Skip to main content

Colonizing another planet isn't just about finding a difficult place to live in.  It's not about a technological tour de force.  It's about our species continued existence.  A one-planet species dies when they or forces beyond their control destroy themselves or their planet's ability to sustain them.  Only relativistic distances, ultimately, can keep a species alive -- and the first step in this is learning to live off-world.

However, the challenges faced are immense and the timescales great.  Today we will examine the economics and politics of Martian colonization as a prelude to discussions of the daunting engineering requirements.

This is the third diary in the "Colonization Of Other Worlds" series.

Part One: Beyond The Space Elevator: A Glimpse Of Alternative Methods For Space Launch
Part Two: Where Will We Begin?
Part Three: Who Will Bring It About And Why?

Before we start, I want you to take a look at some pictures.  This is a typical oil refinery:

This is what a typical unit in an oil refinery looks like:

This isn't superfluous.  Every last one of those tanks, pipes, valves, sensors, wires, motors, walkways, and so forth has some critical role to play in the operation of this refinery.  Every unit has their own role to play.  Cat crackers.  Hydrocrackers. Distillation towers.  Hydrotreaters.  Merox treaters.  Amine treaters.  Cooling towers. On and on and on it goes.  And all that this sort of facility will do is take in petroleum and yield various fractions of petroleum.  One might say "scale it down", but really, how much can you scale what you see in that second picture down?  Again, none of that hardware is "optional".

This isn't even a chemical plant, just a refinery.  No plastics coming out of here, just different oil blends and the like.  Its feedstock, petroleum, exists in few places elsewhere in our solar system.  On other planets, you have to make oil before you can even get it to this stage.  From here, you need to make many hundreds of types of petrochemicals to sustain a colony (out of the many thousands we produce here on Earth).  And then those need to be made into tens of thousands of finished products, and distributed properly.  

And we're only talking about the petrochemical industry at this point.

In short, the cost of colonizing another planet is immense beyond measure.  Who can afford to pay it?  Who will pay it?  In this diary, we will examine several possibilities.

Governments

Governments are the classic source of space exploration funds.  For matters of national pride and national security, governments funnel tens of billions of dollars into the world space industry.  Yet this is only the tiniest fraction of their wealth.  The world's largest publicly traded company, Exxon-Mobil, takes in $310 billion dollars per year.  The federal budget for the United States is $3.55 trillion dollars per year.  Governments have the potential to take as large of a share of the world economy as they choose to -- the world's GDP being $61.1 trillion dollars.  By comparison, NASA's piddling $18B budget, on which it accomplishes all of its great feats (some consider wastefully) is practically unnoticeable.

So what's the problem?  Well, there are several.  But the biggest one is that colonization is a huge expense over long periods of time, and governments simply cannot commit over those timescales.  If you follow the progression of rocket research in the United States, for example, it's one project after the next being killed off.  Most of the world's economy is run by democracies, and in a democracy, the government changes every several years.  Different people come in with different priorities, all wanting to have the funds spent on projects that they began.

An additional problem is that of local politics.  Most politicians are elected by geographically-isolated constituents.  Their primary focus is not the long-term future of humanity, nor the short-term future of humanity, or of their nation, or even their state.  Their primary responsibility is to their local constituents.  This leads to existing hardware becoming embedded in stone.  The Space Shuttle was so hard to kill off and replace, despite its technological flaws, because of all of the jobs tied up in it.  And what did they replace it with?  Another severely flawed rocket program (Ares).  They didn't choose Ares because it was the technologically optimal approach; they chose it because they could keep existing Shuttle contractors employed.

Governments will certainly continue to conduct invaluable work in terms of exploration and research into how to survive off-planet.  But actual colonization?  It would appear doubtful that they could sustain such a program.

Corporations

As many are fond of pointing out -- for example, Zubrin -- our solar system is filled with staggering wealth.  While resources like helium-3 are overhyped, let's take a brief glimpse elsewhere.  The little asteroid "Eros" is estimated to contain 20 trillion dollars worth of precious metals alone.  When you hear "precious metals", don't think jewelry.  Think catalsysts, fuel cells, next-generation batteries, computer hardware, and so forth.

So, corporations are going to just rush to collect this wealth, right?  Well, there's a problem.  Exporting raw ore requires absurd amounts of energy (plus resources to keep the mining running).  Exporting refined ore takes less energy, but pretty much requires the resources of a colony to keep the processing hardware running.  

It is important to remember that when it comes to a space program, the primary cost is not materials.  It's labor.  Liquid oxygen is so cheap it's practically free.  Fuel for a launch averages roughly around a dollar per kilogram.  Most metals used in rocketry cost a few dollars per kilogram, with components that are significantly more expensive in terms of raw materials (such as engines) tending to be small fractions of the total mass.  Yet the cost of launching a rocket can be hundreds of dollars per unit wet mass and thousands per unit of payload.

How does this affect colonization?  Economics doesn't just apply on Earth; it also applies in space.  Labor is a finite commodity, and you have to pay for it.  And when your colonists are consuming incredibly expensive colony space and resources, their labor costs must correspondingly be incredibly high.  The alternative is shifting as much of the work to robots as possible, which will almost certainly be cheaper, but they still need to be engineered, deployed, and most importantly, maintained.

As Hickman wrote in his critique of Zubrin's "The Case For Mars", popular science writers tend only to focus on the potential wealth available and skim over the problem of raising initial capital.  But one needs to provide the rational motivations for investors to risk their capital in opening  a very distant, completely uninhabited frontier that is subject to extreme environmental conditions.  In practice, as the article goes into in depth, this proposal tends to be rather weak tea.

Does this mean that corporations will have no role in the colonization of Mars?  No.  But it suggests that it's exceedingly unlikely that they would embark on such a mission on their own.

Super-wealthy individuals


Photo: One of many castles built by the Rothschild family.

At first glance, wealthy individuals may appear to be a poor choice.  A person who makes their money by starting a company will only end up with a fraction of the equity in that company, and their wealth would be utterly dwarfed by that of world governments.  On the other hand, there are certainly arguments to be made for looking at this option.

At his peak, Bill Gates was worth over $100B -- 5 1/2 times that of NASA's annual budget.  But he was just a lightweight compared to a number of other wealthy individuals or families in modern times.  Probably the most extreme example is the Rothschild family, whose net worth in modern dollars is estimated in the trillions and who singlehandedly bailed out national banks and funded wars.

The key thing a private individual brings to the table is commitment.  They don't need a profit.  Once you have such excessive amounts of money, there comes a point where larger and larger yachts lose interest.  You need a cause.  For Gates, it was medical research (a noble cause indeed).  But some day, for some super-wealthy individuals, it will be space.  The ability to create an entire civilization in your design and going down forever in history has more than a little appeal.

The committment of one or more super-wealthy individuals to such a project would provide assurance that it would happen -- at least, what was budgeted for.  This would lower the risk to private companies seeking profits in space, making it easier for them to raise capital.  And government research would become more clearly focused on the goal.

A number of steps along the way can lead to the individual(s) wealth being stretched.  The first step of reaching space is dramatic launch cost reductions.  A low capacity Launch Loop would put prices in hundreds of dollars per kilogram and cost about $10B.  A high capacity Launch Loop would yield prices in single-digits and cost about $30B.  Private industry would be reluctant to fund such a launch mechanism due to the risk involved, but an idealistic multi-billionare wouldn't.  And if they succeed, it can turn them a profit in its operations.  Likewise, the tremendous amount of engineering research needed for designing Martian industry is virtually certain to lead to spinoffs on Earth.  Will they fund their whole cost?  Likely not.  But they should significantly stretch the private funds.

For the purposes of this work, we will assume an effort begun by one or more like-minded private individuals (which we shall call "Founders"), and enjoined by private companies and governmental space programs.

---


Photo: The Republic of Minerva, a subsurface reef built into an island to found a Libertarian paradise.  It was conquered by Tonga shortly thereafter.

One of the risks of the Founders approach is that of ideologies.  A founder would have a huge say in what sort of system would be created.  Would it be designed as a "benevolent" dictatorship?  A progressive science-focused utopia?  A libertarian paradise?  A fundamentalist colony?  The US and the UN could issue whatever edicts they want about who can do what on Mars, but:

  1. While Earth organizations may have de jure authority, the team in charge of the project will have de facto authority.  If they wanted to export a team of trained security personnel to the planet with the only weapons on Mars to become Dictator for Life, who could stop them?  Who would even know ahead of time?
  1. Indeed, any controversial plans for Mars would likely be kept secret for as long as possible.
  1. What are Earth organization's moves in such a scenario?  A) Sieze private launch assets in international waters, then B) hope they don't blow it up in the process (otherwise, you have to rebuild it), then C) launch a 6-9 month mission to Mars, then D) hope that it doesn't get detected and attacked in space, then E) land armed forces on the surface, and then F) invade a tiny, piddling, barely-self-sustaining colony on the surface -- likely destroying it in the process.  Is that really realistic?
  1. Now picture that scenario being conducted for situations less than a "Dictator for Life" scenario.  For example, if a libertarian leader declared that Martian corporations cannot be regulated, or a fundamentalist leader discriminated against gays.  We have enough trouble dealing with entities who do that stuff on Earth, and we're to believe it would spawn an invasion of Mars?  Unlikely.
  1. Due to the great transit times for the foreseeable future, Earth will find it difficult to exert significant influence over any fledgeling Martian colony beyond the threat of cutting off their supplies.  But if a Founder plans a controversial move, all consumables that they cannot yet produce on-planet would almost certainly be stocked up to last for decades or more.

That said, Earth's institutions still could exert some influence over the colony, especially in its early stages, and all the moreso if the founders are reliant on corporate and governmental partnerships to make the colony survive.  The colony would almost certainly claim authority over the entire planet.  There is little reason not to, due to their de facto authority, their need to reduce the risk of war between colonies, and their need for harvesting diverse resources which are likely scattered widely across the world.

The development process would ideally proceed something along the lines of:

  1. The founders convene a commission of respected individuals to begin the colony planning process, while launching a project to dramatically slash launch costs.
  1. The commission organizes many committees of diverse, respected individuals in each of their fields to plan all aspects of the colony -- for example, political historians, economists, philosophers, and human rights figures to lay out the governmental structure.  The largest and most diverse committees would be focused on engineering challenges, such as mining, agriculture, habitation, refining, transportation, and manufacture.
  1. The engineering committees launch huge numbers of research projects, with the goal of condensing as much of our modern human tech tree into as little hardware as possible to sustain a colony.
  1. The governmental committees come up with a draft of founding principles, a constitution, and a set of laws, all clearly documented by numerous pages describing initial intent.
  1. Repeated iterations of the proposed low-cost launch mechanisms are produced and refined, starting with suborbital, progressing through low-throughput orbital, to high-throughput orbital.
  1. Real-world probes and missions beyond Earth do detailed exploration of the Martian surface, with a focus on mineral prospecting.
  1. Robotic mining of the surface begins.
  1. Automated mineral transportation infrastructure is established.
  1. As late as possible in the engineering process, habitats, refining, and manufacturing facilities begin to get built.  The risk of building too soon is that, for example, if the engineering team decides that they can eliminate the need to produce low-density polyethylene from the colony and you have a building whose construction was engineered to use low-density polyethylene, you're in trouble.
  1. Only once food is growing, shielded habitats are ready and full of breathable air, transportation is available, and so forth, are humans sent to Mars (paying their own tickets).  Primary employment on Mars, initially, will be repair of machinery broken down in the leadup to their arrival, that which breaks during their stay, scientific exploration of the planet, and care for other humans on the colony (medical, education, etc).  Future employment will include general research, software, engineering, resource exportation, and homegrown colony expansion/improvement projects.

