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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

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The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Mining the Moon, a "Fusion" of Energy and Space Technologies -- Soc, Tech

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Yes, the Russians are planning to mine the Moon. More power to them. Which is, incidentally, the point.

Russia's Energia Space Corporation (heavily state-controlled) plans to build a permanent base on the Moon to start "mining" the isotope Helium 3.

The idea would be to use helium 3 to power thermo-nuclear power stations, harnessing its potency to achieve nuclear fusion.

The technology to exploit helium 3 is still under development, but it has been touted by a significant academic school of thought as "the ideal fuel of the future" with several countries expressing interest. The race is now on to be the first to make it work.

Russian scientists have come up with the idea of using "lunar bulldozers" to heat the Moon's surface in order to get at the resource, and Mr Sevastyanov has told an academic conference that Moscow is keen to institute regular cargo flights of helium 3 back to Earth as soon as possible.


So yes, fusion does have a future. Admittedly, if we get alternative sources going here on Earth, its future may be in space, but it's a promising one nevertheless. (There aren't many sources of wind or water in hard vacuum, nor much in the way of solar power amongst the outer planets or in the Kuiper Belt.)

"We are planning to build a permanent base on the moon by 2015 and by 2020 we can begin the industrial-scale delivery ... of the rare isotope helium 3," Mr Sevastyanov said."The Earth's known hydrocarbon reserves will last mankind 50 to 100 years at the present rate of consumption. There are practically no reserves of helium 3 on Earth. On the Moon, there are between one million and 500 million tons, according to estimates." Much of those reserves are reported to be in the Sea of Tranquillity.

Mr Sevastyanov predicted that nuclear reactors capable of running on helium 3 would soon be developed and said that just one ton of the isotope would generate as much energy as 14 million tons of oil.

"Ten tons of helium 3 would be enough to meet the yearly energy needs of Russia," he added. However, Russia is not the only country interested in the technology. American scientists have expressed interest in helium 3, arguing that one shuttle-load of the isotope would be sufficient to meet US electrical energy needs for a year.

During the Cold War the space race had more to do with prestige but in an era when the world has become acutely aware of the finite nature of its resources, a new 21st-century race is developing with a very different aim: to secure a new source of energy for future generations. Helium 3's chief advantage is that it is not radioactive, so there would not be a problem disposing of it once it had been used.

A relatively radiation-free source of fusion power would be a welcome addition to our energy options indeed. And space itself might be the perfect place for it.


Future Imperative

18 Comments:

Anonymous Tapina-apina said...

I think the russians might just make it, allthough resent years of capitalism have severely damaged their ability to consentrate their effords to great projects as the one you mentioned. First succesfull spaceflights were conducted by the Soviet Union, it's a historical fact and no amount of capitalistic propaganda can ever change that =) I don't see the same potential in russia of today. They are too liberal and let their resources to be controlled by people who use them only for their personal gain.

But, im not here to argue about politics. I sincerely like your blog, but the ongoing elections here have my attention untill tomorrow.

I believe, that only state should control resources. Thats the only realistic way to ever use them wisely. But I also believe, like a good commie, that the state should not control the people, but the people should control the state.

January 28, 2006 4:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aping-Taping said . . .

Fusion energy will mark the return of true communism and the global dictatorship of the proletariat.

China is suffering badly from capitalism as is the United States. They will never beat the russians as long as the russians return to true communism--the good kind that only I am qualified to define.

But I will not argue politics with fools. I sincerely like your blog but you should be a communist like me. A good one like me, for I am one of the few really good ones.

January 28, 2006 7:53 AM  
Anonymous Tapina-apina said...

"only thing you know about communism is that you fear it"
- Nikita Hrutshev to Richard Nixon

No need to be offended. When I say I don't want agrue about politics, I mean it. There is no point in talking about a subject that arouses only emotional arguments against my person, based on one comment.

I have been involved in politics, and in politics you have to maintain integrity. If I would say, that I honestly believe that liberal economics will be the best option for everyone, I would be lying.

One thing anonymous said correctly: I'm not going to argue with fools.

January 29, 2006 12:05 PM  
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