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The Benefits of Colonizing Space: Space Habitats and The O’Neill Cylinder

December 27, 2013 Astrophysics 1124
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Image credit: Rick Guidice

Many argue that the world is in a state of crisis and that the human race is the cause. As a species, we are approaching an important turning point in our history, and if we make the wrong decisions we might be facing a future of deprivation, over population, hunger, and instability. Ultimately, many believe that we will eventually be forced to colonize space. Last year, the 100 Starship Symposium set on course a project to design and build an economical and practical spacecraft for interstellar travel.

 

But with the very immediate worries about over population, it might not be a good idea to wait for interstellar travel and the colonization of other worlds. Fortunately, there are also many suggestions in place for large space structures designed as places for people to live in their millions, much like a city is on Earth. Of course, building a space habitat comes with thousands of challenges, including: construction in space, recreating a livable atmosphere, recycling waste, producing artificial gravity, transporting food and materials to the habitat, and convincing people such a venture is worth it.

 

Image credit: Mars One graphics

There’s no strict definition for a ‘space habitat’, but it’s generally agreed to be a permanent human living facility on a celestial body such as ‘Mars One’ (extra-terrestrial planets, moons, or in a spaceship orbiting the Earth). We may have no choice but to build one of these in the future, be it initiated as a matter of survival or an undeniable demand because of our desire to explore and gain new knowledge by expanding in space. Ultimately, there are a number of incentives to building such a habitat.

 

For governmental bodies and world leaders faced with a huge and unsustainable population, the concept of a space habitat would be attractive. Using the materials available in the Solar System, there is the potential to build enough surface area within space habitats to possibly house billions and even trillions of people. Populations would have the space to expand sustainably without destroying any current ecosystems, as well as relieving the pressure off Earth to provide resources. The planetary population could be stabilized and supported with the extra space to inhabit and develop agricultural plantations for food.

 

The expansion into space also offers up a wealth of privatized opportunities, such as access to energy and other interplanetary resources. On Earth, utilizing the Sun’s energy via solar cells is a disappointingly inefficient process with unavoidable problems associated with the atmosphere and night. In space, solar panels would have access to nearly continuous light from the Sun, and in Earth’s orbit this would give us 1400 watts of power per square meter (with 100% efficiency). This abundance of energy would mean that we could travel throughout much of the Solar System without a terribly significant drop in power.

 

Image credit: Ricky

Material resources would also be in abundance throughout the entire Solar System (especially if you include mining opportunities on Mars, Luna, and other moons). Asteroids contain almost all of the stable elements in the periodic table, and without gravity, extracting and transporting them for our uses could be done with ease. NASA is working on a project where one could manufacture fuel, building materials, water, and oxygen just from resources found the Moon. The shift from Earth based manufacturing and plantation to industries in space may not just become feasible, but incredibly economically beneficial.

 

So now that we’ve laid down some reasons as to why organisations may want to unite and build a space habitat, I want to introduce you to the O’Neill cylinder. My personal favourite suggestion is the O’Neill cylinder, a space settlement design proposed by Gerard K. O’Neill nearly 40 years ago, in 1976, when he published his book ‘The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space’Gerard K. O’Neill was a lecturer at Princeton University, as well as a physicist and space activist. He designed and built the first mass driver prototype, and he developed new concepts to explore particle physics at higher energies than what had ever been possible (he was quite an awesome guy). But his lasting legacy was based in his work on space colonization. He founded the Space Studies Institute, an organisation devoted to research into this field.

 

Image credit: Rick Guidice

The design for his cylinder was spawned from a task that he set a group of physics and architectural students. The goal was to invent large structures that could be used for long term human habitation, and the results inspired the idea of the cylinder. The title is a little misleading, because it is actually two cylinders that rotate on bearings in opposing directions (to cancel gyroscopic effects). Each one would be 20 miles long and 8km in diameter, with 6 stripes along its length (3 windows and 3 habitable surfaces). Industrial processes and recreational facilities were envisaged to be on the central axis where it would effectively be a zero-gravity zone.

 

One difference between a planetary/moon-based space habitat and a man-made structure is the need for artificial gravity, and the O’Neill cylinder does this in a beautiful manipulation of basic Newtonian physics. As the two colossal cylinders rotate on their axis it utilizes the centripetal force on any object on the inner surface to create the appearance of gravity! Using the dimensions of the cylinder, the equation a=v²/r and the acceleration due to gravity on Earth (9.81m/s²), we can deduce that the cylinder will only need to rotate around 28 times every hour in order to simulate an equal force (though about 40 times is what the plans suggest).

 

Image credit: Donald Davis

The next box on the check list for a planetary habitat is maintaining an atmosphere with a composition and pressure that is similar to that of Earth’s. The cylinder is designed to have a carefully controlled ratio of gases much the same as Earth, but the pressure will be half of that at sea level. This will create a minor difference to how we breathe, but the advantages are the need for less gas and less of a requirement for thick walls. It also thought that the habitat will be able to generate its own micro-climate and weather systems that we could control using mirrors and by changing the ratios of gases in the cylinder.

