CCNet DIGEST 18 June 1998

     "Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for
     Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but
     also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring."
     [Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980]

     QUOTE OF THE DAY provided by Duncan Steel

    An English optimist

    British Archaeology, June 1998

    Gene Milone <>

    G. Akridge et al., UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS

    S.G. Alexander & C.B. Agnor, MIAMI UNIVERSITY

    I. Giblin et al., UNIVERSITY OF PISA

    D.J. Scheeres et al., IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY

    J.D. Drummond et al., USAF


From an English optimist

Brazil last won the World Cup in 1994.
Before that they won it in 1970.
Add 1970 and 1994, it equals 3964.

Germany last won in 1990.
Before that they won in 1974.
Add 1990 and 1974, it equals 3964.

Argentina last won the World Cup in 1986.
Before that they won it in 1978.
Add 1978 and 1986, it equals 3964.

Here's the 'scary' part of impact prediction (sorry, NASA):
England last won the World Cup in 1966.
Add it to 1998 ....
It equals 3964! 


from British Archaeology, June 1998

Book Review by Benny Peiser

Dalfes, G Kukla, H Weiss. Springer/NATO, 172.00 ISBN 3-540-61892-9 hb

Ever since Darwin, archaeologists have generally abandoned the notion
of global disasters punctuating the evolution of human societies.
However, this book, a collection of 33 papers by archaeologists and
climatologists, provides evidence for rampant natural calamities that
brought on the collapse of mankind's first urban cultures in many parts
of the world in the early Bronze Age.

The majority of researchers connect the archaeological, geological and
climatological records to try to prove the occurrence of an abrupt
climatic downturn at c. 2200 BC. The papers range from studies on Nile
flood fluctuations and their impact on Egyptian society, the
environmental and social changes in the early Bronze Age Middle East,
and abrupt climate shifts in North and tropical Africa during the late
Holocene, to the collapse of the Indus Valley civilisation, and
environmental changes in prehistoric Europe.

The volume thus presents a broad review of the palaeo-environmental
data for major climatic and cultural shifts in this period.
Unfortunately, it does not cover the evidence for all parts of the
world, where similar catastrophic episodes occurred at roughly the same
time. While the authors document convincing proof of the effects of
climatic punctuations, they don't assess the most reliable signals of
abrupt climate change, those found in the tree-ring and ice-core
records. Moreover, the publication ignores the evidence, available at
least 50 years ago, of significant tectonic activity in the same
period. The extensive evidence for seismic site destruction at the end
of the early Bronze Age in Greece, Anatolia, the Levant and Mesopotamia
appears to be incompatible with a simple climate model of civilisation
collapse and points instead to more complex causes for upheaval.


From Gene Milone <>

Dear Benny,

I applaud the optimistic vision about the prospects to avoid inevitable
extinction -- at least in the short run -- by Sylvia Engdahl. I think,
though that she should be disabused of the idea that Columbus was
responsible for the Renaissance, or that all cancer is caused by

- gene


G. Akridge*), P.H. Benoit, D.W.G. Sears: Regolith and megaregolith
formation of H-chondrites: Thermal constraints on the parent body
ICARUS, 1998, Vol.132, No.1, pp.185-195


Spectral reflectivity data and its location near an orbital resonance
suggest that Asteroid 6 Hebe may be the source body for H-chondrites,
the second largest meteorite group. Recent spacecraft images of
asteroids and theoretical modeling indicate that, contrary to previous
ideas, asteroids can retain thick regoliths. We model the thermal
evolution of a Hebe-sized object coated with a thick insulating
regolith and heated by Al-26 and other long-lived radionuclides. The
heat conduction equations for spherically symmetric objects were solved
using finite-difference approximations. We assumed a three-layer
structure with regolith and megaregolith overlying a rocky core. The
three layers differed in bulk density, porosity, and thermal
conductivity. Interior peak temperatures were set to match metamorphic
temperatures of H6 chondrites. The regolith has a major influence on
thermal history, and the results are very different from those for a
simple rocky body published by various authors. Regolith insulation
produces a uniform interior peak temperature of similar to 1250 K and
moves the petrographic type boundaries close to the surface of the
parent body. Petrologic types 3-6 can be produced within 10 km of the
asteroid's surface with only moderate (similar to 1 km) regolith
thicknesses. The calculations indicate that H4-H6 formation would be
consistent with the cooling rate estimates and Pb-Pb formation ages if
the material originated in the near surface regions. We suggest that
many if not all H-chondrites could have been formed in a megaregolith
and thick regolith. Their observed properties are consistent with this
environment, especially the abundance of regolith breccias and
H-chondrites of all petrologic types with implanted solar wind gases.
(C) Academic Press.


