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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 10:20 am 
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This is the title of a new TV documentary that is in the process of being produced by Stephen Hawking and co-presenter Christophe Galfard, a former student of Professor Hawking.
The Professor is continuing his crusade in urging us humans to abandon our home planet for some ideal fantasy world among the stars.
The argument seems to be that humanity faces either self-destruction, or extinction through a natural event such as an asteroid strike. According to the Professor, humanity needs to curb its "instinctive"aggression and move to a safer new world.
There are two points of criticism to make here. Firstly, modern psychology and anthropology indicate that, far from being instinctive ( except as an abnormality in a minority of people ), aggression is generated by external circumstances: place people in co-operative conditions and they'll act co-operatively; place them in competitive conditions and they'll respond with varying degrees of aggression. We humans are highly adaptable :D .
Secondly, Professor Hawking seems to underestimate humanity's outstanding ability to solve problems we face on our home planet. Someone described Homo as nature's problem-solving animal, and our evolutionary history supports this.
Many of the problems that humanity faces on Earth are, given enough time and resources, solvable. For example, the technology to deal with "rogue" comets and asteroids is within our grasp. Super-volcanoes are on a different magnitude of scale, but in the event of such a calamity, humanity would have thousands of years to devise a stratagem to cope. As for social and environmental problems, these are mainly a consequence of how we organise our economic life at this point in time.
Earth provides us with everything we need and more besides, and the idea of humanity being inadequate and needing to redeem itself by setting up home under, say, a geodesic dome on an alien planet is nonsensical.
To be fair, let's give Professor Hawking a chance to state his case in the upcoming documentary.

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Last edited by brian livesey on Tue May 16, 2017 3:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 2:20 pm 
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"rouge" comets?

What about comets of other colours?


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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 8:59 am 
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...and if you do the Hale-Bopp, don't you step on my blue suede hues! Boppin Bawb.


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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 7:08 pm 
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Dear Brian,

"Super-volcanoes are on a different magnitude of scale, but in the event of such a calamity, humanity would have thousands of years to devise a strategem to cope"

I am a bit surprised at this comment :) as I suspect that a supervolcanoe dumping many cubic kilometres of dust/ash/muck into the atmosphere would do mankind serious harm in very short time? I understand that Yellowstone could go any time.......

Regards,

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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 10:17 am 
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Opinions vary Brian as to just how long it would take for a supervolcano to asphixiate humanity. An estimate that I read was 10,000 years; it certainly wouldn't happen overnight.
Even if the problem was only a century or two away, it might give humanity time to cobble together a coping stratagem. Or possibly not. After all, on our planet, extinction's the norm.
Tonight on BBC 2 at 9:00pm, a programme about the Cretaceous rogue comet or asteroid. The programme is presented by an anthropologist and a biologist. Wot, no geologist?

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Last edited by brian livesey on Mon May 22, 2017 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 1:39 pm 
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One wonders whether it's really worth speculating. It seems to me that it's always the unexpected that will overtake us globally speaking; the "dinosaur event" is now supposed to have been a 10 billion Hiroshima-bomb impact that created a mass extinction simply because it landed in a shallow sea area loaded with sulphur rich deposits - if it had landed elsewhere the result might have been different. :|


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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 3:58 pm 
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Dear Brian,

I must admit that I was thinking more of "freezing" mankind out (think nuclear winter/snowball Earth) rather than choking us off :) .
I think it's accepted that after just a very few 12-month winters (maybe only 2 consecutive ones would be needed) mankind would already be in dire straits regarding food supplies.

Food for thought (sorry..)

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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 3:11 pm 
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Throughout the programme, there was no mention of the Deccan Traps in Northern India. These were vast lava flows that began in the late Cretaceous, releasing huge amounts of sulphur dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years.
Dinosaur egg shells were thinning at the time, suggesting that the animals were being stressed, and the fossil record shows that dinosaur species were dying out before the impact event.
Could it be that the asteroid delivered the final coup de grace that saw off the dinosaurs, rather than there being only a single extinction cause? There are large impact craters, e.g. in the Canadian Shield, that don't appear to be connected with mass extinctions. The Jurassic mass extinction has been put down to flood basalts similar to the Deccan Traps.
As we know, many animals, land and marine, survived the Cretaceous impact, so snowball Earth might not have been as severe and extensive as the programme suggested.
Tonight's HORIZON programme on Beeb 2 at 9:00pm, "The Strange Signals from Outer Space", was described by one reviewer in today's press as "slow" and with nothing much to add that hasn't already been discussed about the search for E.T. .