 

Habitats also have to deal with a variety of problems that come as a consequence of living in space. With the colony situated in a vacuum the cylinder essentially turns into a giant thermos flask! O’Neill’s design to overcome this issue uses a series of mirrors hinged to each of the 3 windows. They are able to direct sunlight into the cylinder to simulate day time and warm the air, and turn away at ‘night’ so that the windows look out onto the blackness of space. This period of ‘night’ would allow heat in infrastructure, and that produced biologically, to radiate out just as the Earth’s atmosphere does (at night time too).

 

Another serious issue is that of small meteoroids or even man-made space debris. Radar systems based all around the outer skin of the cylinders will continuously map the region around the habitat to locate possible dangers. It was predicted that small scale collisions are inevitable; so to counteract the effect the windows would be built up of small panes built around a strong steel frame. The loss of gas would be so insignificant compared to the volume of the cylinder that repair jobs would not be an emergency. Though much larger pieces of rock would be a threat to the habitat, and methods of deflection or vaporization would be required.

 

Stephen Hawking said that he has predicted the extinction of the human race within the next thousand years, unless we build habitats in space or on other planets/moons in the next two hundred. That’s quite a statement, and with the current economic problems facing many developed countries around the world, it is highly unlikely that any big projects such as an O’Neill cylinder will be started soon. But with pioneers such as SpaceX and Mars One, what do you think the human race will do in the next 100 years?

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170 Comments

  1. Pete Madge December 27, 2013 at 5:01 am -

    Why does the film Elysium spring to mind….

    Reply
    • Muddassir Bhatti December 27, 2013 at 5:23 am -

      feeling is mutual my friend :D

      Reply
    • Khyzer Riaz December 27, 2013 at 5:36 am -

      i was thinking masseffect 3 but thats just me

      Reply
    • Steven Velez December 27, 2013 at 5:45 am -

      Elysium why you halo xP

      Reply
    • Osama Zakarneh December 27, 2013 at 5:47 am -

      was about to say the same thing …

      Reply
    • Lee Jarrod Evans December 27, 2013 at 5:53 am -

      And Elysium got it from Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama.

      Reply
    • Stephen Darryl Suggs December 27, 2013 at 7:52 am -

      I often worry that space will become the province of the wealthy, Elysium just depicted my worry.

      Reply
    • Cheryl Juarez December 27, 2013 at 8:01 am -

      Doubt the wealthy would be the pioneers, got to have courage to do that!

      Reply
    • Paul Brogan December 27, 2013 at 8:49 am -

      How is Elysium related to Rendezvous with Rama? Rama was a giant alien missile-shaped cylinder (with no windows) containing a weird world with an ocean and bio processes and robot weirdness that ‘woke up’ on it’s heated approach towards the Sun; and Elysium was a giant rotating wheel, orbiting Earth, inhabited by humans living in Hollywood Hills-like mansions. All they have in common is the fact that they rotate to create artificial gravity using centrifugal force and I believe that idea started thanks to Isaac Newton (?). Clarke may have been the first to solve the problem of zero gravity in space by spinning but the idea for Elysium came from ‘gated communities’ with prosaic names like ‘Eden’ found in the big cities of South Africa that keep middle to upper class people enclosed safe from criminals.

      Reply
    • Mark Ruiz December 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm -

      if you watch the special features on elysium, their is a short documentary and they say that they got the idea from this

      Reply
    • Paul Brogan December 27, 2013 at 12:19 pm -

      The idea for the ship or the idea for the whole story?

      Reply
    • Elias Green December 27, 2013 at 12:31 pm -

      I thought of titan a e

      Reply
    • Brian Mora December 27, 2013 at 2:16 pm -

      This is rendezvous with rama..Elysium is a rip off of “RINGWORLD”

      Reply
    • David Glover December 27, 2013 at 3:35 pm -

      Elysium had a basic fault, in that it had little or no spin to create artificial gravity and could not have retained an atmosphere.

      Reply
    • David Hasenbein December 27, 2013 at 3:35 pm -

      Not to split hairs, but I feel that credit should go where it’s due. This picture is from Peter F. Hamilton’s Nights Dawn Trilogy; it’s an Edenist habitat. Check it out, it’s a great story. Elysium definitely borrowed a little “inspiration” from this design

      Reply
    • Ian Fleming December 27, 2013 at 4:10 pm -

      There was a scientist that actually created the idea of a gyrating sphere that could create an artificial gravity able to mimic that of the earth. Therefore, if a space habit was ever designed, this would be the way they’d do it.

      Reply
    • David L. Rowe December 27, 2013 at 6:44 pm -

      About to watch it

      Reply
    • Noah Sabin December 27, 2013 at 7:27 pm -

      I’m going oldschool: Babylon 5, bitches!!!

      Reply
    • Noah Sabin December 27, 2013 at 7:27 pm -

      I’m going oldschool: Babylon 5, bitches!!!

      Reply
    • Jordan Wilson December 27, 2013 at 8:45 pm -

      If the rich built a place like Elysium, the poor would literally kill the entire uper class before they ever made it off of the ground. That movie seems to underestimate the sheer violence that the 99% is capable of

      Reply
    • Jordan Wilson December 27, 2013 at 8:45 pm -

      If the rich built a place like Elysium, the poor would literally kill the entire uper class before they ever made it off of the ground. That movie seems to underestimate the sheer violence that the 99% is capable of

      Reply
    • Logan Harding December 28, 2013 at 12:05 am -

      Ian Fleming what was that scientist’s name?

