Friday, June 22, 2007

SPACE: Humanity's Great Destiny

SPACE: Humanity's Great Destiny

In space is freedom, room to roam, knowledge, wild adventure, fabulous wealth, and fantastic beauty! We need to make it possible for all people--perhaps 10 billion by the late 21st century--to go to the moon, Mars, and all over the Solar System. The most important task is to redistribute the wealth globally, so that all people of all countries will be able to participate in this gigantic adventure. We will also of course have to get on track to solving all of our problems down here on Earth before we can justify an era of mass space travel--that's why we must massively tax the rich (see the blog on the cost of progress) . From then on, it will be a matter of building the huge number of rocket ships and giant space elevators that will be needed to transport the billions. We will need to study the environmental impacts of the program, produce popular entertainments,toys, and games to inspire mass enthusiasm for space travel, and also, we will need an immense educational program, to teach everyone about astronomy; space rocket science, engineering, construction, operation, and navigation; sources of energy and raw materials; exo-agronomy (how to grow food in space and on other worlds), and ecology (like the Biosphere--how to create life-sustaining communities in the extreme environments of other worlds).

All space belongs to everyone, and right now it is all public. Eventually, however, much of it will become private property; the most important consideration here being to maintain as much equality as possible for as long as possible--no one should ever be denied a trip to Mercury or a house on Mars, for example, just because they can't afford it.

The Solar System (which is where almost all of our Space travel will be for the next thousand years, though not beyond that; I mean that after around AD 3000 we'll be increasingly going to other stars and their planets) should be developed in such a way as to maximize the cultural diversity, both in order to give all people room to develop their own cultural, artistic, philosophical, social and political ideas, and to give all travelers the widest possible variety of places to visit.

Towards these ends, I would like to make the following proposals, which are geared towards the ideals of maximizing choice and diversity throughout the Solar System.
1. Greatness and Equality of Wealth and Power. By the time we go into space, we should have achieved very high levels of economic power and equality. For example, everyone should be a ten-millionaire. How can we get there from here? Sustained rapid economic growth will do it when combined with strong international governmental support of equality of opportunity, expansion of education and job-creation, etc. For example, the world mean income now runs to $7,500 a year. With 6% annual growth, that doubles every 12 years, which is a factor of 100 by 2090, so that by then, the mean income could be $750,000 a year, which, with thrifty habits, could enable people to save up 10 million dollars by middle age, and even the poorest, provided that we will have established a safety-net giving everyone at least half the mean income, can become multi-millionaires. But I want to emphasize that this is not about giving everyone mansions, luxuries and status-symbols. It is about everyone having the power and resources to go all over the Solar System, help build new civilizations and utopian societies of all sorts, and enjoy wilderness adventures, on all the worlds, limited only by your imagination.

2. Living room on other worlds
While some "terraforming" of the worlds (making planets', moons', asteroids', and comets' surfaces Earthlike) is possible, I think it is better in general to leave most (e.g., 2/3 - 3/4) of the worlds' surfaces as they are, and to build domes (usually clear--glass, Lucite, or ?) up to several miles in diameter, or to lay out (again, usually clear) covering surfaces maybe 10 to 100 feet or meters above the ground, for people to live in or under, shielded from intense pressures or vacuum, poisonous atmospheres, extreme temperatures, radiation, etc. But on some worlds, like Venus and Jupiter, many people will live in the atmosphere, in giant balloons, presumably most often (on Jupiter, they would have to be hot hydrogen balloons).