S.G. Alexander & C.B. Agnor: N-body simulations of late stage planetary
formation with a simple fragmentation model. ICARUS, 1998, Vol.132,
No.1, pp.113-124


We present results of two-dimensional gravitational N-body simulations
of the late stage of planetary formation. This stage is characterized
by the direct accretion of hundreds of lunar-sized planetesimals into
planetary bodies. Our simulation code is based an the Hermite
Individual Timestep integration algorithm, and gravitational
interactions among all bodies are included throughout the simulations.
We compare our simulation with earlier works that do not include all
interactions, and we find very good agreement. A previously published
collisional fragmentation model is included in our simulation to study
the effects of the production of fragments on the subsequent evolution
of the larger planetary bodies. It is found that for realistic two-body
collisions that, according to this model, both bodies will suffer
fragmentation, and that the outcome of the collision will be a
relatively large core containing most of the mass and a few small
fragments. We present the results of simulations that include this
simple fragmentation model. They indicate that the presence of small
fragments have only a small effect on the growth or orbital evolution
of the large planet-sized bodies. (C) 1998 Academic Press.


I. Giblin*), J.M. Petit, P. Farinella: Impact ejects rotational
bursting as a mechanism for producing stable Ida-Dactyl systems
ICARUS, 1998, Vol.132, No.1, pp.43-52


The existence of Dactyl, the small satellite of asteroid 243 Ida,
presents an intriguing paradox: if exposed to the same projectile
bombardment as Ida, it should have been disrupted long ago. To solve
this paradox, it has been proposed that either Ida (and the entire
Koronis family) is relatively young (approximate to 100 Myr) or Dactyl
has reaccreted many times from its own debris after having been
disrupted. Here we propose a third alternative, that is that Dactyl is
much younger than Ida and it was formed by rotational bursting of a
precursor fragment ejected from Ida after an impact. We discuss some
recent experimental results showing that sizable fragments from
shattered targets do undergo rotational bursting and are fissioned
after traveling over a length of several target diameters; the relative
speed between the fission remnants is comparable to the initial
ejection velocity. Then we have performed a number of numerical
integrations of the orbits of fictitious particles resulting from an
assumed rotational bursting event in the gravitational held of Ida; the
results show that, depending on the initial conditions, up to several
percent of the particles get trapped into stable satellite-like orbits
resembling that of Dactyl. We conclude that this mechanism may have
formed Dactyl in the last approximate to 10% of Ida's lifetime, either
after an energetic cratering impact or (more probably) after a
collision which shattered Ida without dispersing most of its fragments
''to infinity.'' (C) 1998 Academic Press.


D.J. Scheeres*), S.J. Ostro, R.S. Hudson, E.M. DeJong, S. Suzuki:
Dynamics of orbits close to asteroid 4179 Toutatis. ICARUS, 1998,
Vol.132, No.1, pp.53-79


