Life in a Space Colony, ep1: Extraterrestrial Colonies

Today’s episode is the first of a three
part series we are going to do looking at what life might be like on colonies or colonial
spaceships. We normally focus so much on the technology
and mechanics of extraterrestrial colonies or ships that we mostly ignore what day-to-day
life would be like and it seemed time to rectify that a bit.            Now there are a few
reasons we have avoided this in the past. First, colony life is going to vary a lot
on what technology is available, you don’t need to have people growing food if you have
robots who can do all the work for instance. Second, we don’t know what the people will
be like, because it is entirely possible, even likely, that what passes for human on
colonies would be a cyborg or genetically tweaked human or even an outright digital
person. And third, we don’t know how they’d behave
because we don’t their motivations.            If we are looking at
day-to-day life and how the place governs itself, that will depend a lot on why those
colonists decided to become colonists in the first place. Traditionally it takes a lot of motivation
to get people to up and leave their life behind but what that motive is can be a lot different
for each colony and each individual. We are going to try to set the stage for better
considering what colony life would actually be like, and that means we will be spending
a fair amount of time, especially in this first episode, still talking about a lot of
the mechanics. Fortunately, we have discussed a lot of those
in the past too so I will occasionally reference those episodes to save time.          
    When it comes to asking why we would colonize other places, what our motives will
be, and how colonists might govern themselves, we will draw on some historical examples for
insights. However we also want to avoid letting ourselves
be trapped in a box by history. While I can empathize with King Solomon’s
world-weary assertion that there is nothing new under the sun, I don’t think anyone
alive today can take that comment as true at face value. There are just too many changes to our civilization
in terms of technology, culture, and day-to-day life to think we can treat any historic event
as a strong guide to future events. So while we will draw on a lot of historical
examples of previous colonies in this and the follow-up episodes, we will also try to
look for parallels in modern times and take both with a sizable grain of salt. To truly explore this topic there are some
questions we need to ask ourselves about any given colony and any given colonist.     Here are some of the most important
questions we should be thinking about for the colony itself:
1. What is its purpose? 2. Who is founding it, and why? 3. Where is it, relative to the Earth and Sun? 4. How big is the object being settled? 5. What are the object’s characteristics?     So what is it’s purpose? Is it a scientific outpost? Is it a money making one? Mining for platinum or growing food or building
ships. Is it a national extension? Something fully backed and supported by a
country getting its footholds in space? Maybe it is a religious or ideological one. It could have more than one purpose too, and
almost certainly will have at least secondary goals.     That will depend a lot on who is founding
it and why. If I’m part of religious denomination that
puts a lot of value on farming, I might decide to found an agricultural colony. So my motive is principally religious but
it is also presumably a money-making one focused on exporting food. Needless to say that is going to dominate
where I want to put it since you need sunlight to grow food and you need people to buy that
food. So where the colony is, relative to the Earth
and Sun, matters a lot. Even if you’ve got cheap fusion to use instead
of sunlight. It also will control the time lag on all communications,
which also means a longer response time for any problem where you need expert help from
back home. Also, the further out you are, the more isolated
your colony is, and the more expensive it will be to set the colony up or to import
replacement components and consumables. On the other hand if I’m from a religious
or ideological group that is very isolationist and doesn’t want to be around bad influences,
the further and deeper out in space, the better. We also need to know how big the object is. Is it a planet? A large moon? And Asteroid or Comet? This controls some of our ultimate ends for
that colony. A martian Colony might want to take some steps
to accustom people to lower gravity, genetic engineering perhaps, while ironically places
with lower gravity probably would not. Mars has enough gravity to hold an atmosphere
too, and a roughly earth length day, so that they might seriously consider full blown terraforming
of that planet. Alternatively your average asteroid that is
only a few kilometers across, and even most moons and comets, are better thought of as
an egg you plan to grow inside and eventually hatch out of, into a colony far bigger than
that asteroid was when you started. This will depend on what the other characteristics
of the object are: what it is made of. Is it high in metals? Is it high in organic elements? Is it drifting by itself or in a large group
of other bodies, like a collection of moons? Next we need to ask why any given colonist
would want to become a colonist. If we want to know what life would be like
on one, that depends a lot on physical characteristics of the colony, in terms of the resources it
has and the technology available. It also depends on the motivations and goals
of the colonists. Both as individuals, and as a group. It is pretty normal for instance for a young
couple to become colonists and they may already have children too. Either way odds are one of them is more enthusiastic
about it then the other. So you could easily end up with half of your
colonists there who are a bit lukewarm about it. That can change with time too, I can think
of any number of trips I made or events I attended at the insistence of friends who
were very excited about it where I turned out to have a great time, and sometimes they
felt disappointed afterwards. In any given colony you should expect a broad
spectrum of motives, goals, and personalities, depending on how strict your recruitment guidelines
are and how good you are at screening for those desired traits, of course. I also want to emphasize that when I say colony,
I mean a place where people plan to set up shop for the long term and have families. Now it might be a dedicated zero-growth place
that plans to begin at 1000 people and stay that way till the end of time, or their idea