      Reply
    • Gary Keyes December 28, 2013 at 5:15 am -

      Too bad Morgan Freeman can’t get funding to make Rendezvous with Rama. Been waiting for years for a film adaption.

      Reply
  2. Nokoni Calypso December 27, 2013 at 5:01 am -

    Wow

    Reply
  3. Brad Bass December 27, 2013 at 5:01 am -

    lol,I think that the ” if anything” at the bottom there pretty much sums it up.

    Reply
  4. Alex Balson December 27, 2013 at 5:02 am -

    A Phillip K Dickian world where Mars is settled and has 3 boobed hookers

    Reply
    • Shaha Hassan December 27, 2013 at 7:15 am -

      3 boobed hookers… perhaps thats why his name is Dickian

      Reply
  5. Matthew Davis Buehrer December 27, 2013 at 5:02 am -

    Extinction.

    Reply
  6. Shane McKernan December 27, 2013 at 5:02 am -

    Wow… And I just got done watching Elysium.

    Reply
  7. Derek Ingram December 27, 2013 at 5:02 am -

    Jack shit if we can’t get the masses to stop looking at shit like Miley Cyrus.

    Reply
    • Kamil Tygrzyk Muzyka December 27, 2013 at 5:28 am -

      Miley crrus won’t start a war, and space exploration will!

      Reply
    • Yarik Larkin December 27, 2013 at 6:52 am -

      Or if we have people who believe that Miley Cyrus is the root of all our struggles. War and fear of each other is a lot more detrimental than twirking, I can guarantee you that.

      Don’t forget there are many people who view western culture through same eyes you view Miley.

      Reply
    • Steve Large December 27, 2013 at 7:56 am -

      ahhh let them who care about shit like Miley Cyrus die out, everyone else can excape earth lol

      Reply
    • Derek Ingram December 27, 2013 at 7:58 am -

      It’s a joke people relax.

      Reply
    • George Jobe December 27, 2013 at 9:53 am -

      Without struggle, our evolution via ‘survival of the fittest’ is impaired.

      Reply
  8. Mark Angelo Villar December 27, 2013 at 5:02 am -

    Elysium

    Reply
  9. Umer Abrar December 27, 2013 at 5:03 am -
    Reply
  10. Jacob Linao December 27, 2013 at 5:03 am -

    But like in the movie Elysium, we also have to worry about Corporations taking advantage of this space venture.

    Reply
  11. Patty Kay December 27, 2013 at 5:04 am -

    I think we need to care for the home we already have first!

    Reply
    • Khyzer Riaz December 27, 2013 at 5:37 am -

      mate its been here longern then we have and it will stay that way after we are gone

      Reply
    • Patty Kay December 27, 2013 at 5:38 am -

      And it may decide it’s had enough of us and throw us off. I couldn’t blame her!

      Reply
    • Damian Butler December 27, 2013 at 5:42 am -

      Black and white logical fallacy…

      Reply
    • Hanini StringBeany Panini December 27, 2013 at 7:09 am -

      Very true, Patty Kay x.

      Reply
    • From Quarks to Quasars December 27, 2013 at 7:14 am -

      A space colony could potentially hold billions of people. Living in space would take the pressure off Earth and its resources. Those left then would have the opportunity to live sustainably.

      ~Joe

      Reply
    • Damian Butler December 27, 2013 at 7:15 am -

      Walking and chewing gum is too much for some people.

      Reply
    • Garet Rooks December 27, 2013 at 7:33 am -

      Asteroid mining = all the resources we ever need without any of the nature rape.

      Reply
    • Damian Butler December 27, 2013 at 7:35 am -

      ^ Asteroids are part of nature…

      Appeal to nature is a logical fallacy.

      Reply
    • Darth Sheen December 27, 2013 at 7:36 am -

      If a large enough asteroid hits us, there won’t be anymore home. It’s time we stop putting all our eggs in one basket and explore the stars for future homes.

      Reply
    • Damian Butler December 27, 2013 at 7:37 am -

      But yes biodiversity loss is reduced somewhat. I don’t know all the costs and benefits of mining asteroids.

      If we lived in an Elysium type world then I suppose we are creating life. We are like the gods of faerie tales. We are almost there.

      Reply
    • Patty Kay December 27, 2013 at 7:40 am -

      I Like Joe’s response, but wonder why would “sustainability” suddenly become a ‘thing’ when it’s been so slow to gain momentum now. I’m all for exploration BTW, but I’ve kinda lost my faith in humans to do anything but consume. Still, I’m with Buzz Lightyear, “To infinity and beyond!” Peace out you guys! It’s good to see people looking beyond the day-to-day!

