Great engineering challenges and survival

“The National Science Foundation announced today 14 grand engineering challenges for the 21st century that, if met, would greatly improve how we live,” says NetworkWorld.

What? Making solar energy ‘affordable’ is a “great engineering challenge”? Have they even seen this? Fusion energy is indeed an engineering challenge to realize cheap energy, but making things “affordable” sounds boring as it simply means “optimizing something that already exists” rather than “creating something new”.

Now, in that top-14 list there is something missing in my opinion. Something so important that if it is not realized, at some point the human race will be no more and it will be a useless effort to “make solar panels affordable”. And this is Terraforming technology.

Humans are the dominant species on this planet, and little by little this means overpopulating and do hungry resource hunting. Even if the politicians manage to put their shit together and put some limits at the human grasp on this planet, all the “freedom groups” will cry foul and they will debate this until the planet is on its knees.

Steven Hawking said it, and other said it too: every intelligent species that has an affect to its planet, they must move on to the next planet until the resources of that new planet are done too. We are destructive, and that’s in our nature. Terraforming is the best way to move on, because finding in time a planet that matches our own from the get go is nearly impossible. And Mars is a good candidate for terraforming.

So where’s the research?

5 Comments »

Dimitar Uzunov wrote on February 21st, 2008 at 5:29 AM PST:

Mars is half the size of earth – gravity at least will be a problem.


jeff wrote on February 21st, 2008 at 6:31 AM PST:

The private market will accomplish this eventually, we’re talking about great real estate here.


l3v1 wrote on February 21st, 2008 at 1:20 PM PST:

I think terraforming wouldn’t be a solution, just a postponement. I mean we as humans are terrible at managing natural resources efficiently. We just use up what we have then fight over the remaining bits, then cry. Before moving anywhere we should be able to recognize this bug we have in our behavioral subroutines and make the proper adjustments šŸ™‚


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Eugenia wrote on February 21st, 2008 at 1:28 PM PST:

Yes, but that won’t happen, because it’s in our nature to be destructive. We are insects. We eat up the field, and then we move on to the next one.


Andrew wrote on February 22nd, 2008 at 12:44 AM PST:

We’ll have cities on Mars / the Moon when we have them on/in the ocean. Maybe deserts like the Sahara. Moreover, it will have to be profitable. There is no point in doing it if it isn’t sustainable. There are several arguments against the feasibility of terraforming Mars in particular.


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