Nobody, not even people who generally have the same political ideology, will agree on everything.  For example, I would personally consider it fortunate if Mars began with founding principles such as:

Science having granted us, the citizens of Mars, a humble dominion over its regolith and rocks, core to crust, atmosphere and moons, we hereby commit ourselves to uphold our five founding principles:

  1. All rights stem from the capability of a single entity for rational thought; as a consequence, all sentients are equal under the law, and no thinking single entity can be categorically denied protections by virtue of being other than human.
  1. The rights of the individual are unbounded until they clash with the rights of another individual.  No law or constitutional amendment may be passed which can limit activities between consenting individuals who are capable of rational decision-making skills unless their activities directly infringe upon the rights of others.
  1. All citizens of Mars have the right to personally cast a vote on any legal issue or to nominate a representative to vote for them on any issue or group of issues that they so choose, so long as they have a basic understanding of the issue at hand or the views of the representative they are choosing.  Higher standards may be held for representatives than for citizens.
  1. All laws passed by the citizens of Mars must be reconciled with the Constitution of Mars by the Judiciary, and all constitutional amendments must likewise be reconciled with the Founding Principles.
  1. Science, to which we owe our existence on our homeland, shall be the ultimate arbiter of what is fact and what is fiction, what is prudent policy and what is reckless.  As a consequence, the Martian Academy of Sciences shall have the right, upon a 75% vote by its membership, veto the nomination of a candidate to the judiciary.  The Martian Academy of Sciences shall set the standards for determining what comprises "sentience" and "a basic understanding of the issue at hand".  The Martian Academy of Sciences shall be free from undue interference on the part of the citizenry or the Judiciary so long as it adheres to an open membership policy limited only by the legitimate scientific qualifications of its membership and maintains open, democratic standards for voting.

Amending this document requires an 80% supermajority vote of both the Martian Academy of Sciences and of the citizenry, with a quorum of at least 1/5th of the highest citizen population attained in the history of the colony and at least 2/3rds of the current citizenry.

However, not everyone would agree.

One must always strike a balance between the ability of a nation to peaceably adapt and the adherence to its design intent.  Any founding documents would need to be supported by extensive documentation describing intent (for example, that the wording "single entity" in #1 excludes corporations, as they are groupings of thinking entities, or that the quorum requirements in the last paragraph are designed to make it harder to change the document should the population collapse down to a few individuals).  The constitutional principles would need to enumerate rights, lay out the details of voting, any executive leadership positions, and so forth.  A commission of professionals could do a far greater job in design than I have in my example.

A final question remains in regards to the initial economics of colonization, and that is, "how much money will it take?"  As we will discover in the next diary of this series, more may be spent on engineering for industry than on all other aspects of colonization combined.

I leave you with the Symphony of Science song, "The Case For Mars" (Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, Steve Soter, and others):

Originally posted to Rei on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 02:55 PM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

    •  Why distract us from the issues of our time? (0+ / 0-)

      Why do you take our focus away from solving real problems now?

      It almost seems as if you have given up on the planet earth altogether - and that is very frightening, not uplifting.

      Would much rather see you put your many talents into helping making our world a better and move livable place!

  •  If we keep trashing the planet.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    environmentalist

    we'll have little choice but to go to Mars.

    •  In a way, when you think about it... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, David Kroning II

      We're requiring increasing tech to sustain our life on Earth in lieu of what nature used to provide us for free.  The tech required to sustain life on Mars remains constant.  So the gap does indeed close over time.

      One thing that's interesting about a new world is that resources get mined in order from easiest to hardest.  On Earth, everything that once was remotely easy to get has long since been mined.  For example, natives used to hammer glacial copper -- pure metallic copper sitting on the surface -- into tools.  Nowadays, we extract it in PPM quantities from subsurface desert veins.

      Nobody has yet mined the easy stuff on planets like Mars.

      Now, we can always, here on Earth, keep going for the less and less concentrated resources.  And thankfully, in general, the harder the version of a resource is to get, the more of it there is (by a large margin).  But Mars starts with a sort of "founders bonus" to mining.

    •  a sad thought (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      enthusiast
      I hope we've gotten our situation here well under control before we become even remotely capable of colonisation.
      •  We would destroy any new planet's environment (0+ / 0-)

        before we could even terraform it - profit motives would drive the wealthiest on the planet to lay waste to it.

        Just as many ocean species were fished and hunted to extinction - it didn't matter what was there - they just hunted it until it was gone.

        Today, reading about the sea cows, the size of whales, which were hunted to extinction in the 19th century.

        The oceans are our "commons," and we are destroying the fish habitats.

        We haven't shown the ability to behave/live in a sustainable way on this planet.

        The idea of living on a planet like Mars is appalling - no lakes, no rivers, no trees, just sand & rocks.  It would take thousands of years to begin to make the air breathable there, and it's cold as hell, even at the equator.  I'd rather die than have to live in a place like that.

        •  Question (0+ / 0-)

          How do you destroy a planet's environment that is already a dead zone?

          Also, on Mars, you don't live outdoors.  You live indoors.  You have flowing water, trees, etc -- but inside.  Outside is like living in the desert.  Inside is whatever heaven or hell you make it into.

  •  Let's prove we can take care of our (6+ / 0-)

    Home planet, before infecting the universe with humans.

    If by 3010, we have shown we can responsibly live on our own planet without destroying our ecology, then we can strike out for new colonies.

    Humans are "not ready for prime time" in this universe.

    "One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity nothing beats teamwork." - Mark Twain

    by greendem on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 03:09:16 PM PDT

  •  International Space Station (0+ / 0-)

    I believe one of its purposes is as a place of "safe harbor" for certain individuals in case of a planetary disaster.

    The news: whether you like it or not. -- James Poniewozik

    by RhodaA on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 03:11:30 PM PDT

    •  It wouldn't work for that. (at least not well) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, RhodaA

      For many reasons.

