us has become increasingly sophisticated. Below are embeds of diverse video descriptions that have been very quickly developed and distributed given the freshness of this latest scientific discovery. Note that the practice of very clearly stating that a particular depiction of something that no human has ever seen, or will ever see, as being an artist's reconstruction has largely fallen by the wayside. Exoplanets are no longer physical features of the universe occassionally glimpsed by astronomers with very fancy Big Science Gear. They are now stories, where almost all the details and even implications are made up.
From the Telegraph:
From the Guardian:
From NASA via CNN:
Additional small exoplanet discovered in alleyway:
Oh, no, wait, that's a plastic bag, never mind.
Although I love the spirit of these discoveries, I fear that many folk sincerely believe these to be a viable "plan B" as we shit in our earth bed. Juno [with Jupiter boost] hit 165K mph ]... thats 159,000 years to get to Trappist I- [human sum total existence=200,000 yrs] and its taken 40 years to double Pioneer 10's accelerated speed....
Not likely to ever be practical....
Do you suppose the hypothetical ETI, viewing that fourth video, might decide it depicted some form of Earth life — something like a jellyfish perhaps, drifting with the currents of air much like a jellyfish does in the sea? Of course it's remarkably unstructured for a life form. But why devote so much attention to it unless it is a living creature? ;-)
Brainstorms (#3): Not likely to ever be practical….
I respect your comments here, and generally agree. But I must disagree with this one, and with the article it draws on (where comments are closed.)
In the movie Oh, God!, John Denver asks God (George Burns): "So I won't ever see you again?" God replies, "When ever comes, we'll see."
My point is that "ever" is a long time, and many things might happen during it — even things that seem impossible today. Nothing about space travel, even interstellar travel, violates the laws of science we know. As for it being impractical, the definition of "impractical" can change, and often has.
Crossing the oceans was once considered impractical. Then the compass and the sextant and accurate, portable clocks were invented. (And the Polynesians expanded across the Pacific without these tools.)
The Do the math article is correct to point out that creating human communities away from Earth is very difficult and currently impractical. But the International Space Station has been occupied for over 16 years now, although no single individual has lived in it for more than one year at a stretch. I'd also agree that it represents a small value of "away", since it can be resupplied from Earth in a few hours and is protected from the normal space radiation environment by Earth's magnetosphere.
We are still puzzling out some of the solutions to physiological problems of living in microgravity, but we have come a long way. We'd know more if we had a human-sized centrifuge aboard the ISS, as was originally planned, or if the old idea of a rotating space station had come to pass. It can happen without a great deal more funding.
I can't see a time when moving large numbers of people into space, to Mars, for example, will be practical. Nor can I foresee a workable business bringing metals mined from asteroids back to Earth for use in manufacturing. But small numbers of people living on the moon or asteroids to manufacture things for local use can, in my view, be practical very soon. Whether it will be is another question. But so are questions like whether we will see Israel and Palestine at peace.
Kim Stanley Robinson makes a reasonable argument for generation ships being harder than we might wish.
KSR mentions perchlorates on Mars. A bit of a bummer, that.
curtis goodnight: Although I love the spirit of these discoveries, I fear that many folk sincerely believe these to be a viable “plan B” as we shit in our earth bed.
Christopher Winter: My point is that “ever” is a long time, and many things might happen during it — even things that seem impossible today.
My observations so far:
We're the first generation to grow up watching Star Trek (I'm 60), and I read stuff on the Internet every day from people who believe we're going to Mars next year, and we'll be going to these new planets in just a few more years. I've tried pointing some of them at the Do the Math site, but they don't want to hear it.
Meanwhile, our technological/commercial economy has broken free of political constraints (Hiya Trumpie!), and will inexorably lead to a race where we try and come up with world-saving technology before the rising tide of ignorance and pure exploitation destroys everything. (Yesterday someone broke into a zoo outside Paris and killed a Rhino for its horn, in spite of generally good security. The trade in illegal wildlife is worth tens of $billions/yr, and won't be stopped.)
So now I don't even think it's worth waiting around for technology to get us into space. It was a pretty slight chance anyway, and I loved Arrival...
(Sorry, I watched the rest of Adam Curtis' Hypernormalisation yesterday -- a pretentious, flawed film that makes a couple of important points: That politics as we know it is no longer competent to "manage" the world because of general apathy and the growing influence of corporate power (or corruption if you like), and that "The Left" has no coherent strategy to do anything in particular to fight this change. This latter idea isn't new, but in the context of all the other nonsense going on in the world, it's something we need to take very seriously. Watching the GOP/Trump propose massive cuts to public health and the CDC has damaged what little optimism I had left.)