The Atlas Society Asks Robert Zubrin

September 28, 2022 01:04:12
The Atlas Society Asks Robert Zubrin
The Atlas Society Presents - The Atlas Society Asks
The Atlas Society Asks Robert Zubrin
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Show Notes

Join CEO Jennifer Grossman for the 123rd episode of The Atlas Society Asks, where she interviews author and founder of the Mars Society, Robert Zubrin. Listen as she talks with Robert about the case for space and his views on nuclear power as an answer to America's current energy situation.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello everyone, and welcome to the 123rd episode of the Atlas Society asks, My name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. Please call me Jag. I am the CEO of the Atlas Society. We are the leading nonprofit, introducing young people to the ideas of Iron Rand in fun, creative ways, like graphic novels and animated videos. Uh, today we are joined by Robert Zin. Before I even begin introducing our guest, I wanted to remind all of you who are watching us on, uh, Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube. Go ahead, get first in line. Use that comment section to start typing in your questions, and we will get to as many of them as we can. Robert Zin is an aerospace engineer who worked at Lockheed Martin, a our Astronautics before going on to found the Mars Society, which advocates for human Mars exploration and colonization. He has published more than 200 papers on space propulsion and expl exploration, along with several non-fiction books like The Case for Mars. Speaker 0 00:01:16 Uh, the Plan Who Settled Red Planet, and Why we Must, uh, Enter Entering Space, Creating, uh, a space Faring Civilization, and the Case for Space, How the revolution in Space Flight opens up a future of limitless possibilities. Robert, thank you for joining us. Well, thanks for inviting me. Very proud to be here. Well, you know, I'm, I'm just preparing for our gala next week. And, um, Peter Demands, who was a previous honoree, is gonna be, uh, joining us. And, you know, he and others like him talk about exponential technology and the rapidly accelerating pace of change as something that has the potential to solve, uh, humanity's biggest challenges. But in the case for Mars, you sound what I took to be a bit of a cautionary note, uh, noting that the quote, deceleration of the rate of technological innovation as well as themes, uh, that we focus on a lot here at the Atlas Society, the spread of irrationalism bureaucratization at all levels of life, the proliferation of regulations affecting all aspects of public, private, and personal life. The loss of willingness of individuals to take risks to and think and act for themselves. You say, uh, quote, the writing is on the wall. So what does that writing spell out for us? And how can a new pioneer point America towards a freer more innovative future? Speaker 1 00:03:01 Okay. So, uh, that's interesting. Okay. That part of the case for Mars is in the original, uh, book and is still in the revised edition. That is, you have right there. Um, but the original book was written in 1996 and, uh, you know, okay, I was born in 1952. Um, my father, all my uncle served in World War ii. When he came back, we had set the world right, okay. The US government could really do something. Okay. We could defeat fascism and create a bombs and intrastate highway systems and nuclear reactors and nuclear submarines, and get to the moon in eight years from program start. And so this was a very can do society and, uh, you know, government of course had its fair share of bureaucracy in those days. But, um, you know, it was not without a track record of accomplishment. And, um, and then, you know, Nixon basically canceled the Apollo program even while it was doing its greatest triumphs of landing on the moon. Speaker 1 00:04:15 They had planned to go onto Mars by 1981, and it was all out the window. And the space program, uh, which it started out as something storming heaven became more or less, uh, a status quo, uh, bureaucracy with some exceptions. But in terms of the biggest part of it, the Man Space Flight program, it went from being a purpose driven program to a vendor driven program. Uh, I mean, it always had two sides. It was the banner of the pioneer spirit, and it also was a government program that distributed funds to various districts and such. Uh, but it lost a lot of the first part, uh, the good part. And, you know, in the seventies, um, by then I was an adult. And, you know, we thought, Okay, things are slowed down, but we can get this thing back on track. This is a temporary aberration. Speaker 1 00:05:01 Uh, and then in the eighties, okay, our patients begins to be taxed. When is this thing gonna get back to what it was? Okay. And then now it's the nineties. And so that's when I wrote that book, and there clearly had been a deterioration, um, in the willingness of the political class to carry the pioneer spirit. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Uh, now it was very interesting that at that very time it was still embryonic. Uh, there was a new force coming on the scene to pick up the banner, and that was the entrepreneurs. Now, there were a number of attempts to start entrepreneurial space programs in the nineties, but they weren't all that credible. Um, and it wasn't until Musk, who, with this book, I helped recruit him to, uh, Making Space and Mars in particular, his calling, uh, where you had someone with the resources, both financial and frankly intellectual, uh, to actually initiate, uh, private enterprise space program. Speaker 1 00:06:10 But, you know, Musk, I wouldn't say he's a Anne Rand hero, but he's a Robert Hein line hero. Um, Okay. Which is sort of in the same direction. Um, I mean, that's it. I mean, he, Musk is a, is a fictional character, uh, who has now materialized, um, cuz the idea creates reality. Uh, but the, the, but now this has now picked up, and so precisely because the political class has dropped the ball, um, someone else has picked it up. And, uh, so now we're seeing a new, uh, vigorous, uh, space program, which is being led by entrepreneurs. Musk is the most prominent. Um, and of course you have Bezos, but, uh, it's not just billionaires who, who are, uh, you know, doing this, that you have like a rocket lab, which is a, um, a company founded by a working engineer who manage to get investors. Speaker 1 00:07:17 And not only that, it's a New Zealand company. New Zealand doesn't even have a government space program at all. Um, and yet they've reached orbit and they're now, uh, they're planning probes to Venus and Mars. And the, the, the, the, So by proving that the entrepreneurial approach was possible, must has opened the door to many others. And, and not just in space, by the way. Um, you know, I did a little work in the Fusion program and that bogged down as well. But as a result of Musk's activity, even though Musk has no connection to that fusion program's not interested in fusion power, um, the whole bunch of fusion startups are getting funded, um, because investors are looking at it and saying, Well, maybe the problem here was the same problem with, uh, space launch. Maybe it was not fundamentally technical, it was in institutional, and it was the same wrong kind of outfit attempting it. Speaker 1 00:08:17 But the thing is, yeah, you do have this, uh, on the part of the government, uh, you know, the government in the nineties was significantly inferior to the government of the sixties, which was inferior to the government of the forties. And the government today is inferior to the government of the nineties. Um, the, the, um, and frankly, um, I've been shocked, um, at the incapacity of NASA to, to deliver, you know, the sls, the space launch system, which they, uh, are getting close to being able to launch. Okay. I was actually on the team that did the preliminary design for that rocket in 1988. 