1968 stories
·
36 followers

Should Mars Be Independent, Or Just A Colony Of Earth?

1 Comment and 2 Shares

Artist's vision of a colony on Mars

NASA Ames Research Center

It’s a popular sci-fi plot: Earth sets up colonies on Mars; Mars colonies grow, developing their own technologies and culture; Mars colonies rebel against overbearing Earth government, demanding independence. It happens in Total Recall, in Babylon 5, in Red Mars.

But what if we gave Mars its independence right from the get-go? Rather than giving future colonies to governments or corporations, Jacob Haqq-Misra thinks we should let Martian colonists develop their own values, governments, and technologies, with minimal interference from Earth. Haqq-Misra is an astrobiologist at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, a non-profit organization that promotes international unity in space.

Not only would Haqq-Misra's strategy preclude any Martian wars for independence, but cultural independence could help Martians think differently enough to solve problems that Earth continues to struggle with—such as working together to fight global environmental problems, or making long-term plans for the future of humanity.

“Maybe Mars is more valuable in trying to seed the second incidence of civilization.”

Instead of getting divided by nations or plundered by industry, says Haqq-Misra, “maybe Mars is more valuable in trying to seed the second incidence of civilization.”

The plan that he lays out in an essay in New Space has five main provisions:

  1. Humans who leave Earth to permanently settle on Mars relinquish their planetary citizenship as Earthlings and claim a planetary citizenship as Martians.

  2. Governments, corporations, and individuals of Earth cannot engage in commerce with Mars and cannot interfere with the political, cultural, economic, or social development of Martian civilization.

  3. Scientific exploration may continue as long as it does not interfere with the development of civilization on Mars. Sharing of research and information between Mars and Earth is permitted only to pursue mutual scientific or educational goals.

  4. The use of land on Mars will be determined exclusively by the citizens of Mars. No Earthlings may own or otherwise lay claim to land on Mars.

  5. Any technology, resources, or other objects brought from Earth to Mars become permanent fixtures of the Martian civilization. Earthlings may not make any demands for resources on Mars.

There is some legal precedent. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which 103 nations (including the U.S. and Russia) are party to, prohibits any nation from claiming territory in space. The treaty “makes very clear that a colony on Mars could never become a colony in the classical legal sense of the word, like the U.S. was originally a colony of the U.K.,” says Frans von der Dunk, a space law professor at the University of Nebraska.

Screenshot from 'The Martian' official trailer

Screenshot from 'The Martian' official trailer

The Martian, which hits theaters in October, is a great reminder of all the things that can go wrong on another planet.

Nevertheless, under the current legal system, von der Dunk says American colonists on Mars would still probably fall under U.S. jurisdiction.

Sailors in international waters are expected to follow the rules of their ship's flag, and astronauts must do the same. The rules even hold when they're not on board the ship—for example, when the Apollo astronauts roamed around the moon, or when astronauts on the International Space Station do spacewalks, they're still subject to U.S. laws.

But what about when the excursion is longer than a few hours? On the ISS, where astronauts spend months at a time, participating countries have worked up their own quasi legal system, which is pretty similar to Earth's. If an American astronaut were to hit a Russian astronaut over the head, for example, first the U.S. would have the right to determine whether a criminal act was committed. If the U.S. doesn't take action, then he could be tried under Russian jurisdiction.

The rules could be different when we're talking about pioneers who venture to another planet with no intention of returning home. Still, says von der Dunk, “You cannot simply say 'I'm no longer a citizen of the U.S.' It's not for you to decide.”

Illustration Showing a Mars Colony with Living Quarters and Solar Panels

Mars One

He thinks that if Americans are able to set up self-sustaining communities on Mars, they'll consider themselves Americans and abide by U.S. laws—at least at first. “At some point in time, they will not like that anymore,” says von der Dunk. “They won't feel like they are American or Russian or wherever they come from, they'll feel like they are Martian. They will say, 'Listen, we don't want to pay taxes anymore, and we want to develop our own legal system.'”

Cultural evolution is inevitable in small populations that splinter off from Earth. A lot of Earthly traditions just won't apply, and the Martians will develop their own jokes, rules, and customs. Haqq-Misra's suggestion of limiting contact with Earth would simply speed up that transition.

Von der Dunk thinks it would be difficult to set up a colony as a blank slate, as Haqq-Misra proposes. Mars colonists would carry with them a lot of legal and cultural baggage that biases their ideas about how society should work. But over time, Martian culture could change dramatically. "It's hard to think outside the box there, but one could think that because Mars is so different from Earth, that when they tear themselves away from traditional legal structures, they could develop something very new," says von der Dunk. "This is all very hypothetical."

There are other potential problems. Getting to Mars ain’t easy, and there are a lot of ways to die once you get there. Unfortunately, Earth's help won’t come cheap: these days it costs about $10,000 to send one pound of supplies to the space station, and that's a much closer, easier trip than Mars. Without the financial incentives of Martian communities, resources, and/or business, nations and private companies aren’t likely to rally around the Free Mars idea. Haqq-Misra’s plan relies on either extremely thorough planning to make sure the colonies are completely self-sufficient, or generous donations to send resupply missions to Mars.

Haqq-Misra says he’s not holding his breath for anyone to jump on this idea. Still, he says, since everyone from NASA to SpaceX and Mars One has their sights set on visiting or colonizing Mars in the coming decades, it's important to think about.

“Hopefully it’s going to instigate people to have a longer-term vision for whatever we do on Mars.”












