0893: "65 Years"

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mszegedy
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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby mszegedy » Mon May 02, 2011 5:39 am UTC

GOOMH Randall, I wrote a paper on the moon in 2nd grade!!!1!1!!!

This comic ought to shut the haters up; it shows the real intellectual content and depth of Randall Munroe.

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willpellmn
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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby willpellmn » Mon May 02, 2011 5:39 am UTC

The alt-text is extremely poignant. We of course can't know for sure, it's always conceivable that the cosmos is empty of life, we were just a statistical anomaly, and we have only our planet's limited resources to preserve our life as best we can. But frankly, if true, this is too depressing to contemplate. Better to take a big risk I think; let's catapult ourselves beyond the farthest star on a desperate hope that the brighter future we've imagined is indeed out there somewhere.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby CorruptUser » Mon May 02, 2011 5:40 am UTC

SW15243 wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:There's a 5% chance that all of the people who walked on the moon will be dead by 2022? I'll need to check the math on that. (Actuary here). Oh, it's not mathematically sound to use a normal approximation with only 9 people.

I thought that '5th percentile' meant that the so-called 'weakest' 5 percent of them would be dead by 2022...?
Granted, I'm an English major, but still.


No, it's the 5th percentile of the Survival distribution in this case, denoted by S(x). S(x) = 1 - F(x), dF(x) = f(x), for the mathematicians here who aren't too familiar with probability,

willpellmn wrote:The alt-text is extremely poignant. We of course can't know for sure, it's always conceivable that the cosmos is empty of life, we were just a statistical anomaly, and we have only our planet's limited resources to preserve our life as best we can. But frankly, if true, this is too depressing to contemplate. Better to take a big risk I think; let's catapult ourselves beyond the farthest star on a desperate hope that the brighter future we've imagined is indeed out there somewhere.


I had a conversation with a someone recently that was saying 'we should stop all the research and focus on social welfare' or something along those lines, saying that the space program was a waste of money and so forth. I really gave it to her. What if the people from the last generation stopped investing and spent every excess resource on welfare? What if they didn't bother wasting precious dollars on R&D for new medicines or computers or more fuel efficient cars? What if the 19th century 'heroes' decided not to bother learning new things, discovering everything that makes wealth even possible today? What if our progenitors had not wasted time learning about seasons and such, and stuck to providing more through hunting and gathering? She wanted to benefit from all that was done by those who came before, but not add anything for the future.
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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby ConMan » Mon May 02, 2011 5:47 am UTC

arbivark wrote:another world is the only soap i ever watched (ok a few eps of passions.)
astronauts are not a statically typical population. they probably get better medical care and mostly have active social lives.
if the singularity is near, the data for post-2020 could change significantly; past performance is no guarantee of future results.
actuarial tables is bobby's cousin.

Given that the graph seems to expect them to live about 60 years past when they moonwalked, he's probably taking at least some of that into account. Also, remember that the astronauts are exposed to a lot of things that most people on Earth aren't, like microgravity and cosmic radiation, which may well counter some of the benefits you've mentioned.

mszegedy wrote:GOOMH Randall, I wrote a paper on the moon in 2nd grade!!!1!1!!!

This comic ought to shut the haters up; it shows the real intellectual content and depth of Randall Munroe.

Haters are like birthers[1]. Nothing shuts them up.

[1] But on average more articulate.
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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby s0merand0mdude » Mon May 02, 2011 5:53 am UTC

JustMe wrote:Unless something changes soon, we're not going anywhere. This is depressingly accurate.


Well, Obama is pro-space, and it's looking like one of our three wars may finally be wrapping up...
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Re: 0893: 65 Years

Postby philip1201 » Mon May 02, 2011 5:59 am UTC

soren121 wrote:This strip makes absolutely no sense to me. Can I bother someone to explain it for me, please? :oops:


"World" in this case refers to any object held together by it's own gravity. This chart is therefore an accurate plot of the amount of people living who have been to the moon, assuming no living human will go to the moon until 2049. Since 2011+ lies in the future, the amount of living astronauts who have been to the moon is estimated from actuarial tables.
Randall then indicates that this graph, in his belief, is an accurate prediction for the next 38 years (and, through the alt text, all time afterwards), because humanity won't pick an economically profitable answer over an awesome answer, and interplanetary spaceflight will never be economically profitable for anyone ever, and that humanity should dare to be awesome.
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Re: 0893: 65 Years

Postby Mikkim » Mon May 02, 2011 6:01 am UTC

The comic refers to how N.A.S.A. cut their space program due to the economy, and he is essentially saying that only a civilization that gets into space can be successful, so earth will become the grave of us humans who cut the space for economy.

This is very much the exact thoughts I had on the subject. I think this is a "get out of my head Mewtwo" moment.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby skine » Mon May 02, 2011 6:12 am UTC

sportsracer48 wrote:I see a trend.

Me too.

Randall, please stop making depressing comics.

They're rather depressing.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby CorruptUser » Mon May 02, 2011 6:12 am UTC

Is it Afghanistan? Please? I hope it's Afghanistan. Just declare victory to every Afghan in the street, then run like hell.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby kanthalion » Mon May 02, 2011 6:24 am UTC

Am I odd in that I found this one sadder than the cancer ones?

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Re: 0893: 65 Years

Postby Fixblor » Mon May 02, 2011 6:30 am UTC

:shock: ... beyond the infinite.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh :shock: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh :shock: hhhhhh :shock: Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
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Meng Bomin
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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Meng Bomin » Mon May 02, 2011 6:44 am UTC

I guess I'll voice a bit of dissent here. The first point I think should be made is that history is a multi-generational enterprise. 65 years doesn't make a good summary of technological development. Honestly, I don't think that we were ready to make the jump in a serious way during the Apollo program, which served largely as a nationalist hurrah in a civilizational battle against the Soviets. Certainly, there were scientific gains made, but we didn't seek any form or permanent settlement or set up the apparatus to make such a project last. Only now, with the development of companies like SpaceX, are we seeing the competitive push that can produce a durable framework not subject to the political whims and nationalistic pushes of any one government.

A second point is that there is a vast difference between an interplanetary mission and an interstellar mission. I consider a mission to Mars to be more important than one to the Moon, but they are of similar scale. Perhaps that's a bit of the loose comparison, but when the two are stacked up against a trip to a "nearby" star, they really are of similar scale. Given the demographics of this forum, I'm sure many are aware of this, but it will have taken the New Horizons mission, the fastest spacecraft to have left Earth orbit over 9 years to reach Pluto on its flyby mission. The nearest star (Proxima Centauri) is over 8500 times the distance of Pluto.

So, to me, the fundamental distinction is not between societies that have gone beyond their home world's orbit and those who haven't, but rather between those who have spread their reach to other star systems. Whatever outpost we set up on Mars will remain an outpost for at least as long as humanity's been around on Earth for the simple fact that Earth is where we evolved and is thus uniquely suited to our needs (or more correctly, our needs are uniquely suited to the Earth). This is the case for planets orbiting other stars, with the difference being that communications essentially sever the operational link between the people there and here. They would represent a wholly new beginning.

That brings me to my final point, which is that I don't think that there will be a dichotomy between the rational single-planet graveyards and the irrational multi-planet civilizations that study them. Every time a civilization sends individuals to live on an extrasolar planet, it creates a new civilization. If there is to be study of other civilizations (none yet found) it will have to be from a distance, and there's a severe bandwidth issue with such study. Actual colonization of star systems harboring intelligent life brings to mind situations that are not properly described by "discovered, studied, and remembered".

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby ijuin » Mon May 02, 2011 6:59 am UTC

Somehow our society has decided that conquering and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan is more valuable than exploring other worlds. Seriously, we have spent more money on said wars than on the past fifty-odd years of spaceflight total, and all that I can see we have gained from the wars is the war supporters' claims that we have defeated terrorists that may or may not have been there in the first place. Is America really in such peril that we must spend five times as much money on our military as the next highest spending country, a whole forty percent of worldwide military expenditures? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co ... penditures What do we need 40% of the world's military for so badly that our space program can not be given even one twentieth as much as our military? Are we planning to fight World War Three against the entire rest of the world simultaneously, or what? How badly would it hurt our military capacity to take 30-odd billion dollars from the military budget--the aforementioned one-twentieth--and add it to NASA's budget, nearly tripling our space exploration funding?

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Istaro » Mon May 02, 2011 7:07 am UTC

kanthalion wrote:Am I odd in that I found this one sadder than the cancer ones?


I don't think so. Pick a random person; that person will be dead in less than 200 years regardless of whether a cure for cancer is found or not. On the other hand, the long-term fate of our species as a whole is still up for grabs (in other words, it's still a battle that can be lost or won).

ARandomDude wrote:I think it was the sensible decision on Firefly. Or did Randall forget about that.


Seeing as how Earth-That-Was was Was and not Is, I think getting out while it was still Is was the right decision.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Vroomfundel » Mon May 02, 2011 7:08 am UTC

SW15243 wrote:In this day and age it's 100x easier to send a robot, is the thing. I dunno if we WILL send anyone in the next 30 years.


Sending people in space is not so much for practical reasons but rather for PR and national pride. For example, I was shocked the first time I learned about the Challenger disaster but was even more so when I later read about the goals of the Challenger missions - that one in particular was sending the first teacher in space. Now WTF, why do we need a teacher in space? Yeah, I understand that they had already sent the first woman and the first black guy in space - but don't gay and disabled people come next ;-)
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Meng Bomin
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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Meng Bomin » Mon May 02, 2011 7:29 am UTC

ARandomDude wrote:I think it was the sensible decision on Firefly. Or did Randall forget about that.

Nah, I think it's simply more sensible to assume that Firefly didn't present an accurate projection of what the future holds. The notion that we should emigrate from Earth to other worlds because life on Earth is becoming unbearable is one of the more common, but risible themes of discussions of space exploration. Earth would have to radically transform for Mars to become a more livable place than here and honestly, I don't think that humans would muster the resources for a successful mission were that the case.

Another point is that the number of humans sent outside of Earth's orbit will necessarily be a very small portion of the population. Most humans would be "left behind", so to speak. It's best to think of any settlement mission as a spore or a seed rather than a transplantation.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby big boss » Mon May 02, 2011 7:48 am UTC

Meng Bomin wrote:
ARandomDude wrote:I think it was the sensible decision on Firefly. Or did Randall forget about that.

Nah, I think it's simply more sensible to assume that Firefly didn't present an accurate projection of what the future holds. The notion that we should emigrate from Earth to other worlds because life on Earth is becoming unbearable is one of the more common, but risible themes of discussions of space exploration. Earth would have to radically transform for Mars to become a more livable place than here and honestly, I don't think that humans would muster the resources for a successful mission were that the case.


I wouldn't underestimate humanity's ability to persevere and advance in the face of disaster...

Meng Bomin wrote:Another point is that the number of humans sent outside of Earth's orbit will necessarily be a very small portion of the population. Most humans would be "left behind", so to speak. It's best to think of any settlement mission as a spore or a seed rather than a transplantation.


We are eventually going to use up all of this planets natural resources and if we are to survive (or at least maintain the current level of civilization) we are going to need to explore space.
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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby J L » Mon May 02, 2011 9:16 am UTC

mania wrote:
toastar wrote:Um....

I personally don't consider the moon a world.


This one troubles me too. I generally think.. world = planet.

Looking it up on wiktionary didn't help.

.. although I suppose reference.com is probably right in it's definition of "heavenly body". Still doesn't sit the best with me =/.


In the broadest sense, "world" can refer to any set or frame of sensations, and be more an epistemological than astronomical term ... so it didn't really bother me. It's about whether human beings will experience anything outside the borders and limitations of Earth in the near future or not, and it that sense, even landing on some minor asteroid could open up a whole new world to us.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Ideas sleep furiously. » Mon May 02, 2011 9:29 am UTC

I heard something interesting on a documentary, not sure of it's accuracy, but it went something like;
"If there were gold bars stacked up on the moon, the cost of bringing them back to earth would be greater than their worth."

It was a documentary about mining Helium3 or something like that from moon rocks.
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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby userxp » Mon May 02, 2011 9:35 am UTC

Each space shuttle flight has cost about $1.5 billion (according to Wikipedia). I do support space colonization on the long term, but perhaps if we keep advancing our technology here on Earth, in 50 or 100 years the cost of space travel will be a few orders of magnitude lower than today, and we'll get the same results for much much less money (and it's not like having just a space station or a moon base will save our civilization in case some catastrophe happens). Perhaps we have to admit that we still don't have the technology for space exploration.