1988, but that's 34 years ago. There are many engineers on that program that weren't born yet. When that program was begun, compare that to the Saturn five, which from contract award to first flights five years, and that was a far, far more revolutionary vehicle, you know, Uh, so at the same time that NASA has underperformed, SpaceX has radically overperformed, um, and we're seeing a new space age. Speaker 0 00:09:41 Well, um, given your kind of illustration of the devolving, uh, imagination and increasing sclerosis of, of government, particularly with regards to space exploration and space in general, I wondered what you thought of, uh, the previous administrations, um, launching of the Space Force Trump, uh, received a ton of, of when he established it, and as a sixth independent branch of the military in the last year of his term. Um, how much of that, you know, reaction do you think was just knee jerk criticism of anything that he did? Um, how much just they, Speaker 1 00:10:27 Well, most of it, I mean, look, I'm not a fan of Donald Trump, believe me. But that was just, uh, you know, stop. Clarks are right twice a day. Donald Trump told the Germans they were screwing themselves on making themselves dependent on Russian gas. And they laughed at him cuz this is stupid Donald Trump, when it in fact was obviously true, Okay. In other, they managed to, sophisticated Germans managed to be stupider than Donald Trump, which is a high bar. But the, the but Space Force, uh, is less there than meets the eye. Uh, really it was a change in the org chart, the mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, all the functions of Space Force were already being done by the Air Force. Uh, and the problem though, and I, I'm 60 40 on the thing, but the sixties, I, I favor the creation of the Space Force, um, because the people that control the Air Force are ex fighter pilots. Speaker 1 00:11:26 That's their thing. And so if you wanna be serious, uh, leader in the Air Force, I mean, fundamentally, you gotta be a member of that club. Okay? Um, and it's a certain kind match kind of thing. And, you know, the Space Force, they launch rockets, they control satellites. There's no macho element to that at all. They fly desks around, but it's a vital function. It really is. So it couldn't be taken as seriously as it needs to be taken, um, if it was left inside the Air Force. Um, Got it. And, uh, the downside of it, frankly, is that in lobbying Congress for funds and stuff, the Air Force has more half. Um, so, but I think it was necessary. Um, Speaker 0 00:12:14 What, what are some of the things that a Space Force might conceivably in its most optimal state? Could you illustrate a scenario? Uh, would it be, Oh, well, knocking down, um, incoming nuclear bombs or what, Tell us a bit about that. Speaker 1 00:12:31 Well, at this stage of history, um, it would be, uh, staff, Speaker 0 00:12:37 Not asteroids Speaker 1 00:12:38 Or no, uh, it, it with the, the mission of the Space Force at this point should be, uh, in time of war, being able to complete monopoly of space assets. That is, if we were fighting Russia, say we eliminate all of their economists and communication satellites, and we defend our own, uh, I mean, look, you know, this Ukraine war really is a space war. Uh, the only reason why the Ukraines are able to fight back is cause of precision guided weapons, which are being guided by GPS satellites. You know, that, that, that cruiser, the mosque club was taken out by two missiles. They didn't shoot a thousand missiles and have two hit. They launched two missiles, and they both hit, uh, and the, the, and that's because they're GPS guided. Now, you know, look, um, actually space assets have been important in, uh, some earlier conflicts like the Iraq wars, but they were obscured in their importance because we would've beaten Saddam Husain, whether we had space assets or not. Speaker 1 00:13:38 W wouldn't have made any difference in this war. The, this, the entire balance of, you know, the Russians have 10 times as much artillery, but Ukraine artillery hits 10 times as accurate. Uh, so they're scoring as many hits as the Russians, even though they have one 10th of guns. Or, or lemme put it to you this way, let's reimagine world wari, where you're fighting against not somebody like Iraq or something. You're fighting against a power that's got comparable, uh, military forces. But let's just say for imagine if the access powers Nazi Germany and, and Milit Japan had had reconnaissance satellites, which are just one part of space assets today, they would've won the war. I mean, the, the, um, uh, you boats shit, Are we here? Speaker 0 00:14:34 Yep, we're here. Speaker 1 00:14:35 Uh, okay. Um, I've got <inaudible> that I have to, Speaker 0 00:14:43 Well, you know, I, Speaker 1 00:14:44 Okay, so, so here's the thing. Uh, if they had reconnaissance, the U boats would've wiped out all the, uh, ships. The Japanese would've sunk our fleet at midway before we ever knew where they were. Uh, so in, in the wars, uh, frankly, of the present and even of the future, the ability to be, uh, to utilize space, and in particular, being able to utilizing it while denying it to the enemy I is of decisive importance. And that is really, uh, the mission of the Space Force. There's some of this other stuff, you know, the comical show, they're putting a base on the moon and this and that, and, and Space Force has kind of played into this a little bit, cuz these little, but the, the, the, the, but nevertheless, there's a serious mission there. Speaker 0 00:15:29 Yeah. All right. I'd like to pivot to, uh, away from politics and, um, a defense policy back a little bit to philosophy. One of the most insightful themes that you revisit repeatedly in both the case for Mars and the case for space is the idea, uh, that on Mars, in space or on Earth, quote, there is no such thing as natural resources. There are only raw materials. It is human ingenuity that turns raw materials into resources, end quote. That seems to me a very fundamental distinction, uh, that sometimes gets lost in discussions about environmental policy. Would you elaborate? Please? Speaker 