Author Topic: New Fermi paradox: where are all the space geeks?  (Read 3900 times)

Offline suncity

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Re: New Fermi paradox: where are all the space geeks?
« Reply #20 on: 01/07/2012 07:16 PM »
I was born at the beginning of the Space Age and I can remember following Gemini, Apollo and Skylab. In those years everybody  had the clear vision that the next step for humankind was to expand in space. It was considered evident that there would be exploration missions going farther and farther away from Earth (remember 2001: A space Odyssey?) while space stations and bases on the Moon and later Mars would be the first step of space colonization.   

I think that the story of the last decades shows that this is not going to happen. We could have managed better the existing resources (i.e. maximizing reuse and optimization of proven launch systems, like the Russians did with Soyuz), but I believe that space technology hit some natural limit dictated by the rocket equation, physical properties of existing propellants and materials, harsh requirements of the launch environment and of space in general.

If we spent over 100 billion dollars to build a 6-persons space station, and now we are using basically all of the world’s HSF resources just to keep it manned and supplied, it’s not because we did something terribly wrong during its design and construction, but it’s because there is no way to do it for a sharply lower cost or complexity (I fully agree that we could reduce a space station cost by, say, 10x, using cost-optimized launchers, using inflatable modules etc…, but this will not change the game, IMHO).

So, I believe we will not become a space-faring civilization building self-sustainable bases in space or on another planet or moon, and I think this is the general perception in the public.

Human spaceflight becomes then another expensive hobby, like living in Antarctica or climbing Mt. Everest, with a limited group of passionate follower but without the appeal it had 40 years ago, when it was a symbol of the future of mankind.  We believed we would be discussing Mars colonization now; we are discussing about possibly repeating Apollo 10 or 20 years from now. It’s hard to retain the interest of space geeks in this context, and getting new generations excited about HSF is pretty hard.

Online KelvinZero

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Re: New Fermi paradox: where are all the space geeks?
« Reply #21 on: 01/07/2012 10:36 PM »
Before committing myself to a specific description, what is the difference between a geek and a nerd? - if there is one!

For the purpose of this conversation we don't need to differentiate. Just as with the Fermi paradox you don't need to come up with a definition of life that matches all life. It is better to propose something you can easily measure.

So, for this conversation, we could define a space geek as someone who would post once a week or more on a space subject in a public forum. Or you could choose once a day, but that would exclude me.

Im puzzled that from a billion odd people, the number of regular posters is not beyond the scope of a single reader to absorb every day. For example if only one in a million people posted every day, that would still mean reading a thousand posts a day. One in a million is like serial-killer rare.


Offline Chris Bergin

Re: New Fermi paradox: where are all the space geeks?
« Reply #22 on: 01/07/2012 10:42 PM »
Before committing myself to a specific description, what is the difference between a geek and a nerd? - if there is one!

For the purpose of this conversation we don't need to differentiate. Just as with the Fermi paradox you don't need to come up with a definition of life that matches all life. It is better to propose something you can easily measure.

So, for this conversation, we could define a space geek as someone who would post once a week or more on a space subject in a public forum. Or you could choose once a day, but that would exclude me.

Im puzzled that from a billion odd people, the number of regular posters is not beyond the scope of a single reader to absorb every day. For example if only one in a million people posted every day, that would still mean reading a thousand posts a day. One in a million is like serial-killer rare.



I think you missed my post. You *should* be saying "Wow, I was wrong" if just the forum on just this site gets *that* amount of people through the door, then I was so wrong about my OP.

Or, you'd have to be specific about people who take the bigger step of posting about the subject, which is mitigated by the fact you wouldn't want thousands of people posting "Hi, I like launch vehicles" and not much else. People naturally work out that they are best to contribute towards the debate, and sometimes most people would rather listen.

So long as there's people listenining.... ;D

Offline manboy

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Re: New Fermi paradox: where are all the space geeks?
« Reply #23 on: 01/07/2012 10:43 PM »
I assume lurking pretty common, this forum is a good place to find info that can't be found elsewhere.
"Cheese has been sent into space before. But the same cheese has never been sent into space twice." - StephenB

Online KelvinZero

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Re: New Fermi paradox: where are all the space geeks?
« Reply #24 on: 01/07/2012 11:19 PM »

I think you missed my post. You *should* be saying "Wow, I was wrong" if just the forum on just this site gets *that* amount of people through the door, then I was so wrong about my OP.

Or, you'd have to be specific about people who take the bigger step of posting about the subject, which is mitigated by the fact you wouldn't want thousands of people posting "Hi, I like launch vehicles" and not much else. People naturally work out that they are best to contribute towards the debate, and sometimes most people would rather listen.

So long as there's people listenining.... ;D

Hi Chris, sorry I did read your post. As mentioned in the OP I was really talking about posters. Didn't mean to imply this site was slowing! This site certainly is at the top of the list according to google at least, and I'm sure has the most members actually in the industry of any public forum.

How many posts a day are you getting here? And what is you "Fermi equation" best guess of how many space related messages should be appearing across the internet every day?

One reason as people have noted, is that this site is quite technical and focused on the vehicles. But in that case where have the space.com crowd moved off to? There were some very nice discussions there (with two or three people who really knew what they were talking about) on the possibility of ice on the moon before it was confirmed, for example.

