Author Topic: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars  (Read 17079 times)

Offline DaveJes1979

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #160 on: 12/03/2018 08:43 pm »
DaveJes1979, the antarctica analogy is not a new one. It was old when Bill Nye used it in the story that started this thread, as I mentioned in the second post in this thread.

All analogies will, of course, have some disanalogies.  The question is whether the disanalogies are relevant.

My point at the moment is fairly narrow - there is no inevitable or even likely connection between a scientific outpost and a colony.  The Antarctic outposts are just one line of relevant evidence.  If the colony proponents want to deny this, they need to show a detailed plan on how this transition takes place through realistic mechanisms.  All I'm getting is hand-waving.

Offline envy887

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #161 on: 12/03/2018 09:38 pm »
Unfortunately refined PGM materials are not available on Mars. Initially it will be hard enough to find and process sufficient water let alone start a Platinum mine and crush and process millions of tons of rock.

Unoxidized nickel-iron meteorites exist just laying on the surface of Mars. And there are likely more just below the surface that could be located by a big metal detector. Some of them probably contain high concentrations of PGMs (where, and how much, is certainly a good question). You wouldn't mine ore like on Earth because you shouldn't need to, and because it would be rather difficult.

And yet it's been pointed out that the market for any precious item including platinum group metals would crash if a large supply were suddenly introduced. Suppose you hauled a big asteroid filled with platinum back to Earth - then it suddenly wouldn't be such a rare and precious material anymore, and thus its value would plunge. How do you create a sustainable business model out of that?
Do the same as De Beers. Fill warehouses with the stuff and sell it at a trickle.

PGMs aren't just pretty. They have many, many industrial uses and those uses would skyrocket if the materials were cheaper.

Offline Yaotzin

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #162 on: 12/03/2018 09:41 pm »
Obviously a Mars research base would become a colony because EM/USA/whoever decided to build a colony,

Who is "whoever" and why would they invest in a colony if, as you admit, there is no economic case?  If you are relying on government machinations (via the tax dollars of its citizens) to subsidize a colony, you don't have a great plan, gang. It is (and should) only going to happen with a free market.
EM seems to be only one with both means (maybe) and desire to get things started. USG as an outside bet as some national pride/oneupping China thing, or indeed China for the same reason. Many others would have various reasons to contribute pieces here and there, but it would certainly require a philanthropic or government backing.
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My point at the moment is fairly narrow - there is no inevitable or even likely connection between a scientific outpost and a colony.  The Antarctic outposts are just one line of relevant evidence.  If the colony proponents want to deny this, they need to show a detailed plan on how this transition takes place through realistic mechanisms.  All I'm getting is hand-waving.
1) Build a research base.
2) Expand it to a colony.

1 comes first because you can probably get governments to fund it, and much research is needed for a colony anyway. AFAIK no one claims 2 will inevitably happen, only that *if* someone does decide to fund a colony, expanding the research base is the obvious way to do it.
« Last Edit: 12/03/2018 09:43 pm by Yaotzin »

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #163 on: 12/03/2018 10:01 pm »
Unoxidized nickel-iron meteorites exist just laying on the surface of Mars. And there are likely more just below the surface that could be located by a big metal detector. Some of them probably contain high concentrations of PGMs (where, and how much, is certainly a good question). You wouldn't mine ore like on Earth because you shouldn't need to, and because it would be rather difficult.

How many of those exist? Could you build a colony with them, and how far out would you have to venture to find them?

Unlike a vein of ore that can be quantified, relying on randomly finding meteorites with the right compositions does not sound like a predictable way to provide resources for a growing colony.

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PGMs aren't just pretty. They have many, many industrial uses and those uses would skyrocket if the materials were cheaper.

What materials will need to be transported from Earth, and in what quantities, in order to refine 1mT of platinum group metals?

