Sunday, January 9, 2011

Forget Everything You Know About Living in Space

There are significant cultural shifts to make in public associations related to human-in-space activities. For example, I am writing about these in my current book:

To facilitate these, essentially all of what we think of as humans-in-space has to be ditched and reinvented. If we think of "walking on Mars' our point of reference is the clunky Apollo-era suits used over 40 years ago to walk on the moon;

Here the human being is barely visible, encased in constricting layers and almost an afterthought.

But in Mars colonies pressure suits will look nothing like this; new research by Dr. Dava Newman at MIT is producing a new generation of pressure suits that will allow walking on Mars with much more natural human movement. The design is based on a 45-year-old proposal by Dr. James Webb, who was ahead of his time in terms of materials available. Below, Dr. Newman is seen demonstrating the suit;

I picked this image specifically because in the suit we do not see another chisel-chinned titan of the American heartland, but a young woman. Space migration and colonization is going to be about people finding new options for humanity in new places to live; on Mars, on asteroids, in orbital colonies and, eventually, in trans-generational interstellar starships.

My coauthor and I recently established the three premises of the book (which is scheduled for release in late 2011);

Premise 1: Human space migration is not optional, but imperative.

Premise 2: Human migration into space will be the continuation of an ancient process of adaptation.

Premise 3: Anthropology—the scientific study of the human species, in all its aspects from biology to culture—will be critical to successful human migration into space.

From this we move on to the meat of the text; a recasting of human space migration and colonization from a mechanistic, nationlaistic mold to a humanistic adaptive process no different in principle from colonization of the Pacific Islands or the High Arctic by humans several thousand years ago.


Anonymous said...

Nova Science Now on PBS had a program last night (1/19/11) about human travel to Mars. If you missed it or don't have a TV, you can watch it online at I think the episode is called "Can we Make it to Mars?".

Cameron McPherson Smith said...

Thanks, Anon, I will check it out. I am sure we can make it to Mars, as is everyone in-the-loop Re the technologies. The question is interest and will. Surveys repeatedly show that Americans, Europeans, Indians (and others) have a strong interest in space colonization. What has fallen behind is NASA delivery of the many promises of the 1960's. One way to go is to try to engage the public, to build a taxpayer base to fund such ventures. Another way is to do it privately; the former is not being done in any visible or significant way; the latter, however, is.