Daily Archives: October 5th, 2008

The Copernican Principle of Survival

This might be a tad late, but here’s the video of SpaceX’s Falcon 1 launch last Saturday:

Falcon 1 – Flight 4 – September 28, 2008


You may notice the sound quality isn’t good. Even on the official SpaceX video the sound is sub par.

You may also notice the second stage Kestral engine nozzle glowing red hot. It’s supposed to. In fact, the announcer said it’s supposed to get white hot!

Video at SpaceX site


The Fermi Paradox once again rears its ugly head here in this lecture by Dr. J. Richard Gott, who claims via the Copernican Principle that mankind has very little time in which to expand into the Universe before the opportunity leaves us:

In 1993, he predicted that the space program would last between 10 months and 125 years – again this is with a 95 percent statistical confidence.

The danger is that we might quite the space program before successfully propagating humanity off-planet. To make the point, he quotes many early predictions of human spaceflight that haven’t come true. Right now the Chinese, with a little additional effort, could break the distance record (from Earth) for manned flights by making a bigger orbit of the moon than the Apollo program craft.

The point is that we’re farther away from going off-planet than we were in 1969, nearly forty years ago, with far more primitive technology. At risk: our survival.

Contrary to most science fiction, we’re likely to be one of the bigger and more successful civilizations in the universe. But if we are not alone, he says that other intelligent species may still be on their home planets or have become extinct through a random event, because they quit the effort to colonize space.

Pretty scary and he does have a point, today’s American youth could give a good goddamn about the space program and instead advocate robot probes and exploration by virtual reality. ( Think an interplanetary version of Google Earth, Second Life and World of Warcraft combined ).

Come to think of it, it could be a possible explanation of the Fermi Paradox!

J. Richard Gott – Space Colonization Imperative


To illustrate the above point, please read this tale by Greg Egan, written in 1997.

In it, a post-human civilization that hasn’t left the Earth discovers that it has to, in order to survive.

An excellent read.

Greg Egan’s site