      1. If it's war, it's too easy to target.  
      1. If it's, say, something like a gamma ray burst, it's just as much in the path as we are, but even more vulnerable.
      1. It would be more than a slight challenge to land a docked spacecraft without mission control.  I don't even know if that's possible.
      1. If the reentry craft isn't controlled (like, say, the shuttle), it could very well land somewhere that you need retrieval from.   Leaving you, say, to die at sea.
      1. The ISS doesn't have very long to survive without resupply, so people couldn't stay aloft for long to wait a catastrophe out.
      1. Even if they could get to the surface, the may well have no local infrastructure to support them left (depending on the disaster).

      I suppose it's better than nothing, but it's not much.

  •  Gravity wells are too expensive, (3+ / 0-)

    asteroids are where the smart money is at.

    If I were to design a trojan horse to bring down the Republican party, it would bear an uncanny resemblance to Rand Paul. - #104758

    by mydailydrunk on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 03:13:25 PM PDT

  •  I would have a real problem with this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    environmentalist, Dcoronata, boophus

    Science, to which we owe our existence on our homeland, shall be the ultimate arbiter of what is fact and what is fiction, what is prudent policy and what is reckless.  As a consequence, the Martian Academy of Sciences shall have the right, upon a 75% vote by its membership, veto the nomination of a candidate to the judiciary.  The Martian Academy of Sciences shall set the standards for determining what comprises "sentience" and "a basic understanding of the issue at hand".  The Martian Academy of Sciences shall be free from undue interference on the part of the citizenry or the Judiciary so long as it adheres to an open membership policy limited only by the legitimate scientific qualifications of its membership and maintains open, democratic standards for voting.

    First, not all questions are scientific questions.

    Second, I don't like the power that would be concentrated into the hands of people who are just as subject to human foibles as the rest of use.

    Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

    by Linnaeus on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 03:17:50 PM PDT

    •  A whole SciFi trilogy is possible (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Linnaeus, Rei

      From that element alone, let alone all five sample principles. ;)

      Legalism: strict conformity to the letter of the law rather than its spirit

      by Catte Nappe on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 03:20:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In the end... (0+ / 0-)

      it all comes down to humans. I'd rather have humans who know their field having a supermajority veto power over people who are scientifically wreckless.   But indeed, nobody will ever agree on what is an ideal political system.

      •  Depends on the question (0+ / 0-)

        Issues are multifaceted and aren't just a matter of what is true and false.  There are also normative questions, i.e. should something be done, and that's not something that can be scientifically proven.

        Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

        by Linnaeus on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 03:25:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Science can compare benefits, given (0+ / 0-)

          value weightings.  Humans weigh the values of different aspects and science can tell you, with the best confidence possible (far better than people "guessing") what the results are.

          Not everything lends itself equally to such analysis, but some are far easier than others.  One of the biggest problems I see in our current system is that we have scientifically illiterate people in charge of things that aren't "science policy", but who are leading us down horrible paths because they don't understand the science.  For example, our industrial and energy policy.

          •  Soylent Green is People! (0+ / 0-)

            What I'm saying in my perhaps not very humorous way, is "science" is people.

            I love's me my science, don't get me wrong- I practice it 5 days a week at work, and I indulge in a bit of it on my spare time.  That and the endless weight of magazines that threaten to turn into a singularity...

            But you also need art.  Literature, poetry, music... science and scientists shouldn't be treated any differently than other disciplines.  This isn't the bloody Vulcan Academy, this is Earth.

            •  I disagree. (0+ / 0-)

              I think science should be treated differently.  The value of art can be considered as a value.  The value of literature, poetry, music, the same.  Science is a process, not an art.  It is a process through which we find answers.  The question can be, "how does this work" or "what are the costs associated with X action" or anything of the sort.  When it comes to values, it always remains to humans to define those.  But the process of making hypotheses and testing them with known data remains the best process humans have ever devised.

              Think, in our situation, what a difference it would be if we lived in a world which respected science when it came to political decision making.  For example, the IPCC has computed the most likely scenarios for what will happen if different policy decisions are made in regards to global warming.  That doesn't say, "take course of action B".  But it tells you what the results of course of action A, B, and C will be, and based on your value weightings, you can tell how good of a choice each are.  Instead, we live in a world where people just vote based on their gut.  "Well, I think that if we support non-fossil fuel, power prices will jump to $1 per kilowatt hour and America will enter a new dark ages."  They not only don't care about the scientific process, but actively work to undermine it.

          •  Exactly, for example my Doc can tell me not to (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Rei

            eat french fries and if I don't I will live to 85. But I look at it and find that if I do occassionally eat fries I will live to 82. So I make a value judgment that I love fries enough to give up 3 years ... Plain language, I will choose to live in a way that yields me the most satisfaction because having the most years doesn't mean crap if I don't enjoy them. Not only that but I could reach 70 and have a meteorite nail me or a bad driver. Then I will have given up one of lifes naughty pleasures for nothing.

            This is the danger of anyone believing they know what is best for me. In this case it is a professional who is only interested in my body not the occupier. I understand that is thier job.

            Fear is the Mind Killer

            by boophus on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 03:39:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Exactly. It's about respect for scientifically (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              boophus

              determined facts.  Science itself will never make up values.  That's not what science is.  Only we make up values for things.  If we decide French Fries are worth three years of our life, and science says they'll take off one year, than the logical choice is to eat french fries.  If we decide they're worth three years of our life, and science says that they'll take off ten years, then the logical choice is to quit eating them.  The problem comes when you have people making policy for everyone saying that, "Well, the science says french fries will take one year off our lives, but I don't believe them.  I think french fries will cut twenty years off your life, so I'm banning them."

            •  Not cut and dried (0+ / 0-)

              You see he can't tell you you are going to lose three years, he can only suggest that the potential exists that on average, this will cost you a day a fry.

