Monday, 4 January 2010

(NASA image archive)

Happy New Year.

In the spirit of starting afresh, here's some ways to avoid going crackers in a new, self-determined environment.

(All taken from NASA's "Space Settlements: A Design Study" which proposes designs for Space colonisation)

  1. A large geometry, in which people can see far beyond the "theater stage" of the vicinity to a view which is overwhelmingly visible.
  2. Something must exist beyond each human's manipulation because people learn to cope with reality when reality is different from their imagination. If the reality is the same as the imagination, there is no escape from falling into solipsism. In extraterrestrial communities, everything can be virtually controlled. In fact, technically nothing should go beyond human control even though this is psychologically bad; however, some amount of "unpredictability" can be built in within a controllable range. One way to achieve this is to generate artificial unpredictability by means of a table of random numbers. Another way is to allow animals and plants a degree of freedom and independence from human planning. Both types of unpredictability must have a high visibility to be effective. This high visibility is easier to achieve in a macrogeometry which allows longer lines of sight.
  3. Something must exist which grows. Interactive processes generate new patterns which cannot be inferred from the information contained in the old state. This is not due to randomness but rather to different amplification by mutual causal. It is important for each person to feel able to contribute personally to something which grows, that the reality often goes in a direction different from expectation, and finally that what each person takes care of (a child, for example) may possess increased wisdom, and may grow into something beyond the individual in control. From this point of view, it is important personally to raise children, and to grow vegetables and trees with personal care, not by mechanical means. It is also desirable to see plants and animals grow, which is facilitated by a long line of sight.
  4. It is important to have "something beyond the horizon" which gives the feeling that the world is larger than what is seen.

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