We use a radar-derived physical model of 4179 Toutatis (Hudson and
Ostro 1995, Science 270, 84-86) to investigate close-orbit dynamics
around that irregularly shaped, non-principal-axis rotator. The orbital
dynamics about this body are markedly different than the dynamics about
uniformly rotating asteroids. The results of this paper are generally
applicable to orbit dynamics about bodies in a non-principal-axis
rotation state. The radar results support the hypothesis that Toutatis
has a homogeneous density distribution, and we assume a density of
2.5 g/cc. The asteroid's gravity field is computed using a truncated
harmonic expansion when outside of its circumscribing sphere and a
closed-form expression for the potential field of an arbitrary
polyhedron when inside that sphere. The complete equations of motion
are time-periodic in the Toutatis-fixed frame due to the complex
rotation of the asteroid. The system is Hamiltonian and has all the
characteristics of such a system, including conservation of phase
volume, but there is no Jacobi constant of the motion and zero velocity
surfaces cannot be used to analyze the system's behavior. We also
examine some of the close-orbit dynamics with the Lagrange planetary
form of the equations of motion. Families of quasi-periodic ''frozen
orbits'' that shaw minimal variations in orbital elements are found to
exist very close to the asteroid; some of them are stable and hence can
hold natural or artificial satellites. A retrograde family of frozen
orbits is especially robust and persists down to semi-major axes of
about 2.5 km, comparable to half of Toutatis' longest dimension. We
identify families of periodic orbits, which repeat in the
Toutatis-fixed frame. Due to the time-periodic nature of the equations
of motion, all periodic orbits about Toutatis in its body-fixed frame
must be commensurate with the 5.42-day period associated with those
equations. Exact calculations of both stable and unstable periodic
orbits are made. The sum of surface forces acting on a particle on
Toutatis is time-varying, so particles on and in the asteroid are being
continually shaken with a period of 5.42 days, perhaps enhancing the
uniformity of the regolith distribution. A global map of the
gravitational slope reveals that it is surprisingly shallow for such an
elongated, irregularly shaped object, averaging 16 degrees globally and
less than 35 degrees over 96% of the surface. A global map of
tangential accelerations shows no values larger than 0.5 mm/s(2), an
average value of 0.2 mm/s(2), and less than 0.25 mm/s(2) over 70% of
the surface. A global map of the escape speed for launch normal to the
surface shows that quantity to be between 1.2 and 1.8 m/s over most of
the surface. Each of these mapped quantities has small periodic
variations. We have found trajectories that leave the surface, persist
in the region of phase space around a frozen orbit, and then impact
the surface after a flight time of more than 100 days. Return orbit
durations of years seem possible. Whereas a uniformly rotating asteroid
preferentially accumulates non-escaping ejecta on its leading sides,
Toutatis accumulates ejecta uniformly over its surface. We render a
variety of close orbits in inertial and body-fixed frames. (C) 1998
Academic Press.


J.D. Drummond*), R.Q. Fugate, J.C. Christou, E.K. Hege: Full adaptive
optics images of asteroids Ceres and Vesta; Rotational poles and
triaxial ellipsoid dimensions. ICARUS, 1998, Vol.132, No.1, pp.80-99

   AFB, NM, 87117

Adaptive optics (AO) images of asteroids Ceres and Vesta were obtained
on September 18-20, 1993, with the 1.5-m telescope at the Starfire
Optical Range of the USAF Phillips Laboratory located near Albuquerque,
NM. The light source for higher-order wavefront correction was a
Rayleigh laser beacon focused at a range of 10.5 km generated by a
copper vapor laser. On April 27 and May 11, 1996, Vesta was again
imaged, this time at its perihelic opposition using Vesta itself as the
beacon for the AO. Images obtained at an effective wavelength of 0.85
mu m were analyzed with a new reconstruction technique, called
parametric blind deconvolution. The technique allows fits for relevant
parameters in the frequency domain, where the convolution of the
asteroid ellipse with the variable Lorentz-shaped point spread function
produced by the AO system during these observations can be separated
into a multiplication of analytic functions. The triaxial ellipsoid
dimensions and rotational pole (with a two-fold ambiguity) of Ceres
were obtained from 17 images and found to be in excellent agreement
with its 1983 stellar occultation outline (Millis et al., 1987, Icarus
72, 507-518) and the 1991 AO image produced by the COME-ON system
(Saint-Pe et al., 1993, Icarus 105, 271-281). A similar analysis of
eight images of Vesta in 1993, 19 images in April 1996, and 28 images
in May 1996, and combined with results from four previous speckle
interferometry (SI) sets, yield dimensions and a rotational pole in
reasonable agreement with the Hubble Space Telescope's results (Thomas
ef al. 1997). Differences may arise from a non-alignment between
principal axes of inertia and the spin axis. The AO data from May 11,
1996, is of sufficient quality that Vesta's lightcurve can be
decomposed into its cross-sectional area and surface brightness
components, proving analytically that Vesta's lightcurve minimum is
caused by a dark hemisphere. Combining the AO and SI observations with
previous lightcurves yields a sidereal period of 0.22258874 days with
an uncertainty of 4 in the last decimal place (3.5 ms) and shows that
lightcurve minimum occurs 6 degrees before a maximum in cross-section
area. (C) 1998 Academic Press.