of family might differ a lot from our own, like if they grew their new people in tanks
till adulthood, but I’d still call those colonies. The motives of the colony overall and individually
will control a lot of how it grows and functions. One started by a group of anarchists and one
started as a marxist commune are going to have very different priorities from each other
and won’t be like one meant to be a Catholic colony. I don’t want to oversimplify any of those
groups and their goals but the anarchist group would probably want to emphasize individual
homes more than the commune in their first construction, while the Catholics might want
their first building to be a large church everyone could take their meals and sleep
in while homes were built. Some folks might just be there to make money
and plan to leave, and that could include a lot of senior colony personnel like the
doctor or lawyer or administrative specialist who isn’t even interested in the goal of
the colony just doing their job there until their contract expires or they get promoted
to a position elsewhere. So the motives control why people are establishing
a colony and will tell us at least as much about life on that colony as what technology
we have. But there also certain categories of objects
for colonization we need to consider too. When it comes to categorization there are
tons, but we have three major ones we need to consider. How big is the object being colonized? How close is it to the Sun? And how close is it to other objects? Let’s discuss that last one first. Things are very different if you’ve got
one rock all alone a billion miles from its nearest neighbor as opposed to a small collection
of asteroids or moons all close enough you could have a real time telephone conversation. It also controls how self-sufficient you need
to be, since not only do communications travel slower but trade will take longer too. This would also cost more in terms of actual
cost and lost time. You also might not want to pick a cluster
of asteroids even if the others were uninhabited at the time. A body 10 kilometers across has about the
same mass and resources as eight bodies half as wide, 5 kilometers across, but it is probably
easier to make sure your colony has sole claim on that one body than all eight and you might
not want neighbors.     As to how big the object is, I’ve
decided to break everything into just six sizes. Less than a kilometer across, less than 10
kilometers across, less than a hundred, less than a thousand, less than ten thousand, and
less than a hundred thousand. And I’ll call those 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5
respectively. We could imagine a category 6 but only Jupiter
itself would be that big, as would brown dwarfs, and today we’re not interested in any of
our gas giants, except their moons, though we may look at colonizing them directly in
the future. Now this is a measure of diameter by order
of magnitude so it is a bit arbitrary but in a raw sense each category is 10 times wider
but also a thousand time more massive than the last, and so could presumably support
a thousand times the population.     Now I also picked these to highlight
the importance of gravity. Almost every celestial object you probably
know the name of is category 4 or 5. Earth, Venus, and all the Gas Giants except
Jupiter are fives. These are also the only places you could expect
to find the gravity comfortable and not need to worry about health issues. They also have no problem holding an atmosphere.     When you get down to category 4 though,
these are the objects that are where classic terraforming is probably possible but will
take a lot of work, probably including some genetic engineering or such to make animals
and people safe against the ailments we associate to low gravity. Though I should note we don’t know for sure
what those are. We know what zero-gravity or micro-gravity
does to the body, but we genuinely don’t know how much gravity would be needed to avoid
or mitigate those effects. Mars and Mercury for instance, at the high
end of category 4, might be just fine on their own.     On the same note, most of these objects
could hold an atmosphere if you were willing to work to maintain it. This category includes Mars, Mercury, Pluto
and all the other dwarf planets, and the sixteen biggest moons in the solar system including
our own. Let me qualify that, it technically would
not include Ceres, the largest asteroid or closest dwarf planet to the sun, which is
just under a thousand kilometers, and the only asteroid in the belt with a real claim
on dwarf planet status, and some of the other dwarf planet candidates come in at 900 km
or so. I will include those in category 4 just so
we can say all the categories below this are those where the objects are now only spherical
from general coincidence, not gravity.     Nothing below this category can be
expected to have reasonably uniform gravity over the entire surface or not cause serious
low-gravity issues or hold an atmosphere without a dome over it. On any of these places you could expect to
discharge a pistol and have the bullet land on the ground eventually, beneath this category
it would go flying off into space.     A couple of notes. First, if you add up all the category 4, 5
and 6 objects in the solar system, and probably most other solar systems, you won’t get
into triple digits. There’s about thirty such objects in our
solar system. On the other hand there are about 200 countries
on this planet and several times that number if we included every sub-division, ethnicity,
religion, or ideology big enough to count as its own country. The sorts of places or groups who could get
their hands on a billion bucks if they need to. You don’t necessarily need to be a country
to have a colony.     Now those 30 objects aren’t enough
for everyone to have one of their own, which is okay because those places could all host
dozens or even thousands of unique colonies and they could come from any number of nations
or groups, but it would be hard for one nation back here to just claim total ownership of,
say, Mars. So the smaller objects, the Category 3 kind,
the ones between a hundred and a thousand kilometers in radius, get a lot more tempting. At least if you want one rock of your own,
because there are a few hundred of those in the solar system, so you could start thinking
about making a singular claim on one of those. When we get to category 2, 10-100 km across,
there’s several thousand of those just in the Asteroid Belt alone and many thousands
of others, and it is easy to forget that any one of those could easily be turned into a
