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Re: Engineering Newsletter

> Kevin to Kelly
> > 
> > Actually most companies only spend about %5 on research and development.
> > rest goes to manufacturing. So I don't expect a big saving there.
> What about the management overhead?  Most of the effort I ever saw in a 
> company was the bean-counters and the vp types bucking for position 
> getting in everyones way. ----

You'll have most of the same kind of people on the ship.  Assuming everyone
isn't as worthless you could eliminate a lot of them.  Given better tech, and
limited production, you could eliminate a lot more.  I'ld be willing to
assume we could drop the threshold number down by a factor of ten or a
hundred.   That still means you need a tens to hundreds of thousands of
people.  Which is too many.

>----  Part of the reason we need 260 million people to support our 
> industrial society, is because we have 260 million people who all need 
> computers and light bulbs and a million other things, but if there are 
> only a few hundred people, and the things they need are standardized, and 
> there is little incentive to constantly upgrade (to a new and improved 
> deoderant), then it can be done.  Look at the Shakers, the Ammana 
> Colonies, any of the _real_ communes in the sixties (some of which are 
> still going quite strong) yes, the people lived at a lowered standard of 
> living, but that is Tim's point I think.  Look aropund your apartment.  
> Many of the things you have, you could do just as well without.  (if you 
> are anything like me, that is)  

None of those groups are self suficent now here (all but the most fanatic
need hospitals and such). I'm geting quite familure with  Ammish since their
is a big a troblesome colony of them near my home.

You also seem to skip over the fact that they arn't trying to live in a
starship, orbiting in an alien starsystem, runing a high tech survey mission.
 This isn't little house on the prarie.  All that high tech exotica, from nav
systems to artificial, computer controled life support, is the thin wall
between them and death.  They will not be able to live off the land, hunt for
game, or get by with nothing more high tech than a wood buggy and furniture.
 If it goes wrong; they can't ask for help from the next village or ship from

> One of the Good things about places like Biosphere II is not what we will 
> learn about closed-sytem ecologies (which will be argued no doubt), but 
> what they teach us about our consumer society. What we learn to do 
> without and what we find indispensible 

Did you ever lok at all the high tech, high maintenence gear it took to keep
Bio-shpere going?  Oh, and it wasn't enough!

> > 
> > Later in this letter you mentioned this idea again and suggested if
> > were designed to be maintained they would require less replacement.  To a
> > degree true.  But after a couple decades everthing wears out; and the
> > we got used to throwing away things rather than repairing them, is its
> > cheaper and takes less effort.
> yes, this is true, cheaper and less effort. but repair is not impossible.  
> And when the Nearest Wal-mart is billions of Kilometers behind you, and 
> the weight of all the possible spares you will ever need.  Is prohibitive, 
> repair is the only rationale alternative.  making a re-fillable pen, 
> taking the time to make _every_ chip in a computer plugable (so they can 
> be removed and re-seated with ease, instead of with a soldering gun) 
> These things will allow us to drastically cut down the numbers of people 
> needed to maintain the ship.

They will also drasticly cut the relyability of the system on the ship.

> > Well you have to call and end to it sometime.  I figured a couple years
> > systems would be all we could manage.  Maybe a bit more than 3 years, but
> > certainly not anywhere near 10.  We need to keep the crews round trip
> > down below 30 years subjective (and not much more than that real time).
> > was also expecting a maximum ship service life of about 40 years.
> With a 1g thrust there and back (don't ask me how) the subjective one-way 
> trip time is 5 years.  Another 5 years for return trip, and that leaves 
> 10 - 20 years for exploration.  The Earth time is 37-47 years, and that's 
> just too bad for earth, there's only so fast a man can go (with current 
> physics model)

Earth pays the bills.  If it doesn't serve their intrest, it wount happen.
 The crytical time is that it would take roughly 15 years to get there and
start making reports.  First report back to earth in mission year 25 or
something.  That may not be quick enough for this kind of BIG money project.
 Also 10-20 years is way to long in system.  You're people are going to burn
out, and your support ships are going to be shot.  5 years should alow you to
bring back as much data as the ship could carry.  Much more than that and
your trying to cover every detail, which would take centuries.

Oh, and we don't have a clue how to get a ship 1G'ing up to light speed in
any practical sence, and no idea at all on how to stop it.

> > Yeah, I'm begining to think we're doing this more out of habit then
> >  Maybe thats why Dave can never seem to get around to fixing things on
> >  (I just got an E-mail from a new guy who wanted to join the newsletter
> > saw my name in the on-line archive and asked what the status is.)
> > 
> > Maybe we should work up a conclusion reprt or something.
> You can quit if you want to, But I'm never going to stop.  This group has 
> been a God-send to me.  I've dreamt about this ever since I was 10.  I 
> intend to find a way.  -----

Yeah, me too.  But we're runing out of ideas and members.  Most of the last
month or three all we've really done is rehash old ideas.  Maybe if we can
get the LIT sight upgraded with more info and stuff we can attract people
with new ideas.  We used to have hundreds of people lurking out there, and
4-8 sizable weekly newsletters.  Now its just a handfull of us, and even
Daves (the founder) can't work up much enthusiasm for it.   Maybe in wirking
up a summary report we might realise something we overlooked.  But now we're
getting to the point where were running around in circles.  I'm afraid we'll
just drop of the mail loop and we won't even have worked up a summary report
that people can start up from.

> ---- Expense is not a problem.  Any cost can be 
> justified if the reason is good enough.  Finding strong evidence of a 
> life-bearing world (one of the opening assumptions)  would be just the 
> reason to go, spare no expense.  I could think of no better Heaven than 
> to have these ideas used.  

Spare NO expence?  What exactly would justify unlimited funds for this?  Even
avoiding that,  we could backrupt the planet and still not pay for some of
the ideas we've been tossing around.  

They ideas woun't be used ifthey won't work.