The CCNet is a scholarly electronic network. To subscribe, please
contact the moderator Benny J Peiser at <>.
Information circulated on this network is for scholarly and educational
use only. The attached information may not be copied or reproduced for
any other purposes without prior permission of the copyright holders.
The electronic archive of the CCNet can be found at



From Victor D. Noto <>

Hi Benny, Bob and Pib,

Here is an article by a little known SF writer in Eugene, Oregon with
some great insites into how humanity can survive. I know your readers
of the CCNet will find Sylvia Engdahl's article interesting.



by Sylvia Engdahl
homepage of author:

Here's something I originally wrote for students in my online Connect
Ed course in Space Age Mythology--it isn't part of the course material,
but simply explains personal views I often refer to in online
discussions. It also will shed light on why all my novels are about
space travel and/or other worlds.

People have frequently asked me why I believe expansion into space is
essential to human survival. Here's why.

Space and Human Survival, Part I

The reason most commonly offered for believing our survival depends on
space travel is that our species will need to move elsewhere in order to
survive the ultimate death of our sun, or the possibility of our sun
turning into a nova. This is not of such remote concern as it may seem,
as I'll explain below. However, it surely is a remote event, and I
don't blame anyone for not giving it very high priority at present. It
is far from being my main reason.

A more urgent cause for concern is the need not to "put all our eggs in
one basket," in case the worst happens and we blow up our own planet,
or make it uninhabitable by means of nuclear disaster or perhaps
biological warfare. We would all like to believe this won't happen, yet
some people are seriously afraid that it will--it's hardly an
irrational fear. Peace with Russia may have drawn attention from it,
yet there are other potential troublemakers, even terrorists; the
nuclear peril is not mere history. Furthermore, there is the small but
real possibility that Earth might be struck by an asteroid. We all hope
and believe our homes won't burn down, and yet we buy fire insurance.
Does not our species as a whole need an insurance policy? (Even Carl
Sagan, a long-time opponent of using manned spacecraft where robots can
serve, came out in support of space colonization near the end of his
life, for this reason; see his book Pale Blue Dot.)

My 1971 novel The Far Side of Evil is based on the concept of a
"Critical Stage" during which a species has the technology to expand
into space, but hasn't yet implemented it, and in which that same level
of technology enables it to wipe itself out. The premise of the book is
that each world will do one or the other, but not both. I have believed
this since the early 50s, when there was real danger of nuclear war but
no sign of space travel. When the Russians launched Sputnik in 1957, my
reaction was overwhelming joy and relief, because I thought that at
last our energies were going to be turned toward space exploration. I
felt that way through the era of Apollo. Since Apollo, as public
support of the space program has waned, my fears have grown again;
because I don't believe that a world turned in on itself can remain
peaceful. A progressive species like ours has a built-in drive to move
forward, and that energy has to go somewhere. Historically, when it was
not going into mere survival or into the exploration and settlement of
new lands--which is the adaptive reason for such a drive--it has gone
into war.

This is the price we pay for our innate progressiveness. I know that it
is now fashionable to deride the concept of progress, and certainly we
cannot say that progress is inevitable. It surely doesn't characterize
all change in all areas of human endeavor. Nevertheless, overall, the
human race as a whole advances; if it did not we would still be
cavemen. This is what distinguishes our species from all others. And
like it or not, this drive is inseparable from the drive toward growth
and expansion. Many successful species colonize new ecological niches;
this is one of the fundamental features of evolution. When a species
can't find a new niche, and the resources of the old one are no longer
sufficient, it dies out. If the resources do remain sufficient, it
lives, but is unchanging from era to era. There are no cases in biology
of progressive evolution unaccompanied by expansion.

The question of resources raises an even more crucial reason for
expansion into space than the danger of nuclear destruction. It's
obvious that this planet cannot support an expanding population
forever. Most people who recognize this fact advocate population
control to the extent of "zero population growth." I do not; I believe
it would be fatal not only for the reason explained above, but because
if it could be achieved it would result in stagnation. I do not want a
world in which there can be no growth; growth leads to intellectual and
artistic progress as well as to material survival. Furthermore, I do
not believe it could be achieved. The built-in desire for personal
descendants is too strong; that's why our species has survived this
long, why it has spread throughout the entire world. Moreover, the
biological response to threatened survival is to speed up reproduction,
as we can see by the number of starving children in the world. If we
tried to suppress population growth completely, we would have either
immediate violent upheaval or a period of dictatorship followed by
bloody revolution. Ulimately, we'd reduce the population all right;
we'd decimate it. That may be "survival" but it's surely not the future
we want..