Or would it be cheaper to just ship refined platinum group metals to Mars?
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline brainbit

Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #164 on: 12/03/2018 10:24 pm »
When I was growing up there where still people starting a new life in Australia at 10 a go. Australia needed colonists and was prepared to subsidize the cost. I expect Mars will be the same. I would certainly buy my ticket to Mars for 10 to start a new life.  :)

Offline envy887

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #165 on: 12/04/2018 01:14 pm »
Unoxidized nickel-iron meteorites exist just laying on the surface of Mars. And there are likely more just below the surface that could be located by a big metal detector. Some of them probably contain high concentrations of PGMs (where, and how much, is certainly a good question). You wouldn't mine ore like on Earth because you shouldn't need to, and because it would be rather difficult.

How many of those exist? Could you build a colony with them, and how far out would you have to venture to find them?

Unlike a vein of ore that can be quantified, relying on randomly finding meteorites with the right compositions does not sound like a predictable way to provide resources for a growing colony.

That's going considerably beyond the initial assertion that there is nothing worth shipping back from Mars. I rather doubt that "colony as a profitable mining camp" is likely to happen near term. A colony is likely to be a money sink for a long time, but that doesn't mean they can't send things back to offset part of the costs.

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PGMs aren't just pretty. They have many, many industrial uses and those uses would skyrocket if the materials were cheaper.

What materials will need to be transported from Earth, and in what quantities, in order to refine 1mT of platinum group metals?

Or would it be cheaper to just ship refined platinum group metals to Mars?

Maybe initially. But if a colony is going to keep growing, its going to need metal extraction and refining equipment eventually anyway.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #166 on: 12/05/2018 05:54 am »
I rather doubt that "colony as a profitable mining camp" is likely to happen near term. A colony is likely to be a money sink for a long time, but that doesn't mean they can't send things back to offset part of the costs.

Just like with our Moon I believe that any resource extraction and processing will be for local consumption, not export.

I agree that it will likely not be profitable, though being able to avoid importing material and supplies required for a growing colony may not be profitable but still valuable.


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...But if a colony is going to keep growing, its going to need metal extraction and refining equipment eventually anyway.

Agreed. Though I think it will be a long time, and might require processes that we don't need to use here on Earth because of the abundance of air and liquids. When things are scarce innovation tends to be in abundance...  ;)
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #167 on: 12/05/2018 06:32 am »
For instance, McMurdo Station in Antarctica is not going to magically become a colony if we just give it a few more decades.  Scientists and support staff spend up to 18 months, including one winter season, then leave.  Today it is fairly rare for anyone to spend even two winters there.  There are zero permanent residents.
This has been discussed before. Permanent residents are limited (if not outright banned) in Antarctica by international treaty.


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Offline DaveJes1979

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #168 on: 12/05/2018 05:52 pm »
1) Build a research base.
2) Expand it to a colony.

We aren't really talking about the logistics of expanding the buildings or facilities of a small base to accommodate a colony (although that has its own problems).  The point is that there are no market forces that would cause a research base to expand in to a colony.  It is going to take more than fanboy-power, wishful thinking, and rich uncle Elon to make a colony happen.  There needs to be good reasons...real good reasons...for people to be interested in living in an underground tin can under a cold desert.  Things that can only be done on Mars and not on earth, and these have to be things that machines can't do (sorry, exo-miners).  Until you can come up with concrete reasons, you don't have a case for a colony.

Even Elon and Zubrin seem to at least realize that this is a real problem.  They have suggested that intellectual property licensing might be a way to make a Mars colony profitable. But this, of course, is a chicken or egg problem.  Even if we buy the highly dubious idea that intellectual property could be *that* profitable somewhere down the line, we still have to have a reason for people to want to go to Mars to live in the first place.

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This has been discussed before. Permanent residents are limited (if not outright banned) in Antarctica by international treaty.

