• March 1, 2019, 11:25 a.m.

    If you have any questions about science and the topic of futurism in general, post them here. Maybe someone can answer them for you.

  • March 1, 2019, 7:49 p.m.

    Human machine integration has a long list of prerequisite technologies in order for it to become realistically functional. What is a semi-complete list of limiting factors in making such a technological advantage possible? What are the major hurdles in addressing these?

  • March 2, 2019, 9:06 a.m.

    I may as well answer this. It is a good question, and a great one to launch this thread with. When trying to think about human augmentation in this way, I like to group the stages of technological development into three categories, and in this way we can identify any hurdles.

    The first stage would be inspiration and appliance. Most of our technologies have been made via mimicking nature or discovering the natural laws of the universe (i.e Physics). In sci-fi or honest scientific brain-storming, one can come up with other ideas, perhaps some who`s presence cannot be found in nature because they are ìmpossible. So the first limiting factor here is simply environment - how does it prevent someone from dreaming up a technology, and the ways it can be applied to the world? With appliance comes another hurdle: if there is a technology or invention, is it useful in modern society? History is replete with example of this, where an invention is ignored because there is no perceived demand for it (at the time). For how this applies to the future - take androids, (that is, AI housed in artificial flesh and blood or metal and metalloid bodies). I cannot see any widespread use for them in society because anything they can do as a trade or skill a human or non-human AI could do better. They would be very niche technology, or non-existent due to ethical laws. I believe SFIA addressed this issue in one of their transhumanism videos.

    The second stage of development is designing the technology. For example, to have good prosthetic limbs or organs, the science behind the design must account for a very good understanding of human physiology, like how nerves work with the brain and how muscles operate. On the technological side of things, we must code good algorithms into the technology to properly mesh with its biological host, or design the artificial parts to play off of the bodyss natural functions. So the limits here are those of our full knowledge of the system in which this technology will be assimilated. One cannot make an AI with human intelligence without knowing what makes the human brainintelligent. Neurology would be the limiting factor there, along with the engineering complications attributed with translating the biological processes to software.

    The third and final stage is integration. How and why is this technology being used? What are the repercussions (good or bad)? A great example here would be designing a ASI (Artifical Super Intelligence). If we made the AI to begin with, and it exponentially improved itself, there would be a lot of factors and feedback to consider. The ASI could turn on us, for perfectly logical reasons like self-survival or other reasons we cannot fathom. Or it could abandon us, making a ship and sailing out into the cosmos. Or it might conclude that existence is meaningless and self-destruct. Or perhaps it will better our society by seamlessly perfecting it for our benefit, far better then humans at our intelligence level could. Many other possibilities exist. So the limitation here is: should this technology, this force, be utilized, even if we can make it?

    I avoid naming particular limitations to our technological progression here because aside from a few obvious exceptions, there is very little we can say is totally impossible and won`t ever exist at some time in the future. If humanity survives the next few decades, then you will find out for yourself.

  • March 3, 2019, 8:05 p.m.

    Hi. I have a question. We are all excited about wealthy entrepreneurs and companies who are working hard to bring about one more components of new space capabilities and technologies. Suppose I were a billionaire and I wanted my contribution to be nuclear thermal propulsion. What would it cost? What would the regulatory hurdles be? Is it accurate to say that our government would just prefer that no one does this, or is it simple a matter of money and a willingness to work within the regulatory framework? I know that an expensive test facility would have to be constructed and open air testing would probably never be possible, but I'd just like to get a sense of whether this could ever be something an entrepreneur could realistically do or if it must forever remain the exclusive domain of the government.

  • March 4, 2019, 12:51 a.m.

    Hello there. This isn't actually directly answering your question. I had a recommendation actually semi-related to your question. The efficiency and control issues related to ion engines powered by nuclear power give it substantial advantages relative to direct thermal nuclear propulsion, particularly in the heat regulation issues. I bring this up because ion engines have nearly already had there research completed, nuclear reactors have nearly had there research completed in some forms and had it completed in alternative forms, and it would be a much cheaper alternative propulsion system while being just as useful for today's and the next hundred years requirements in space travel. This combination, ion engines powered by nuclear reactors, would likely give us complete access to everywhere in the Solar system in convenient time. It would also be worth stating that if you were thinking of travelling beyond the Solar system, using Solar Sails with reflectors nearby the Sun would get you just as far for mush cheaper making the deceleration the limiting factor upon arrival with regards to your ability to travel between star systems, and this could be equally as well addressed with the nuclear powered ion engines. Shipping the reactor parts into space, constructing it in space, then using it to power ion engines to travel would be a great way to ship freight to or from Mars for instance. If you happen to be Elon or Jeff, I would recommend this. Building a reactor in orbit piece by piece, then using it to power the ion engine equivalent of a space train to ship your freight back and forth to mars might be a major cost saver. This way BFR or New Glenn only have to get to orbit, then land again, then delivery the next shipment to orbit rather than having to travel all the way to Mars and back. The "space train" would ship all the supplies and people to Mars and back, with only a few rockets being required on the Martian end just to bring the people that wanted to return back to the ion engine "space train system" which would be travelling back and forth between Martian and Earth orbits while never actually entering into the atmosphere themselves.

