As a lover of all things space I enjoy reading a wide variety of perspectives. The more different the origin, the more likely I am to learn something new! Even in articles which contain errors or elements of confusion, there’s still a good chance that I’ll encounter a new way of thinking about an issue.
This is important. Space is hard, and it’s also hard to reason about. Humans often prefer reasoning by analogy, but with very few exceptions, reasoning by analogy in space is always wrong. So we need to find other ways to reason about space systems, architectures, mission concepts, and past history in a way that lets us derive the full learning value while avoiding the traps of lazy thinking. A robust commentariat is an essential part of training to think deep thoughts in space.
On the other hand, I am increasingly troubled by the persistence of a variety of common misconceptions in space journalism. So rather than complain or just feel bad about it, I’ve decided to write a series of blogs on each topic, the better to understand the issues myself and to function as a handy reference for others. Each blog represents my opinion only, but will be accessible to a general audience and rigorous enough to adequately support that particular viewpoint.
This post will remain pinned for some time and be updated to link to the posted topics below as they are published. I’m open to suggestions for new topics.
These posts can broadly be lumped into categories depending on how much harder or easier they make living in space. For example, I have bad news about Lunar water mining, but good news about radiation.
- Terraforming Mars is possible, even though it has no magnetic field
- OMG space is full of radiation, and why I’m not worried
- Space debris, probably not coming to a backyard near you
- The SpaceX Starship is a very big deal
- Starlink is a very big deal
- Oh no, space capitalists are coming!
- Domes are over-rated
- What would it be like to work on Mars?
- Don’t stage off Starship!
- Long duration life support
- Let’s breed space humans
- Is Mars soil too poisonous?
- Welcome to my underground lair!
- Starting the Mars base
- Modular space stations don’t save time or money
- Giant space cities/O’Neill cylinders are not very practical
- The Moon’s water is less exciting than you might think
- Space based solar power is useless on Earth
- No really, space based solar power is not a useful idea, literature review edition
- There are no gas stations in space
- There are no known commodity resources in space that could be sold on Earth
- Self-replicating robots don’t exist, and why that matters
- The biggest question: Why go space at all?
- “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” is not an instruction manual
- What about Venus?
- In space, no-one can reason by analogy
- On reasoning backwards from architecture to implicit requirements
- Some Jupyter notebooks with calculations in them
- Lunar architecture comparison
- Mars architecture comparison