              "I accept my fiery fate
              one less day of living for each bargain burger plate"

              Mike Keneally, The Day of the Cow.

              But most people think that death happens to other people.  That's why crimes are committed, "the other guy will get caught, not me!  I'm too smart for that!"  We mistakenly think that risks happen to other people, which is why by far the most risky behavior you can undertake in this country is drinking and driving, and yet it still is done by several tens of thousands of people each day.  Might only kill 1 in a thousand, but keep doing it and you'll be that 1.

              •  You are so right... To give me ff odds ignores (0+ / 0-)

                other factors. We are at the very beginning of understanding our own apparatus and some are so convinced of their righteousness and correctness.

                It is like BP drilling when there is no way of knowing the true odds and the true costs.  How can you evaluate that? And what if there is a small chance but a well known risk that it will kill us all?

                Its like gambling. I well know the odds and so am mystified by peoples betting behavior. My mom for example bets every number on the roulette table. I keep tellin her that it is inevitable that she will walk away with nothing... but she merrily bets and gets back a little less from each win. Roulette is the worst game... no make that slot machines because the owner of the machine has total control over odds and owner cut.

                BP screw up was bad betting and disregarding of odds when you don't know for sure what to do if it goes wrong... Corpses are like that. Just like the banks were with depositors monies... Gamblers

                Math and science can give us data and we should be able to make choices that are reasonable returns for ourselves and our species (and to me other species of life- rocks get short shrift from me). What makes life worth living has to be accounted for. As does the human cost. Personally my survival at any cost to others is unacceptable... I couldn't live with my own stench if calculated how many would suffer or die for my personal goals. That is my ethical stance.

                Anyway I went back and read all your diaries REI and they are very thought provoking and interesting.

                Fear is the Mind Killer

                by boophus on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 05:02:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Wow (0+ / 0-)

              well put.

              Which is good news for John McCain.

              by AppleP on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 06:21:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  History is full of the caste system trainwrecks (0+ / 0-)

        Just because it's another planet doesn't mean human nature will be different there.

        •  How is that a caste system? (0+ / 0-)

          Anyone can gain a legitimate scientific education.

          •  As a rule guilds even de facto ones (0+ / 0-)

            frequency change up the rules of admission to keep privileges to themselves.

            Also, I think you touching on a thought experiment that is getting a lot of play lately in a lot of venues, namely:

            How and when could we justify stepping back from one-person one-vote representative democracy?

            Because it's not going to be planets near Zeta Tucanae or Eta Cassiopeiae or Pi Orionis that such ideas are tested out.

            It's going to be right here on Earth, and quite possibly right here in America that such notions are tested out.

            Ah, feckless humanity and its lukewarm commitment to liberty and justice.

            A new ideological conflict is coming - one side favoring technology as a way to compel obedience to a social agenda set by society's betters (as they define it), the other side using the same tools to empower free thought, expression and association.

            Will we live in a world where our every action is observed, our motives and micro-expressions analyzed to exacting detail, and even our very thoughts orchestrated from above? Or do we live in a society that respects our privacy and invites our participation when we choose to do so?

            We don't need other worlds to conduct these social experiments.

            We don't even need to imagine what they'll look like.

            These trends have already begun.

            •  Rules (0+ / 0-)

              As a rule guilds even de facto ones frequency change up the rules of admission to keep privileges to themselves.

              Which is why minimum standards were spelled out in the document -- those standards being subject to judicial review.

              How and when could we justify stepping back from one-person one-vote representative democracy?

              Actually, this was a huge step forward, in that it is a hybrid representative/direct democracy.  As for having an unelected scientific body which anyone can join if they educate themselves that has supermajority veto power, in our system, we have an unelected non-scientific body which requires nomination from the president which has mere majority veto power (the Supreme Court)

              one side favoring technology as a way to compel obedience to a social agenda set by society's betters (as they define it),

              Ah, not so.  Values will always be set by humans.  Science has no way to set values.  Given a specific set of values, it can tell you what is the optimal way to reach them or balance them based on your weightings, but it cannot come up with them.

              •  I submit there is a much larger debate (0+ / 0-)

                on regime construction happening all around you, right now, on this very planet.

                Sorry but if anyone thinks this type of thinking is going to go anywhere without a fight - and I do mean a fight - they are nuts and they'll have a lot of people opposing them.

                And I will be among them.

                Sorry, but a techno-Taliban is still a Taliban and I'm just not with that.

                For, as you know, Talib is "student" in Arabic...all you have to do to be a member of THAT guiding body is..study up for it.

                Sorry, but your entire regime has already been field-tested, just with religious tenets not scientific knowledge.

                •  Questions (0+ / 0-)
                  1. What judicial review does the Taliban have?
                  1. What democratic process does the Taliban use?
                  1. What is the supermajority percent the Taliban must have to act?  75%?
                  1. Does the Taliban have only supermajority veto power for nominations, as opposed to legislative, executive, and judicial power?
                  1. Since when does fundamentalism (a system of hard-coded values) equal science (a system with no values, just a method of solving problems based on whatever values are given by humans)?
                  1. Since when are citizens under the Taliban given a direct vote on all legislative acts?

                  Thanks for answering these.

                  Want a less horrific example?  Britain.  Britain has a House of Lords and a House of Commons.  The House of Commons is directly elected.  The House of Lords is a mixture of bishops (church heirarchy), "life peers" appointed by the monarch under the advice of the Prime Minister, and traditional hereditary Lords.  The House of Lords isn't so restricted in duties as just a supermajority veto and definition of terms.  Oh, and did I mention that Britain also has a hereditary monarch with personal dictatorial powers which can be used in extreme circumstances?

                  But naturally you picked the Taliban over Britain because Britain isn't scary.

                  I'll also add that there was utter disbelief in many quarters -- even among the American revolutionaries themselves -- that giving ordinary citizens the right to vote could work.  It was such a concerning experiment that they felt the need to insert "electors" into the middle of it.  What chance did that have of working -- a system with no monarch?  Well, actually...