If civilization survives for another century on earth (and technology keeps growing) then there is no doubt we'll eventually go to space. This comic is a little pointless.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Cornrelius » Mon May 02, 2011 9:41 am UTC

teucer wrote:Reminds me of this(mp3).


I would say http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ryd_p20XEU is giving a more uplifting mood...

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Steroid » Mon May 02, 2011 9:46 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:There's a 5% chance that all of the people who walked on the moon will be dead by 2022? I'll need to check the math on that. (Actuary here). Oh, it's not mathematically sound to use a normal approximation with only 9 people.

Yes, and does this account for the fact that the Moon-walking astronauts were selected for health at the time, not to mention that they're all probably doing well financially and able to afford more life-extending care while avoiding risks?

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Plasma Mongoose » Mon May 02, 2011 9:52 am UTC

ijuin (paraphrased) wrote:The US of A spends a number of times more on its military than it can be justified. Just 5% of that expenditure would go a long way to making manned space travel viable again.


True enough, but due to all sorts of politics (not to mention the powerful influence of key lobby groups), this unfortunate fact of life is unlikely to be changing any time soon.

The other tricky thing about 'manned' space travel is that a huge amount of those resources go into keeping the 'men' alive and healthy, so I can understand why probes and robots have so much more appeal.

If only we could have artificial gravity, vastly improved food/water/air production/recycling and deflector technology not to mention FTL travel, only then can 'manned' space travel be more like it is in sci-fi.
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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Meng Bomin » Mon May 02, 2011 10:04 am UTC

big boss wrote:
Meng Bomin wrote:
ARandomDude wrote:I think it was the sensible decision on Firefly. Or did Randall forget about that.

Nah, I think it's simply more sensible to assume that Firefly didn't present an accurate projection of what the future holds. The notion that we should emigrate from Earth to other worlds because life on Earth is becoming unbearable is one of the more common, but risible themes of discussions of space exploration. Earth would have to radically transform for Mars to become a more livable place than here and honestly, I don't think that humans would muster the resources for a successful mission were that the case.


I wouldn't underestimate humanity's ability to persevere and advance in the face of disaster...

Meng Bomin wrote:Another point is that the number of humans sent outside of Earth's orbit will necessarily be a very small portion of the population. Most humans would be "left behind", so to speak. It's best to think of any settlement mission as a spore or a seed rather than a transplantation.


We are eventually going to use up all of this planets natural resources and if we are to survive (or at least maintain the current level of civilization) we are going to need to explore space.


But this is the problem. Humans have an ability to persevere in the face of disaster and so it will be if and when we face shortages of natural resources that disallow the continuation of the societies of the time, using said natural resources to explore space would be problematic. So I think that the situation is exactly the reverse of what you present. Humanity will not use up the planet's natural resources any time in the foreseeable future and space exploration isn't a cure to natural resource shortages.

Now, certainly, it appears that we have quite a problem if projections of climate change mediated mostly by excess human emissions of carbon dioxide via fossil fuels is accurate. However, in even the most dire scenario in that regard, Earth will be far more livable than the Moon, Mars, Venus, or Europa. Furthermore, sending people to any of those locations will be expensive and resource intensive and won't deliver many passengers. It's hard to see how a scenario of human exploration beyond Earth orbit will serve to mitigate any resource crisis and certainly the living conditions of the humans we do send will be worse than humans who stay on Earth and will be much more expensive to maintain at that.

This is not to say that space exploration is a bad idea, but the logic behind it should be one of a plant releasing seeds or spores: we are seeking the expand the reach of terrestrial life, humans in particular. This likely won't bring much in terms of benefits to the home population (beyond say, knowledge and understanding) and will be very costly, but in the end, we will have life outside of Earth. I think that ultimately, a spread of humans to solar systems beyond our own is a great goal to pursue and though I don't see a clear path to such an outcome, I hope it does transpire.

If there is anything that will increase the lifetime of terrestrial life, that is it, because it will allow for life to survive the next stages of our Sun's stellar evolution. That is a very long term outlook, because the Sun will not extinguish life on Earth for billions of years. In the much shorter term, there is no location that is or will be more hospitable to life than Earth. If humans cannot figure out how to live on Earth, we have no hopes with regard to the Moon, Mars, or any of the Jovian moons. We are suited to the Earth and it carries with it a wide array of amenities that we take for granted, and that won't change even with an enormous spike in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Randomizer » Mon May 02, 2011 10:41 am UTC

Ah, man, life on the moon.

