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Re: real world colonization

From: Beth Fulton <beth.fulton@m...>
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 12:13:02 +1000
Subject: Re: real world colonization

G'day Glen,

 >All this talk about settling new worlds has one major
 >problem: Is there a place to settle?	IF (make that a
 >very very big IF) there is another "earth-like" world in
 >another star system (oops, make that 2 problems:
 >is FTL viable?)

OK I'm going to give those two as given - i.e. there is FTL <cos ST^3
says so and that's good enough for me ;)> and that there are world(s) 
within the habitable zone(s) of other stars that aren't meltingly hot or

far beyond the frigid nature of our own poles. Given those its doable,
not be fast or pretty (especially at the start) and people are going to
killed in the process but it can be done (especially if there's liquid
frozen water about, desert planets are heaps more of a push).

 >who says that its environment is totally
 >safe for humans to walk unprotected.

Who knows, it may be unsafe, but then its unsafe to do it for long down 
here given the ozone hole, so that's more of a suck it and see thing. 
Eventually it'd probably just come down to getting used to putting heaps

more clothes etc on and so you're going to get different cultures etc 
growing up in the different spots (the whole "you must put jackets on 
before going out" came as a bit of a shock to Derek the first winter we 
were down here, he'd just spent his entire life in the tropics so cold
something new).

 >How long would it take to "terraform" that world?

You're never going to get an 'exact Earth', but a liveable environment
come quickly, may come slowly depends how close the system is to a
flip'. It could conceivably take as little as a few decades in some
centuries in others, terraforming isn't going to be an exact science.

 >Can it be done or
 >would the native life be hostile and hard to eliminate
 >or replace by Earth life?

Now that's the killer question, are the two going to be lethal to each 
other or impervious? Either extreme is possible, the two communities
coexist or mesh quite happily, then again their novel nature may also
them lethal (especially the microbe sized things). Ultimately it would
better to see how much of the existing flora/fauna you can use - avoid
interstellar equivalent of the topsoil and salinity issues that western 
farming practices have brought to Australia.

 >Can Earth plant-life live under a different sun?

I'm guessing yes on that one. There are so many different photo and 
chemosynthetic pathways and pigments that you don't need a deadset exact
Sol to get even Sol evolved plants to work (otherwise greenhouses and 
indoor planets would be stuffed). The chemosynthetic pathways mean you 
don't even really need a sun.... but that's a whole different kettle of

 >We have a hard time surviving in a semi-hostile world
 >here on Earth: underwater. Where are all those underwater
 >cities envisioned by sf authors of many years ago?

At the top of the "people aren't interested" list. We don't need kelp
(as yet), overpopulation (space as a limiting factor) isn't so great yet

that people feel the need to break with their cultural imperatives and 
build large underwater cities. Its also not quite that simple, you can't

breath water, its denser, energy tapping and a myriad other things which

make it much more hostile to work in (and with) than even a thin
atmosphere such as that you'd find on the top of Everest (or the dry 
valleys of the Antarctic). It's also not quite so glamorous as the
though funnily enough we are learning more of the oceans the further we 
push into space (technological spin offs).

Hows that for start?


Elizabeth Fulton
c/o CSIRO Division of Marine Research
GPO Box 1538
Phone (03) 6232 5018 International +61 3 6232 5018
Fax 03 6232 5053 International +61 3 6232 5053


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