place that could comfortably house an entire planetary population, I’ll explain that
in a bit. But there’s enough of them that anybody
with the resources to be thinking about having a colony could stake a singular claim to at
least one. Now these can’t be classically terraformed
but we’ll get to that in a bit too. Your category 1 objects, 1-10 km, are also
quite attractive objects, being the size of a mountain or metropolis and numbering in
the hundreds of thousands just in the asteroid belt alone. There’s probably many millions further out
when we throw in Comets, Kuiper Belt objects, and stuff out in the Oort Cloud. These are also great colony prospects because
as we’ll see they could be transformed into places that would be nice sized countries
in their own right. Even our category 0 objects, those less than
a kilometer across, make for nice colonies if you’re only trying to make something
that could support a fairly decent sized community that was fairly self-sufficient. These sizes also tell us a lot about how stuff
reaches the colony and where people live. Category 4 objects mostly don’t have atmospheres
but can maybe have them, and can also have space elevators on them that don’t need
to be made out of super materials. Beneath this, while space elevators can still
work in some cases, they mostly don’t serve any purpose. Ships just land and take off and in a lot
cases can do so with virtually no fuel expenditure. Or even no fuel expenditure, many would be
able to get away with having a runway where a magnet or tow cable just dragged them up
to speed or where they literally just collided with a spring or the colony just snagged them
with a magnet on a tether and slowly halted them and reeled them in. That changes the game a lot, especially in
a place like the asteroid belt, which while nowhere near as dense as fiction often portrays
it, could easily have the equivalent to passenger planes or buses or even cars that just went
back and forth to nearby asteroids. You could have individual asteroid homes,
small village equivalents or even single family residences people could essentially drive
to the bigger asteroids from. A 100 meter wide asteroid, a category negative
one I suppose, would be nice for this purpose and there are tens of millions of those in
the Belt. Now they are separated by hundreds of thousands
of miles from each other but that’s maybe a day of travel tops and what’s more it’s
only a seconds of light lag on any communication. Plus, you can just move one. I mean we’ve talked about moving whole solar
systems and even galaxies on this channel, moving a rock the size of a mansion through
the void of space to be a million kilometers close to a bigger asteroid colony barely even
qualifies as a task. So you could just shove your asteroid to a
100 kilometers away from some Category 2 or 3 asteroid and fly over to it to go shopping. We’ve talked before about hollowing out
asteroids and slowly disassembling them to reassemble them as megastructures, but you
can also latch them together quite easily. The gravitational force between two asteroids
in the 10 kilometer diameter range, say 20 kilometers apart, is low enough you wouldn’t
even have to mess around with putting them into orbit of each other, you could literally
hold them apart with a rigid metal shaft. A decently thick and sturdy one, but nothing
requiring massive feats of engineering or super-science. You could even snatch smaller asteroids with
a very long tether and reel them in. We’ll come back to this stuff in a bit,
but let us address our other category type first, distance from the Sun. Now I say distance from the Sun but I also
mean Earth. Except for Mercury and Venus and maybe Mars
and the Near Earth Asteroids this is essentially the same thing. We discussed the inner and outer solar system
recently, breaking them at the asteroid belt, but I want to break into 5 more distinct categories
today  instead:  Inner, middle, outer, deep, and Extrasolar. Here I will consider Inner to be any place
as close to the Sun as Earth or closer. Of Natural objects that is Mercury, Venus,
Earth, the Moon, and the Near Earth Asteroids. But as those of you familiar with the channel
know, we would often be thinking about making artificial habitats all over this volume as
a build up to a Dyson Swarm. Here light is not only more than abundant
enough to grow plants and use solar power, which is great in space since there’s no
night time or clouds, but actually can be so abundant you might need to take steps to
block it. The Inner region is also where communications
are fast. Not only is there likely to be plenty of people
living within real-time communication distance with you, where a phone call might just feel
a little slow, but you can talk to anyone in the inner region within minutes not hours. Even a call to the other side of the inner
region and the return time on an answer is only half an hour. I will count Mars and the Asteroid Belt as
the Middle Solar System and also Jupiter and its moons and trojan asteroids. This is the region where there’s not a lot
of sunlight but it is still plentiful enough to either grow plants and use with solar panels
or at least wouldn’t need much augmentation. Out past Jupiter, as I’ve mentioned before,
solar is still an option but not a very good one. Everything has to be scaled up massively to
acquire and concentrate the kind of power you need. Technically you can live on solar power anywhere
in the galaxy or even the Universe since there is a decent amount of ambient light, but even
ignoring that you would need panel and mirror arrays the size of football stadium to power
a lightbulb, you have to consider the sheer construction and maintenance costs compared
to just buying some uranium to run a fission plant. It’s still semi-viable in the outer region,
which I consider to be from Saturn out through the Kuiper Belt, but these are not places
for serious colonization until you have fusion or can at least have huge solar arrays near
the sun beaming energy out to colonies. So out in this region, with the exception
of a couple of the larger moons, surface habitation is just pointless. It exposes you to radiation and micrometeors,
but the sun is still bright enough you could comfortably walk around without a flashlight
during the day. Type 4, Deep Space, out past the Kupier Belt,
is where space is incredibly uncomfortable and totally your enemy. There’s no point having anything on the
surface of whatever iceball you’ve settled besides your landing spots, which would probably
have retractable armored shutters over them, and your transmitters and receivers and maybe
