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Re: Colony Critical Mass

From: Alan E & Carmel J Brain <aebrain@d...>
Date: Fri, 14 Nov 1997 19:37:14 -0800
Subject: Re: Colony Critical Mass

Brian wrote:
> I am trying to design a scenario for colonies trying to become
> This led to a question on what is the smallest, sustainable,
> colony size. I realize that this will vary with the conditions of the
> What is the minimum population needed to have a self-sustaining
> By self-sustaining, I mean enough people to avoid becoming inbred,
> food, shelter, purify water, and support light industry.
> Please respond for these two conditions to give me a range:
> 1) Colony on the Moon
> 2) Colony on an Earth-like world (plenty of food, water, minerals,

Phrases like "in-bred" are relative, you could get away with tolerably
little genetic problems with between 100-300 people. As little as 12
will give enough variation to give a good chance of survival, albeit at
a very high price. DNA analysis of Cheetahs show that they suffered a
catastrophic population crash, and were reduced to about 12 individuals
within the last 100,000 years, if memory serves. As a result, they're
still on the verge of extinction, there just hasn't been enough
accumulation of variation to make the poor beasts 'hardened' against
disease etc.

Food, sheleter etc. - Depends on the technology. At current levels, with
a lot of capital investment, 200 would be quite enough for the Moon. On
an Earth-like world, the numbers are the same, it's the capital
investment that changes.

See the history of Roanaoke, and later Pitcairn Island, Norfolk Island,
and the First Fleet that came to Australia in 1788 for an excellent
example of what can go wrong, and the minimums required.
--     <> <>    How doth the little Crocodile
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		    By pulling MAERKLIN Wagons, in 1/220 Scale

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