3. Political and philosophical freedom and diversity. Everyone should have the right to live in whatever type of society they prefer--liberals, conservatives, socialists, libertarians, communists, anarchists, or whatever--and the Solar System is so vast that we can make this ideal a reality!
My general plan is that the extreme of the big-government, socialistic civilizations should be on the innermost planets--Venus, and, especially, Mercury; transitioning gradually to more and more capitalistic, small-government ideals as you go out from Earth to Mars to the giant gaseous planets and ultimately Pluto and the outer comets. Numerically, this can be expressed as the percentage of government control of the economy and society--it might be perhaps 25% in the US at present, compared with maybe 75% in the old USSR. Starting with the worlds closest to the Sun, the ideals might be:
Mercury 90%--totalitarianism (benign and progressive form);
Venus 75%--communism (benign, progressive form);
Earth 60%--socialist ideal, like Sweden and Norway at their best;
Mars 45%--liberal welfare-state ideal, like France and Germany, at their best;
Jupiter and its moons 30%--politically "centrist";
Saturn and its moons 20%--mainstream conservative ideal
Uranus and Neptune and their moons 10%--libertarian ideal
Pluto and the comets 0-5%--anarchist dreams.

Let me emphasize that in no way am I trying to banish the small-government types to the outer cold and darkness! By 2050-2100, when we enter the New Space Age, everyone will have access to all the energy resources that they will need to thrive and prosper on even the remotest, coldest, and darkest comets and turn them into paradises like South Sea islands or whatever their dream may be.

Nor am I trying to segregate people! Everyone should visit all of these different worlds, to participate in and observe how the various ideals will work in practice. (What you will find is that all of them can be made to work well, although you will probably find that some of them appeal more to you than others do. But most of all, you may appreciate the variety.)

Also, each world will have territories set aside for its opposite--there will be a large land for libertarians on Mercury, and there will be a communist nation or two on Pluto, etc.

Private property will be inversely related to the public/governmental percentage given above. For example, there will be no private property of any sort on Mercury, the government will own the shirt ln your back, the brush you paint with (the arts will be promoted on Mercury--already, places there are named for artists, composers, etc.), the bike you ride, etc. On Venus, you can own your own clothes, furniture, vehicles, etc., but only very little land, maybe a thousand square feet to a hundred square meters. And so on, each world farther from the Sun will allow more private property and land, with less and less public; some outer comets under 300 km in diameter might be entirely private.

Here are some more specific proposals:

4. Terrific Mercury. Mercury is the most collectivist, the most heroic; the Nation (here, ideally that is the human race) is all, the individual only matters to the extent that he or she serves the Whole. Mercury is dedicated to titanic progress, gigantic goals that can only be achieved by the collective action of millions of people. Among these goals are:
1. The exploration of the Sun, including, ultimately, manned exploration of the Sun's interior!
2. Construction of gigantic telescopes from infra-red to ultra-violet and gamma-ray, etc.
3. Research and development of ways to move asteroids and comets so as to transport various materials to wherever they are needed, and to prevent collisions--or, perhaps, to cause some collisions (for peaceful purposes only, of course)!
4. R&D of spaceships capable of interstellar travel.
5. Building of vehicles and machinery powerful enough to come to the rescue of endangered planets. Suppose that some day we observe--through gigantic Mercurian telescopes--that a planet, say a thousand light years away, is doomed, like we can foresee that within 50-100,000 years, a giant comet will collide with it--wiping out all life, if it has any. We then have a moral obligation to try to rescue them. It will take enormous vehicles and machinery and training to accomplish that. Mercury will lead the way!

6. Also there is a tiny but not quite zero possibility of an alien invasion from outer space some day. Mercury will be building the weapons and training the troops that might enable the human race to survive and keep our freedom. Perhaps the most important aspect of this is the use of training and wargames to build individual and collective strength, intelligence, teamwork, coordination, and other admirable human qualities.
7. Gigantic construction projects. On Mercury, we will build the immense machines that can construct mountains, continents, and, ultimately, even giant planets to provide billions of square miles of new land to expand human civilization on.

