Postby Roger_Dymock » Thu May 22, 2014 1:14 pm

Sooner or later we will have to leave Earth if we wish mankind to survive - why? In another 4.5 billion years our Sun will reach the end of its life and expand into a red giant reaching almost to the orbit of Mars. Earth will 'fry' for want of a better word and cease to exist. Much has been written about interstellar travel but little or nothing about how the first settlers on an exoplanet would survive. I come at this not so much by considering a crash landing but from a necessary decision to partake in such an expedition.

The habitable zone around a star is the region life similar to ours might exist on an Earth-like planet. Before we could set out for any such planet we would need to characterise it in much more detail to determine if would be suitable. For example 'The Knowledge' describes in detail the raw materials we would need. Throw in a comprehensive knowledge of such matters as the planets climate and orbital stability and the size of the task begins to come clear. Some of what we need to know can be determined from Earth but I suspect other aspects might need an actual presence on or in orbit around the target planet.

As 'The knowledge' lays out we would have to start with simple methods of farming and processing raw materials before we move into more complex areas. Knowing what we have to do dictates what we would need in the way of;
- skills
- tools
- materials
- food
- transport
- knowledge
- form of government

Taking skills, a likely list includes; botanists, biologists, chemists, physicists, electrical engineers, farmers, gardeners, geologists, material scientists, mechanical engineers, medical practitioners, metallurgists, meteorologists.

Hope this kicks off an interesting discussion.

Posts: 26
Joined: Tue May 13, 2014 3:08 pm

Re: Arrival

Postby Bookben » Sun May 25, 2014 2:39 am

That is a provocative subject. Robert Heinlein handled it not unlike the approach suggested by Dr. Dartnell. In Heinlein's "Tunnel In The Sky," the galaxy was being colonized through "jump gates" linking to other planets through a kind of hyperspace, or folded space. Anyway, colonists were trained for subsistence farming and such. Wagon trains with mules and horses and such, livestock, colonists, would transport through the gates with these low-tech caravans and settle other worlds. The idea behind it was that low tech was sustainable and easily reproducible. After establishing a toehold on the world, THEN came the starports and such.

The story in question, "Tunnel," is about a group of high-school kids in survival training to be colony guides. Great story, one of my favorites.
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon May 12, 2014 3:29 pm

Re: Arrival

Postby lewis » Tue May 27, 2014 5:37 pm

Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett's 'Long Earth' book series also follows a similar theme - colonising parallel worlds by transporting across without iron tools and having to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps as a community on each virgin world
Site Admin
Posts: 60
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:50 am

Re: Arrival

Postby SANEAlex » Tue May 27, 2014 6:34 pm

lewis wrote:Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett's 'Long Earth' book series also follows a similar theme - colonising parallel worlds by transporting across without iron tools and having to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps as a community on each virgin world

The third in that series is just about to be published in June "The Long Mars" so it might have some more interesting ideas along that vein.
User avatar
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:36 am

Re: Arrival

Postby Roger_Dymock » Sat May 31, 2014 2:54 pm

What would be an interesting exercise would be to start with a fairly simple, but necessary, tool such as an axe with a steel blade and wooden handle and create a tree, for want of a better word, listing all the requirements in terms of raw materials, processing and skills necessary to produce that axe. Something along the lines of;

wooden handle
- wood
- tree
- find and transport a suitable tree or part of
- carpenter
- tools
- saw
- chisel

steel blade
- steel
- Bessemer converter
- pig iron
- iron ore
- find, mine and transport
- blast furnace (The Knowledge p133)
- charcoal (The Knowledge p132)
- wood (The Knowledge p104)
- blacksmith
- tools
- hammer
- anvil
- forge
- fuel

Doing this for just a single item makes you realise how complex would be the operation to colonise a planet. Even if you can take basic tools and equipment to the new home, you will still need to be able to reproduce them in fairly quick time.

Where should we aim to start from - possibly pre-Industrial revolution (say 1800) so we are talking about several hundred years to get back to where we are today. At least we know the answers and, hopefully, can avoid too many wars and other assorted catastrophies.

Posts: 26
Joined: Tue May 13, 2014 3:08 pm

Habitable exoplanets

Postby Roger_Dymock » Sat Jun 07, 2014 8:50 am

The website of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory can be found at - looks very interesting.

Posts: 26
Joined: Tue May 13, 2014 3:08 pm

Re: Arrival

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Jun 07, 2015 4:10 pm

"Arrival" as a topic is a metaphor for the "arrival" of a new member of this forum. Thanks to Roger_Dymock for multiple posts which appear to me to capture the spirit of Dr. Dartnell's initiative.

I am a "veteran" (if that is the right word) for a "tour of duty" in the lufteam forum on Yahoo. The forum was created by "The Living Universe Foundation", which was itself created by the wife (and friends) of Marshall T. Savage, author of "The Millennial Project". Copies of the book are still available on the Internet.

Marshall created "The Millennial Foundation", which grew rapidly in the years after publication of "The Millennial Project", and then closed when the United States Internal Revenue Service refused to grant tax exempt status. "The Living Universe Foundation" was created specifically to qualify for tax exempt status. The ebbs and flows of (much of) the life of "The Living Universe Foundation" are preserved in a collection of (about) 15,000 messages on the Yahoo Group Luf-Team. While the group is now closed for input, it is still accessible to the public. In addition, the legal entity is preserved, and the web site is still maintained by a Citizen of Britain.


The web site's current format was created by a Citizen of Canada, in late 2011. It has been maintained subsequently by a Citizen of the US based in California.

While I have just begun to try to catch with the correspondence preserved in this forum ( I sense that the conditions that led to failure of the lufteam forum may exist here.

The "Living Universe Foundation" was created with four simple IRS qualifying goals. When these were met, the forum had no reason to exist, except as a social gathering place without action potential.

My interest is in seeing action oriented activity, generally around the theme of the expansion of Earth life out away from the planet, but also oriented toward "fixing" the many pools of chaos that exist in many nations, most definitely including the United States.

It should be possible to harness the energies, skills, knowledge and creative talents of human beings under the "umbrella" of Dr. Dartnell's book, just as it should have been possible with "The Millenial Project". I am interested in seeing action that would lead toward realization of:

1) Reboot Teams (groups of people with the collection of skills and knowledge that would be needed to restore civilization)
2) Boot Teams (groups of people with the collection of skills, knowledge and resources that can "create" civilization on Earth, or elsewhere)

May every member of The Knowledge forum grow financially, intellectually, socially and beyond.
Posts: 1010
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:38 pm

Return to How to build a civilization from scratch on another world?

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest