Kelly and Zach Weinersmith give good interview

The Weinersmiths were interviewed by Adam Conover — it’s an hour-long video but it’s worth it. They’re talking about their book, A City on Mars, and it’s one of the more lively conversations I’ve seen on YouTube.

I’m still working my way through the book myself. It’s engaging and interesting, it’s just that it’s nearing the end of the semester and work is piling up.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    The Weinersmiths and the Munroes – I check their webcomics regularly.
    I like Zach’s idea of 3D bio-printing cloned human flesh in the shape of a body. Yum.

  2. wzrd1 says

    Well, one argument against space colonization is trivially done away with. Resources for the colony. Not raw resources, but things like replacement parts, chips, plastics, etc.
    So, a first requirement is to have all manufacturing also available in space. A wee bit easier said than done, but still doable in a few centuries of excessive work.
    Let’s start with one major staple of life, plastics. So, we have to drill for space oil, with which to turn into space plastic. And engage in space mining, a major tool in exploratory mining, a hammer. So, one swings one’s space hammer on an asteroid, strikes stone and in a year or five, lands again to swing again.
    And the space oil, well, totally doable – as soon as we can find metamorphic organic debris that’s been suitably compressed for eons. Oh wait, gonna need a space earth for that, huh? Back to that Armageddon roughnecks space drilling asteroids, with magical thrusters keeping them from flying out of orbit if someone kicks them in the balls… Much like George Clooney in Gravity, using magical thrusters that never, ever run out of fuel, because they use the anti-TANSTAAFL drive system, the something for nothing drive.
    OK, managed to overcome all of that using the same hand wave system that stops radiation like shooing gnats away in summer… Oops, can’t shoo gnats away so easily on earth… Keep hand waving, that twisting around in microgravity is ever so endearing.
    OK, problems solved with Harry Potter’s magic stick.
    So, I take a mighty swing with my space swackhammer, strike my space chistle into the space rock, chistle and rock splinter in the almighty cold and chunks rip holes in my space suit. Boy, lots of hand waving now! Along with shouts of “HELP!” into the hard vacuum…
    Yeah, we’re gonna need that quarter million people an hour to replace all of those dying space miners and we’ve still not gotten space oil to space lubricate space joints in space machines, not to mention manufacture space plastic.

    Space… The final frontier. Precisely what’s between the speaker’s ears, for space is simply fucking lethal as taking a warm soak in the lava inside of an erupting volcano, albeit an order of magnitude more lethal.
    But, totally doable, once one finally strikes space oil. Then, all problems are merely a hand wave away. Using Harry Potter’s magical wooden phallus.
    And I’ve got a wonderful summer space cottage for sale at the Jupiter – Io L1 point. Downside, a touch of hard radiation, but the upside is all of the free antiprotons you could ever want – just there for the taking.
    And the solar photosphere makes a good foot bath too.

    Next week, we’ll cover Dyson swarms meet Kessler syndrome at star system scales.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    BTW, Zach’s idea I mentioned is from the previous book Soonish
    (also, an idea of cloning cells from dictators like Pinochet and literally eat their flesh came from a story by late SF author Iain Banks).
    I have not read the latest book, I hope they mention the huge lava tube caves that form on worlds with weaker surface gravity. They are common in both the Moon and Mars, and an obvious choice for settlements to get protection from radiation.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    Wzrd1 @ 2
    Worlds without plate tectonics have boring minerals. You are unlikely to find rich ores of useful stuff.
    Getting organic materials and water is no problem for an AI untroubled by ageing. It can simply reduce its processing speed while waiting 50 years for the centaur objects frim the Neptune region to arrive. The subjective time can be made arbutrarily short.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    Never mind “reducing processing speed”.
    After the revolution we just upload the billionaires and put them in charge of the 100-year-long boring task of moving raw materials from the outer solar system.

  6. wzrd1 says

    birgerjohansson @ 3, Banks isn’t the late anything, he simply returned home to his GCU. ;)

    @ 4, no problem. Just dig to the planetary core and… OUCH! nevermind…
    The trick is to speak rapidly and enthusiastically, breathlessly outlining one’s points, not bothering to actually be sensible. Alas, didn’t quite get there, but it was during my first cup of coffee.

    @ 5, as long as they do so in person. Directly in contact with those rocks. Preferably at a high delta-V.

  7. raven says

    Finding good ores for metals on Mars is likely to be easy.

    The surface of Mars froze a long time ago since plate tectonics if there ever were any, stopped something like 4 billion years ago.
    And Mars is closer to the asteroid belt and doesn’t have much atmosphere.

    Which means the surface of Mars is full of craters and littered with all sizes of meteorites.
    To the point where our robot space probes have run across them in their limited travels.

    28, the 3,725th sol (Martian day) of Curiosity’s mission, the SUV-sized robot photographed a relatively large metal meteorite dubbed Cacao. The meteorite was discovered in a sulfate-bearing region on Mars’ Mount Sharp, the central peak inside Gale Crater, part of Curiosity’s exploratory domain. Feb 7, 2023

    Curiosity rover found Cacao meteorite on Mars | SYFY WIRE
    Syfy › syfy-wire › curiosity-found-one-…

    These would be both CHON types and iron-nickle types.

    All you would have to do is walk around and pick them up.

  8. says

    One of the things I mostly missed in the podcast is energy.
    To have a civilization , you need energy and lots of it. Both in terms of electricity and heat.
    Without it there will be no chemistry which you need for basically everything.
    Without oil, you’d probably have to reinvent organic chemistry from scratch starting from syngas. That by itself seems a pretty tall order.

    Also, mars is relatively poor in nitrogen, which is necessary for both plants and humans. There is a bit of nitrogen in the atmosphere on Mars, but what passes for an atmosphere there would be considered a pretty good vacuum here on earth.

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