It would be great. If we can develop the technology to sustain ourselves on the moon (or Mars), how much better our chances to sustain ourselves on Earth? Do you think advances in construction, food production, reduction in energy consumption, and earthquake (moonquake) mitigation are only applicable on the moon? Not to mention how great it would be to have a place that we could dedicate solely for the benefit of our own species without worrying about destroying something irreplaceable. The moon is sterile - we can strip mine the moon for resources with no regrets. We just need to the seeds of mankind (think sperm banks), foodstuffs, and technology to get us started. Robots that build other robots, manufacture materials from moon rocks, and the like. Soon we'll have cities and an increase in the total number of humans, which will mean an increase in the number of minds solving problems. Sure, most of the moon-people will be interested in moon problems, but much of that will be applicable to us here on Earth as well.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby TheoGB » Mon May 02, 2011 10:55 am UTC

Pretty sure astronaut life expectancy is lower due to the extra radiation they receive outside the atmosphere. Unless we cure cancer, obviously.

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Ha Ha

Postby iGuest » Mon May 02, 2011 11:12 am UTC

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/extrapolating.png

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Nooseybear » Mon May 02, 2011 11:15 am UTC

Best alt-text ever.
Reminds me of Arthur C. Clarke's short story 'Improving the Neighborhood' where aliens discover the remains of our civilisation and reflect upon our demise.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Samik » Mon May 02, 2011 11:33 am UTC

Well, you finally got me, Randall. Specifically that title text.

This is a topic that practically whips me into a froth every time I get sucked into an argument about it. Worst of all are the ones with my sister, who truly, honestly believes that humanity doesn't have a right to expand beyond the Earth, and that we should stay here (preferably keeping as low a profile as possible in the meantime) until our sun finally begins to wind down, at which point we should go out quietly with it.

jpk wrote:The alt text reminds me of a quote I've seen attributed to Jerry Pournelle (unless memory fails me):
"I always knew I'd see the first men walk on the moon. I never dreamed I'd see the last"


As depressing as that is, I often wonder if I even will see man walk on another world.



We landed men on the moon FORTY-TWO years ago, with an Apollo 11 lunar module that had 74 kilobytes of memory, and 4 Kb of RAM. We haven't been back in 39 years (or anywhere else, for that matter).

In 1975, we launched the Viking probes, which made powered soft landings on the surface of Mars - something not accomplished again until 2008, by the Phoenix lander.

NASA's current budget is approx 18.5 million, equivalently half of what it was in the mid 60's. The last few years have seen the effective cancellation of the Space Shuttle Program, the Constellation Program, and pretty much continuous setbacks and budget cuts and revisions of expectations for near-future space exploration. (For example, the Orion program tentatively suggests 2031 as the data for a possible manned mission to Mars. In other words: we landed on the moon 17 years before I was born, and will land men on Mars, best case, by the time I'm 45. An entire generation will pass who will never even be eligible to walking on another world.)


The truth is, we're not doing very well here lately, guys. We've wasted nearly a half century already, and, by the most important measure, are behind where we were when we started. And don't tell me we're not able - I don't buy that for a second - if we could do it in '69, we could do it now. We just don't appear to be willing.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Grapejuice » Mon May 02, 2011 11:51 am UTC

I guess Azeroth does not count as "another world" :D

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Atelus » Mon May 02, 2011 12:26 pm UTC

Could you do a similar plot for living people who have travelled into low-earth orbit? While I agree with the sentiment expressed in the comic, such a plot may identify the correlations between this outcome of the Apollo program and subsequent programs NASA has pursued. I suggest co-plotting them. Thanks.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby DragonHawk » Mon May 02, 2011 12:48 pm UTC

"The dinosaurs are extinct because they didn't have a space program." -- Larry Niven
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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby philip1201 » Mon May 02, 2011 1:10 pm UTC

Atelus wrote:Could you do a similar plot for living people who have travelled into low-earth orbit? While I agree with the sentiment expressed in the comic, such a plot may identify the correlations between this outcome of the Apollo program and subsequent programs NASA has pursued. I suggest co-plotting them. Thanks.