We do not want even the present restriction on resources. Currently,
some nations live well while others are deprived, and it's asserted
that even those with the best access to resources should stop using
them up--the underdeveloped nations, under this philosophy, are not
given the hope of a standard of living commensurate with the level our
species has achieved. Will the Third World tolerate such a situation
forever? I surely wouldn't blame them for not wanting to. And neither
do I want the rest of the world reduced to a lower level of technology.
Even if I had no other objection to such a trend, the plain fact is
that a low level of technology cannot support the same size population
as a high level; so if you want to cut back on technology, you have to
either kill people outright or let them starve. And you certainly can't
do anything toward extending the length of the human lifespan. This is
the inevitable result of planning based on a single-planet environment.

If there is pessimism in Earthbound science fiction (which its most
outstanding characteristic), these truths are the source of it. I have
not seen any that denies any of them; pop-culture SF reveals that what
people grasp mythopoeically about such a future involves catastrophic
war, cut-throat human relationships in overcrowded cities, and a
general trend toward dehumanization. Apart from the major films with
which my course deals (e.g. Bladerunner), Soylent Green postulates
cannibalism and Logan's Run is based on the premise that everybody is
required to die at the age of 30. The destruction of the world's
ecology is a basic assumption--which is natural, since in a contest
between a stable biosphere and personal survival, humans will either
prevail or they will die.

Myths showing these things are indeed part of the response to a new
perception of our environment: the perception that as far as Earth is
concerned, it is limited. [A basic premise of my course is all myth is
a response of a culture to the environment in which it perceives itself
to exist.] But at the rational level, people do not want to face them.
They tell themselves that if we do our best to conserve resources and
give up a lot of the modern conveniences that enable us to spend time
expanding our minds, we can avoid such a fate-- as indeed we can, for a
while. But not forever. And most significantly, not for long enough to
establish space settlements, if we don't start soon enough. Space
humanization is not something that can be achieved overnight.

I have called this stage in our evolution the "Critical Stage." Paul
Levinson [the Director of Connected Education] uses different
terminology for the same concept. He says that we have only a narrow
window to get into space, a relatively short time during which we have
the capability, but have not yet run out of the resources to do it. I
agree with him completely about this. Expansion into space demands high
technology and full utilization of our world's material resources
(although not destructive ultilization.) It also demands financial
resources that we will not have if we deplete the material resources of
Earth. And it demands human resources, which we will lose if we are
reduced to global war or widespread starvation. Finally, it demands
spiritual resources, which we are not likely to retain under the sort
of dictatorship that would be necessary to maintain a "sustainable"
global civilization.

Because the window is narrow, then, we not only have to worry about
immediate perils. The ultimate, unavoidable danger for our species, the
death or explosion of our sun, is distant--but if we don't expand into
space now, we can never do it. Even if I'm wrong and we survive
stagnation, it will be too late to escape from this solar system, much
less to explore for the sake of exploring.

I realize that this note does not sound like my usual optimism. But the
reason it doesn't, I think, is that most people don't understand what's
meant by "space humanization". Some of you are probably thinking that
space travel isn't going to be a big help with these problems, as
indeed, the form of it shown in today's mythology would not. Almost
certainly, you're thinking that it won't solve the other problems of
Earth, and I fear you may be thinking that the other problems should be
solved first.

One big reason why they should not is the "narrow window" concept. The
other is that they could not. I have explained why I believe the
problem of war can't be solved without expansion. The problem of hunger
is, or ultimately will be, the direct result of our planet's limited
resources; though it could be solved for the near-term by political
reforms, we are not likely to see such reforms while nations are
playing a "zero-sum game" with what resources Earth still has.
Widespread poverty, when not politically- based, is caused by
insufficient access to high technology and by the fact that there
aren't enough resources to go around (if you doubt this, compare the
amount of poverty here with the amount in the Third World, and the
amount on the Western frontier with the amount in our modern cities.)
Non-contagious disease, such as cancer, is largely the result of
stress; and while expansion won't eliminate stress, overcrowding
certainly increases it. The problem of atmospheric pollution is the
result of trying to contain the industry necessary to maintain our
technology within the biosphere instead of moving it into orbit where
it belongs.

In short, all the worldwide problems we want to solve, and feel we
should have solved, are related to the fact that we've outgrown the
ecological niche we presently occupy. I view them not as pathologies,
but as natural indicators of our evolutionary stage. I would like to
believe that they'll prove spurs to expansion. If they don't, we'll be
one of evolution's failures.