an observation dome or two because the night sky is likely to be a rather pleasant sight
out there. You could conceivably still use solar by beamed
energy out here. That’s actually a cheap trick for moving
comets into the solar system, you coat one side with solar panels and beam energy to
it to power an ion thruster that uses some of the ice as propellant. Fission remains possible too but I just don’t
see the point, you might get a colony or two out there just prove it could be done but
nobody would develop this region seriously until fusion was cheap and easy, in which
case every object out there looks like a giant tank of gasoline. As to our last category, extrasolar, that
will be our topic for our third video though it could technically include stuff that was
so far out it didn’t count as part of our solar system anymore. Those are the same as deep space habitats
for all practical purposes though. Now before we abandon talking about solar
power entirely as an option, I did want to bring up slight addendum to something I call
a mushroom habitat. We introduced those when discussing Mercury
in the two-parter with Fraser Cain a few weeks back and I should probably note I coined that
term, though I’m sure someone came up with the concept before. One of things about futurism is you do have
to coin terms sometimes and you just cross your fingers if you come up with a bad or
silly one, that someone renames it. The funny thing is that the idea started backwards. The Mercury version is meant to shield you
from sunlight, and that trick works on habitats near the sun too, if you need a place for
people to live who are tending to massive solar arrays placed as close to the sun as
they can be without melting. Simple setup, mushroom side toward the sun
to block light, reflective surface to bounce most of it away. But my original version was backwards for
deeper out in space. Big rotating cylinder habitat at the stem
out where the sun is getting a bit weak for use, and behind it is the mushroom cap as
a parabolic dish reflecting in concentrated sunlight. So if solar is your power source you would
expect an awful lot of the asteroid, small moon, or free floating habitats to use this
scheme out in the middle regions past Earth out to Jupiter, and maybe further too. I should probably have just called those a
parabolic dish habitat but mushroom sounds neater. It’s also a great setup to receive beamed
power further out if you need to go that route, so figure on anything past Mars using this
sort of setup if they have not got fusion. Beyond things like that, except for those
thirty or so objects which might have enough gravity or might be augmented by combining
spin gravity and local gravity, the colonies ought to look a lot alike. Everybody lives inside. We have talked about rotating habitats more
times than I can count so I won’t go over that again. Of course you do always have the option of
either non-uniform gravity by not making your cylinder radially symmetric, like a pair of
connected cones instead. Or just telling gravity to take a hike and
just taking whatever measures are necessary to make your population and attached flora
and fauna able to survive in microgravity. You can combine rotating habitats and zero
gravity environments too, in fact the easiest way to connect rotating habitats is with hubs
that don’t have gravity, which would let you produce huge networks of cylinder habitats
in two or three dimensions. You would probably expand into your asteroid
by making more cylinders inside and take excess material to cover over ones built outside
it, as protective shielding, or shipped off as exports for trade. This is what I meant about being able to turn
a Category 3 object into something that could hold an entire planetary population. Even just a hollowed out asteroid packed with
cylinders is going to be vastly larger in living area than the surface of that asteroid
was, but you can build outward too, taking that hollowed out material and basically dumping
it around the outside of a big balloon you just inflated as needed until all the matter
was either in the cylinders or in that outer shell. You could cannibalize that too and just replace
it with a layer of compressed hydrogen or something. Hydrogen is great for blocking radiation,
incredibly abundant, and the fuel for fusion anyway. That’s way down the line though, not technologically,
just that it would take centuries before we would fill up all the normal, unmodified rocks. There’s no hard and fast rule about how
thick the floor should be on a rotating habitat, especially since you can do multiple levels,
but I usually just use a ton per square meter as a ballpark figure. In that context a 10 kilometer wide asteroid,
the cutoff between category 2 and 3, masses out at about a trillion tons and so a trillion
square meters or a million square kilometers, about the size of Egypt or five times larger
than Great Britain. The 100 kilometer wide kind at the cutoff
of category 3 and 4 would have a thousand times the mass and thus a thousand times the
area, which would be about two Earth’s worth, including the oceans and ice caps, and there
are hundreds of these and many thousands of the smaller kind. Lot’s of room to grow, but how big should
you start?     Bigger is better when it comes to founding
a colony, the more the better because it allows more specialization and self-sufficiency. For instance if I want to have a court, any
kind of court, I need at least 3 lawyers in my colony, a judge and an advocate for both
sides. Realistically I need 4 to handle conflicts
of interest and to give a defendant at least some choice in who defends them. That would mean 4% of your population would
be  lawyers, in a colony of 100 people. The norm is more like a tenth of that, and
that would mean a population of a thousand people to support 4 of them at the normal
distribution. Now you don’t necessarily need courts on
a colony and it doesn’t necessarily have to be their full time job, but that won’t
be the only profession like that. There are a lot specialist areas you can do
without, like an insurance salesman, because you could source that from home, ditto a neurologist
is better in person but he could do a decent job remotely by analyzing scans and diagnoses
taken by a general practitioner on site. There are a lot of other things you do need
on site though, things that also take a ton of training time, like a veterinarian or nurse
or surgeon or dentist. Also, after the initial colonies you have
a recruitment problem. When you have something as prestigious as
one of the first colonies and when you have tens of thousands of possible candidates for
each specialty, you can find yourself a person with three or four of the necessary specializations
