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A City on Mars: Can we settle space, should we settle space, and have we really thought this through?

por Kelly Weinersmith, Zach Weinersmith

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274798,568 (4.08)13
"Earth is not well. The promise of starting life anew somewhere far, far away--no climate change, no war, no Twitter--beckons, and settling the stars finally seems within our grasp. Or is it? Critically acclaimed, bestselling authors Kelly and Zach Weinersmith set out to write the essential guide to a glorious future of space settlements, but after years of research, they aren't so sure it's a good idea. Space technologies and space business are progressing fast, but we lack the knowledge needed to have space kids, build space farms, and create space nations in a way that doesn't spark conflict back home. In a world hurtling toward human expansion into space, A City on Mars investigates whether the dream of new worlds won't create nightmares, both for settlers and the people they leave behind. In the process, the Weinersmiths answer every question about space you've ever wondered about, and many you've never considered: Can you make babies in space? Should corporations govern space settlements? What about space war? Are we headed for a housing crisis on the Moon's Peaks of Eternal Light--and what happens if you're left in the Craters of Eternal Darkness? Why do astronauts love taco sauce? Speaking of meals, what's the legal status of space cannibalism? With deep expertise, a winning sense of humor, and art from the beloved creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, the Weinersmiths investigate perhaps the biggest questions humanity will ever ask itself--whether and how to become multiplanetary. Get in, we're going to Mars"--… (mais)
Adicionado recentemente porNormJackRussell, biblioteca privada, leslie.emery, antiquariansam, boxybosco, rwoolf, ShannonBee, rivkat, Rtrace
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Entertaining enough though it gets a bit repetitive, since the answers are “not at all presently,” “probably not,” and “definitely not.” It’s a deliberate answer to boosters: “reading about space settlement today is kind of like reading about what quantity of beer is safe to drink in a world where all the relevant books are written by breweries.” Not only are they worried about military conflicts over space resources, but space is a really dangerous place; we can barely make the necessary high-tech supplies on Earth, and being self-sustaining would require incredible amounts of energy and technical innovation. And that’s before you get into the human factors: a company town in a “poisonous hellscape” six months away from any alternatives is not a recipe for successful human interactions. For five generations of a self-sustaining population, you’d want about thirty thousand people, and even that is low. “[T]he most autarkic countries on Earth have much more than 1 million people, are not the most economically desirable places on Earth, and incidentally would both like to be less autarkic.” But even that understates the challenge, given the resource constraints. “Even if you have 99 percent reuse of something like water, that loss of 1 percent mass adds up to 40 percent of your mass over fifty years.”

Ultimately, though, they’re really worried about governance. Going off Earth might just give us more ways to destroy ourselves, up to and including throwing rocks down the gravity well. ( )
  rivkat | Jun 17, 2024 |
The Weinersmiths (authors of the interesting and entertaining Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything) initially set out to write a book about what we should expect from the exciting new era of space settlement to come in the not-too-distant future. What they ended up writing, after lots and lots of research, is a book about how very, very not ready we are to start living on Mars, or anywhere else that isn't Earth.

In particular, they focus on a lot of issues that advocates of space settlement tend to gloss over or ignore while they're busy thinking about rocket schedules and mineral abundances. Like, for instance, the fact that the longest anyone has ever been in space is about a year and a half and no one's ever lived in Moon gravity for more than a few days or Mars gravity at all. So we have zero data on what it would mean, physiologically, to spend a lifetime somewhere other than Earth, or whether we can reproduce there without problems. Indeed, there hasn't even been much in the way of good animal experiments on any of that yet. Then there are issues of psychology and government, because no matter what the most idealistic of space dreamers might want to believe, humans do inevitably take our own flawed humanity with us wherever we go. And what about legal barriers? Does current space law even permit this sort of thing? Do we need to have clearer and more useful international law on the subject first to prevent problems down the road? And is expanding into space going to usher in a new era of cosmic harmony, or is it likely to actually be a new source of conflict?

On top of which, the simple fact is that space is a terrible place. As is the moon, as is Mars. It is profoundly difficult to overestimate just how hard it will be to keep human beings alive there, never mind thriving, or how much of what we take absolutely for granted on Earth will have to be struggled for there. Antarctica is a garden spot by comparison.

None of which is probably anything space enthusiasts (of which I do count myself one, although never one who thought Elon Musk-style near-term Mars settlement was anything but a pipe dream) are likely to want to hear. But whether or not you're convinced by their arguments, they are very much worth listening to, and the authors are certainly right that not enough attention is paid to these topics.