So are you seriously arguing that there might be permanent residents if the legal roadblocks were eliminated?  It is rare for people to spend even 2 winters in Antarctica, on extremely rare occasions some have done 3 winters, tops, and it took a huge psychological toll on these people.
« Last Edit: 12/05/2018 05:56 pm by DaveJes1979 »

Offline envy887

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #169 on: 12/05/2018 08:48 pm »
Mars doesn't have 6 month nights, as least not anywhere you would build a colony.

Also, about 4 million people live permanently north of the Artic circle.

Offline Yaotzin

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #170 on: 12/06/2018 03:04 am »
We aren't really talking about the logistics of expanding the buildings or facilities of a small base to accommodate a colony (although that has its own problems).  The point is that there are no market forces that would cause a research base to expand in to a colony.  It is going to take more than fanboy-power, wishful thinking, and rich uncle Elon to make a colony happen.  There needs to be good reasons...real good reasons...for people to be interested in living in an underground tin can under a cold desert.  Things that can only be done on Mars and not on earth, and these have to be things that machines can't do (sorry, exo-miners).  Until you can come up with concrete reasons, you don't have a case for a colony.
You seem to insist that a colony can only look like a market driven investment funded enterprise. I don't understand why; no one has ever said this will happen unless we discover unobtanium there. The idea is more like a library or university; built by a rich benefactor, along with a fund to help with ongoing costs. And for the same reason: there's no economic case for them (please don't get me started on the abomination that is for-profit universities).

As reasons to go; at first it would be temporary and a pretty fascinating job, so there'd be plenty of interest. Longer term would depend on QoL that's been built up which is difficult to predict. Worst case, pay people to go. We don't live in a post scarcity society; you can find lots of people who will do anything for a little money.

So yes, seriously, a rich enough uncle Elon is the only requirement. We can discuss how rich he'd have to be for x size colony, but money is really all it takes.
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Even Elon and Zubrin seem to at least realize that this is a real problem.  They have suggested that intellectual property licensing might be a way to make a Mars colony profitable. But this, of course, is a chicken or egg problem.  Even if we buy the highly dubious idea that intellectual property could be *that* profitable somewhere down the line, we still have to have a reason for people to want to go to Mars to live in the first place.
IP or any other export would be a way of partially funding the colony. It is not required; a colony could be built with zero exports*. Exports make it more financially viable, they increase the size of the colony you can afford etc. It's 'just' money, which can come from any source.

*in the colloquial sense, in the accounting sense they're there of course.

Offline MaxTeranous

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #171 on: 12/06/2018 10:44 am »
People are bright, use cases usually come once the enabler is there. Remember that there is a world market for maybe 5 computers...

Offline Slarty1080

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #172 on: 12/06/2018 11:04 am »
We aren't really talking about the logistics of expanding the buildings or facilities of a small base to accommodate a colony (although that has its own problems).  The point is that there are no market forces that would cause a research base to expand in to a colony.  It is going to take more than fanboy-power, wishful thinking, and rich uncle Elon to make a colony happen.  There needs to be good reasons...real good reasons...for people to be interested in living in an underground tin can under a cold desert.  Things that can only be done on Mars and not on earth, and these have to be things that machines can't do (sorry, exo-miners).  Until you can come up with concrete reasons, you don't have a case for a colony.
You seem to insist that a colony can only look like a market driven investment funded enterprise. I don't understand why; no one has ever said this will happen unless we discover unobtanium there. The idea is more like a library or university; built by a rich benefactor, along with a fund to help with ongoing costs. And for the same reason: there's no economic case for them (please don't get me started on the abomination that is for-profit universities).

As reasons to go; at first it would be temporary and a pretty fascinating job, so there'd be plenty of interest. Longer term would depend on QoL that's been built up which is difficult to predict. Worst case, pay people to go. We don't live in a post scarcity society; you can find lots of people who will do anything for a little money.