and who doesn’t mind doing one that is kind of grubby. I have difficulty seeing a colony of less
than a hundred people, and I think a thousand is a lot more reasonable for anything that
doesn’t allow near real time communication with Earth. When we talk about extrasolar colonies though,
I’d be thinking more like tens of thousands, because while you can bring all the knowledge
of earth with you on data storage, that doesn’t equate to expertise and there’s nobody to
call on for help.     Though for all these cases you need
to consider the impact of things like transhumans. People who have had their intelligence amped
up can learn faster, people who live a lot longer than now can absorb more specialties,
and it implies access to a lot automation that let’s you save your people for mostly
mental work, some or all of which might be doable by an artificial intelligence too.     Talking about lawyers and courts bring
up the idea of how you administrate your colony. We will save the case of total independence
for episode 3 since, barring us figuring out how to cheat the speed of light, those have
to operate totally independently from day 1. I’m also not interested in discussing the
notion of rebellion and secession, we already have tons of examples of that in history and
each occasion tends to be somewhat unique.     I generally tend to assume most colonies
in the solar system will be under some existing nation, even if it is nearly autonomous and
basically just has a deal cut with some nation to represent their interests at home. Like some minor but stable nation back on
Earth agrees to act as the intermediary where diplomacy is concerned in exchange for you
landing your goods at their spacedock.     Interests back home are worth remembering
too. Not all of a colony is going to be actually
at the colony. Some might follow along later as the infrastructure
allows more to come, or just support the idea enthusiastically but not want to go themselves. I remember in one of David Weber’s books
it is mentioned that the colony that founded the protagonist’s home system of Manticore
had intentionally left funds behind on Earth in an administered trust fund building up
compound interest so they had resources back on Earth to buy new technologies or pay for
colonists passage fees. The author remarked there that it was something
few other colonies had thought to do but I took that as a bit of poke at a lot of other
science fiction where such an obvious good idea never gets mentioned and presumably wasn’t
thought of. Of course a colony would have a law firm back
on Earth watching their interests. Of course they would have a lot of consulting
groups they could call on to serve as the crisis team when things go wrong like NASA
mission control does now. The fusion reactor broke, the spare component
has been used, you are a year from the nearest place that can send you one. It’s handy have some folks back on Earth
who can take an inventory of everything you’ve got and MacGyver up a functional spare. Even if you are a colony that is specifically
looking to get away from Earth cultures, and somehow brought everyone with you, rather
than just an initial team funded and supplied by a larger group back home, there’d probably
be plenty of firms that would become specialists in the necessary issues colonies tended to
face. As to what government people would use, we
just don’t know. Frankly I consider it kind of absurd to ask
that anyway for two reasons. First, I doubt everyone would use the same
kind, and second, I’m strongly of the opinion that whatever kind they use is their decision
at that time. Which means it will change as the colony ages
too. It’s a very popular topic when colonization
comes up, and we will talk about it a bit more in episode 3, but in my experience if
you ask ten people every one will give a different answer and half of them will be completely
convinced almost every colony will use one specific approach to self-governance which
just happens to correspond to their ownidea of Utopia. Their confidence in this will not be one bit
shaken by everyone disagreeing with them or noticing that a few of the other folks are
just as confident with their own entirely different vision of how things can and indeed
must be.     So what is day-to-day life on the colony
like? The simple answers are we don’t know, because
it would depend way too much on the colony’s purpose, the reason it was founded, and the
technologies available. What we’ve been doing today is trying to
set the background for people to consider this themselves. The other simple answer is probably a lot
like now in many ways. I mean my day-to-day life is almost certainly
very different from yours and every other person on this channel. We have our work, our family and friends,
and our hobbies. We juggle them to get them done the best we
can and it often involves unpleasant parts even if we mostly enjoy it. Now we have a bit of a better picture about
what those colonies are going to be like in order to consider that idea, but in the end,
much like now, we can only take that so far because it is too broad a concept that is
going to vary too much. Life for a mining engineer on Ganymede just
won’t be much like the life of a doctor on an orbital farm near Earth or his like
that of a surgeon who serves at a hub for a lot of smaller colonies. We will look a bit more into day-to-day tasks
in the next two episodes now that we’ve got more of the basics in place. Speaking of that, in next week’s episode
we will be looking both at interstellar colony ships, often called generation ships and ark
ships, as well as interplanetary colony ships. Frequently you will actually use your ship
directly as your first colonial structure so it is worth examining. We will also talk about some of the crew concepts,
daily chores, and also how we might select candidates for colonies during recruitment. In the third episode we will cover a number
of the topics we had to bypass today but our big focus will be on that first interstellar
colony, and in many ways it will more closely resemble early interplanetary colonies. We sort of skipped those today to look at
what colonies will be like when it’s not a brand new and prestigious thing, because
I wanted to save it for the more pioneering tone of an early extrasolar colony. If you want alerts when those and other videos
come out, make sure to subscribe to the channel. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to
hit the like button, share it with others, and try out some of the other episodes on
the channel. Until next time, thanks for watching, and
have a great day!