Offline p51

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Re: New Fermi paradox: where are all the space geeks?
« Reply #25 on: 01/08/2012 12:46 AM »
Just like with any other hobby or interest, the majority of people into something are passively so. Many people would watch a shuttle launch on TV and maybe have a book or two, but that’s about it. They LIKE the space program; they’re just not rabid about it. For every person you find at a sci-fi convention dressed like Captain Kirk or a Klingon, there are a hundred fans of the show who really like the shows and movies but would never dream of doing anything more than watching the DVDs or going to the theater. But they’re fans, too, just not over-the-top ones.
It’s the same with any pastime, and you see it every day with the tours at Kennedy Space Center. I was recently there for the first time in many years. I don’t think I encountered a single, “Space geek” the entire day. Everyone was doing the tourist thing. I’m sure they all wanted to be there and found it all, “Cool,” but that was likely the limit of their interest level. The kids mentioned earlier are the product of movies that show space exploration being far more exciting than it really is. I doubt many kids found the movie, “Apollo 13” as compelling as most adults (more so the ones who lived through that time). Let’s face it; going to space in real life isn’t nearly as action-filled as the movies would suggest. NASA did that to themselves, pushing the shuttle as a safe and highly professional way to go to space, why would kids find it cool and exciting if it was billed as a trucking company in low orbit?
I have always liked the space program. One of my first memories is watching either Apollo 15 or 16 (still not sure which one) launching. I have lots of books, a few models and such things. I even looked into applying for the astronaut corps once (my eyesight was way too bad and my degree wasn’t in anything that NASA wanted). Heck, I’m even wearing the “Atlantis world tour” shuttle shirt I bought at KSC’s gift shop in September as I type this. But I’m hardly a ‘space geek’ by the definition of anyone here.
"The years forever fashion new dreams when old ones go. God pity a one-dream man."
-Robert Goddard

Online KelvinZero

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Re: New Fermi paradox: where are all the space geeks?
« Reply #26 on: 01/08/2012 04:00 AM »
Hi p51,
I don't dispute any of that, but your augment is qualitative rather than quantitative.

Im attempting to be quantitative ( if a little tongue in cheek! )

Have a look at these links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox

For example, this site claims there are about 2 billion internet users, and more than 1/4b american internet users. So Im guessing there are at least 250,000,000 english speaking internet users.
http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

What fraction of these could we expect to be space geeks? I don't know. I arbitrarily and perhaps falsely assumed that there were more space geeks than murders per capita. (Here I am defining a space geek as someone that  posts more than once per day)

murders per capita in US is apparently 0.000043, or 0.043 per 1000.

Multiply those two together and I get an estimate of at least 10,000 english posts about space per day.

As with the Fermi paradox, we can resolve this either by asking if we are not seeing them for some reason, or refining one of our assumptions. That link on the Fermi paradox also has a few interesting explanations we could attempt applying ;)



« Last Edit: 01/08/2012 04:02 AM by KelvinZero »

Offline Longhorn John

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Re: New Fermi paradox: where are all the space geeks?
« Reply #27 on: 01/08/2012 04:16 AM »
You're judging this all wrong! It's not about how many posts! It's about how many readers/visitors. If someone posts or not, that's completely irrelevant!!

Are you going to judge Fox News' site on the amount of posts in their comment section, most of which are terrible? Their top story for most of today has 197 posts. Are you going to say there's no interest in our armed forces then?

Offline Paul Howard

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Re: New Fermi paradox: where are all the space geeks?
« Reply #28 on: 01/08/2012 04:28 AM »
Totally agree John. Strange thread title, strange opening post. Just isn't reflective or representative.

Online KelvinZero

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Re: New Fermi paradox: where are all the space geeks?
« Reply #29 on: 01/08/2012 04:44 AM »
(@Longhorn John)
hey I'm not judging this site, and Im certainly not comparing it to Fox News.. :)
« Last Edit: 01/08/2012 04:47 AM by KelvinZero »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: New Fermi paradox: where are all the space geeks?
« Reply #30 on: 01/08/2012 05:04 AM »
MATTBLAK: MSL has a laser (which can vaporize rock), will rappel down to the surface from a rocket pack, and is nuclear powered. If that's not awesome, I don't know what is. :)

suncity: A very depressing vision of the future. I prefer to be like one of those ridiculously optimistic fish long ago who claimed it could breathe air and walk and even live on land. That fish is our ancestor, and that ridiculous optimism is in our blood. Alternatively (depending on your worldview), we are the children of God. Either way, I choose the near-impossible future.

It's not physics which keeps us here, it is finding a way to use physics in a way that is economical. It doesn't have to do with cost of energy (price of fuel for a launch is minuscule compared to the rest of the cost of the mission), so we've got a couple orders of magnitude of improvement that we can make in the economics of space launch before we have to worry about the physics of lowering the cost of energy. And that's just launch costs. The other costs can be greatly lowered in other ways.

It may not happen in our lifetimes (or it may, who knows), but I am confident that the dream of becoming a multi-planetary species will come true. We'll find a way to do it.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Chris Bergin

Re: New Fermi paradox: where are all the space geeks?
« Reply #31 on: 01/08/2012 05:22 AM »
You're judging this all wrong! It's not about how many posts! It's about how many readers/visitors. If someone posts or not, that's completely irrelevant!!

Are you going to judge Fox News' site on the amount of posts in their comment section, most of which are terrible? Their top story for most of today has 197 posts. Are you going to say there's no interest in our armed forces then?

That's what I was sorta getting at. Posting frequency (and/or the amount of people actually posting) mean nothing.

Bottom line: "Where are all the space geeks?" - They are visiting this and other sites, some are reading, some are posting. Some are only going to the news site, some are spending all day on here. But they are ALL visiting the site.

"How many posts a day are you getting here?" Not sure, not bothered. Interested in visitor numbers as that's the absolute guideline.

End of thread I reckon as it's gone wayward with Robot's response (as in it's going to turn into that sort of thread) and I've woken up to a bunch of report to moderators about this one. ;D
« Last Edit: 01/08/2012 05:23 AM by Chris Bergin »

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