Book Review: Beyond Earth

Rating: Ok

I thought this book would be a catalog of places to colinzed in the solar system and the pros and cons of each. It is not that. This book is a loose collection of parts flying in formation. I will address each in turn.

1. A snapshot of the current state of the boundaries and issues of space exploration. Including concerns of cosmic rays, extended periods of weightlessness on health. Far out drives like kasmir drive (or Q drive?) and the alcubirre drive. Both interesting. I recall reading something about the kasmir drive that was different than this one where the particles are used as reaction mass. It was a bell shaped chamber where pressure was exerted on the sides differently because of its shape?

2. A discussion of Titan, which is the only place we would have reason to colonize in the authors opinion. methane seas, rich in hydrocarbons, atmospheric pressure. They hypothesize that radiation could interact with Titans atmosphere to cause food to fall from the sky for animals to gather. One of the more interesting parts of the book.

3. A lot of preaching re Climate change. Nothing new or not even a new take to make this umpteenth repetition interesting. Skip. They think global catastrophe is the only reason we would colonize space, and only the wealthy at that.

4. Include any female engineer/scientist that you can get your hands on that is remotely connected to space tech. Grudgingly include males because you have no other options.

5. A mockumentary sci fi story building on some of the ideas culminating in humans being penned into eco reservations by the galactic AI connected by FTL comms. At least they can explore other pet sapients worlds virtually online!

I was disappointed in this book in that they didn’t discuss what I think are other good candidates. The asteroid habitats, Venus cloud cities, and other gas giant moons.
Also I think considering the only thing to do in space is colonize is a bit myopic. As they themselves pointed out Alaska was colonized at great expense (and still doesn’t break even) for reasons other than people wanted a place to live. This would be interesting too. Space whats it good for – comms and sensors, science, metals (plutonium for fuel cells?), vacations, adventure, maybe dirty industry and materials that can only be manufacture in free fall or micro-g. I’m assuming that only the most isolationist peoples would want to live off earth. Even in the event of a global catastrophe I’m thinking that underground warrens in remote locations would be a cheaper better bet. But I’m sure we would find a lot of use out of our solar system if we had cheaper access to it.

Finally one more note. They mentioned that astronauts have only 13 hours of free time on the ISS because of housekeeping and exercise and so forth. That seems to me that the level of complexity of artificial habitat is still too high for practical human use of space. We would need to simplify a lot.

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