100 Replies to “Life in a Space Colony, ep1: Extraterrestrial Colonies”

  1. Author's Note: The Schedule in the credits got typo'd, eps 2 and 3 come out Dec 8 and 15, Dec 22 is "Fermi Paradox: Stay At Home Civilizations" (working title)

  2. So like mass effect Andromeda, would it make sense for people on a mission to form a colony and populate it, to practically have every other person be gay and or looking to get it on with aliens? Did they not bother to ask when spending billions if not trillions of dollars, funding to ship these people there to have kids and form the colony, only to find out once they are out their, they're just like nah, I'm good. I get some may be specialists, and be there because they are the best or they can do stuff no one else can. But assuming as the main character you are meeting a random assortment of persons, their are a whole lot of people in inter species relationships. Or ones that wouldn't bear lots of children,

  3. Isaac, you have such a pleasant voice, and your speech impediment does nothing to lessen that…it actually makes it so much more unique.

  4. I understand that the concept of witch governments space colonies would end up using is very subjective but I think we could still discuss possible new kinds of governments that would be particularly affected by the conditions presented in space colonies. I would love to see a return on this subject.

  5. Religion in space – this is like a dog splitting the atom – lets hope religion dies out soon so the laughable superstition of religion doesn't spread to space like cancer.

    Religious people – none of what you've been brain washed with is true – you have doubts (you're watching this channel) – they're all true. Come join us atheists who base our views on reason and observable proof – we're nice 😉

  6. Sur-hyb-grav or Surface Hybrid Gravity habitats: planetary colonies which mix spin gravity with the native gravity of the planet or moon. Surhybgrav's are intended for colonized extraterrestrial worlds with less than 1 G.

    Just trying it out for size.

  7. If certain people have their way, ( especially the likes of Elon And others ) space colonization will become reality and space accessible to ordinary people by the 2020s. I hope it happens by that time.