I should say that, while this sounds like a massive downer, it is written in a pleasant, humorous style (even if it is sometimes a stretch to keep that up during long chapters about international law), and also that the authors don't think that cities on Mars don't sound awesome, or even that they're not a good long-term goal for humanity. Ultimately, their argument is for doing it when we're actually truly capable of doing it right... and that that is really not today. ( )
  bragan | Apr 14, 2024 |
The Weinersmiths did our homework for us. I came to this book as a fan of Zach's comic, a space science nerd, and a science fiction author.
As a fan of the comic, Zach's humor was evident in keeping the tone approachable for such a heavy topic (in 2 words: Space Kills, slightly more words: Space Kills, but People Will Kill You Too Without A Proper Legal Framework Holding Them To Account), I appreciated that.
As a space science nerd, the effect was as a refreshing bucket of cold water. I would love to buy into the hype around sooner than later space colonization, but the realities are as stated above. The glimmer of hope they offer about how it is all possible, just not yet, makes the book worth reading.
Finally, as a science fiction author who prefers to write about Things Happening In Space, this book is a wealth of potential source material of dangers to throw at my characters. I'll be certain to acknowledge them when I apply what they have presented.
If you are into space travel as a sci-fi fan this is a must read because it details everything humanity overcame to be between worlds or amongst the stars in the tales we love. If you are a devotee of real-world space travel (admittedly, the two tend to go hand in hand) then this book is a must read for the dose of reality. And also as a checklist - as the human species tackles each of the perils described, we are one step closer to our shared dream. ( )
  Lefthandrob | Mar 17, 2024 |
Though we’ve known since the early 20th century that Mars is essentially a lifeless wasteland, humans have been reluctant to relinquish the dream of one day living there. In A City On Mars, self-described space geeks, Kelly and Zach Weinersmith explore the feasibility of life among the stars.

As technology advances providing continued innovation in space travel the dream may seem closer than ever but it’s only a single practical challenge among many. Drawing from several years of original research including interviews with a myriad of experts, the Weinersmith’s explore topics with regards to the the ability of both the human body and mind to withstand life in space for long periods, and the obstacles to creating safe, self sustaining biomes at scale among hostile environments. It’s surprising to realise just how much we don’t know about living in space, and I found these sections to be the most engaging.

A large section of the book is also devoted to examining legal and ethical concerns regarding space settlement, and though I found myself skimming a fair bit of the detail that covered the former, the issues raised were interesting to consider. The analogy with company towns is a clever comparison, I look at the mess Musk’s ego has made of Twitter, and know I could never trust him to act in my (or society’s) best interests.

The Weinersmith’s interject some humour into their work, which enhances its readability and their enthusiasm for the topic comes across well. Zach’s illustrations are a lighthearted, if superfluous, addition. I do think readers will require at least a casual interest in the subject to stay engaged with the narrative. The length of the book works against it slightly, though I appreciate the authors’ thoroughness.

A City on Mars is a pretty pessimistic view of the viability of space colonisation, there are still many questions to be answered and I agree with the Weinersmith’s conclusion that just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Life in space is no guarantee of utopia, in fact we’d just be taking all the same problems with us, and likely creating many more. ( )
  shelleyraec | Feb 17, 2024 |
Not what I expected at all, quite a bit dryer than usual. Still with some jokes, but actually more of a serious book on this important topic (for our future). Did not expect the conclusions they reached, and I think they spent a bit too much time on health, psychology and law, but I do agree in part with how difficult colonizing space will be (compared to solving our problems on Earth). ( )
  Guide2 | Jan 30, 2024 |
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To the space-settlement community. You welcomed us and you shared your wisdom. Also, your data. We worry that many of you will be disappointed by some of our conclusions, but where we have diverged from your views, we haven't diverged from your vision of a glorious human future.
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Wherever you are on this planet, you've recently given some thought to leaving it.
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"Earth is not well. The promise of starting life anew somewhere far, far away--no climate change, no war, no Twitter--beckons, and settling the stars finally seems within our grasp. Or is it? Critically acclaimed, bestselling authors Kelly and Zach Weinersmith set out to write the essential guide to a glorious future of space settlements, but after years of research, they aren't so sure it's a good idea. Space technologies and space business are progressing fast, but we lack the knowledge needed to have space kids, build space farms, and create space nations in a way that doesn't spark conflict back home. In a world hurtling toward human expansion into space, A City on Mars investigates whether the dream of new worlds won't create nightmares, both for settlers and the people they leave behind. In the process, the Weinersmiths answer every question about space you've ever wondered about, and many you've never considered: Can you make babies in space? Should corporations govern space settlements? What about space war? Are we headed for a housing crisis on the Moon's Peaks of Eternal Light--and what happens if you're left in the Craters of Eternal Darkness? Why do astronauts love taco sauce? Speaking of meals, what's the legal status of space cannibalism? With deep expertise, a winning sense of humor, and art from the beloved creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, the Weinersmiths investigate perhaps the biggest questions humanity will ever ask itself--whether and how to become multiplanetary. Get in, we're going to Mars"--

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