  •  Rei (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    environmentalist

    Can I buy pot from you?

    "One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity nothing beats teamwork." - Mark Twain

    by greendem on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 03:20:30 PM PDT

  •  If there are any actual "intelegent" beings (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greendem, environmentalist

    observing our stewardship of Earth, they will undoubtedly do everything in their power to keep us from spreading our destructive behavior beyond our home planet. We, collectively, deserve to suffer the fruits of our labor.

    "If you do not read the paper, you are uninformed. If you do read the paper, you are misinformed."--Mark Twain.

    by ovals49 on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 03:22:16 PM PDT

  •  Energy (0+ / 0-)

    The energy needed to lift a sizable amount of population from this planet to any other is huge.

    We will not be easily able to terraform anything in this solar system.  As we've seen with many experiments, it is damned hard to scrub CO2 and generate O2 mechanically alone.  I'm sure it will come in time, but it might take a damned long time.

    We've evolved to live on this planet- with its magnetic field, its atmosphere, its mixture of beneficial and symbiotic bacteria.  We might be able to eventually leave, but I can't see it happening on a self-sustainable level for centuries.

    •  This wasn't discussing terraforming. (0+ / 0-)

      As for the energy lifting cost for escape velocity, E=GMm/r.  For a 100kg person, that's 6.674e-11 * 5.98e24kg * 100kg / 6.371e6m = 6.26GJ = 1,740 kilowatt-hours = $174 worth of electricity at 100% efficiency.  Hardly a limiting factor.  The challenge is, how close can we get to that 100% efficiency?  And the answer is that a launch loop isn't bad at all, at about 50% propulsion efficiency, minus aero losses (which are low since you don't go fast through the atmosphere) and energy leakage (which is much smaller than energy used for propulsion).

      We might be able to eventually leave, but I can't see it happening on a self-sustainable level for centuries.

      Not arguing with the timeframe here -- half a century to two centuries sounds about right.  But the start can begin now.  It's going to take a long time no matter when you start.

      •  Evolution isn't very forgiving (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BardoOne

        Humans are built on very small tolerances, involving internal biota and gravitational stress.  Hate to go all Pixar on you, but they had a pretty good idea about what low-G living would do to us.

        As for 100% efficiency, nothing is!  And no human can travel in space on his or her own, you need a boatload of artificial life support.  It's like the old automotive conundrum- you can make the car more and more efficient but for all practical purposes, you are still using more than 90% of the energy moving metal, and not human.

        So unless you change both humans and our transportation system, you need to go somewhere very close, and turn it as close to earth as you can.  It'll be much easier to fix the house, than to build a new one from scratch.

        Unless you are hoping for interstellar travel.

        Now THAT takes energy!

        Unless you are talking generation ships, and unless you are talking whole fleets because one ship is for all practical purposes a suicide mission (too many things to go wrong) trying to live anywhere outside of this solar system is next to impossible.

        •  Pixar wasn't right. Astronauts don't get fat. (0+ / 0-)

          Please don't turn to a kids' animation studio for scientific evidence.  Zero-G lowers your appetite.

          As for 100% efficiency, nothing is!

          Did you even read what I wrote?  I'll repeat: " The challenge is, how close can we get to that 100% efficiency?  And the answer is that a launch loop isn't bad at all, at about 50% propulsion efficiency, minus aero losses (which are low since you don't go fast through the atmosphere) and energy leakage (which is much smaller than energy used for propulsion)."

          And no human can travel in space on his or her own, you need a boatload of artificial life support.   It's like the old automotive conundrum- you can make the car more and more efficient but for all practical purposes, you are still using more than 90% of the energy moving metal, and not human.

          One, that's not a very clear example case to make.  For example, when cruising, a 3,000 pound car with 750 pounds of payload, only 80% of the rolling drag comes from the car, and the aero drag (which predominates at highway speeds) is independent of passenger count.  The faster you go, the less rolling drag matters.  Two, yes, the ratio of passenger mass to craft mass is low at small sizes.  It improves significantly the larger your craft is, however, and with $350 worth of energy needed to launch a (heavier than average) person from a launch loop, you have a lot of wiggle room.  A 10:1 ratio, for example?  That's a $3500 ticket for the energy (plus extra for non-electricity).  Say a $8,000 ticket.  To Mars.  You could sell millions of those.

          It'll be much easier to fix the house, than to build a new one from scratch.

          Okay then, answer me this: how do you change the system on Earth so that humans can no longer annihilate ourselves, and that nature cannot either?  How do you change the system on earth so that twenty trillion dollars of heavy metals can be produced from a single mining project alone?  How do you change the system on Earth so that the surface area of the planet dramatically increases?

          We're not talking about industrial efficiency; we're talking the ability to do things that you simply can't do on Earth alone.

          Unless you are talking generation ships, and unless you are talking whole fleets because one ship is for all practical purposes a suicide mission (too many things to go wrong) trying to live anywhere outside of this solar system is next to impossible.

          Once you've done the engineering work once, the amount of effort to colonize outside our world drops dramatically.  I.e., once you know the geology of an extrasolar planet and have an existing A) compact colonization tech base, and B) low launch cost mechanism,  a generation ship to take you there is more than feasible.

          But baby steps.  The first steps are within our solar system.

          •  Not enough time, or desire (0+ / 0-)

            First, the average car in the US has 1.23 passengers in it.  So if the average 1.23 people weight 300 pounds, you are still pushing 10 times as much car as people.  

            Second, astronauts are highly trained and motivated people, living a very spartan existence in space.  If you want to actually colonize, you'll have to make the experience better.

            And even then, you are talking near-zero gravity, not fractional!  Put civilians on mars, and we'll eat the same way we do here.

            The bigger the craft, the more expensive.  We can't get schools to teach art, you want people to build an ark?

            Your problem, and believe me it is a problem, is you think the theoretical is always going to eventually become the practical.  We'll I heard that claptrap 30 years ago, when they said we'd have fusion in 20 years.