8. Extensive R & D in all technical and scientific areas with special concern for any that might have the potential to lead to new weapons, since there is always the fear that if we don't develop them first, someone else with harmful intent or a lack of wisdom might develop them ahead of us. Now, the Mercurians must be aware of the danger of a technological arms-race, so they must exercise a great deal of self-restraint in this area, yet still they probably lead the Solar System if not the Galaxy. Another area of great concern is the potential for new inventions and discoveries that might lead to inordinate economic gain for the few who might have a monopoly of any sort on them. This could destroy the ideals of equality that we must try to maintain throughout the Solar System; so Mercury is on the alert for such dangers, and will work hard or fight to spread the benefits of such developments equally to all.
9. Although inevitably, inequality will increase as humanity spreads out across the billions of miles of the Solar System, there must still be ultimately limits placed on this--any trillionaires that might arise, away out in the most libertarian regions, are still going to have to somehow pay a tax--and that may will have to be done by Mercurians.

5. The Great Seasons of Mars. Mars has huge seasonal changes, from summers that are almost warm, with temperatures reaching 20 C to 70 F and up (that is in the afternoon; it's far colder at night), and winters with temperatures a hundred to 200 below zero. In the summer hemisphere, people can live out in the spread-out, semirural suburbs with a libertarian, small government; but in winter, many will draw back to live in dense, domed, socialist-to-communist cities. At the change of seasons, there can be mass migrations from one hemisphere to the other, by the millions of people and their animals, pets, etc., who always prefer the summers!

6. The Moons are for children and families. Most large planets have numerous moons--you could think of them as a family of satellites, and human families will enjoy flying around from one to another--e.g., from Europa to Io and many of Jupiter's other moons--as they're not too far apart and will all be developed in different ways that kids can enjoy. It will be fun for extended families, including grandparents, aunts and uncles and all, to take their 4-to-15-year-old children on their first space journeys, trips to Earth's Moon, for example, which will feature many diverse cities and suburbs all across its surface, full of interesting and beautiful adventures and educational experiences for youngsters.

7. The Asteroids are for Teenagers (and nations [and SSGAH!]). There are about 200 asteroids over 60 miles in diameter. These will provide millions of square miles for adolescents to design and build cities on, of all the sorts that their crazy, wild imaginations can conjure up--largely free from adult bosses. Many of these worlds have very low gravity, like less than 1% of Earth's gravity, so you can jump hundreds of feet up into the sky--but don't worry: In a minute or two, you will come down again, with no danger of accidentally flying off helplesly into empty Space!

Teenagers could join into groups of say 30 with similar interests--they would probably find each other on the Internet--to claim a territory of say 10 acres (4 hectares), to develop and build on as they please. 2 million sq. mi. = 1.28 billion acres, which would be enough land to give 10 acres to each of 128 million such groups of kids--or 3.84 billion teens total, which should be just about all of them for the next century or so, although it does depend on how long they want to keep and use their plot.

Nations: There are about as many large (60-mile-plus) asteroids as there are nations, which suggests that they should be matched up, with each country being given its own asteroid. They should work out some sort of cooperative relationship with the teenagers who they share the asteroid with.

And then there's the Solar System Government, or the Government of All Humanity (SSGAH). After millions of people leave the Earth and are living on other worlds and in Space, they will no longer be under the direct governance of the Earth's World government, but will come first under the rule of the Governments of Mars, of Jupiter, of Merury, etc. And then, finally, all of these worlds will be governed by SSGAH. The capital of SSGAH will be on Ceres, the largest of the asteroids.

8. Clocks and Calendars. Each world will have its own time-measuring systems, but these must all have enough in common so as to be easy for all people, such as visitors and tourists to each world, to learn; and yet there will also be a universal system.
Universal elements in world time-systems. We should eventually replace our base-ten "decimal" number system with a base-two "binary" system, since it is a bit more regular. In binary systems, the numbers 16 and 256 are especially important, since 16 ("hexadecimal")equals (2**2)**2 and 256 = ([2**2]**2)**2. The hexadecimal system is often used for printouts of computer memory storage, and the values of one byte (8 bits) of information cover a range of 256--i.e., they can range from 0 to 255 .