Read the whole story
jepler
1 day ago
reply
I'm mostly chiming in to say that I have met "Frans von der Dunk, a space law professor at the University of Nebraska" and that he makes an entertaining guest.

Any, MHO is that an extraterrestrial settlement should
- begin with a constitution that provides for a democratic government
- not permanently forbid property ownership or economic activity across planets (if nothing else, earthers will want to buy martian mp3s)
- not preemptively forbid dual citizenship
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
Share this story
Delete

In case you’re wondering: yes, we dug up the century eggs...

1 Comment






In case you’re wondering: yes, we dug up the century eggs and yes, they were edible

Read the whole story
jepler
2 days ago
reply
"Through the process, the yolk becomes a dark green to grey color, with a creamy consistency and an odor of sulfur and ammonia, while the white becomes a dark brown, translucent jelly with salty or little flavor.". don't sign me up.
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
Share this story
Delete

Roos And Emus, Oh MY!!

1 Comment and 2 Shares

These guys hang out at Victoria’s (Australia) Wild Action Zoo.

enhanced-1792-1440472355-7
Emu Chicks Edi and Eli are just a few days old- and here they are with buddy Reuben The Kangaroo.

enhanced-5380-1440472350-7
The chicks were brought into a zoo staffer’s home to protect them from feral foxes. They’ll be released into the open paddock with their parents, when they get bigger. BuzzFeed Australia has more deets.

enhanced-6674-1440472356-1
“You’ve probably seen this link today, but these pictures of a pair of emu chicks and a kangaroo joey simply made my day,” writes Diana C.


Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Emus, Kangaroo, OZ, SUPER BFFs
Read the whole story
angelchrys
2 days ago
reply
OMG
Overland Park, KS
jepler
2 days ago
reply
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
Share this story
Delete

officialhamlet: i want realistic modern fantasy like someone finding a dragon egg and livetweeting...

4 Shares

officialhamlet:

i want realistic modern fantasy like

someone finding a dragon egg and livetweeting the process of trying to hatch it (with no prior knowledge on how a dragon egg should be hatched)

a guy selling an enchanted sword on craigslist

a tattoo artist who does spell runes but for really mundane stuff like conjuring a bound demonic pen or for summoning your keys

summoning a demon for the vine

selfies with mermaids

prank calling wizards

Read the whole story
jepler
2 days ago
reply
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
bibliogrrl
2 days ago
reply
Chicago!
skorgu
2 days ago
reply
Share this story
Delete

Since-Pulled Cyanogen Update For Oneplus Changes Default Home Page To Bing

1 Comment
ourlovecanlastforeve writes: Nestled into GSMArena's report on the Cyanogen OS 12.1 update for Oneplus [ Note: an update that the story reports has since been pulled.] is this tasty bite: "...you'll find out that your Chrome homepage has been changed to Bing." Then it's casually dismissed with "Thankfully though, you can easily get rid of Microsoft's search engine by using Chrome settings." as if this were the most normal thing to have to do after an OTA update. Is this the new normal? Has Microsoft set a new precedent that it's okay to expect users to have to go searching through every setting and proactively monitor network traffic to make sure their data isn't being stolen, modified or otherwise manipulated?
Read the whole story
jepler
3 days ago
reply
mozilla changed to yahoo with an automatic update. it's shitty, but cyanogen is not the first.
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
wreichard
2 days ago
I would have expected better from Cyanogen. I've thought of them as being the opposite of this kind of stuff.
jepler
2 days ago
they have been morphing from "that community effort to put nearly-AOSP code on lots of devices" to a business that would really like to make money somehow for a few people
Share this story
Delete

In Praise of the Solo Programmer

1 Comment
HughPickens.com writes: Jean-Louis Gassée writes that once upon a time, we were awestruck by the solo programmer who could single-handedly write a magnum opus on a barebones machine like the Apple ][ with its 64 kilobytes of memory and an 8-bit processor running at 1MHz. Once such giant was Paul Lutus, known as the Oregon Hermit, who won a place next to Jobs and Wozniak in the Bandley Drive Hall of Fame for his Apple Writer word processor. "Those were the days Computers and their operating systems were simple and the P in Personal Computers applied to the programmer," writes Gassée. "There's no place for a 2015 Paul Lutus. But are things really that dire?"

As it turns out, the size and complexity of operating systems and development tools do not pose completely insurmountable obstacles; There are still programs of hefty import authored by one person. One such example is Preview, Mac's all-in-one file viewing and editing program. The many superpowers of Apple's Preview does justice to the app's power and flexibility authored by a solo, unnamed programmer who has been at it since the NeXT days. Newer than Preview but no less ambitious, is Gus Mueller's Acorn, an "Image Editor for Humans", now in version 5 at the Mac App Store. Mueller calls his Everett, WA company a mom and pop shop because his spouse Kristin does the documentation when she isn't working as a Physical Therapist. Gus recently released Acorn 5 fixing hundreds of minor bugs and annoyances. "It took months and months of work, it was super boring and mind numbing and it was really hard to justify, and it made Acorn 5 super late," writes Mueller. "But we did it anyway, because something in us felt that software quality has been going downhill in general, and we sure as heck weren't going to let that happen to Acorn."
Read the whole story
jepler
3 days ago
reply
You can still pick the right project and program it solo, from 1 hour to 1 year.

And just like in the 80s the odds that your solo project will make you a million dollars or enduringly famous are negligible.
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories