Category Archives: The High Frontier

Watch the legendary “Roundtable TV Interview”

Isaac Asimov and Gerard K. O'Neill on WNET Round Table

“We are so used to living on a planetary surface that it is a wrench for us even to consider continuing our normal human activities in another location. If, however, the human race has now reached the technical capability to carry on some of its industrial activities in space, we should indulge in the mental exercise of “comparative planetology.” We should ask, critically and with appeal to the numbers, whether the best site for a growing advancing industrial society is Earth, the Moon, Mars, some other planet, or somewhere else entirely. Surprisingly, the answer will be inescapable: the best site is “somewhere else entirely.”

In a roundtable TV interview, Isaac Asimov and I were asked why science fiction writers have, almost without exception, failed to point us toward that development…”

-Gerard K. O’Neill, The High Frontier, Chapter 3 “The Planetary Hangup”

Discovered in a crumpled box in the dark back of a storage locker in New Jersey by an SSI Senior Associate who wouldn’t give up the search, the Space Studies Institute is proud to present that “roundtable TV interview” in its entirety on the SSI YouTube Channel.

Originally recorded over the air and restored with gentle care, to our knowledge this is one of the few, if not the only, existing complete copies.

With sincere thanks to Jennifer Bertani of WNET New York and Thirteen Productions for their assistance, The Space Studies Institute is very proud to present this piece of Space History, unseen since its original local broadcast in 1975.

 

15,000 Scientists From 184 Countries Just Issued A Dire ‘Warning To Humanity’

The news today is of a rebirth of the Limits To Growth issue that this planet faces.

People are talking about this “down to earth” set of topics again which is very, very good.

We hope that some conversations start like this:


Him: So we should force population control?

Her: No. No… no no no no no. That is not the idea and it won’t work anyway, check China and India for historicals. There is NOT a population problem, there is a Resource and Area limitation problem. A planet is what it is, it has what it has and no more. There can never be too many people, but there can be too many people in a place not able to support their numbers. No planet can get around this.

Him: So we need another planet?

Her: We need more area with resources, so once we get past the pre-Copernican warm and comfy feeling that “The Whole Wide World” is all that we have to work with then we have to start doing real comparative planetology. And once all of the actually available areas – not fluffy exoplanets until we have the tech to get there – are judged with their positives and negatives and potentials in the near to far terms, we have to ask the question “Is a planetary surface, any planetary surface, really the best place for an expanding technological civilization.”

Him: But you can’t lift enough people fast enough to overcome the rate of births, we’re past the tipping point of birth rates. You can’t free up the Earth by moving just a few thousand off of it or even a few million. It’s the two trains leave the station math problem.

Her: That is likely true. So the real question is how do you get humans to not have such a growth rate in areas where a population level is limited by available resources.

Him: And we’re back to forced sterilization.

Her: No. We at a point where we can look where resource availability is low and the population growth rates are highest and find out why. A small fix may make a big difference. One topic that developed countries overlook is that underdeveloped countries still have the need to have lots of kids because those kids are traditionally the machines they use to gather enough food to barely get by. If a family had a tractor instead of an ox (which is still a real technology out there past our borders) then the work takes less children. Such a family would then have the option to send one or two kids to school instead of putting them in a field. Higher education leads to awareness of options beyond making more babies at younger ages.

Him: But the reason they don’t have tractors is they don’t have the money for them.

Her: And they don’t have the money for them – or the money to invest in more productive modern techniques of agriculture – because they don’t have enough surplus to sell because they need to make more food to barely feed more children. Yes, it is a cycle. A cycle that needs to be broken.

Him: And tractors blow out pollution…

Her: In the US we are in an electric vehicle revolution, electric tractors are a real possibility.

Him: You like looking at the core and you miss the big one there. Electric cars in the US are mostly really Coal powered. Mostly they do little to help the pollution problem.

Her: Ahhh. And you might be missing a core in this very conversation… what if instead of using Coal, which is just a battery for a very small relative amount of energy that fought its way through the atmosphere millions of years ago, what if instead we could go to the pure source directly and eliminate the middleman and the millennia or “processing time” it takes to make that battery? What if we could get the free high output energy directly?