1 00:16:15 Yeah. It, it, it is, and I'm glad you, you caught onto that. That is a, a critical idea, Okay? It's why Mouth is, is ridiculously wrong, Uh, and why the people who say we're using up the Earth's resources aren't wrong, uh, and, uh, dangerously wrong. Uh, because if, look, there's two philosophies here. One is there's all these natural resources, and people here are basically consumers of them or using them up. And therefore, uh, we want to limit the numbers, activities, and liberties of people in order to preserve this preexisting nature, that, that has all this bounty, and we're just wrecking it. Okay? And that worldview makes everyone the enemy of everyone else, every race, of every race. Uh, and it means that the fundamental, uh, purpose of government is to constrict liberty, uh, in order to preserve the natural order. Um, the, the other view is if you realize that it is people that actually create resources, and they do, and I'll back this up in a second, um, then the fundamental purpose of government must be to protect liberty at all costs, because it is through liberty that we invent. Speaker 1 00:17:32 Now, what, what is this business about people creating resource? Aren't resources just there? No. Okay. Land wasn't a resource until we invented agriculture. Uh, and various lands weren't resources until we invented the technologies ranging from irrigation to, uh, superior methods of plowing to, you know, what pest control that, that made them possible to be farmed. Oil wasn't a resource until we invented oil drilling and refining in machines that would run on the product. You know, if Napoleon Bonna fart had sat down with his, uh, generals and said, Well, what's the natural resource of this country we're about to attack? They wouldn't have even mentioned oil, let alone aluminum, which was unknown to science until the 1820s, uh, or to say nothing of uranium, um, which was not a resource until we in invented nuclear power, but even something like iron. Okay? You know, first metals people use was copper than bronze. Speaker 1 00:18:30 Okay? So they had the Bronze Age. The Bronze Age lasted for 3000 years. For 3000 years. The only metals that people knew about were the copper tin. And, well, gold and silver, which collectively are less than 100 parts per million in the Earth's crust. But once they invented kilns that were hot enough to smelt iron, which requires higher temperature than copper, then all of a sudden you have iron as a metal, and it is a hundred thousand times, uh, a hundred thousand parts per million in the Earth's crust. That is 10%, which is to say a thousand times more common than iron, uh, than copper. Um, so all of a sudden, instead of metals only being something available to the richest people aristocrats to use in their armor, now you have iron and steel tools, axes a as well, yes, weapons too, but all a, a plows and all sorts of things. Speaker 1 00:19:29 And there's a tremendous multiplication of human capability when metals become literally a thousand times cheaper and more abundant. And then more recently aluminum. Okay? Uh, aluminum was unknown until 1820, and it wasn't really a product that people could buy until the 20th century. And now here it is, it's so common that we throw this stuff away. And, you know, people talk about energy, Okay, nuclear, well, they all, there's uranium aura and it's rare. Well, guess what? Well, uranium aura, very high quality. Uranium concentrations are rare. But if you take a block of ordinary granite, like a building might be made of, okay, it contains two parts per million uranium. And since uranium is 10 million times as much energy per unit weight as say, uh, oil, um, a block of granite has 20 times the energy of an equal mass of oil. So you look at a mountain that's made of granite in New Hampshire or somewhere, you're looking at something that has more energy in it than Saudi Arabia's oil fields, uh, provided you bring the technology to them. And then there's fusion power, okay? Which, uh, the, this is a can previously contained v8, which is mostly water, of course, and that water that's in here would be 350 times as much energy as if I failed this can with gasoline. Speaker 1 00:21:05 That these resources are created by the mind. And, and there's many more resources that we don't even have a clue about right now, because there are laws of physics that we don't know yet. Now, that may sound like a, a wild statement, um, except that for the fact that a, uh, it's always been the case in the past that people thought they knew all the laws of physics until they discovered the next one. And B, we have reason to believe that there are laws of physics we don't understand, because our current laws of physics, while very useful for engineers like me, I can make things by taking advantage of my knowledge of what I was taught in physics and university. Um, they're obviously incomplete because what they say, for example, is that matter cannot be created or destroyed. And here's some, How is it created? It was okay. We have no explanation for it. Uh, so there are laws of physics out there that are waiting to be discovered, and those laws of physics imply new powers over nature and apply vast new arrays of resources that we can't even conceive of right now. Speaker 0 00:22:15 Well, um, that brings me to another question because, uh, we are going to find, uh, natural materials and hopefully turn them into resources in space. I'm seeing a lot of great questions that are coming in, uh, from our various platforms. And one question that we often get asked, uh, in our, in our own platform, uh, at, uh, the Outlet Society's Instagram account is how to handle property rights in space. Uh, of course, as you have read, Iron Rand, uh, you may recall that she's observed that without the right to pro private property, no other rights are possible. Uh, so it would also seem impossible to incentivize exploration development of natural materials in space. So how are they, how is it currently handled, and how should it be Speaker 1 00:23:07 Handled? Well, it's currently not handled. Um, the, the, uh, there's, uh, a confused situation. Uh, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, barred claims of national sovereignty in space. It's mute on the idea of personal property in space. Um, the, uh, Artemis Accords, which the, uh, bride Stein was Trump's NASA administrator, uh, put forth, do establish agreements that if you find something in space, you can bring it back. You can own it, But that's really inadequate. I mean, that's okay, but it, it, it doesn't get you to where you need to go in other, you can't stake a claim, um, for example. Um, and you can just go somewhere and if you find a, a good rock, take it home with you. But the, the next person can come and take some too. Uh, now we need private property laws in space. Now, um, ultimately, for example, Mars, um, I think there will be governments on Mars, but they won't be terrestrial governments. Mars and settlers will create their own governance, and they