Therefore, the basic units of time on each world will be based on its periods of rotation and revolution, and on ratios of 16 and 256. On each world, days will be grouped into sets of 16 days called hetos (pronounced "hettoes"); and these shall be grouped in turn into sets of 16 hetos called hehetos (he [pronounced "heh"] will be the Esperanto abbreviation for hexadecimal; the t comes from the Esperanto word for day: tago). The 16 hetos in each heheto will be labeled by the first 16 letters of the Esperanto alphabet: a, b, c, c^, d, e, f, g, g^, h, h^, i, j, j^, k, l. (I am typing the diacritical marks ^ to the right of the letter, although in standard Esperanto, they go directly above the letters.) These letters can be pronounced ah, bo, tso, cho, doe, eh, fo, go, joe, ho, kho (kh like German ch in Ich bin ein Berliner), ee, yo, zho, ko, lo. The hehetos--sets of 256 days--in turn can be labeled by capital letters: A, B, C, C^, D, E, F, G, G^, H, H^, I, J, J^, K, L. Therefore, each set of 16 days can be given a two-letter name: the heheto letter and the heto letter, from Aa, Ab, Ac, Ac^, Ad . . . to Bd, Be, Bf (since there are just 23 such sets in an Earth year, since 16 goes into 365 22 times with 13 remaining--the last heto (Bf) of each year is only 13 days long, except in leap years, when it will be 14 days.

ON ALL WORLDS, the middle of the First Month of the year--specifically, the dates Aa8-Aa9--should be DEFINED by being the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere (June 20-21 on Earth). Thus, given any heto name on any world, you can tell what season it is in which hemisphere.

These HETOS will be used the same way we now use MONTHS--that is, the 23 of them (on Earth) will be the major subdivisions of the year, used for payments of salaries, rents, etc. The advantages of HETOS over MONTHS are: (1) They are not associated with any particular ethnic group, so they are a neutral choice for worldwide adoption as an alternative to the Christian, Chinese, Islamic, or other traditional calendars. (2) The hetos are all equal except for the last one of the year, unlike the irregular lengths of the months. (3) Their names are all automatically easy to remember by anyone who knows the Esperanto alphabet, which should be everyone in the future, by contrast with the arbitrary, archaic names of the months. (4) The system is easily, obviously and automatically adaptable to all the other worlds of the Solar System.

Heto Work schedules, Weekly Leisure schedules. With each heto containing 16 days, the calendar will feature each heto in the form of a 4-by-4 square of 16 days:
..HETO name..

While everyone may work different schedules, a common, standard schedule might be "123/4"--meaning the first, second, and third days in each row of 4 days. That would mean you would work on these 12 dates--1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15. That would amount to a little bit more than the 5 days out of 7 that is now common. To work a little bit less, you could specify a work schedule like "123/4 x 15", which would be to work all those days except for the 15th day of each heto. College class schedules might be expressed the same way.

Yet, the familiar unit of the week might be kept and used for scheduling leisure-time activities--such as the tradition for many of Sundays as a day of worship. One interesting thing about the week that is different from the heto is that the days of the week run continuously right through the end of the year, instead of ending the year with a special short period in order to begin each year on the first day of a new heto--years can begin on any day of the week. Another interesting feature of the week is that its length will vary on different worlds: The number of days per week should always be the cube root of the number of days per year, rounded. Thus, since the cube root of 365 is about 7, there are 7 days per week on Earth. On Mars, there will be 9 days a week; on the Moon, only 2.

If there are 4,096 (16 times 256) days a year on a world (as is the case on some asteroids), then there will be 256 hetos, named from Aa, Ab, Ac . . . to Lj^, Lk, Ll. If there are over 4,096 days a year, then each set of 4,096 days will be a hetrito (based on the Esperanto word tri, meaning three)--thus a hetrito = 16 x 16 x 16 days. The hetritos will be named by underlined lower-case letters. If there are over 65,536 days a year, as may be the case on Neptune and Pluto and beyond, then each set of 65,536 days is called a heheduto--that is 256x256, using the Esperanto word for two, du, and is named by UNDERLINED UPPER-CASE letters.