Seconding that notion.
Also, take the amount of people that went to the Americas between 1062 and 1128.
(agreeing with userxp and Meng Bomin): Just like crossing the Atlantic ocean, it will simply take time before people can make it viable. It's easier to put someone on a moon for hours than in low earth orbit for months. We will go to space, perhaps not in our lifetimes, but we will.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby HungryHobo » Mon May 02, 2011 1:20 pm UTC

I totally agree that getting one or more outposts of humanity set up on other worlds is the way to go I'm also of the opinion that we're not capable of it yet.
we can barely keep people alive in a completely sealed dome here on earth, we're not capable of putting enough equipment into orbit for anything less than the GNP of entire countries.

that doesn't mean we can't invest in relevant tech, robotics, AI and self replicating machines would help massively with any shot at another world while still being stunningly valuable right here on earth at the same time.
Material science can pay off both here on earth and in any future attempt at colonization.
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Samik
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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Samik » Mon May 02, 2011 1:37 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:I'm also of the opinion that we're not capable of it yet.
we can barely keep people alive in a completely sealed dome here on earth, we're not capable of putting enough equipment into orbit for anything less than the GNP of entire countries.



And this is precisely the problem, HungryHobo.

The Apollo program was commissioned in 1961. We went from essentially a full stop in the late 50's to successful manned landings in 1969. One decade to go from "not capable of it yet" to success.

We've had 40 years since then. The reason we are "not capable of it yet" is not because it is beyond our abilities as a species, but because we've been **insert masturbatory reverse-euphemism for wasting time here**.

icefall5
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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby icefall5 » Mon May 02, 2011 1:39 pm UTC

I found no humor in this comic. How very disappointing.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Wilhelm » Mon May 02, 2011 1:48 pm UTC

The alt-text clearly shows us Randal's opinion on space exploration.


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Samik
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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby Samik » Mon May 02, 2011 1:50 pm UTC

To those who will argue that the technological advances necessary to achieve any real productive exploration / colonization could not be achieved any more quickly, I would respond in this way:



The Wright Brothers made their first flights in 1903. 66 years later we landed on the moon.

Current optimistic projections put the first manned Mars landing some time in the mid 2030's. That's a gap of 70 years between the moon and Mars.

That's right: it will take us longer move from the moon to Mars than it did for us to go from the invention of flight to the moon landing.



Again, it's not that we're not capable. We're just unwilling.

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby paolo » Mon May 02, 2011 1:55 pm UTC

Man, that's sad :-(

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Re: 0893: "65 Years"

Postby radtea » Mon May 02, 2011 1:55 pm UTC

Someone wrote:
Somehow our society has decided that conquering and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan is more valuable than exploring other worlds.


But now that we understand in a deep economic sense that war is even less rational than space exploration, there is a chance to turn the tide over the next few decades.

War is a continuation of mate competition by other means. It has no economic value and is always irrational, both in economic and game-theoretic terms. It is an inappropriate technologically-enabled reification of dominance and hierarchy impulses that are purely related to human mating strategies. War is a mechanism by which males high up the social hierarchy eliminate potential competitors and capture a larger fraction of available resources. One could say "every war is a class war", but that would miss the fundamentally biological forces that make it "just make sense" that in a nominal conflict between nations over scarce resources the best thing do to is gather up those scarce resources into large piles and blow them up.

Not animal anywhere ever fights to the death over anything but mate competition, because it is the only case where the logic of evolution makes such a risk potentially worth-while. In the face of scare resources it is almost always a better choice to invest in seeking out new resources, or fighting not-to-the-death with others of your own species.

Furthermore, since war is trivially the least efficient, least effective means of resolving disputes between groups of humans no human who advocates large-scale organized violence (war) is ever interested in solving the dispute at hand. The purpose of war is not in fact to solve problems, but to create them, so that people who benefit from them can capture a larger fraction of a shrinking resource base. If killing each other solved problems Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, Spain's Basque country, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Libya and Pakistan would have no problems.

Since we know all of this--there is nothing I've said that is the least bit controversial to anyone who understands economics, history and evolution--we can compare war as a human enterprise to space exploration as a human enterprise, and see that space exploration is a vastly better alternative. It too is mate competition continued by other means, and it too allows various elites to capture a larger fraction of society's resources than they would otherwise.

But it also allows for the possibility that the human race will survive its five million year allotted span on this Earth.
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