Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mining the moon for all it’s worth

It's one of the curious characteristics of space exploration that the usual stringent hurdles for science news stories are nowhere to be seen. Whereas normally science reporters, enthusing breathlessly about new insights into, say, the origin of the universe, face an editor's dismissive "why do we care?", with space stories it is enough that someone did something or other up in space – hit a gold ball, say, or flew a shuttle mission without blowing up. True, if the story involves an unmanned spacecraft doing something like landing on a comet, then there might be some sales work to be done. But if there's a human inside, it doesn't much matter what he's up to – just stick it on the page.

That principle even extends to stuff that hasn't actually been done, but "will" be. We're going to send people to Mars! We're going to build a moon base! Yes, it's true that we've not even managed to finish off a useless piece of manned space junk floating inanely in Earth orbit, but look, we've learnt from our mistakes. (What we've learnt, it seems, is simply to make the claims bolder.) When something is going to be done in space, all critical faculties vanish. We're going to grow crystals there, or plants – and no matter whether that's really going to tell us anything worthwhile. And now the latest fad for which the media seems determined to fall hook, line and sinker is mining the moon for helium-3.

Helium-3, you see, is a wonderful clean fuel that will power our planet through nuclear fusion. Just a shuttle-load will power the USA for a year. And it's just waiting up there in the lunar soil for us to go and collect it.

Well actually, it isn't – we'd have to strip-mine vast areas of the moon to get at it. And while discussions of remote oil resources on Earth routinely have to run the gauntlet of hard-headed economical cost-benefit analysis, no one seems to care very much whether there is any justification for thinking that sending trucks to the moon to pick up this 'fuel' is really going to save anyone any money. All you have to do is talk about lunar helium-3 as a "cash crop".

And on top of that, there's the small difficulty that no one has ever produced energy from nuclear fusion in a commercially viable and sustainable way, and that even the most optimistic estimates put that goal 50 years distant. There's a good chance that it might not happen before 2100 (although making technological projections that far ahead is a bit pointless anyway).

The point is, of course, that these bogus utilitarian rationales are routinely trotted out in defence of a programme of human space exploration that is at root ideological. It's fine to believe that there is an intrinsic value in sending humans to other worlds (I happen to disagree, at least in the present state of affairs in space travel); but let's at least be honest about it. The magic word "resources" was invoked the last time I questioned the value of manned spaceflight (see here and here). But as I'd expected, when it came down to it what that meant was stuff like silicon – as though we are currently facing a silicon shortage here on our rocky planet.

So please – no more helium-3 as the justification for a moon base. That’s truly grasping at straws.


uhfdf said...

歐美a免費線上看,熊貓貼圖區,ec成人,聊天室080,aaa片免費看短片,dodo豆豆聊天室,一對一電話視訊聊天,自拍圖片集,走光露點,123456免費電影,本土自拍,美女裸體寫真,影片轉檔程式,成人視訊聊天,貼圖俱樂部,辣妹自拍影片,自拍電影免費下載,電話辣妹視訊,情色自拍貼圖,卡通做愛影片下載,日本辣妹自拍全裸,美女裸體模特兒,showlive影音聊天網,日本美女寫真,色情網,台灣自拍貼圖,情色貼圖貼片,百分百成人圖片 ,情色網站,a片網站,ukiss聊天室,卡通成人網,3級女星寫真,080 苗栗人聊天室,成人情色小說,免費成人片觀賞,

傑克論壇,維納斯成人用品,免費漫畫,內衣廣告美女,免費成人影城,a漫,國中女孩寫真自拍照片,ut男同志聊天室,女優,網友自拍,aa片免費看影片,玩美女人短片試看片,草莓論壇,kiss911貼圖片區,免費電影,免費成人,歐美 性感 美女 桌布,視訊交友高雄網,工藤靜香寫真集,金瓶梅免費影片,成人圖片 ,女明星裸體寫真,台灣處女貼圖貼片區,成人小遊戲,布蘭妮貼圖片區,美女視訊聊天,免費情色卡通短片,免費av18禁影片,小高聊天室,小老鼠論壇,免費a長片線上看,真愛love777聊天室,聊天ukiss,情色自拍貼圖,寵物女孩自拍網,免費a片下載,日本情色寫真,美女內衣秀,色情網,

liwo said...


女優王國,免費無碼a片,0800a片區,免費線上遊戲,無名正妹牆,成人圖片,寫真美女,av1688影音娛樂網,dodo豆豆聊天室,網拍模特兒,成人文學,免費試看a片,a片免費看,成人情色小說,美腿絲襪,影片下載,美女a片,人體寫真模特兒,熊貓成人貼,kiss情色,美女遊戲區,104 貼圖區,線上看,aaa片免費看影片,天堂情色,躺伯虎聊天室,洪爺情色網,kiss情色網,貼影區,雄貓貼圖,080苗栗人聊天室,都都成人站,尋夢園聊天室,a片線上觀看,無碼影片,情慾自拍,免費成人片,影音城論壇,情色成人,最新免費線上遊戲,a383影音城,美腿,色情寫真,xxx383成人視訊,視訊交友90739,av女優影片,