will have private property laws. Um, and I don't know exactly how you feel about this. Um, private property does require the existence of a government. Um, you only own your house because the police exist. If the police did not exist, any group of people that was superior and enforced to you and your friends could throw you out of your house. Um, the, so there does have to be a government for there to be private property, Those Speaker 0 00:24:50 Two, Yeah, we, we, we wouldn't disagree on that. We're, we're not anarchists. And, and Iran was very critical of anarchism. Um, we just would say that the purpose of government is to protect individual rights and exactly Speaker 1 00:25:04 Property that, So the government has to have four. So then the whole political problem being restricting that force, so it doesn't become a ce itself. The, um, that's ultimately the, the, the problem of state craft. But the, the, so yeah, I think the marsh and settlers will create their own governments. I think that, uh, we'll see a variety of noble experiments on Mars. That is, I think the form of governments on Mars will probably be city states, and they'll be founded by different people with different concepts of what the right kind of government should be. And, um, basically natural selection will sort them out, uh, will find out what the right government is, by which ones grow and prosper. And I, I'm convinced by the way that those will be governments that maximize liberty because only those governments will attract immigrants. Uh, this idea, the dystopian idea of the extraterrestrial colonies being, uh, tyranny, i, I, i, I think is unsustainable because no one would go there. Speaker 1 00:26:05 Um, it, it's the reason why the US grew as a nation, but Haiti didn't, um, you know, a after both became independent and roughly the same timeframe. Um, you know, so the, the, the, now in terms of the, the nearer future, what could be done? I've put a forth an idea, uh, which I call the asteroid mining patent law. And the basic idea, it's modeled on the patent office. The patent office lets an inventor like me take an idea and turn it into property by fulfilling certain conditions, and then you get a temporary monopoly on the use of that technology. Uh, so is to incentivize people like me to make inventions and incentivize investors to invest in those inventions, because there'll be a certain period of time where you can make a big profit. After that, though, it becomes public domain. Okay? So that's what Alexander Hamilton set up, and it's worked pretty good. Speaker 1 00:27:07 Although, believe me, I've got problems with the patent office. But overall, I mean, it's, it's worked. Now, the, the, I would like there to be a law that would say, uh, if somebody explores an asteroid to a certain specified degree of detail, they would then get the mining rights to that asteroid for some specified period of time. And it might be relatively long, not 18 years like that. It might be 99 years. The, the reason why I think this would be very useful is that while it's not really technically possible to mine an asteroid right now, it is technically possible to explore them. And if we had a law like this, you could finance asteroid exploration based on the speculative value of such claims. So we can have privately financed asteroid exploration or lunar or Mars exploration. Same general idea. Speaker 0 00:28:00 Great. Well, uh, we have a lot of great questions. I still have many of my own, but I'm going to get to a few, uh, hopefully VUS demo. We just answered your question about, uh, sharing land on Mars and property rights. Uh, Scott on YouTube is asking is if you are a fan of the show, The Expanse, which shows a colonized Mars and attempts at terraforming? Speaker 1 00:28:28 Well, I, I was for a couple of seasons. Eventually I got expanded. Um, the, the, the, uh, you know, at a certain point, Speaker 0 00:28:40 The Speaker 1 00:28:42 Lost the, and lost the fascination. Uh, I think some of it was interesting. I thought the belts were interesting. Uh, I thought, you know, the Martians, um, once again, I don't buy the idea of a communist militarists Mars. Uh, the, perhaps the element of a kind of, uh, can I put it purin by purity, I don't mean sexual puritan. I mean, like the puritans themselves who went to Massachusetts, who, you know, were cromwellian revolutionaries and they had a bit of steel in their spine in order to take on bitterly cold New England winters and leaving much milder climates in England and Holland and so forth. And, um, that you might have, um, among colonists, uh, certainly in the early years. I mean, that we saw that in New England. We saw that in, uh, Mormon, Utah. We saw it in, uh, Israel as three examples of where you had people motivated by transcendental ideals to take on, uh, rather improbable colonization projects in order to be basically have a world of their own. Um, the, uh, so you do, you do see a bit. I, I could see that, but I would also see that if you're gonna get immigrants to come there, you have to have liberty of a sort. Uh, it might not be exactly the sort that you and I, um, admire, but in all three of those cases, you had people seeking a fundamental kind of liberty and liberty to be the kind of people they wanted to be. Um, Speaker 0 00:30:25 Interesting. All right, I've got another question here from Facebook. Zach Adler asking, Who will win the race to Mars, NASA private industry or an up and coming power like China? Speaker 1 00:30:39 Well, okay, um, I, I believe it's gonna be America, and I think it's gonna be a public private partnership. I think that, that there, there is still the power to get this country to rise to the occasion. And I think that, uh, potentially must can be the one who does it. Uh, that is, you know, you've got the Starship and I, I think it'll reach orbit, if not this year, the next year, and be reaching it with some regularity in 2024. And if that's the reality of the world where you have these vehicles with Saturn five class capability, but 2% of the cost because they're reusable. And you know, if that's what the world looks like in 2024, we're gonna have an election and whoever is elected is gonna turn to his or her advisors and say, Look, here's this guy. He's got these ships. Speaker 1 00:31:34 He wants to go to Mars. If we got together with him, could we get to Mars before the end of my second turn? Man's gonna be yes. And say, Well, well, it cost a trillion dollars. Say no. We could probably do it within NASA's existing budget, cuz he's got the transportation system. There's a bunch of other stuff that's needed here, and we've gotta have the surface systems, the, uh, surface vehicles, the space suits, the systems for making the return propel on Mars, the nuclear reactor, which frankly, uh, be easier for the government to develop cuz it involves controlled materials. You know, we put this stuff together, Yeah, we could do this. And in other words, by making this thing practical, Musk is gonna make it sellable. And I think, okay, you know, call