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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Heinlein - How We Can Settle The Solar Systen Now & Create Art Someday

   A couple of Heinleinisms on 2 entirely separate themes - Art and settling the solar system.


“Art is the process of evoking pity and terror, which is not abstract at all but very human. What the self-styled modern artists are doing is a sort of unemotional pseudointellectual masturbation . . . whereas creative art is more like intercourse, in which the artist must seduce -- render emotional -- his audience, each time.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

   Which makes Kick Ass certainly and Grand Theft Auto probably art (which I mentioned on the Newsnight ART debate) and Tracy Eminem's bed definitely not.


      Settling the Solar System

  In his book, Expanded Universe (not available outside the US & Canada) starting on page 368. is an article about the time needed to get to Mars or Pluto at various accelerations.

at 1 G 4.59 days ; at 0.1 G 14.5 days ; at 1/100th G 45.9 days; at 1/1000th G 145 days

Pluto (50 times further away and the furthest planet (actually no longer classed as planet)  
at 1 G 4.59 weeks; at 0.1 G 14.5 weeks; at 1/100th G 45.9 weeks; at 1/1000th G 145 weeks

   As he points out there are, or rather were in 1950 when he wrote it, ways to achieve 1/1000th G including very simple nuclear rockets or solar sails. I assume we could do 1/10th of a G now with nuclear rockets.

   But we don't have to. He compares those last timescales with those of the Age of Exploration. Note that this was written in 1950, 63 years ago and what was possible but difficult now is, in engineering of not political terms, easy now:

"It took the Pilgrim Fathers 9 weeks and 3 days to cross the Atlantic
Two years and nine months - that was the a normal commercial voyage for a China clipper sailing out of Boston last century..

England, Holland, Spain, and Poerugal all created worldwide empires with ships that took as long to get anywhere and back as would a 1/1000-gee spaceship
...even the tiniest constant boost turns sailing the Solar System into a money making commercial venture."


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