Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gaslight Technology (G.T.)

We have a can't do problem in modern society. So you can imagine the reaction I get when I say with confidence that living on mars just requires gaslight technology (G.T.) like when the Brooklyn bridge was built in 1883.

Human exhaled breath is poisonous to humans. Think about that! On earth the air we breath is scrubbed by nature. On mars we'd have to depend on machines not breaking down. Sounds like a can't do situation right? No, it isn't and it doesn't require high technology to fix. What you want is dependability. We are talking about basic chemistry. Chemistry of the gaslight era.

Wikipedia tells me that CO2 scrubbing usually involve using a variant of the Kraft process which was patented in 1884. It can't be too hard, they built their own from scraps on Apollo 13. Or they could just grow lots of plants. But what is required first is a can do attitude.

So breathing on mars requires G.T. Ok, what else? How about electricity?

Now that sounds like something that requires modern technology right? It does. Modern technology of the 1820s. You need to turn an electric generator. You can make one yourself from a tin can and some wire. The ones on mars where lives depend on them will be more like scaled up versions of the alternator or starter motor in your car. Solar panels, batteries and nuclear power while not G.T. (batteries are pre-GT) can be constructed on mars using local materials and just G.T.

And so it goes for every other requirement for life on mars. A luxurious shirtsleeve life in your own well lit (we could use, uh, gaslights or that modern 1800/1879 invention) underground mansions where you meet with friends at the huge industrial mall, school, sports and entertainment center.

Did I forget fuel for engines? You get that out of the martian air. That's a modern invention!

[I just had a power outage and my computer shut down. I didn't lose any of the above. Yes, I'm a fan of modern technology as well.]

Enough said. Getting to mars may take all our ingenuity. Living on mars we will find something we seem to have lost today...

The Can Do Spirit
 (this is why we need frontiers)

...and the liberty of ownership.

Update: You might want an 1881 household encyclopedia (PDF).
For example, how to make glass.

Update: Did I forget to mention steam engines? They turn generators to produce electricity. Today most of our electricity comes from steam turbines, but the older engines still work fine and would not be difficult for martians to make. Turbines require a higher level of technology (1884 10hp, easily scaled up to 50 mW) but in time are also within martian reach.

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