So yes, seriously, a rich enough uncle Elon is the only requirement. We can discuss how rich he'd have to be for x size colony, but money is really all it takes.
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Even Elon and Zubrin seem to at least realize that this is a real problem.  They have suggested that intellectual property licensing might be a way to make a Mars colony profitable. But this, of course, is a chicken or egg problem.  Even if we buy the highly dubious idea that intellectual property could be *that* profitable somewhere down the line, we still have to have a reason for people to want to go to Mars to live in the first place.
IP or any other export would be a way of partially funding the colony. It is not required; a colony could be built with zero exports*. Exports make it more financially viable, they increase the size of the colony you can afford etc. It's 'just' money, which can come from any source.

*in the colloquial sense, in the accounting sense they're there of course.
"A rich enough uncle Elon is the only requirement. We can discuss how rich he'd have to be for x size colony, but money is really all it takes."

A very good point, I do wonder how rich Elon Musk might become if Tesla and SpaceX continue to grow at their current rate for another decade or two (obviously not a given by any stretch but who knows). If a large enough amount of money could be gathered to start the ball rolling, perhaps a Mars colony is possible. IP /rocks / tourists would provide some income and if the flight costs could be driven down enough it might just work.
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Offline niwax

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #173 on: 12/06/2018 11:34 am »
A very good point, I do wonder how rich Elon Musk might become if Tesla and SpaceX continue to grow at their current rate for another decade or two (obviously not a given by any stretch but who knows). If a large enough amount of money could be gathered to start the ball rolling, perhaps a Mars colony is possible. IP /rocks / tourists would provide some income and if the flight costs could be driven down enough it might just work.

The time is pretty good to raise money through IP and other means. Amazon just paid 250 million $ for twelve episodes of the Hammond, Clarkson and May, Netflix has a yearly content budget of 13 billion $ and several reality stars do appear to be doing quite well. If they can get enough people around the world interested in Mars, any media coming back would be extremely valuable.
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Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #174 on: 12/06/2018 11:58 pm »
Government or international funded is also a very reasonable option, similar to Antarctica and the ISS, especially if SpaceX shows how to bring costs dramatically down for such an endeavour.

I think that like Antarctica, if one nation had an outpost there then other nations would want to stake a claim also, just so that if a business case suddenly does emerge, the government with the sole base is not so far ahead before the others ramp up that it essentially takes possession of the entire world.

(Note: using Antarctica as an analogy for funding an outpost is not accepting the analogy "we won't colonise Mars because we have not colonised Antarctica". That is still a silly analogy IMO. )


« Last Edit: 12/06/2018 11:59 pm by KelvinZero »

Online A_M_Swallow

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #175 on: 12/11/2018 08:38 pm »
Love all this back and forth about Mars Colonies, mir=grating technology and manufacturing.
I'm interested in what type of cam indexing and CNC are used in the aeronautical space.

Thanks for sharing any other reads.


{snip}

Any 3D manufacturing machine or CNN for use on Mars will probably be made-to-measure machines. Low gravity, light weight to transport and super strict pollution standards will force that.

3D printing experiments have taken place on the International Space Station.
http://spaceflight101.com/iss/made-in-space-1st-iss-3d-printer

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #176 on: 12/11/2018 09:30 pm »
Love all this back and forth about Mars Colonies, mir=grating technology and manufacturing.
I'm interested in what type of cam indexing and CNC are used in the aeronautical space.

Cam-operated subtractive manufacturing machines are not a very good choice for space, so when the time comes to send subtractive manufacturing tools into space they will likely be CNC (computer numerical control). For instance, you have to have a separate machining center to make and rehabilitate cams, which takes up more room and more resources.


Cam-operated machines are great when you're churning out lots and lots of the same part, but at least for the first few decades our needs will likely be for small lots of parts.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Lar

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Re: Bill Nye doesn't think we'll colonize Mars
« Reply #177 on: 12/18/2018 04:47 am »
We have had threads on how to fund a colony, and on how to motivate people to go. Don't rehash those general arguments. Thank you.
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