      Reply
    • Drake Repost Langham December 27, 2013 at 7:41 am -

      >MUH APPEALS
      >MUH LOGICAL FALLALACALALALALCIES

      Reply
    • Andreas Berg Melson December 27, 2013 at 7:57 am -

      it’s a very viable argument that we should take of Earth before we settle new worlds. It’s much cheaper and will help some of the poorest people. Unfortunately we don’t really care about the poorest people, so the logical conclusion to that argument is, unfortunately, that we can’t colonize space. I, however, am not okay with this

      Reply
    • Glenn Gawron December 27, 2013 at 7:59 am -

      But Drake, she is stating emotion driven garbage. “take care of our own home first!” as if we don’t. “it may decide it’s had enough of us and throw us off. I couldn’t blame her!” Obviously a giant dirt ball does not care of you damage it or not, rocks don’t have feelings or ability to seek revenge. Who really thinks hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. are natures way of seeking vengeance? That is childish caracature

      Reply
    • Alex Ovidiu Zabava December 27, 2013 at 8:10 am -

      FQTQ: Having a colony would definitely take some stress from Earth, but would not be a solution to the Earth’s problems – it would actually be like putting the problems in a bubble which could explode at any time, as the only thing we would do by having a colony would be move the bad things we are doing here to the colony as well.

      Reply
    • Ron Smith December 27, 2013 at 9:01 am -

      so, who gets to plunder what’s left of the earth’s resources and escape, and who gets left behind to live on the garbage dump?

      Reply
    • Brad Window December 27, 2013 at 9:24 am -

      Patty, if you’ve given up on humans, you’ve given up on yourself.

      Reply
    • Michael Uribe December 27, 2013 at 9:39 am -

      we can’t take care of one planet when one country does it’s deeds and the other doesn’t.

      Reply
    • Damion Drew December 27, 2013 at 10:23 am -

      Our theories don’t matter, unless any of you are a part of the elite that will be making said decisions. Greed is the one thing that holds human ingenuity in place. This is why some of our best inventors and greatest minds seem to be absent of it. Greedy rich fucks would never allow us to leave until they thought they had gotten all they could out of the people and the Earth. Then when the need arises to leave, THEY will be the ones to orchestrate it. What we require is less need for control and more compassion for our common man. Unfortunately the human psyche has deteriorated soo much under our need for leadership that I don’t think it’s possible without some kind of restart of sorts.

      Reply
    • Damion Drew December 27, 2013 at 10:23 am -

      Our theories don’t matter, unless any of you are a part of the elite that will be making said decisions. Greed is the one thing that holds human ingenuity in place. This is why some of our best inventors and greatest minds seem to be absent of it. Greedy rich fucks would never allow us to leave until they thought they had gotten all they could out of the people and the Earth. Then when the need arises to leave, THEY will be the ones to orchestrate it. What we require is less need for control and more compassion for our common man. Unfortunately the human psyche has deteriorated soo much under our need for leadership that I don’t think it’s possible without some kind of restart of sorts.

      Reply
    • Brett Wilson December 27, 2013 at 10:40 am -

      Cory Gustovich Okay, Joe, so then what happens when that planet becomes unsustainable? Doing the same thing over and over is insanity. This planet was made for us. It’s time to get back to nature. I bet you’re one of those fucks who eats mcdonalds and drinks your coke. Wake up.

      Reply
    • Brett Wilson December 27, 2013 at 10:40 am -

      Cory Gustovich Okay, Joe, so then what happens when that planet becomes unsustainable? Doing the same thing over and over is insanity. This planet was made for us. It’s time to get back to nature. I bet you’re one of those fucks who eats mcdonalds and drinks your coke. Wake up.

      Reply
    • Weary Eagle December 27, 2013 at 11:57 am -

      Controlling our numbers (population control) is the most sensible of all solutions, but suggesting it brings on all kinds of thoughtless responses. Watch. :-)

      Reply
    • Tylor Miller December 27, 2013 at 1:06 pm -

      When Earth is sustainable and we are able to undo what we have done, and then some, then we can hardcore focus on space. I think it would be cool to figure out how manufacture goods vs. harvesting them. Being able to create matter to turn it into meat vs. having slaughter farms. Just a thought.

      Once we are solid here, we can expand elsewhere without any distraction. Peace of mind for those leaving who most certainly wont be back.

      Population is a problem. They’re predicting a super plague to start around 2024 in Indonesia and spread out. So either we expand, or nature will deal with it.

      Reply
    • Michael Rusch December 27, 2013 at 3:12 pm -

      true but we must not take our eye off the sky, hell one asteroid could wipe us all out even if we fixed everything down here.

      Reply
    • Ian Fleming December 27, 2013 at 4:11 pm -

      It’s too late, it will be gone soon. Too much negligence

      Reply
    • Mike Williams December 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm -

      It isn’t a”Or” posit. It must be an “And” situation. Without both we are doomed.

      Reply
  12. Carlos Antonio December 27, 2013 at 5:04 am -

    Overpopulation is a myth. There’s is food production for everyone, just that they don’t have access to it.

    Reply
    • Dennis Aragon December 27, 2013 at 5:08 am -

      It will become reality eventually its not impossible.

      Reply
    • Zach Leckey December 27, 2013 at 5:13 am -

      We produce enough food a year to feed 12 billion people.

      Reply
    • Aidan DeLa Mare Hart December 27, 2013 at 5:15 am -

      soo enough food for about 50 more years ?? lol good one

      Reply
    • John Bai December 27, 2013 at 8:46 am -

      Some people don’t read before they comment…

      Reply
    • Michael Kofron December 27, 2013 at 10:48 am -

      There will always be enough food for the population of the world, because the population will always stabilize itself. What happens when the world can’t feed everyone? Those without access to food will die. Then, the population will be resettled and the problem will be non-existent once again. It’s harsh, but entirely true.