me, uh, still an, uh, old school believer. I I still think this country is ultimately able to rise to the challenge, uh, if it's made clear enough that we can do something grand that Speaker 0 00:32:25 We can, well, that's, that's encouraging. All right, I'm gonna take one last, uh, uh, for now. Don't worry. I see all of you guys who asked a bunch of questions, but I, I have a few of my own I wanna also get to, but I'm gonna for now, squeeze in Maria Cummings on Twitter. Is there any sentient life on other planets? Do you take much stock of UFO signings? Speaker 1 00:32:52 No, I don't take any stock of UFO signings, but we view the question more broadly. I, my answer would be yes. Um, I think that the universe is filled with life. I do. Uh, I think there's no reason to believe that the laws of science on earth are different than those, uh, and the multitudes of worlds that we've now discovered. Uh, Kepler telescope has discovered that 20% of the stars in our galaxy have earth size planets orbiting their stars in their habit zone. That is where you have the right temperature for liquid water. So I see absolutely no reason why life would appear here and not there, uh, and lots of theirs. And since the whole history of life on Earth is one of, uh, development from simple forms to more complex forms, manifesting greater capacities for activity and intelligence, and ever more rapid evolution, in fact, um, I think intelligence is probably everywhere, not because, Okay, just to be clear, that evolution automatically goes towards intelligence. Evolution goes in all possible directions. Intelligence is one useful adaptation. Wings and flight are another. Okay. You know, physical strength is another, There's lots of useful acti, um, adaptations that life can, can, um, develop, but intelligence is one of them and it's not gonna miss it. Uh, and, um, so I think intelligent life is probably everywhere. Speaker 0 00:34:25 All right. Returning to the case for space. Both of these books, by the way, folks are available on audio and of the narrator does a very good job. In chapter four of this book, you write of the potential of a privately funded colony on, um, Mars to become a Martian Menlo Park. Talk a bit about how the exigencies of a Mars colony would spur inventions that could be licensed, um, back here on Earth, and how revenues from such an arrangement might finance further development. Speaker 1 00:35:03 Okay, well, there's a couple of things about Mars. Okay. Mars is gonna be a frontier environment, inhabited largely by a technologically a debt population that is gonna be faced with many challenges, and which is gonna be free to, uh, find new solutions for those challenges. Uh, this is a dynamic we saw on the American frontier. Um, and, and also one other factor that was also true in, uh, early America was labor shortage. Um, so what you had here was, uh, to address the labor shortage. Well, there were actually two attempts to address it. Uh, one was in the south with slavery, forced labor, um, but the other in the north was inventive labor, uh, where you attempted to deal with the labor shortage through labor saving machinery and public education that has increased the skills of the population and increase the technology available to the population so as to multiply the powers of knit labor. Speaker 1 00:36:02 Um, and this became a very powerful thing. And of course, since the average product available per person on average is the same as the average product produced per person, and technology is basically the tools that multiply the productivity of a person, the higher the technology, the higher the standard you're living. They, they are essentially the same thing, uh, on average. Of course, there, there can be displacement here, but this is why. So the short labor shortage leads to higher wages, both by supply and demand and labor, but also through its imperative to invent more productive labor saving, or put it more this way, labor multiplying technologies. Okay? So this is what we became virtuosos at. And of course, the American inventor is a stereotype, um, which has a basis in reality starting, you know, with Benjamin Franklin and Tom, uh, Edison, Robert Fulton, the Wright brothers, you know, it, it goes on and the, the well Mars is gonna be all this multiplied to the limit because you're gonna have a much more extreme labor shortage on Mars than you had in Colonial or 19th century America. Speaker 1 00:37:26 Um, you're gonna have, therefore an incredible drive to create labor saving machinery, including both labor saving machinery, automation, robotics, artificial intelligence. All these things are methods of multiplying the power of labor. Um, so the martians are gonna be driven in all these areas. Now, all these sorts of inventions, uh, represent patentable technologies that could be patented on earth to earn income. There's other things the martians are gonna want. They're gonna want ultra productive, um, crops because they will have limited land. They only agricultural land they'll have is inside of greenhouses. So they're not gonna let a bunch of kooks say you can't do genetic engineering because the tomatoes could get loose and kill everybody that they, that they're going to look to invent the most productive kinds of crops. That both in rate of growth and in nutrition and so forth, that, that, that you can have. Speaker 1 00:38:26 And once again, those innovations will be licensable on earth then energy. Okay? You know, there are people working on fusion power on earth, but it's not viewed as an urgent area because we have so many other ways you can generate energy. You have fossil fuels, you got waterfalls, windmills, solar energy, nuclear fision. Well, there's no fossil fuels on Mars. You could synthesize them, but it takes energy to do that. So there's no gain there. Um, wind is very thin. Solar energy is less than half as strong as earth. Uh, nuclear vision could certainly be used on Mars, but to make nuclear fuels requires a large industrial base, uh, uh, and division of labor. Whereas Fusion uses dium, which is present in water, and in fact on Mars's five times as common as is on Earth. So there's gonna be a tremendous drive on Mars to develop nuclear fusion. Speaker 1 00:39:21 Just like you know, the British invented the steam engine. Americans invented the steam boat, and we did it in 1790s. We are barely independent. We invented steam boats and because the, the highways, the best highways we had were rivers. And the sailboats don't really cut it on rivers because it's got a constant current in this direction. And you gotta be able to fight that. And you want steamboats. And now being forced to invent steamboats, you required steam engines to be more efficient then was acceptable in steam engines that were just pumping water outta mine, which is what you had in England. So the steamboat engine became a higher compression engine, a more efficient engine, something compact enough to drive a steam boat. And that's what really led to the perfection of steam engines