On all the worlds, the years will be numbered from December 10, 1948--the date of the UN's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights--which will fall within--and define--the Year One on all worlds.

Clocks: Of course, you won't use hours or minutes as a unit of time on any other world--but what unit can you use? The most universal will be 256ths of a day (however long a day may be on the particular world); these are called heheontos--using the Esperanto suffix -ono, which means a fraction, combined with the t for tago meaning day. On Earth, each 256th of a day is 5.625 minutes, or 5 minutes and 37.5 seconds, or 337.5 seconds.

Thus, an expression such as Ag6:128 gives both the date (the 6th day of the heto Ag) and the time (128 would be about noon--midday--, since 128 is half of 256. Since each day is naturally divided into quarters, time 64 is 6 am, time 192 is 6 pm, and time 256, or 1, is midnight, you can easily interpolate as to what other times of day are indicated by each 256th or heheonto.

Universal Solar System Time: In addition to the local time on each world, we will need a systemwide time that is the same everywhere. The natural unit is the second, with the kilosecond (16 minutes and 40 seconds) and megasecond (11.57407 Earth-days) being the important derivatives. There are about 31.6 megaseconds per Earth-year, and, (not quite by coincidence) 1,000 megaseconds (1 billion seconds, or 1 gigasecond) equals about 31.6 Earthyears. For precise computations, you can use the fact that 54 megaseconds is exactly 625 Earth-days. The zero time will be 1200 GMT on December 10, 1948--the date of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

9. Languages, Alphabets and Syllabaries.

Two languages will largely prevail throughout the Solar System: (1) an expanding Esperanto, which should (after about 2030, by which time it should be most people's second language) grow by about one word a day, drawn mostly from all the non-European tongues of the world, so that by the 2050s-2060s as we enter the New Space Age for All, its vocabulary should include 10-15,000 new words, largely drawn from Chinese, Hindu, Arabic, Japanese, Indonesian, Hausa, etc., to complement its current mostly European base and make it a truly Multicultural Language. (2) A "scientific language" (SciLang), semantically ordered and logical. The "SciLang" may be most common on the inner planets, especially Mercury and Venus; the Multicultural Language may be more common out beyond the Earth and Mars.

The asteroids should become the repository or living-museum of thousands of other languages. This is based on their status as properties of the world's nations (the 200 or so largest asteroids) and, below them, all the various non-national ethnic groups--such as the indigenous peoples of the Americas, etc. (There are about 5,000 languages in the world; all of them, along with their associated cultures, should be preserved, not merely in books but in living practice--and there are thousands of asteroids over 10 miles in diameter they could be assigned to.) In addition, all those millions of teen-ager utopias or distopias described above, will have a chance to develop their own languages, that probably many will use to express their uniqueness, vision and style.

In addition, it is to be expected that each major world will probably develop its own dialect of the Multicultural and Scientific Languages. These are as charming as all the various dialects or accents of English are--from the Southern drawl to the clipped British stiff upper lip to Cockney to Japanese, French, and all the other delightful accents of English.

Also, each major world may develop its own alphabet or syllabary to represent the SciLang or Multicultural Language. These variations will add beauty and interest to interplanetary tourism just as all the different alphabets that have grown up on Earth increase the interest of Earthly travel--think of the handsome diversity of Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Hindu, Cyrillic, etc.

(Indeed, I have already invented eight different alphabets/syllabaries myself, mostly based on the concept of a phonetically-ordered alphabet and the idea that each number (e.g., 23)--hence, each letter (e.g., the 23rd letter of the phonetically-arranged alphabet)--can be represented as a binary string of 1s and 0s or their equivalent.)

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