            Still 20 years away.

            As a practicing engineer, believe me engineering isn't the solution because humans are the problem.  I spent an hour today telling a fellow engineer that for a tenth of the effort he put in composing a print, he'd have gotten better results and made life easier for the guys in the art department.  And then I proved it to him.

            And he still carries on making the same mistakes- people do not always do what is best, what is "optimal" because we are people.  And if we can't even spend a few million bucks on boom, or get the right-sized ship to fucking collect the oil (what, you guy's couldn't get a bigger boat!!!) then how do you expect us to spent trillions on space exploration, and development?

            •  The astronaut corps turns down the overwhelming (0+ / 0-)

              majority of applicants.  Way more people want to go into space than get to go, by many orders of magnitude.  Secondly, the ratios of passenger mass to craft mass will only improve over time, as craft get larger (better volume to surface area ratios) and materials improve.

              And even then, you are talking near-zero gravity, not fractional!  Put civilians on mars, and we'll eat the same way we do here.

              First you quote Pixar, and now you pull "facts" out of your arse.  Please stop that.

              The bigger the craft, the more expensive.

              The bigger the craft, the greater the total cost, but the lower the per-passenger cost.

              We can't get schools to teach art, you want people to build an ark?

              And I'm sure the people in Spain had a lot better uses for money than that crazy Columbus expedition.

              Your problem, and believe me it is a problem, is you think the theoretical is always going to eventually become the practical.

              In what regard?  First off, a launch loop is based on far simpler physics than fusion.  Secondly, it's just one of several dozen launch-cost reducing technologies mentioned in the first diary in this series.

              when they said we'd have fusion in 20 years.

              Still 20 years away.

              We do have fusion now.  In fact, ITER has achieved Q=10 for hundreds of seconds and Q=5 for over an hour.  Not economical fusion power plants, but we have more than breakeven fusion.  NIF will have no trouble getting significantly positive Q in a more economically scaleable approach (which could potentially be realized by the end of this decade by HiPER).  Of course, it'd take a long time for it to displace fission.

              •  A complete and total disconection with reality (0+ / 0-)

                We have fusion?  Show me a commercial fusion reactor- we spend billions for break even, and it'll still be another 20 years until we reach even the most rudimentary plant that can run a light bulb.  Not a city mind you, a light bulb.

                The Spanish funded Columbus not for science, but for commercial gain.  They thought there was a mountain of gold, and easy passage to the east coast of Asia.  It wasn't for a colonization mission.  

                You are out of touch with reality- you talk about NASA screening astronauts, while talking about colonization of worlds that are potentially tens of light years away.  We can't fucking fund unemployment sufficiently, and you want a network of unmanned probes to investigate hundreds of solar systems.  It will take a thousand years before this might happen, at the absolute earliest imaginable pace.

                •  A complete disconnect with reading ability (0+ / 0-)

                  We have fusion?  Show me a commercial fusion reactor

                  Fusion != Commercial Fusion.  Try again.

                  we spend billions for break even

                  And we got it, by definition.  That's what Q=1 is.

                  There's a difference, however, between "breakeven" and "economical".  Magnetic approaches like ITER have achieved an order of magnitude more than breakeven (which it wasn't even remotely close to 30 years ago).  But not close to economical.  NIF, on the other hand, will not only achieve more than breakeven, but has a much more scaleable approach.

                  The Spanish funded Columbus not for science, but for commercial gain.

                  Ostensibly, but not really.  The general consensus among historians (and Columbus's own son) is that they didn't really think he'd come back.  Their own science advisers had (correctly) pointed out that his math was wrong.  That's why they gave him such absurdly generous terms (Admiral of the Ocean-Sea, governor of all lands in the orient he was to find, a large share of all profits, etc)  It was seen as an endeavor with little chance of success, but if it were to succeed, the long-term payoff could be huge.  Hmm, does that sound like anything to you?

                  It wasn't for a colonization mission.  

                  Columbus's first voyage was, as mentioned above, ostensibly for profit (as there was no such thing, for the most part, as pure science funding back then), but really, it was more about exploration (seen as an extremely high risk venture).  Columbus's second voyage was explicitly for colonization, and carried 1,200 people.  Their equivalent nonprofit motive to ours of scientific research was that of spreading the gospel, and that was a prime part of the second voyage.  This was the Spanish crown's main motive in the New World in the early days.  Columbus himself was somewhat of a psychopath and was primarily motivated by profit, but this often led to conflicts with the crown (especially over the issue of slavery -- Columbus kept trying to get the crown interested in exporing the natives as slaves, and they kept issuing him edicts not to do that (which he ignored) -- Columbus went so far as to ban patism for the natives that the priests had converted because that would mean that, under Catholic law, they couldn't be sold as slaves).  Spain's involvement in the New World was a money-loser until the Conquistadors.  Columbus may not have expected this to be the case, but the Crown sure seems to have, at least early on.

                  You are out of touch with reality- you talk about NASA screening astronauts, while talking about colonization of worlds that are potentially tens of light years away.

                  If a call went out today for people to colonize another planet, volunteers would be lined up coast to coast.  There are 300 million people in this country and twenty times as many on Earth.  Even if there was only a 0.0001% interest rate to be part in the most significant event in human history since leaving the jungles of Africa for the savanna (the reality would be far higher), selection among the remaining thousands of applicants would not be a problem.

                  We can't fucking fund unemployment sufficiently

                  Did you even read this diary?  I consider the government as a less likely source for colonization than private individuals.

                  and you want a network of unmanned probes to investigate hundreds of solar systems.

                  Eh... what?  You do know that we're talking about Mars right now, right?  We're absolutely not going to be colonizing another stellar system until we've figured out how to do this one first.  And yes, I, like most Americans, support our unmanned Mars probes, which will continue to be deployed over the coming decades no matter what, during which a private Mars program would primarily be doing engineering, launch cost reductions, and ground work.