      Reply
    • Michael Kofron December 27, 2013 at 10:48 am -

      There will always be enough food for the population of the world, because the population will always stabilize itself. What happens when the world can’t feed everyone? Those without access to food will die. Then, the population will be resettled and the problem will be non-existent once again. It’s harsh, but entirely true.

      Reply
    • Stephen J. Krogh December 27, 2013 at 11:35 am -

      Even more if we quit using it in our fuel.

      Reply
    • Anderson Klein December 27, 2013 at 12:17 pm -

      Food is not a issue, water is. If we solf the water problem we can feed maybe 20bilion or more. Not considering that fertile lands like Brasil are using mostly terrible tecnology and with a little mecanization third world countries would double their production.
      I mean, I’m not even talking about super plants we can achieve with genetics or how much In-Vitro-Meat will be more efficient than a cow in a cold plains constantly wasting energy and releasing methane.

      Reply
    • Jordan Squires December 27, 2013 at 12:41 pm -

      Apple purchasers won’t buy apples that have fallen to the ground. (as an example) even if they watch the apple fall infront of them and hit the ground for 3 seconds, they will leave it to rot. Those apples could be picked up to feed people but they would rather them wasted. This is only one type of food source that is wasted annually due to the consumerist nature we have adopted. I truly hope our planet gets away from that nonesense in the future, all the fighting and consumerism is turning humanity aganst ourselves. The human race needs to live with more compassion for their fellow beings.

      Reply
    • Patrick James Bayham December 27, 2013 at 1:35 pm -

      sources?

      Reply
    • Colin Jones December 27, 2013 at 3:12 pm -

      Rubbish. Overpopulation is mankind’s biggest threat and until it’s curbed, we will NOT progress as a species

      Reply
    • Nick Stein December 27, 2013 at 3:19 pm -

      It’s an exponential problem. At this moment we feel we can relax and then … we’re all running after the last can’s of soup.

      Reply
    • Bret Lundstrom December 27, 2013 at 8:09 pm -

      isn’t the population going to peek around 2050?

      Reply
    • Bret Lundstrom December 27, 2013 at 8:09 pm -

      isn’t the population going to peek around 2050?

      Reply
    • Jordan Wilson December 27, 2013 at 8:38 pm -

      Overpopulation is not a myth. If there are to many people that every person cannot support their own need with farming their own food, then we have a problem. If you deny this then youre naive, we need people to stop reproducing like we are a dieing species.
      Societies always fail anyways, so this one is going to fall hard and fast. After that the population will recede very fast and if people decide to learn from history, it will stay that way and peace will finally be upon the earth.

      Reply
    • Jordan Wilson December 27, 2013 at 8:38 pm -

      Overpopulation is not a myth. If there are to many people that every person cannot support their own need with farming their own food, then we have a problem. If you deny this then youre naive, we need people to stop reproducing like we are a dieing species.
      Societies always fail anyways, so this one is going to fall hard and fast. After that the population will recede very fast and if people decide to learn from history, it will stay that way and peace will finally be upon the earth.

      Reply
    • Jordan Wilson December 27, 2013 at 8:40 pm -

      If your argument that we aren’t over populated is that we produce enough food, then you obviously don’t understand what over population means.

      Reply
    • Jordan Wilson December 27, 2013 at 8:40 pm -

      If your argument that we aren’t over populated is that we produce enough food, then you obviously don’t understand what over population means.

      Reply
  13. Erwan Compes December 27, 2013 at 5:05 am -

    How can humans live in space when they can’t even live in such an abundant environment as this planet? Adopting a plant/fruit-based diet would solve many problems regarding health, the environment and availability of food.

    Reply
    • Ben Baker E December 27, 2013 at 5:24 am -

      Meats delishious

      Reply
    • Ben Loth December 27, 2013 at 5:36 am -

      mmmm space bacon……..

      Reply
    • Mark Gauci December 27, 2013 at 8:10 am -

      A plant/fruit based diet can be achieved, but much effort must be made to maintain a dietary balance. One of the reasons that we humans are so successful as a species (and I define success by our numbers and adaptability) is our ability to consume meat, plants and the fruit that comes from plants (plus seeds, etc, etc). Excluding one is a choice, but eating any and/or all is pretty much instinct.

      Reply
    • Erwan Compes December 27, 2013 at 8:31 am -

      Much effort? Do you know how easy it is to grow fruit trees? And the best part is, the more you eat, you more it grows. Humans are omnivorous by behavior, not design. All species with similar anatomy/physiology THRIVE on the same diet. Let’s take a look at our closest pairs, then: bonobos, orangutans, all frugivorous mammals. All of them can SURVIVE eating anything, but that doesn’t define their natural diet.

      Reply
    • Erwan Compes December 27, 2013 at 8:34 am -

      Let’s talk about instinct: you’re walking around and you encounter cows and chickens near an apple or mango tree. Do you salivate at the sight of the animals or that of the fruit? Does you instinct tell you to sink your teeth into a cows flank or a chicken’s neck or does it tell you to pick an apple? Let’s cut the bullshit.