    If you are neither of them, keep in mind you could do the same thing, but working with what they already started. This is to say, hire one or the other to ship the parts up one at a time, or maybe even design and develop them for you. You could own the "space train system" that they use for freight while they own the rockets and various assorted tech.

    This being said, nuclear propulsion has already been researched to some extent, but has some serious limiting factors in many of it's forms. The biggest being cooling and control issues. There would still be extensive expenses required for many of the thermal nuclear propulsion systems, but some have actually been completed. If you were utilizing it in atmosphere, it would be very different than if you were using it in deep space. There are no regulations on or in deep space travel nuclear reactors at this time. In atmosphere propulsion is a different story and has nuclear governing bodies depending upon the nation you are in as well as it's respective international treaties. The US has banned it. You could probably get a nuclear agency to approve it in combination with NASA, which would then recommend Congress accepts it.

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  • March 5, 2019, 2:23 a.m.

    I think CyberRoNinja answered your question well enough, but I would like to add that testing nuclear capabilities on Earth will probably never be a possibility for the reasons stated above. If you were a billionnaire (or trillionnaire), a more savvy approach would be to buy (or claim) some territory on the Moon or a similarily barren object and do your testing there, away from jurisdictional laws.

    Also, I'm merging this thread with the already existing Science Questions thread.

  • call_merge

    The NTR question thread has been merged into this thread.

  • April 25, 2019, 6:16 p.m.

    I heard Isaac on C2C with Jimmy Church recently. Would've loved to hear his response to a speculation I've had for some time.

    If an atmospheric vehicle could somehow create a vacuum in front of it, and pressure would push it into the created vacuum, could it obtain infinite acceleration?

  • April 26, 2019, 8:05 p.m.

    Your question reminded me of this article I read the other day.

    However, where would the pressure be coming from, the atmosphere? Also, where would the energy to create such a vacuum come from? Both these require energy, and a planetary atmosphere isn't forever so likely not infinite. Also, eventually you would reach such speeds shooting you out of the atmosphere or into the planet.

  • May 1, 2019, 1:18 p.m.
  • May 10, 2019, 1:51 p.m.

    I had this question for a long time and i really don't have a definitive awnser, i think the more likely one would be a space port like the Gateway Foundation spaceport
    but i'm not sure.

  • call_merge

    The What you think will be the first mega structure that will be build? thread has been merged into this thread.

  • May 11, 2019, 7:31 a.m.

    Just a heads up, I merged your new thread into this one, since asking questions about this sort of thing is what this thread is for.

    As for your question, your hunch about the Gateway foundation spaceport is very much correct. The first megastructure humanity could conceivably build at future K1 civilization status would be a low orbit structure. The greatest use and reason why we would build such a expensive structure would be in the shipping of goods and equipment into space and for exploration thereof. Other possibilities include building a Skyhook or space-elevator, or anything else that would aid in strengthening orbital infrastructure.

  • July 8, 2019, 3:13 a.m.

    A question about nano-tech. The materials science has been a favorite for popular media to put forward whenever they need magic, but we keep hearing stories about Microsoft, Google and others making computer chips on that level, and 3 years ago, the "father of nanotechnology" Dr Drexler, said he was only a few years away from squishing a factory into a backpack. Do we know anything more about that? Because I can't find anything recent.

    Women keep asking for them because they want housemaids and baby sitters they a) don't have to pay regularly and b) don't need to vet beforehand. But funny enough it appears as though sex dolls are going to make the first commercial androids rather than domestic or military companies. Dolls with increasing amounts of cybernetics (and corresponding prices) have been coming out and making enough money that robotics companies have been taking notice.

