Science Monday: The Martian

I have not read the book (yet) or seen the movie (yet), but I thought this interview with the author was intruiging:

Weir gets into one of the big reasons I support the space program and wish we had one that was ten times bigger. As long as the human race is confined to this planet, we are vulnerable. A single event can render us extinct or at least destroy our civilization. I’ve long thought we should build a vault of human knowledge so that, in the event of a survivable catastrophe, civilization could eventually be rebuilt. But the ultimate “civilization insurance” would be space colonization.

That’s decades away. As Weir notes, the big problem is getting things into orbit, which remains hideously expensive. But I also love his approach to this problem: let industry figure out how to get cargo into orbit cheaply (with NASA funding cutting edge research). That might mean new rocket tech, that might mean magnetic slingshots, that might mean a space elevator.

The solar system, if not the universe, is there for the taking. Do we dare do it? The difference between doing it and not doing it may very well be the long-term survival of humanity.

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  1. FPrefect89

    I went and saw it on Saturday.  It is a good movie.  It made me wish we still had a more active space program.

    The funny thing though, there was only one issue I took with any of the science in the movie, but since you have not seen it I will not go into it because it would be a major spoiler.


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  2. FPrefect89

    I wouldn’t classify the movie as funny as hell.  There were parts, especially the part described in the video above about the shirt.  I didn’t read the book yet so I am not sure.

    I may have to put that on my list of books to read which seems to do nothing but keep growing and never shrink.



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  3. West Virginia Rebel

    Assuming we can’t get around that pesky speed of light limit, we’re probably mostly going to be confined to or own solar system. That means Mars, but what about Venus? The atmosphere is tolerable at a certain altitude with floating platforms, and it’s closer.

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  4. Christopher

    The atmosphere is tolerable at a certain altitude with floating platforms, and it’s closer.

    Would that be practical?  And would it be enough to keep people safe from the sulfuric acid rain?  If anyone gets exposed to that stuff, they’ll turn into a pillar of carbon.

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  5. Starving Writer

    Venus would be more ideal than Mars (nearly identical mass, meaning that the gravity and atmosphere would be closer to Earth), if not for the runaway global warming happening there.  If there were a way to somehow reverse that, Venus would be a more viable candidate to move to than Mars.

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