If I have frightened any readers here, I'm not sorry! But cheer up; in
Part II I'll explain how humanizing space can not only save our
species, but give all cultures equal access to resources that are
virtually unlimited.

Space and Human Survival, Part II

When we think of space exploration, we usually think of its goal as "To
seek out new life and new civilizations, to go where no [hu]man has
gone before." That's what excites us and inspires awe, in some of us at
least, and that's certainly the fountainhead of our mythology.
Personally, I believe that from the evolutionary standpoint the joy of
exploration is a built-in factor for preservation of the species, just
as is the joy of sexual love. But, as our feelings about sexual love
mean much more to us than biology and have been the source of many
great achievements of our civilization, our exploratory instinct means
more than survival. The discovery of new lands has always led to a
renaissance in the arts and in intellectual progress, and the same will
be true of expansion into space. This process is an aspect of our
creativity. We do not explore because we want to survive, any more than
we make love because we want to survive; survival is only a byproduct.

However, at this stage of our evolution we have run into a problem with
the process. Columbus explored because of his personal urge to do so,
and both the Renaissance and human survival followed. (Explorers of
some sort were essential to survival--imagine what would have happened
if our species had been forever confined to the single site where it
diverged from its hominid ancestors.) It was difficult for explorers to
get money for ships, but each had to talk only one backer into it;
Columbus, according to legend, convinced Queen Isabella. Settlers could
move into new lands with their personal resources alone, as Americans
did when they loaded their belongings into wagons and set out on the
Oregon Trail. Both explorers and settlers were laughed at by people who
didn't share their views; it didn't matter. They went anyway. It wasn't
necessary for their culture as a whole to decide that it wasn't a waste
of money.

Not so with space humanization. We can't rely on the drive toward
exploration because, by the population at large, it's not considered a
top priority. It never was, in any society. If the people of Columbus'
time had had to vote to tax themselves in order to fund his ships, he
wouldn't have gotten anywhere; most of them felt he would fall off the
edge of the world, and even the educated minority, who knew better,
felt there was better use for their money. Even in that era, the most
altruistic would no doubt have preferred to give Isabella's jewels to
the poor. There were some myths, travelers' tales, about riches to be
found in new lands; but just as in our time, rational, hardheaded
skepticism ruled the majority.

Yet purpose as expressed in mythology is the opposite of
rationally-derived purpose. Mythology reflects what we feel, not what
we know consciously. Thus Space Age mythology shows us why we'd like to

explore space, but not why the majority should be willing to pay for
it. It shows our dreams, but not what science reveals as the concrete
advantages. People who enjoy the mythology don't need hardheaded
justification (though even they are often unwilling to vote on the
basis of their feelings), while those who don't enjoy it are apt to
judge the whole issue of space humanization on the basis of admittedly-
impractical mythic metaphors.

It is true enough that we can't solve the problems of Earth by setting
forth in starships like the Enterprise, or by interplanetary travel at
all. A trip to Mars is not the best way to begin the process of
expansion (though it's certainly a later goal, and I support doing it
first on the grounds of its effect on the public imagination.) The
basic ideas of space humanization are (a) to make use of
extraterrestrial resources to supplement those of Earth; (b) to move
heavy industry off Earth, where it pollutes and where energy is
expensive, into orbit, where energy is cheap; and (c) to provide large
areas of living space to which people can eventually move (not to "ship
extra people into space," which as critics are quick to point out,
would not work, but to make space for new people to be born without
increasing Earth's population.) Only in this way can we get the
resources we need both for preserving Earth's biosphere and for
eventually building starships.

If you have not heard of this scenario before, it's likely to strike
you as impossible, impractical, or prohibitively expensive, if not all
three. It certainly isn't what mythology has thus far prepared us for.
And yet, we had the technological capability to begin this process 25
years ago, and it's not nearly as costly as the exploration of a planet
without prior space industrialization. The key to it is that we
wouldn't try to lift the components of space habitats up from Earth. We
would use raw materials from the moon and asteroids, and build solar
power satellites in orbit. The power would then be beamed to Earth,
where it would be cheap enough to lift the Third World out of poverty
(many people in the Third World spend a large share of their time
and/or income on firewood, and in so doing, destroy forests.) Products
of space-based industries would be shipped down to Earth, not lifted up
out of its "gravity well". Some scientists feel that enough food could
be raised in orbit to ship food down, as well.