Him: Solar power, yes it is coming but still the efficiency is not there and as soon as nighttime starts or a cloud rolls overhead the power is gone. That means we need better batteries and HUGE ones for more than just a single house to have its lights on for a few hours each night. And remember that batteries are toxic so you haven’t gotten around the pollution issue, you’ve just moved sideways.

Her: That is all true.. unless you can get out of the nighttime and cloud limitations. And you can.

Him: You can’t stop night from coming.

Her: No, but just 8 minutes away from any place on Earth there is no more nighttime and no more clouds. Remember your Copernicus… Earth is not the center of the universe, the “whole wide world” is not the whole of what we truly have been given to work with. 8 Minutes from where you are the power is streaming past us non stop, no indigenous native culture to kill to get it, no wars to be fought to get at a small patch of land hiding it from miners. Space, even just our small local neighborhood of it is very, very big. Imagine the Sun, the energy is pouring out of it in every direction billions of square miles are seething with the pure good stuff, more than we could ever dream of over-using and with billions of years more coming non-stop and just being thrown away.

Him: Solar Power Satellites, Peter Glaser, Bill Brown, Gerry O’Neill, yeah, yeah. Big in the 80’s but if it was so perfect then we’d be doing it. The systems are too big to launch.

Her: Actually, the high tech parts are a workable mass to launch… it’s mostly the dumb support structures that make up over 90% of the actual mass of any factory construction. The dumb girders are too much for even our very best chemical rocket tech to launch but remember, Earth is not the only place to get dumb mass.

Him: We don’t have a big scifi Lunar space fleet.

Her: We Humans never, ever have what we don’t think we need. Talking this out shows that there truly is a real need. But more importantly to the specifics of this line of talking… once you look beyond the common and incorrect idea that everything in space has to be launched from Earth, and always with rockets, options start appearing. Ever heard of a Mass Driver?


SSI, Engineering for the Human Breakout Into Space… for ALL of Humanity. Join us as a Senior Associate and be part of the solution.  Click Here Now.

The 2081 and High Frontier Free Giveaway is now over!

Gerard K. O'Neill
Gerard K. O’Neill

The Space Studies Institute giveaway of the Kindle editions of Gerard K. O’Neill’s 2081 and The High Frontier just ended a few minutes ago.

Final tally? 989 total free copies claimed.

SSI Associates: Thank you so very much for spreading the word on this exciting promotion and getting two amazing books into the hands of a new generation of forward looking readers!

New friends: Go read! And as you are reading don’t just take it all at face value, think about it, look for connections and check current resources to see for yourself if the fundamental concepts and opportunities that O’Neill described have real possibilities for creating a better Human future. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and we look forward to seeing you join us at SSI.

Missed out on this free giveaway? The standard price of just $6.99 USD for the SSI Kindle editions is a great bargain for the information in these classic books so don’t look backwards, just head over to the Amazon Kindle pages for 2081 and The High Frontier and make that investment in your future.

Thank you from The Space Studies Institute, founded in 1977 by Gerard K. O’Neill for the Human Breakout Into Space.

SSI President Gary C Hudson shows the evolution of reading... as predicted in the book 2081
SSI President Gary C Hudson shows the evolution of reading… as predicted in the book 2081

 

2081 Kindle edition pages:
In the US: Amazon.com
Amazon CanadaAmazon UK,
Amazon GermanyAmazon France,
Amazon SpainAmazon Italy,
Amazon Netherlands Amazon Japan,
Amazon BrazilAmazon Mexico,
Amazon Australia and Amazon India

The pages for The High Frontier Kindle edition:
In the US: Amazon.com
Amazon CanadaAmazon UK,
Amazon GermanyAmazon France,
Amazon SpainAmazon Italy,
Amazon NetherlandsAmazon Japan,
Amazon BrazilAmazon Mexico,
Amazon Australia and Amazon India