  8. Great series on colonies. I was wondering if you can make a couple videos on living inside the colonies as far as the ecology and psychology of the colonists is concerned. I have questions such as:

    Will there be a blue sky effect and rain clouds in a giant O'Neill Cylinder?

    Will there be orbital dynamics that will cause a spinning cylinder to start wobbling? Could that be prevented?

    And the aesthetics of such a colonies' interior (necessary for colonists to fall in love with the place). Will the inside of an O'Neill Cylinder look more beautiful than an equal portion of Earth?

  9. Absolutely superb videos. Best pictures and animations.
    And the courage to think far away.
    However, you also have the old saying:
    It always comes unlike you might think.

  10. personally i think that by the time we set up colonizations in space, there will be no religion/church anymore, or, at least it will be far smaller than it is today- science will be dominating the people's view- if not, we won't be able to colonize space.
    and i could really imagine those coloies to be created by companies, not by countries anymore- but who knows..
    great video btw!

  11. Wow! I thought that I may take in 3 of these videos but after watching this I realise that I need to space them and let the information soak in, maybe reviewing this video before attempting to move on. There is so much info here I couldn't absorb it all in one go even that I stopped and rerun some sections.
    I never realised that anyone had thought this through in such great depth my gast is flabbered.

  12. A question for you, since you seemed hopeful about O'Neill cylinders:
    How do we overcome the tendency to have the pair of cylinders wrench away from eachother, considering their size. Would graphine be the magic bullet? Or do we have to consider a modification of the original Island 3 design?

  13. I'm not all that interested in leaving earth, but I would love to be a terrestrial administrator! Hey you future Martians, I'm here for you!

  14. Episode 4.20 should mention weeds and mushroom habitats or perhaps the expression 'up in smoke'. I don't, but it would be interesting to see if anybody got the references.

  15. Since we can't build fast enough space ships than setting up a space colony between let's say earth and mars would be ideal, astronauts could retreat between mars and the colony for resources while astronauts from earth could go back and forth to stock up the colony for astronauts coming from mars

  16. The only thing for certain is that if colonies in space is ever a thing, they will be completely alien to us humans in this day and age. But to be completely honest, I don't know if space colonization is even possible with any technology, there's still so much we don't know about space and it's effects.

  17. I think you make a severe mistake believing that non state affiliated colonies would have to operate totally independently. It makes the same sort of false assumptions opponents of secession make in assuming citizens do not trade with the rest of humanity despite the flag currently flying over them.

  18. “There is nothing new under the sun” may have been conceptually true up until the invention of the telescope.

  19. PBS Space Time is good. So is Stuart Gary. The Perimeter Institute Lectures are outstanding. But Arthur has the best graphics by far. What speech impediment? I have no problem understanding him. The audio and video quality is excellent..

  20. The governments would either be a small town council, like New England when it was first settled by Europeans or a military hierarchy. It depends on who does it, scientist or the military.

  21. When figuring out the number of lawyers needed per colony, you didn't think of the possibility of the lawyers themselves being plaintiffs and defendants (Lawyer A assaulted Lawyer B, so B sued A). They'd need their own choice of lawyers, plus the judge. You can never have enough lawyers (… sitting in asteroids millions of miles away)

  22. A Marxist Commune? Well, as long as they keep to themselves I guess it's alright. Then again, those people have a tendency to push their ideology onto everyone else. Best to learn from history and deal with them before they start infecting others.

    Having them all in one place will be handy, though.

  23. I looked up colony ships, only to find that Isaac already had not one, but three episodes about them! Frickin sweet!

  24. In the future a country bumpkin will still be leading a more technologically advanced life than even some of our most technologically advanced homes and lifestyles. Those bumpkins (who happen to be slightly over 300 years old) will look back on us then as we do cavemen now lmao silly primative humans what with there fossil and chemical fuels, strictly earth based habitats, dependence on the sun and global warming xD.

  25. I stumbled onto this site/channel by accident, so glad I did. I was looking/searching for space craft images/ideas/concepts for scratch-building scale models and/or dioramas. Asking Isaac if it's ok to use some of images as "plans" for making models. An example would be those nifty rovers on the Mars colony. It's not a commercial or "job-related" venture by the way; only for my own "non-professional" interests and maybe to enter into IPMS model-making competitions. Awesome content here, it's like canteens of water to a man thirsting in the desert (that would be most of cable/dish tv's offering). Thanks.

  26. Dear Isaac, honestly your 'impediment" is no way problematic … actually I find you voice is quite musical and has excellent intonations.

