Education of the Starborn

Chaos Manor View, Thursday, July 23, 2015

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

“This is known as ‘bad luck’.”

– Robert A. Heinlein


After this great glaciation, a succession of smaller glaciations has followed, each separated by about 100,000 years from its predecessor, according to changes in the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit (a fact first discovered by the astronomer Johannes Kepler, 1571-1630). These periods of time when large areas of the Earth are covered by ice sheets are called “ice ages.” The last of the ice ages in human experience (often referred to as the Ice Age) reached its maximum roughly 20,000 years ago, and then gave way to warming. Sea level rose in two major steps, one centered near 14,000 years and the other near 11,500 years. However, between these two periods of rapid melting there was a pause in melting and sea level rise, known as the “Younger Dryas” period. During the Younger Dryas the climate system went back into almost fully glacial conditions, after having offered balmy conditions for more than 1000 years. The reasons for these large swings in climate change are not yet well understood.


I have been worrying about education: what is the curriculum for children on an interstellar colony? There must be some common culture, and it won’t all be science and technology. Sure, as time goes on, there will be those who choose to specialize, “Classicists”, Shakespearian experts, and so forth; but, besides Dr. Seuss, what books have all the kids read? And whose history?


And with that I need to go to bed.


“Cold” fusion report

Acknowledging that you once noted that the signal to noise ratio at Slashdot can be quite high.

Independent Researchers Test Rossi’s Alleged Cold Fusion Device For 32 Days – Slashdot


Independent Researchers Test Rossi’s Alleged Cold Fusion…

WheezyJoe (1168567) writes The E-Cat (or “Energy Catalyzer”) is an alleged cold fusion device that produces heat from a low-energy nuclear reaction where nickel and…

View on

Rod McFadden

Preview by Yahoo


Laser Launchers Subject
Paging Dr. Pournelle:

Rod McFadden


platinum asteroids.

Dear Jerry –

You kindly printed my letter about the (possibly) dodgy evaluation of 2015-UW158, and responded

“We don’t need it to be worth $5 Trillion”.

True enough.

But if we do need it to be worth $500 billion (big infrastructure, NREs, energy/resource costs for delta-v, etc.) then a value of $250 billion is a real problem.

And while there are any number of mitigating factors such as the reusability of research and infrastructure, nobody in their right minds is going to be the first to make the effort if only his successors won’t go bankrupt. And if the first guy goes bankrupt, his potential successors may have a hard time getting backing.

Which is why getting the numbers right in the first place is important.


Jim Martin

Space metals 
Dr. Pournelle:
Concerning 2011 UW158 in the July 20 View: Sure a butt-load of platinum might produce dreams of wealth, but if such amounts of the precious metal were to be that available, the price would drop through the floor. What would be the commodity price of platinum if it were as common as iron ore?
Not to say industrial uses for platinum and gold wouldn’t benefit, but I suspect the terrestrial sources of these metals would resist any attempts to drop prices through flooding the market with ET metals.
Pete Nofel


Still hope for being exiled to glory?

Dr. P,

This sure sounds like something I read about some time in the last millennium:

Company is Launching Spaceships Using a Microwave Antenna

Colorado company Escape Dynamics (EDI) has designed a spaceship engine that doesn’t rely on chemical propulsion (in the form of a controlled explosion), like in traditional rockets. Rather, the engine utilizes the power beamed at it from a microwave antenna—“external propulsion.” 

Here’s how it works: power is drawn from a giant set of batteries (or solar panels, wind turbines, etc.). Once charged, power is sent to a set of modular, phased array microwave antennae, spanning a square kilometer, that then fire a microwave beam at a heat exchanger on the spacecraft. The exchanger heats up the hydrogen in the fuel tank, which in turn powers the ship’s rocket into orbit.


    Bill Clardy

“The faster I run, the behinder I get!”– Pogo


: Space Access Update #145 7/20/15

Monday, 7/20/15 – We have a new Space Access Update out, #145, with SpaceX’s Preliminary Diagnosis of the recent Falcon 9 loss, plus a quick word on how the SLS Mafia may try to exploit this.  You can see this Update at:




Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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