and then railroads and so forth. The, the, the nuclear power, uh, really only became practical and we, uh, used it to drive submarines. Um, and, and that remains a place where it is unchallenged, um, because of the unique challenges of submarine propulsion where you can't use solar panels to drive a submarine. So Speaker 0 00:40:38 I'm surprised I haven't, I haven't tried, but yeah. Speaker 1 00:40:40 Ok, well, alright, well, they will, But the <laugh>, anyway, you get the idea. Yeah. So you have a population of, of technically a debt. People in a frontier environment where they're free to innovate and forced to innovate. They're gonna innovate, those inventions will be licensable on earth, and that's where you get the income. And I think by the way, that if, um, a Mars colony was to be financed as a private enterprise venture, that would be the business plan. Speaker 0 00:41:10 Interesting. All right. Almost as a venture capital, uh, rather, you know, Yeah. Than primarily mining or something else. Okay. A few more questions. We've got about, uh, little less than 20 minutes, and I do wanna end on philosophy, so we'll try to get the to these sort of rapid round, if you don't mind. Aaron Bertand on Facebook asks, This is a great question. Thoughts on the loss of tinkerers. People no longer discovering new things due to regulations, restricting what people can do. Um, but you know, also, I just remember there was all kinds of kits and people were building rockets and robots and all kinds of things. Um, I don't know if that's still going on or if it's just all being done, uh, already premade and prefabricated. Speaker 1 00:41:57 Well, it's my impression that that has decreased, but not entirely gone. Uh, you know, part of the, the whole safety culture, you know, the parents are more reluctant to let the kids play with chemistry sets and stuff like this. And, uh, the, the, and also, okay, you certainly do have, uh, um, a lot of young people doing incredible things with software. Um, so, um, a kid that once upon a time might play with chemistry sets and rector sets and things is now playing with software. Um, one problem with that is certain numbers are actually doing programming, which is a creative activity, but others are just playing the computer game. Um, and that's not as productive. Speaker 0 00:42:48 Got it. All right. Um, from Facebook, Clark Andrews asks, whatever happened to the space elevator, inventor contests he remembers those used to be a big thing. Is reusable rockets more viable? Speaker 1 00:43:05 Well, reusable rockets are certainly more Speaker 0 00:43:07 Viable. Maybe tell tell people what, what is meant by a space elevator first, if you would. Speaker 1 00:43:11 Okay. Uh, a space elevator, it's a counterintuitive, um, idea, but it, it, it's theoretically sound, um, is that if you have a satellite in geosynchronous orbit, which is something, it's about 22,000 miles up and it orbits the earth at exactly the same pace as the earth turns. So from the point of view, the ground, it always looks like it's staying in the same place. And a lot of our communication satellites are actually, uh, exactly that this idea was thought of by Arthur Clark back in the forties, and we use them. Um, but anyway, if you lowered a cable from one of those to the ground, you could literally climb it to space. Um, if you had a cable that was strong enough. And that's the hard part, Okay, because you see this cable's gotta be 22,000 miles long. Now the bottom piece, let's say you just wanted to put a hundred pounds at the bottom of the cable, okay? Speaker 1 00:44:14 And have it be taken up on like a little cable car, well, fine, the bottom piece of the cable just has to hold a load of a hundred pounds. But the next piece of the cable above that has to hold the a hundred pounds plus the piece of cable that is holding the a hundred pounds. So it has to be a bit thicker. And then the next piece of cable above that has to be thicker still because it's holding the load and the two, uh, other pieces of cable and so forth. And the way it works is, is that if you use the kinds of materials we have now for the cable, that is the strongest materials we have now, things like Kevlar and Spectra, uh, which are much stronger than steel, by the way. Um, it would still, the, the cable would weigh about a billion times as much as the payload. Speaker 1 00:45:04 Um, so this is not Terry practical. Now, it would work on the moon where the moon has one sixth gravity, and in consequence, the cable can be much thinner. And you could have a cable taking something into free space from the surface of the moon, and the cable might only wait 10 times as much as the payload, which, you know, after you've lifted enough payloads, is certainly pay for itself. So the idea of a, a lunar space elevator or sky hook, as we used to call them, uh, actually is technically feasible with current materials. But to do an earth one, we'd have to create more advanced materials now that some people think that, um, carbon nano fibers can lead to that maybe. So it, it, the space elevator remains, uh, it's theoretically sound, but from a practical point of view, we could only do it on the moon. Um, Speaker 0 00:46:02 Interesting. All Speaker 1 00:46:02 Right. To improve the materials, it, it could become a thing. Speaker 0 00:46:06 It's so diesel on Twitter asks, who has shaped your views the most? Has Iron Rand had any role? Speaker 1 00:46:16 A little, uh, I would say, um, I didn't read Anne Rand until I was already an adult. Uh, so it's hard to change that he was adult, But the, the, uh, but also I did read Anne Rand as a adult, and I also read a Hayek as an adult, and I found his book The wrote to Surf them, and then The Constitution of Liberty extremely valuable. But as a youth, this thing that set me in this direction, I'd say was Heim Line. Um, Speaker 0 00:46:47 Trusting favorite. He, uh, book Speaker 1 00:46:49 Robert Heline, Uh, oh, my favorite Hiim Line book. Yes, Speaker 0 00:46:55 Let's, Man, Man Who, who Sold Moon Speaker 1 00:47:00 That you'd think that. But as a kid, that wasn't my favorite book. I, I would say it was like have space, suitable travel, you know, uh, which was a, you know, a book for juveniles. Uh, and then later on when I got to be a teenager, he came out with, uh, the moon is a harsh mistress, which was a bit more, uh, adult and orientation. But, but the, the, the thing about the highline where you also had red planet and the Highline juveniles, which I read as a juvenile, uh, you know, it was always about the kid with his, you know, slide rule. Um, see, I'm a time traveler. I come from different time, uh, the, um, and, uh, and his Swiss army knife and his self reliance, uh, and he's kidnapped by aliens, and he goes out into space and he gets into an incredible adventure, but he can pull it out because he, he's a self-reliant individualist, mentally equipped to deal with the situation. And frequently, maybe the kids actually save the whole space colony too, But the, the, but that, that's what it