  27. When I've got the life extension/transhuman/full cyborg thing sorted, I'll start an investment portfolio with a view to making my own O'Neill cylinder in which I can set up a wildlife park ecosystem and then build myself a shack in the middle of it in which I can stay… in between wandering around the rest of the growing Dyson Sphere. A lot of redundant automated systems would obviously be required, including robots that can build replacement components, repair systems and build other robots that are capable of building and repairing…

  28. if i ever accepted to be one on board a colony ship to venture to the unknown FIRST there should be an indonesian, korean, chinese, a japanese girl and a linguistic filipina (for some reason) onboard too! 😍 then the worry to the unknown will be worried later. otherwise id rather stay here on earth

  29. Hell yes! The MAIN thing I'm always interested in with sci-fi, is what it would be like . How would people live, in their day to day lives. This is probably my most looked forward to set of videos on this channel. (grabs popcorn) LET'S DO THIS. 😀

  30. How would a colony founded by and for cats function? I am only asking since, judging by my cat's rapt attention to this video, he is seriously considering starting one.

  31. 86 thumb downers ? But in space that dosent mean anything as up and down don't exist. So we'll take as a thumbs up ☺

  32. Read a story once about genetically engineered humans who replaced their feet and legs with lower arms and hands for living fully in zero-g.

  33. Beyond the right mix of specializations, one thing that can make or break a colony is that the people must have that pioneering spirit! Pick people who just think it would be neat to live out there – but who turn out not to be willing to put in the work & get their hands dirty – & your colony could fail. Every able-bodied person must be willing to commit to whatever passes for manual labor out there. Imagine having to essentially take care of someone, or send them packing back to Earth (or wherever they came from!) I can even picture some of the more isolated colonies simply spacing somebody who won't pull their weight! Ugly but true. One interesting thing I could imagine is the idea of certain people like lawyers, doctors & even priests (& other specialists) traveling from colony to colony – particularly somewhere like the asteroid belt or Jupiter's Trojan asteroids – either on a semi-regular basis, or by appointment or emergency. The benefit to the colonies is that they could actually be smaller in essential personnel, & some specialties could be farmed out to those who 'commute.' Another thing to consider is specialty systems (like versions of IBM's Watson), that might either be owned by a colony, or consulted (for a fee, of course!) on a need only basis. Such systems could be housed on one of the larger colonies (or on Earth), & used much like telescope time is now allocated to astronomers. Of course, if they become small enough & cheap enough, they would almost certainly become ubiquitous – perhaps receiving regular updates from afar (again, for a fee.) There would almost have to be many different computer internets, as communication times would be way too slow over greater distances, & any A.I.s might well be simply built-in. People might well just speak to them, like Iron Man speaks to Jarvis. You would probably have to have a certain minimum A.I., just to monitor things that would otherwise require constant human supervision – like monitoring the hydroponics (or aeroponics), or basic security functions, etc. Thanks for another great video! tavi.

  34. If large asteroids are really a collection of smaller rocks how hard would it be to create a habitat within without causing the rocks to fly apart?

  35. I'm not sure about future colonies, but I would imagine the first colony (looks like it'll be on Mars) will be pretty communist, at least to start. I would imagine that people would be volunteers, signing up knowing that they won't be paid for their work, but that their living situation (food, water, housing, medical care, etc.) would be paid for from their initial ticket price.

    I mean, can you imagine travelling with a group or 20 or so people to start a colony on Mars and then telling someone (likely an important part of your team that you've bonded with for at least a year, like a botanist or an electrician or an engineer) that they can't have food or water or medicine because they don't have enough money?

  36. 29:30 law courts can be like circuit courts were historically. A judge and his court personnel would travel from town to town on their circuit to hear cases. In this case, flying from colony to colony, or hearing cases via telepresence from the local bigger colony.

    Edit: I see that you touched on telepresence a bit later. What I get for pausing mid video to comment!

  37. Expect that the colony will quickly secede from the people of Earth, unless they have a way to enforce it. Just look at history.

  38. We will likely face resource entropy
    before we become interplanetary. " A universe not made for us" quq Carl Sagan

  39. Have you considered the technology of using gravitational waves (global scaling) to conduct communications. Then the conversations would be nearly instantaneous.

  40. Love your channel man. I can actually learn and broaden my mind. So much better than the other nonsense on the net. Imagine if more folks listened to informative videos on science health and etc

    Instead news. Fake news. Opinionated bs. DrMa. Oh my god what is the celebrity doing. Waste of life

  41. I teach IB design technology in a School, I'm also a hard SF fan and Game designer. I'm always looking for future focused Design projects.
    This is by far the best educational video on future human colonization I have seen. Look to see more like this. Informative and Inspiring also for Sci-fi writers!

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