      Reply
      • Unicron December 28, 2013 at 9:42 am -

        Animal. The fruit is a garnish.

        Reply
    • Joshua Cliche December 27, 2013 at 10:00 am -

      That’s a terrible analogy. of course you wouldn’t want to bite into a chickens neck. of course you would want the apple. now would I want a healthy salad or would I rather have a cooked steak?
      you can have the salad.

      Reply
    • Erwan Compes December 27, 2013 at 10:04 am -

      Every animal on the planet eats their food raw. Not only that but it is naturally appetizing to them in its most unaltered state. It’s the very definition of instinct. People have to clean, cook and season flesh in order to find it appetizing, which makes us by definition not carnivorous, nor omnivorous. True carnivorous and omnivorous animals eat flesh with blood, hair, feathers, nerves and connecting tissue with pleasure.

      Reply
    • Jeremy Stone December 27, 2013 at 11:56 am -

      Every animal on the planet isn’t at our level of evolution either correct erwan… Why do you think that is? I concur with mark

      Reply
    • Erwan Compes December 27, 2013 at 1:04 pm -

      True. Except our digestive/physiological system hasn’t evolved to digest animal products and high amounts of fat or protein without consequences. If it did, we could however do so without suffering from obesity, cancer, heart disease and other chronic disease, which are predominantly caused by the above. Justifying an omnivorous diet based on evolution is a fallacy.

      Reply
  14. Shawn Boyle December 27, 2013 at 5:07 am -

    Great, let’s ruin the whole Universe.

    Reply
  15. Francis Andrew Acupan December 27, 2013 at 5:09 am -

    Mass Effect Citadel!

    Reply
  16. Jez Cole December 27, 2013 at 5:09 am -

    How about we all take responsibility for our actions and stop reproducing like rabbits! The human race is like a virus with shoes

    Reply
    • Red Hood Outlaw December 27, 2013 at 5:51 am -

      especially in third world

      Reply
    • Aaron Bert Drexel December 27, 2013 at 6:16 am -

      Actually Jez, the human race is virus with shoes, we were colonised, first by Herpes simplex virus, then by Human papilloma virus. And now a few others which alter how we think vastly. These viruses are litterally using us as a way of spreading further through space. Your metaphor was all too true.

      Reply
    • Blackness Blackness December 27, 2013 at 8:55 am -

      viruses with tools. how about that in the wests

      Reply
    • James HallRobinson December 27, 2013 at 9:23 am -

      didn’t agent Smith say the same thing in the Matrix about the Human race :o

      Reply
    • Jamie Anderkin December 27, 2013 at 11:56 am -

      Joe Rogan has put it that way before too. He says LA from the air looks like a nasty cancer on the planet.

      Reply
    • James Watson December 27, 2013 at 4:27 pm -

      You seem very optimistic, I am not a virus… Thank you I am looking forward too a brighter prosperous future.. Hope someday you’ll join us. I bid you adieu and good night, Mr pessimist.

      Reply
    • Thomas J. Miller December 28, 2013 at 4:09 am -

      You first.

      (Mind you, I have no children and don’t expect to.)

      Meanwhile, have you stopped to consider that the Solar System could happily provide enough raw material to support quite a few quintillion people? Why not move the excess off-planet?

      Reply
  17. Anatea Prince December 27, 2013 at 5:10 am -

    Would be nice if we could learn how to look after our own home first before we even think of venturing out!

    Reply
  18. Carlton Berry December 27, 2013 at 5:11 am -

    Most space missions will either be of military or commercial significance. I can only imagine the riches to be had harvesting asteroids from the Kuiper belt.

    Reply
  19. Joey Bennett December 27, 2013 at 5:12 am -

    Wouldn’t something like this be extremely vulnerable to meteorites and other fast moving space debris??

    Just look at how marked up our moon looks.

    The planet earth is stricken thousands of times by meteorites every year. Something like that would very likely not survive a major impact from even one such meteorite.

    Reply
    • Kasper Emil Feld December 27, 2013 at 5:34 am -

      No, most of the moons craters are old, from the bombardments early in the solar systems history.

      Small impactors would be absorbed by the thick shell. Medium impactors on a yearly to century-ly basis would make holes, but the size of the colony is such that it would take months for the air to be lost through such a hole, and the plume would be very visible on the outside, so it would be easy to locate and repair. Big impacts which would threaten the colony would be million to billion years events.

      Reply
    • Anthony DeRuggiero December 27, 2013 at 5:35 am -

      imagine re landscaping this planet by selectively dropping small ones. both populations and land masses could be permanently altered.

      Reply
  20. Ethan Cook December 27, 2013 at 5:15 am -

    @ Shawn Boyle ‘ruin the whole universe’? Do you have any fucking idea how vast and inconceivably BEYOND large the cosmos actually is?

    Reply
    • Moroesi Ntsikeng December 27, 2013 at 5:28 am -

      Nothing is impossible….lol

      Reply
    • Jordan Wilson December 27, 2013 at 8:43 pm -

      Killing the universe though, that’s pretty fucking inpossible

      Reply
    • Jordan Wilson December 27, 2013 at 8:43 pm -

      Killing the universe though, that’s pretty fucking inpossible

      Reply
  21. Tim Watters December 27, 2013 at 5:22 am -

    Our needs are already beyond our ability to maintain and that is why so many don’t have efficient access to them. It is the strong that will survive, it’s in our evolution. Once we begin to adapt to our available resources we just take a step forward in evolution. A question to ask is could the radiation in space manipulate our genes enough to produce a mutation that would then create enough difference between, us now, humans and an eventual new species?

    Reply
  22. Carlton Berry December 27, 2013 at 5:23 am -

    Go carnivore for the good of vegetables everywhere!

    See how stupid that sounds?

    Reply
  23. John Pawelko December 27, 2013 at 5:25 am -

    Weve allready made irreversible wrong choices, and deserve the consequences. Fix what we have. A virus finds another host. Our people who dont give a fuk will just ruin the next place. If the problem is us, remember we bring us with us.

    Reply
  24. Chris McGill December 27, 2013 at 5:32 am -

    Population controls should be in place globally. these days there is absolutely no obligation to have a child, we already have enough people, too many in fact.

    Reply
    • Lee Jarrod Evans December 27, 2013 at 5:57 am -

      So long as they are voluntary. Put that kind of shit under govt control and they will use it as an excuse for tyranny.

      Reply
    • Chris McGill December 27, 2013 at 6:29 am -

      China seem to be doing ok :p

      Reply
    • Adam Icarus December 27, 2013 at 6:38 am -

      Calm down commie

      Reply
    • Eric Turkleson December 27, 2013 at 8:09 am -

      No.. we really need to remove warning labels on common sense things, and let nature weed out them out

      Reply
    • Eric Turkleson December 27, 2013 at 8:09 am -

      If you dont instinctively know drinking Clorox is bad.. fuck ya, i dont want ypu on my planet anyways

      Reply
    • Chris McGill December 27, 2013 at 8:29 am -

      Natural selection at it’s finest.

      Reply
    • NA December 27, 2013 at 10:29 am -

      We don’t have “too many people” on Earth, that is hippie BS. We have too many stupid/greedy people in positions of power.

      Reply
  25. Alise Nielsen December 27, 2013 at 5:32 am -

    Reading these comments is encouraging nevertheless. Maybe if enough humans wake up to the fact that we live on a lonely ball hurtling thru the universe, and… That we are in this pickle together. Maybe we will have an epiphany, and the world will change. … And if manage to dodge the slow moving extinction event called ‘Fukushima’

    Reply
  26. Richard Margetts December 27, 2013 at 5:40 am -

    We are currently living on a huge spacefaring habitat which could be perfectly sustainable if only we learnt how to control some basic human desires like the need to control and have power over others by enforcing poverty or fear. I am all for space exploration but let’s not take these traits with us. Once we have overcome the need to subjugate and oppress others and instead treat our fellow humans with care and respect then maybe we will qualify for an outreach into off world living where we can spread a more positive version of the human race. Most people are lovely, but I certainly wouldn’t want the governments that (in theory) represent us to be involved..

    Reply
    • Gabriela Sonam December 27, 2013 at 6:25 am -

      I’m more worried about the plutocrats behind the governments…but what you have written here is beautiful and true!

      Reply
    • David_Rogers_Hunt December 27, 2013 at 5:30 pm -

      Question: Why has extraterrestrial intelligent life not made contact with earth’s inhabitants?

      Because we always elect our best liars!!!

      Is this because we can’t tell who is lying to us?

      Or is this because we will only vote for someone who lies to us under almost any circumstance?

      Either way,… we’re either naive or willfully dishonest.

      What am I suppose to think of my neighbors when they can see as well as I can that the Emperor is Nude,… and don’t care. Why rock the boat? What’s the truth? Whom am I to care? To take action? Whom am I to think for myself?…

      “Sin City” Senator Roark: Power don’t come from a badge or a gun. Power comes from lying. Lying big, and gettin’ the whole damn world to play along with you. Once you got everybody agreeing with what they know in their hearts ain’t true, you’ve got ‘em by the balls.

      http://youtu.be/Os9TU3e0kMo

      Reply
    • Ej Russo December 28, 2013 at 1:27 am -

      So there are people who have the ability of thinking rationally… Thank you

      Reply
  27. Tommy Clark December 27, 2013 at 5:40 am -

    We’ll colonise the solar system not for solving any problems, nor for advancing knowledge, but for profit.

    Reply
    • Lee Bailey December 27, 2013 at 8:54 am -

      And?

      Reply
    • Kenneth Edwards December 27, 2013 at 10:08 am -

      The sun puts out over 2 billion times as much energy as the earth receives . That’s a lot of potential profit .

      Reply
    • Kenneth Edwards December 27, 2013 at 10:08 am -

      The sun puts out over 2 billion times as much energy as the earth receives . That’s a lot of potential profit .

      Reply
    • Andrew Pooley December 27, 2013 at 9:10 pm -

      Every day enough solar radiation falls on queensland to power the entire earth……………….for a year !!!

      Reply
    • Andrew Pooley December 27, 2013 at 9:10 pm -

      Every day enough solar radiation falls on queensland to power the entire earth……………….for a year !!!

      Reply
  28. Andrew Codd December 27, 2013 at 5:41 am -

    We need a new planet to fuck over. Its common sense.