was. Uh, and, um, so Hein line was a champion of this kind of self-reliant individualism. Um, not exactly libertarian, I wouldn't say, but, um, in terms of the fundamental ethos, that is the basis of well, liberty, uh, he was all there. Speaker 0 00:48:33 Excellent. All right. Uh, this is an interesting question, Richard, Brian on Facebook asking if you have thoughts on transhumanism, Will we eventually modify ourselves so much that we are no longer truly human? Uh, I don't know about that second part, but you know, when you were talking about, uh, the s and, and the needs that that will have. Speaker 1 00:48:59 Well, I think that humans will diversify. Um, I think that in other words, especially once we go into stellar, which I believe we will, uh, I, I believe that the interplanetary civilization that we will begin in our time will eventually lead to further innovations that will allow us to become inter, inter stellar. Um, and when we go to the stars, we're gonna meet many new nations, new branches of human civilization, and the will have diverse ideas to some of them. The ideas of transhumanism will be, uh, uh, uh, viewed as horrendous, and, and they won't do it, but others will be enthusiastic about it. Uh, and so you will have, in some of these societies, people will decide to modify themselves in some cases for substantial reasons to better adapt to a new kind of planet, maybe heavier gravity, light of gravity, this or that, or mm-hmm. Speaker 1 00:49:57 <affirmative>, they figure out how to make people more intelligent and they choose to take advantage of that. Um, or, uh, it may be reasons of fashion, uh, you know, blue skin and pointed ears may become fashionable somewhere. And the, the, um, I mean, you know, I got employees in my company here, got purple hair, you know, and you know, my day, that never would've happened. But the, the, um, but there it is, uh, you know, so people have both serious and flippant reasons to want to alter their appearance and, um, in some places that that will happen. And so, you know, you watch Star Trek and you meet aliens who, like Vulcans or something, that they have superficial differences in their appearance from humans, but they basically look like humans. And I think it's unlikely that we'll actually meet aliens, real aliens that resemble us so closely. Okay. Cuz there's so many other ways they could look. Uh, but I think that eventually the human race will diversify in a way where we create, where new varieties of humans evolve that may have, uh, comparable, um, diversifications, um, including fanciful ones. And, uh, so that in the far future people, when we meet people who come back from Toset, they may very well have pointed ears and stuff like this, if that's what they like. Speaker 0 00:51:33 All right. Um, I'm gonna just take one more of these questions, and then I wanted to, as I mentioned, end on philosophy, but, um, also you are very active on Twitter. Is that primarily the place that people should follow you? Speaker 1 00:51:48 Well, I'm active on Twitter, a little less active on Facebook and, and then, but yeah, I, I I have a, a bad Twitter habit. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:51:57 Okay. All right. So I, I'm, I mentioned that because for those of you who we didn't get your questions, uh, asked or answered, you might try sh doing a shout out to, uh, Robert on Twitter. And, uh, and if he's in a, on a Twitter tear, he might, uh, be able to grace you with an answer. But this last one I thought was important. Isaiah 1623 on Twitter. Do you think the Green New Deal is going to hamper the discovery of better power generation technology? Speaker 1 00:52:32 Oh, the Green New Deal that is being pushed in Congress bar? Yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, um, let's just, um, the, the, the, it's unfortunate that the left, which once upon a time for all of its problems rejected malus because they saw clearly that it was just a con to justify poverty. Uh, they say, Well, here's mouth is saying, Well, the reason why you're poor is cuz just isn't enough to go around. Sorry, uh, that, that, that, that this was a con, but instead they have embraced it. And, um, and it's a very dangerous idea, the da the idea that there isn't enough for everyone. Um, okay, there's two answers for that predicament, if you believe it. One is we all use less. The other is we are gonna make them use less. Okay? Okay. So there's the, the left wing malian and the righting malian. Speaker 1 00:53:39 And ultimately the right wing mouth always wins, um, because there's always more people who would want them to use less than are willing to use less themselves. Now the, the, the, and that leads to war. Um, you know, we are not in danger today from there being too many people. We are in danger from people who think there are too many people. Um, that is the main threat to humanity today. Uh, the main threat to, I I, you should know, I actually think that, uh, uh, climate warming is real. Um, and there's a certain amount of reason to be concerned about it, but it's not the main threat facing humanity. The main threat facing humanity today is global catastrophe. World war caused by the idea that there isn't enough for, for everyone. And so we gotta duke it out with the Chinese to get what's ours, or they view it from the other side of the chessboard with comparable thoughts about us. Speaker 1 00:54:33 Uh, and if you think that there isn't enough to go around, so sooner or later we are gonna have to fight it out with them, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because if you believe it sooner or later, you're gonna have to fight it out with them. And they believe the same thing about you then, for one part or the other. Sooners gonna be better than later, um, by definition. And I mean, there's what caused World War I fundamentally, uh, you know, 1912, uh, Friedrich v Burn Hardy is a chief intellectual German general staff wrote a book called Germany in the next war International bestseller. Here's your rasia, Who's gonna get it at us? Or the Russians? We're gonna have to have it out sooner or later, Make it sooner before they industrialize. Boom. Uh, Hitler, the laws of existence require uninterrupted killings, so that better it may live. Speaker 1 00:55:23 Germany needs living space. It was all nonsense. Germany never needed living space. Germany today has a much higher standard of living than the third R even though it has a higher population and less territory. Why? Not? Because they succeeded in invading other countries, wiping out people and stealing their cows, but because which they failed in, and if they had succeeded, it would not have benefited them in any way whatsoever. Um, the, the reason why Germans today live better than they do it in, in 1941, is because of the advance of, uh, human technology, which has been a global project in which Germans have participated. And so have people they try to exterminate. Uh, and, um, if they had succeeded, uh, in wiping out the Jews who of course have been major contributors