Re: Issac Arthur and Continent sized space habitats I really like the idea of the Banks orbital with the outer ring. Economics would not be a factor since all of the labor would be done by autonomous self-replicating machines.
However, there is a certain appeal to a station that is not tethered to a particular star. A smaller station could double as an interstellar transport. While you are out there, you may as well be going somewhere.
Of course, if we can figure out a way to have a ship accelerate at 1 g indefinitely, we could use acceleration to generate gravity and spinning would not be necessary. This could be a super fast gigantic ship that travels the universe. Such a ship would reach relativistic speeds fairly quickly and need significant shielding that may be problematic, but if energy and reaction mass are not a problem, it could just travel in a helix for a while.
Of course, if we can take our star with us, an option Arthur discusses in other episodes, we Would have the best of all worlds...so to speak.
My guess is that people will be satisfied with relatively small habitats for quite a while. Skies can be simulated so that even a relatively small habitat seems just like earth. Also, the idea of exactly replicating earth may not be as critical as many assume. People may discover that they prefer all sorts of exotic habitats that are a lot easier to realize.
Re: Issac Arthur and Continent sized space habitats We haven't nor did Arthur, the notion of hanging a habitant at a medium height in the gas giant's atmosphere's to produce earth scale gravity. On the gas world's there'd be room for thousands of Brazil-sized gondola colony's hanging underneath titanic balloons.
Re: Issac Arthur and Continent sized space habitats
On the gas world's there'd be room for thousands of Brazil-sized gondola colony's hanging underneath titanic balloons.
I must admit that one slipped past me. I don't watch the Arthur videos as diligently as you do. Still, it seems like it would be limiting to live that way. You would still be in a gravity well. In a wheel station, you are free to come and go as you please.
Re: Issac Arthur and Continent sized space habitats >Economics would not be a factor since all of the labor would be done by autonomous self-replicating machines.<
This is an erroneous assumption for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it assumes the SRMs have infinite resources to work with but since we are assuming they are operating within the solar system we must also proceed on the assumption that they have finite materials to work with. The Solar System, after all, does not contain unlimited resources.
Secondly, even if the SRMs did have infinite resources at their disposal they would still need to apply economical calculations, because there would be an infinite number of ways to reorganise those materials but only a finite number of ways to reorganise them in order to achieve useful results. If we had robots that could not perform any cost/benefit calculation we could have machines that just stand on their heads or hum the theme tune to Dallas and do an infinite number of other things while trying to build your habitats, unable to comprehend that such actions are just a waste of time. Without a capacity to think economically, they would not be able to filter out wasteful, costly practices. Without economics as a factor, nothing practical can ever get done. No wonder then, that Darwinians often talk about the economic calculations Natural Selection must make as it ‘decides’ what adaptations are valuable and which are unnecessarily costly.
We can never escape from the need to think and act ‘economically’. But, of course if we did have SRMs and the solar system at our disposal we could accomplish feats that would be utterly impossible.
Re: Issac Arthur and Continent sized space habitats Ex, the only meaningful economic constraint would be time. In order to build these stations according to a timeline that would be acceptable to humans, the SRM would naturally have to constrain their use of materials and energy to levels that would be insifnificant compared to the resources that are available.
This is analogous to a child building a sand castle on a beach. The beach has more materials than the child can possibly make a dent in and the labor is free. However, the child has until the sun goes down or until the tide comes in. Since time is such a critical limitation, materials and labor become insignificant.
My only thoughts are, if we develop the engineering to harvest the solar system, it means an extension of living experimentation for future generations. It would be paradisiacal, as a plush suburban home would be to somebody not so long ago being a subsistence farmer or hunter. Does mining the asteroid belt magically upset the solar balance of gravity delicately held within the solar system??!! That is a new one on me, but its sort of like our experience with pollution and warming. By the way warming is much better for our species than cooling, which is also possible.