  •  The other day as I was looking at pictures of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rei

    Planetary Nebulae I had a sad thought "How many Died when those Star's Blew-up".

    •  All single-planet species in range would have. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      defluxion10

      An interesting thought, by the way.

      •  Would have been dead before (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        defluxion10, Rei

        Wouldn't they have died slowly as their star ran out of fuel?

        This quote indicates that I am intellectually beyond your plane of existence.

        by otto on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 03:46:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It depends. Dying stars can be erratic. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          otto, defluxion10

          For example, large dying stars can produce gamma ray bursts, which are exceedingly dangerous to their cosmic neighborhood.  There are all sorts of other relatively rapid ways a dying star can cause rapid planetwide extinctions rather than just slowly baking their atmospheres off.

        •  good question (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          defluxion10
          Novae and supernovae can occur for several reasons. I think that, in some cases, the collapse and runaway fusion might happen pretty darned fast. But i don't know. I wonder how much warning each type might offer.
          •  The signature of a dying star is pretty clear (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            defluxion10, subtropolis

            And it takes a long time (from a human perspective) for it to grow to the point where it bakes off your atmosphere.  But some of the things that come along with star death, like gamma ray bursts, can happen quite rapidly indeed.  A short gamma ray burst lasts only milliseconds -- a long one, seconds.  We've seen gamma ray bursts from dying stars give off amounts of energy millions of times brighter than that of our entire galaxy.

            •  sure, accretion takes a bit (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              defluxion10

              I was thinking more along the lines of signs of imminent collapse. Wikipedia (yeah, yeah) tells me that, in Type 1a

              … increasing temperature and density inside the core ignite carbon fusion as the star approaches the limit (to within about 1%[41]), before collapse is initiated.[4]  Within a few seconds, a substantial fraction of the matter in the white dwarf undergoes nuclear fusion, releasing enough energy (1–2 × 1044 joules)[42]  to unbind the star in a supernova explosion.[43]

              What i'm wondering is whether there are any signs of the collapse itself, and how long out would it begin to be apparent. Or is there just a sudden Earth-shattering kaBOOM?

              •  The next lines: (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                defluxion10, subtropolis

                An outwardly expanding shock wave is generated, with matter reaching velocities on the order of 5,000–20,000 km/s, or roughly 3% of the speed of light. There is also a significant increase in luminosity, reaching an absolute magnitude of -19.3 (or 5 billion times brighter than the Sun), with little variation.[44]

                Sign: Significant increase in luminosity (light travels at speed c)

                Time before shock wave hits: The time it takes is equal to Distance / (5,000 to 20,000 km/s).  So for Earth, 150,000,000 / ~10,000 = 15000s = just over 4 hours.

                However, a couple issues with this.  For one, type 1a supernovae are from white dwarfs, which are themselves the remnants of stars that have already gone through a red giant phase.  So any planets at Earth distance would already be unable to be powered by light on the surface.  White dwarfs are dim, so they couldn't support an earthlike planet in the habitable zone at that distance after the red giant phase, either.  There'd have to be another planet supported by another star (or perhaps one in the same system, but powered by geothermal energy)

                Also, there's a lot more warning than just waiting until carbon fusion begins.  The convection patterns change dramatically in the last 1k years or so as core collapse begins, and this would certainly be noticed.  

      •  My favorite brief essay on space policy from (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rei

        January 2004 in the Atlantic Monthly: "A Two Planet Species"

        http://www.theatlantic.com/...

        In the aftermath of the breakup of the space shuttle Columbia an important debate on the purpose and future of the U.S. human-space-flight program is under way, though perhaps not as forthrightly as it should be. The issue at stake is not space exploration in itself but the necessity of launching manned (versus robotic) vehicles. Because articles of faith are involved, the arguments tend to be manipulative and hyperbolic. If the debate is to be productive, that needs to change.

  •  No time now, but I'm responding (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bill White

    I love it.

    There is a reason I had to cheat at Civilization to get to space.  

    This quote indicates that I am intellectually beyond your plane of existence.

    by otto on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 03:44:25 PM PDT

  •  You watch way too many movies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greendem

    You can call it the "Tea Party" all you want; but I know the Klan when I see it.

    by jbou on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 03:45:23 PM PDT

  •  If there is anyone there, I hope we don't do it (0+ / 0-)

    again.  Can't we find a better term than colonization?

    "I will no longer be labeled, except as a human being."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 05:14:52 PM PDT

  •  Generational ships are our only hope. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rei

    We can get experience on colonies, but we need to find a planet and begin the steps necessary to get there.

    Based on the history of our planet - billions of years of life and only tens of thousands of years of intelligent life - we will not be meeting intelligent life on other planets.

    Humans will survive on this planet, but only a fraction of what we have now in the long term.  Equilibrium will be achieved, but at a terrible cost.

    Our window is short.  We need to use our wealth and knowledge now.

    Sorry for the downer.

    Which is good news for John McCain.

    by AppleP on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 06:40:21 PM PDT

    •  As in a whole church getting together to colonize (0+ / 0-)

      ?  Hmm, that one didn't occur to me.  Certainly none of the mainstream religions are into colonization, so it'd need to be an off-mainstream one.  Let's see... looks like a large "cult" like the Unification Church has taken in only a couple billion dollars.

      Certainly it'd be possible, but I'm not seeing a good example right off the bat.  Suggestions?

      •  The Mormons could raise the necessary money (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rei

        to build a small city on Mars. In my opinion.

        It would be the next segment of the 19th century Mormon Trail to Utah.

        •  Interesting concept. (0+ / 0-)

          I looked up the Mormon Church and it looks like they're worth about $25-$30B.  That's definitely on the low side, and beyond that, I'd imagine that most of it is tied up, but it's enough that they could be involved in some way.  And they could potentially motivate additional private money from followers.

          I'd consider it overall a less likely proposition, but it certainly could happen.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site