to science and so forth, uh, they be poor. And if they contribute wiping out the polls, they be poor. Speaker 1 00:56:17 And if they, you know, so this is not it, it is simply untrue that the reality, the human conditions are racist in a struggle for existence over limited resources. The truth is, is that we are a family, a disorderly family to be sure of nations in a joint project, to advance the human condition through creativity, technological innovation, and other kinds of innovations. And cuz an invention anywhere sooner or later becomes useful everywhere. And so, you know, here's China, which has multiplied its standard living over the past 30 years by orders of magnitude. Why? Because of inventions ranging from electricity to, you know, iPhones that were made in the West. But of course the West only had its renaissance cause inventions like paper and printing that were made in China. Uh, so we'd be poorer without them. They'd be poorer without us. But if you believe there's only so much to go around, then we're gonna have it out. Speaker 1 00:57:17 And now the Green New Deal, okay? Uh, you know, I mean, look, there's nothing green about it. Uh, the, it's a malus movement. Why? If they were concerned about carbon emissions, they'd be for nuclear power, but they hate nuclear power because it would solve a problem. They need to have the, the, the, the, the, the, the problem they need to have is there must be a reason to constrain human growth. Okay? In fact, the Sierra Club, which in the sixties had actually been for nuclear power cuz it doesn't have smoke and everything. Um, and air pollution, 1974, they came out against nuclear power. This was following the such notable books as the population bomb and the limits to growth and stuff like this. Cuz they said nuclear power will lead to unnecessary economic growth. Wow. Okay. And the the and then everything after that was I rationalization. So, uh, you know, uh, I think, uh, okay, Speaker 0 00:58:24 That reminds bit of, of what something else that you'd mentioned in, in the book that some of the most vociferous, uh, opposition to geoengineering, that, you know, whether it was used to dim the sun or to, uh, to fertilize fisheries that, uh, that were doing protective and, and restorative things, uh, for the planet are opposed by the left because it somehow slows down the, the case for, for rationing, right? Carbon and Speaker 1 00:58:55 That kinda thing. Yeah. Now, now here's the thing, Okay, get to the left in a minute. But, um, Hitler said that this idea that you can perpetually advance the human condition with greater plenty through science was he called it a Jewish plot to dissuade the population from belief in the necessity for war. Now, it's not a Jewish plot, but it does dissuade people into belief in the necessity for war, Okay? And that's why he hated it. Okay? Now you have these other examples in the book, The Case for Space. I do recount the, um, experiment done by Russ George in the Hah Indians, where okay, as a result of CO2 enrichment to the atmosphere, plant growth on land has accelerated worldwide. We've actually have some more bountiful biosphere on land because co2 s raw material for photosynthesis as necessary as water and on land, it, it is a limiting factor. Speaker 1 01:00:03 And we have a greener earth and we have photographs of orbit that document this extensively, um, in the ocean. It hasn't because the limiting factor for phyto planting growth, the plant, the microscopic plants that ultimately feed the ocean, um, is not co2. It is trace elements, which are only like iron that are only present in abundance in the ocean off the continental shells in certain other exceptional areas. What Russ George did was he took a boat, he took a hundred tons of iron sulfate and he went out into the Pacific and just started spreading it all over the water. And he created an enormous vital pi in bloom, which then said the baby salmon, who then grew much more successfully into big salmon. And this, he did this, He was funded by the h Indian tribe from British Columbia who live on salmon, and it tripled the salmon run, tripled it, okay? Speaker 1 01:00:58 And he was attacked vigorously by these, uh, um, greens, uh, because gee, he's making it appear that we don't need to do something about carbon emissions. Well, guess what? He was doing something about carbon emissions, okay? He was using carbon emissions, he was turning it into plant material, which was being used to fed salmon, which was being used to fed Indians and the, the, the, um, so he was turning. See, something's only a pollutant if you can't use it, water in abundance more than you can use is a pollutant on land. It'll turn a farm into a swamp, okay? If you can control it and utilize it, it's useful. Nitrate fertilizers in the right quantities on land are tremendously useful. More than that, it poisons the environment. Okay? The CO2 in the atmosphere on land, it can be used now at least at the levels that it, it is at now. It actually has been, um, a useful raw material for the, the terrestrial leads, the land based biosphere, the ocean, No, and it, and if you don't have the phy plank in there to eat it up, it starts to acidify the water so it then a pollutant. But if you can provide the other stuff the phyto plankton need, then they can multiply, they can eat up the co2 and they can become food for the rest of the marine food chain. And so here we have, you Speaker 0 01:02:32 Know, we have to wrap it Speaker 1 01:02:33 Up. Okay, Well anyway, this, these are the kinds of positive solutions that we can have to this problem. We can turn CO2 from a pollutant to a resource we can quicken the earth Speaker 0 01:02:45 Well, and we can read more about it, uh, both in the case for states and the case for Mars. I highly recommend both. Again, as I mentioned, the audio versions are excellent and we're gonna be following you, Robert, on Twitter. Thank you so much for joining us and thank you, um, also just for your passion and, uh, your leadership in, um, in urging us to continue to pursue, uh, that, that final frontier, that pioneer. Speaker 1 01:03:17 Well, it's my pleasure Speaker 0 01:03:18 And thanks to all of you for joining us today. If you enjoyed this video or any of the other content that we create at the Atla Society, uh, please consider supporting our work. Don't just be a passive consumer. Go to our site and click that donate button. Put something in the tip chart, We'd appreciate it. Uh, please make sure to join me next week, week from today. I'm gonna be joined by my good friend Corey Delist, and we're gonna talk about what's happening in the school choice space, which if you've been watching the news, is heating up. And for those of you in Southern California, a week from tomorrow is our gala. So I hope you'll join us. Um, we're going to be hearing from Peter Dand, Michael Sailor, and it's just gonna be a fabulous event. I'd love to see you there. Thanks everyone. Speaker 1 01:04:10 Well, thank you.

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