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David Fickling Aug 2
Here's a thread about how Polynesian war canoes prove that humans are never going to colonize space in any foreseeable future:
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
The Polynesian expansion is a great natural experiment in how human culture adapts to different environments. At the dawn of the Age of Discovery, Polynesian and Austronesian people had by far and away the most widespread culture on the planet.
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
At one extreme, the Malagasy people of Madagascar speak an Austronesian language: At the other, the sweet potatoes that were a staple crop for Polynesians appear to have been carried from South America.
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
Some recent studies challenge this sweet potato thing, for what it's worth: Either way, they made it to Rapa Nui/Easter Island which is most of the way to South America.
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
What's fascinating is that the core suite of technologies was pretty similar across this vast region: yam crops, coconut, chicken, pigs, fishing, pandanus, navigation, outrigger sailing. But it produced vastly different results in different places.
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
On the large, mountainous, young volcanic islands like those of Hawaii, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, and Aotearoa/New Zealand it produced complex, hierarchical, warlike and technologically-advanced societies.
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
You know those huge oceangoing canoes at the end of Moana? They're not a Disney exaggeration. The largest Polynesian proas carried 200 people and were 30 metres long, much bigger than the ships Magellan and Drake used to circumnavigate the world
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
On the other extreme you have a place like Tikopia, a tiny island in the Solomon group where subsistence was so tough that infanticide became an accepted part of the culture to stop the population exceeding its natural limits:
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
The explanation for this would be obvious to an old-style economist: the factors of production (land, labour, capital) are vastly different. Land and the labour it can support will be abundant on a fertile island like Hawaii and scarce on Tikopia.
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
As a result, Hawaii can grow and develop economically and technologically, while Tikopia is stuck in a stagnant equilibrium.
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David Fickling
But Tikopia is an *insanely abundant* place by the standards of space. You can breathe, for starters. The seas teem with fish. Throw a pawpaw seed in the ground and you'll have a food tree in a few years.
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
This is why 2001 and Gravity may be my favourite space films. So much sci-fi is about what a thrilling place space is for a human mind to traverse. So little captures the indifferent Lovecraftian horror of the place for a human body.
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Jenny Chase Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
This is true. It is also a strength of , a story significantly about people scratching a living in the extremely hostile environment of the asteroid belt, where poor people literally run out of air.
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
What even is "land", economically speaking, in the context of space? The concept economists talk about embodies ideas of subsistence and natural resources that simply don't exist on even the geologically-richest asteroid.
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
People talk about mining nickel from asteroids. There are large high-grade nickel deposits just hours' drive from Perth (one of the world's capitals of mining investment), that haven't been developed *because they're too remote*
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Sarah Hurst Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
I'm worried more that food production on this planet is unprofitable.
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
That's the whole problem with space. Theres no land. There's no labor. The costs of transporting people and equipment to space are astronomical, if you pardon the pun. Even SpaceX has only brought the cost of moving a kilogram to low-earth orbit down to about $2,000.
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @davidfickling
For the same price you could profitably move a shipping container carrying about 25,000 times that amount between any two points on earth.
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @Life_Disrupted
Well, quite. We have more than enough to worry about in our own planet's future
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David Fickling Aug 2
Replying to @solar_chase
Ooh should read!
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