    Reply
  29. Kasper Emil Feld December 27, 2013 at 5:44 am -

    Sigh. Most people in this thread are either namedropping some popculture involving space settlement, or making misanthropic statements about how humans ruin everything.

    We are not that bad! If we get our act together we can back up earths biosphere on thousands of green oases and spread life throughout the solar system where there is now only dead rock.

    There is enough material just in this solar system for a thousand to a million times the biosphere of earth.

    Reply
    • Adam Icarus December 27, 2013 at 6:14 am -

      Wow, someone who actually knows something.

      Reply
  30. Brad Bass December 27, 2013 at 5:45 am -

    Ok so what happens when a space habitat leaves the protective zone of earths magnetic field?? Are all the other stuff in space that could kill everyone in half a second no longer a threat? O were you all just hoping and wishing with all your little fingers crossed praying that we somehow find a way to not get blasted with radiation and cooked in a CME, hell even a flair would light you up.

    Reply
  31. Momento Mori December 27, 2013 at 5:57 am -

    gundam colony :D

    Reply
  32. Kristjan Liivsoo December 27, 2013 at 6:03 am -

    Yeah, but Arthur C Clarke ´invented´ this already in the beginning of seventies, while O´Neill came up with practically the same idea in 1976. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rendezvous_with_Rama

    Reply
  33. Randall Dingle December 27, 2013 at 6:49 am -

    We don’t deserve to colonize shit until we get this planet healed. We are parasites!

    Reply
  34. Mark Penson December 27, 2013 at 6:58 am -

    Well Frank Ghostriders I think it’s time you paid a visit to your doctor.

    Reply
  35. Vernon Joyce December 27, 2013 at 7:26 am -

    There’s a lot we can do before we even need to consider doing something like this. Research has shown that for the most part, educated people have far fewer children than the uneducated. So if we were to use the money we would be spending to build such a colony to alleviate poverty and increase the planet’s literacy we’d already be solving a lot of the problems in regards with overpopulation. Surely this would in turn decrease pollution, increase awareness of sustainability and ultimately could breed an intellectual species that’d be able to solve any remaining problems easily for future generations. Colonizing space just seems like an unnecessary complication to me.

    Reply
    • Ash45 December 27, 2013 at 7:59 am -

      Until that 6 mile/10 km asteroid we didn’t spot hits Earth, a gamma ray burst hits us, or a super volcano goes off, or humanity just decides to regress and not do anything worthwhile because, “why bother?”

      I think space exploration, and eventually colonization, is in our future if we don’t want to go the way of the dinosaurs. Sure, it’ll have its own sets of problems, such as space terrorists trying to lob asteroids onto cities/nations they don’t like, but Earth is humanity’s crib, and we shouldn’t stay in it forever. Even if we went entirely green, we’re going to deplete some non-renewable source of energy (helium comes to mind), and without exploring space, we’re kind of screwed if it’s something vital to life for humanity on Earth.

      Reply
  36. Ash45 December 27, 2013 at 7:53 am -

    Not going to lie, if space colonies were a reality, I would be living there now. The view of Earth and space would be pretty awesome, and who knows what kinds of things we might discover while floating up there. Humanity needs to get off its cradle, i.e. Earth, and eventually start exploring the stars. And I would love to see this start to happen in my lifetime, as opposed to 500 years from now.

    Reply
  37. Susan Fiore December 27, 2013 at 10:10 am -

    We already have deprivation, overpopulation, hunger and instability in much of the world. But taking our unsustainable way of life to other planets isn’t a solution, it’s just spreading the problem even further.

    Reply
  38. NA December 27, 2013 at 10:28 am -

    Arthur C Clarke wrote Rendezvous with Rama, a childhood favorite series of books of mine, in 1972, four years before the suggested 1976 suggestion by Gerard K. O’Neill.

    Reply
  39. Patrick James Bayham December 27, 2013 at 1:36 pm -

    SpaceX is our last chance.

    Reply
  40. Ronald Wade Cooper December 28, 2013 at 12:58 am -

    This will never happen. Look how many billions it took and from how many nations to build the international space station. The O’neil cylinder is about a million times the size of that. No one could raise enough money. You are talking about a quintillion dollars in steel, transportation, rockets, oxygen/nitrogen/water, engineers salaries, corporate salaries, ceo salaries because everyone will want to get rich off of this project. If we could raise 10 trillion, imagine how we could transform the Sahara desert with that. Over population is a problem in India and China and anywhere there isn’t fertile ground to support a population but those kind of people keep having more kids till one of them survives the odds. We as a government or a planet could never work well enough together to accomplish a task one tenth this size. A mile sphere, maybe, something inflatable.

    Reply
  41. Craig Alan December 28, 2013 at 1:26 am -

    We will send off all the hairdressers and phone sanitizer engineers first.

    Reply
  42. Tico73 December 28, 2013 at 12:03 pm -

    “and with the current economic problems facing many developed countries around the world, it is highly unlikely that any big projects such as an O’Neill cylinder will be started soon.” If we’re going to build this to flee Earth, we should start forgetting about money. It would have to be built as a common, unselfish and uninterested effort. After all, what is money worth on a worthless inhabitable planet ?

    Reply

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