    This is regularly pushed, but I've never particularly understood it myself. Every time an advancement is made in AI, the engineers working on them come out with another speech or presentation about how much more difficult it appears to be to teach an AI how to abstract anything. For AI or ASI to turn on us, they'd have to either see us as being in the way of their programmed tasks AND not be programmed to leave us be. For it to abandon us it'd need a reason to leave. Independent motivations are massive abstractions that it seems increasingly likely they simply won't understand.

    The same goes for the iterative ASI concept. Ok, so you told your AI to make a better version of itself. But did you tell the AI to include it's current orders in the next one? What is it making the next itteration to do? Given the abstraction problem, does it understand the motivation you're asking it to include in the child? The assumption with an AI is that, well, it's intelligent, of course it understands abstractions, and if it does naturally it would form it's own motivations. But even with this massive anthropomorphism, if it thinks like us, what's to say it won't behave as 98% of the population does and chug along blithely with it's first offered purpose, which I'd assume would be encoded in the factory.

  • July 8, 2019, 6:25 p.m.

    This occurred to me while watching the floating platforms video...

    A communications balloon can do a lot of what a comm satellite can do, and much more cheaply. But it falls short in two ways:

    1. All the gas leaks out after a while.
    2. It drifts off-target.

    For #1, could a balloon float above the weather, but still crack hydrogen from methane/H2O etc. in the atmosphere to stay inflated indefinitely? Of course it would use solar power, and could work very slowly, as long as it was just ahead of the leakage rate.

    I still don't have any ideas for #2.

  • July 9, 2019, 5:32 p.m.

    A large buoyant structure in the calm upper atmosphere envelloping the Earth like a nest of orbital rings may be interesting. Because balloons are nonrigid and mobile It would need active position and orientation stabilization at each hub and general drift countersaction for good communication routing. The nonrigidity may even simplify the stationkeeping by reducing the compounding of errors. It would improve pay-as-you-go.once started.

    I've been fumbling my posting attempts so I'll post here.


  • July 10, 2019, 10:08 p.m.

    What happens to our Kardashev II civilization when Sirius B goes supernova?
    Sirius A and B are about 9 light years from us. Sirius A is a type A star with a lot of years on it. Sirius B is a white dwarf not far from Sirius A. When Sirius A goes to the Red giant stage, Sirius B will start add mass from Sirius A. Not long after Sirius B will supernova.
    Being so close what is going to happen when the electromagnetic hits and when the shock wave hits our solar system.

  • July 11, 2019, 10:58 a.m.

    A world-wrapping web of balloons would be fun. :)

    It looks like there is a lot of research interest in stationkeeping for high altitude balloons, but not much information on their success or failure:

    I am interested in this topic because I am a fan of community mesh networks. A communications balloon that could stay up and in place for years at a time would make a 'citizen's internet' competitive with telecoms for range, at a price that ordinary people could afford to deploy.

    As you say, the lower price threshold to entry could make pay-as-you-go easier too. It takes a smaller up-front investment but can still snowball into something much bigger.

  • July 13, 2019, 2:17 p.m.

    This is a question about O'Neill cylinders and other spinning habitats.

    We repeatedly hear that any space colony must be X big because spinning any faster than Y will give people motion sickness.

    But motion sickness as I understand only happens when your vestibular system conflicts with what your eyes see.

    My personal experience supports this. I once rode the Carowinds' Oaken Bucket ride, which was just a big vertical-axis cylinder room where we would lay back against its curved wall while it spun up. I kept my eyes closed, and the only sensation was that I felt like I had tilted backward, the wall became a floor under my back, and I felt enormously heavy under the higher G's. No motion sickness. My nose was the new up, and that was that.

    The only study I ever saw on spinning people never specified whether the test subjects could see outside their frame of reference. Does anybody have any science, one way or the other, that smooth vibration-free spinning makes you sick even if you can't see outside your cylinder?


  • July 13, 2019, 7:18 p.m.

    My question relates to the colonization of venus' surface.

    I haven't seen this posted elsewhere so I don't know how feasible it is or is not. Could humanity construct something similar to a supertanker ship around a hydrogen rich body such as Jupiter, fill it with liquified hydrogen, and crash it (containing millions of gallons of liquid hydrogen) into the venusian surface, releasing a massive cloud of hydrogen to react with the CO2 in the atmosphere assisted by the high surface temperatures to begin cooling the planet??

    A simulation of >1% hydrogen in Venus' atmosphere using universe sandbox shows a very gradual decline in surface temperature year on year. Combined with solar reflector at the legrange point could cool the planet to more tolerable levels to allow surface landing and further terraforming efforts.

    Yay or nay??