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Re: Re: Re: starship-design: The Way ahead & Bugs

In a message dated 10/13/98 12:03:54 PM, andrew@hmm.u-net.com wrote:

>>>> Oh, personally - I'm real dubious about Mars colonization.  A chemically
>>>> planet with high rad and low G is not a great realestate value.
>>>Chemically toxic? You try living without CO2 for very long. Our lungs
>need it
>>>like they need O2 - we don't metabolise it, but it does play a role in
>>>As for the rest of Mars, AFAIK there's NOTHING toxic there that isn't found
>>>about here. The soil isn't "super-oxidising" as some claim - that's
>>>thermodynamically and photochemically unlikely. Much of it is probably
>>That wasn't the final judgement of the analysis of the Viking data.  The
>>the only explanation for the reactions with the soil samples would be a
>>oxidizing chemical reactino that breaks down organic molecules.
>I thought several of the tests carried out on the Mars soil samples were
>"dubious" at best - I remember some controversy over the tests to decide
>whether there were traces of bacteria in the soil - some of the tests
>succeeded, some failed, but some were in direct contradiction of the others..

The contradictino was that the soil did react rapidly to the "food" samples,
and the presence of sunlight which passed the criteria for bacterial and
photosynthetic life.  But no organic mater.  So after a lot of heated debate
they decided the only thing that would explain it was a very chemically
reactive oxidizing substance in the soil that broke down even trace orgaic
mater.  Of course others have suggested that it could be life and the organic
detector wasn't sensative enough to detect it.  More fearce debate.---

>>>> Also the radiation levels are real bad.
>>>Neutrinos are the big worry. Who knows how much damage they can do in
>>>and no shielding stops them.
>>Neutrinos do virtually nothing.  Nutron radiation is bad.
>And you can't shield against neutrinos anyway.

True, but why bother trying?

>>>So I think the threat is overblown.
>>>Remember, Ebola's reservoir is monkeys [our relatives] not some wholly
>>>lifeform. And we are a lot closer to every lifeform on this planet than we
>>>any exobiological entities.
>>Actually the best guess is Ebola lives in Bats.
>The most devestating diseases known (almost without exception) all come
>from other creatures - eg, AIDs from monkeys, possibly CJD from sheep (then
>to cows).
>Obviously, the reason they are so deadly is that our bodies have never
>encountered them before, so the immune system doesn't realise, or can't
>stop the new virii/bacteria.
>The question is, how alien would you expect these virii to be - it's
>possible that they are too alien to affect us in the slightest, and it is
>also technically possible that they might be almsot exactly the same as
>some we encounter now, so our body can deal with them...  However, far more
>likely that they will be partly alien, but also partly familiar.
>It's clearly in the virus' worst interests to kill it's host off, which is
>why most deadly virii or bateria are mutations of "nuisance" diseases,
>which rarely killed, merely incapacitate/annoy.
>The other sort of deadly virii are the sort I mentioned earlier, which come
>from other creatures.  These are badly adapted to living in their new
>hosts, and some tend to cause massive damage because of this.  So if the
>alien diseases were -just- compatable enough (eg, used to living in blood
>cells of a certain creature) then they would most probably prove fatal for
>And considering we can't stop earth-born virii, or some bacteria, the
>chances of us being able to develop and deploy a vaccine or cure for these
>alien diseases are slim to none.

Generally agree.

>Andrew West.