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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 11:47 am 
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The HORIZON ET documentary took a whimsical view of the search for alien signals. Okay to watch on a heavy meal.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:11 pm 
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Did anyone watch the Hawking programme yesterday evening? Apart from insights into new types of rocket propulsion, the programme was highly speculative about interstellar travel and a bit of a bore in the end.
There was talk about colonising the planet of Proxima B, but the immense technical and formidable psychological problems involved would make the game hardly worth the candle. Besides, supposing there are sentient beings on the planet, would they welcome the prospect of being colonised by we extraterrestrials, who couldn't even manage our own planet responsibly?

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Last edited by brian livesey on Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:07 pm 
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I think that if mankind can expand out into the Solar System over the next couple of centuries then we will be doing very well. Without direct help from "The Aliens" an interstellar drive capability is far in the future :P

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:42 pm 
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Is there any point in humans physically moving out into the Solar System, when everything we need is here?
The rest of the solar planets are hell-holes. There might be a case for extracting certain natural resources from some of the planets, but, considering Earth's vast resources, that necessity seems a long way off.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:28 pm 
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Hi Brian.

I was thinking in terms of getting access to natural resources. I do wonder how long we can rely on Earth to supply our ever increasing demands. Once off Earth, resources are in essence limitless. One good reason for setting up on Mars would be that colonies would be out of range of Earth-launched nuclear missiles (maybe)...........

regards,

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:06 pm 
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Despite sensationalist media claims about diminishing resources, we've barely scratched Earth's surface.
There's also unnecessary alarmism about our planet's growing population. While population is increasing in some regions, it's falling in others, e.g. Europe and Japan. The tendency seems to be that, as the standard of living rises, people have fewer children in preference for more consumer goods and holidays, etc.
If there really was a demographic crisis at this point in time - which there isn't - there are birth-control solutions readily available.
As for the threat from rogue asteroids and comets, there are ways to deal with them, once they've been put in place.
Instead of squandering resources and time on manned flight to inhospitable planets, wouldn't it be better to concentrate on more useful pursuits in space research?

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 9:00 pm 
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BrianL
I'm inclined to classify you as an optimist & me a pessimist on these matters.
Whilst with regards to scratching the Earth's surface, I vaguely recall being told at school (about 70 years ago) that the UK then had 300years supply of coal left underground. However, I suspect that may not have taken into account the increasing UK population. Nowadays coal is a dirty word although apparently it still has some uses not mentioned much. Whilst nearly 50 years ago a friend mentioned that in his opinion an ideal UK population would be 35 million. Needless to say we had more than that already then - and I'll say that was when I really started to take an interest in such things. And subsequently 35 million for the UK seemed a decent benchmark for me.
I personally still think over-population is one of the World's biggest problems , and the UK too.(Although not necessarily for exactly the same reasons.)
I personally still have mixed feelings about the dreaded "Global Warming". And I would argue that if GW is (hu)man made and as serious as scientists say it is - then that is largely because too there are too many of us messing the world up. Although arguably it's the richer people may be the biggest culprits. So a reduction in population (and perhaps in particular the UK's would help reduce GW.
Of course the GW problems might change more slowly or a bit quicker eg 1) by some sort of natural global cooling Ah! Ah! - 2) a few wars or one BIG WAR.
My own feelings about GW have not greatly changed since it gradually came to prominence after about 1990 (?). But I think GW may be declining in public interest, because of more pressing personal issues - but it gets more thought when nasty hurricanes get reported from time to time. Perhaps now after "Paris" international cooperation will be sufficient to limit GW (especially if Mr Trump gets in line again !
Or perhaps man-made GW is just a White Elephant ?
But if it is man-made international measures will make sure it's limited Oh! Oh!
Whatever, in my opinion enough damage has already been done to the UK's landscape with Wind Turbines.
Unfortunately I think I'm past going to Mars to help reduce the population - but I wouldn't really want to go to Mars myself anyway.
Best of luck from Cliff


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