And meanwhile, the space-dwellers producing all these things cheaply
for Earth would be getting rich, because they would not be citizens of
Earth nations; they would be citizens of their own orbiting colonies,
entitled to the full proceeds of their labor. Eventually, they would be
rich enough to fund interstellar expeditions. And their living
conditions would not be what you're imagining if you're picturing Deep
Space Nine. Orbiting colonies-- probably the most difficult concept to
understand if you haven't seen any of the artists' renditions--would be
little worlds built from extraterrestrial materials, with the living
space on the inside of the sphere. They would be complete biospheres
with trees and lakes and gardens, much less crowded and less sterile
than New York City. Many of their advocates have said that having once
lived that way, humans would never want to live on the surface of a
planet again, and that if they traveled to a new planet, they'd go to
its surface only to explore.

Much of this, in particular the design of the colonies, is the vision
of Gerard O'Neill, formerly professor of physics at Princeton and until
his untimely death, president of the Space Studies Institute which he
formed to research the engineering details of the scenario. His book
The High Frontier is a classic that should be read by everyone serious
about space settlements. At one time there was an active citizen's
group, the L-5 Society, dedicated to his ideas, but it has merged into
the National Space Society. He testified before Congress many times and
was recognized as an expert on the future of space, though his specific
proposals weren't taken seriously by enough people to count. NASA did
two studies of his orbiting colony concept. But of course, though it
was entirely feasible from the technological standpoint, it was not
feasible politically or financially, at least not in this country.
Japan and India were more enthusiastic; I'm not sure what the status of
their interest now is, but I once heard that Japan is aiming to have a
space hotel in orbit by 2010, and I won't be at all surprised if the
first orbiting colony turns out to be Japanese.

Most space experts don't advocate anything as ambitious as O'Neill
Colonies. It's not likely that space industrialization will proceed
that rapidly. But we could do it in stages. We could build the solar
power satellites (studies that have "proven" them impractical have been
based on the assumption that materials would be lifted from Earth; use
of lunar materials would make them cost-effective.) But the American
people seem blind to the need to do so, and while private corporations
could ultimately get rich by doing it, it's a very long-term
investment. So I get very discouraged, and fearful that our "window"
(see Part I) will close.

Of course, I too am excited by the long-range possibilities of galactic
exploration shown in Space Age mythology. Paul Levinson has a lot to
say about the infinity of the universe and how, in principle, our
species has access to its infinite resources and the infinite extension
of intelligence this will make possible. I agree wholeheartedly (except
that unlike him, I believe we will meet other intelligent species
someday). But none of this can happen unless we survive long enough to
make it happen. And we can't survive that long, in my opinion, unless
we take the necessary steps to get from here to there. This is why I
believe the most crucial function of our new mythology, and the one
with the greatest adaptive value, is expression of the idea that people
belong in space.

Suggested Reading

This is all nonfiction and much of it is out of print (a sad indication
of the present state of public interest.) Try libraries and used book

Suggested Reading

Ben Bova, The High Road (Houghton Mifflin, 1981)
Stewart Brand, ed., Space Colonies (Penguin, 1977)
Freeman Dyson, "Pilgrims, Saints and Spacemen" in Disturbing the
   Universe (Harper, 1979)
Larry Geis and Fabrice Florin, eds., Moving into Space (Harper
   Perennial, 1980)
T.A. Heppenheimer, Colonies in Space (Stackpole Books, 1977)
Brian O'Leary, The Fertile Stars (Everest House, 1981)
Paul Levinson, several essays in Learning Cyberspace (Anamnesis, 1995)
Gerard O'Neill, The High Frontier (Morrow, 1976; later paperback
   editions are revised.)
James and Alcestis Oberg, Pioneering Space (McGraw-Hill, 1986)
Jerry Pournelle, A Step Farther Out (Ace, 1979)
Marshall Savage, The Millennial Project (Little Brown, 1994)
Harry Stine, The Space Enterprise (Ace, 1980)
Harry Stine, The Third Industrial Revolution (Ace, 1975)
J. Peter Vajk, Doomsday Has Been Cancelled (Peace Press, 1978)
Robert Zubrin, The Case for Mars (Simon & Schuster, 1996; Touchstone,

CCCMENU CCC for 1998

The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of

The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of Georgia or the University System of Georgia.