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Mars Rover Perseverance Landing today, 2/18

briggart

Explorer
I will accept that, much later, they became cultural icons, but that seems to me to fit in the unintended side effects bin.
What I was referring was more along the lines of creating a national identity by bringing together people which until not a long time before belonged to different kingdoms and putting them to work together on a common project, and in that way providing a set of shared experiences that helped these two groups of people to see themselves as part of a larger entity.
 

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Mustrum_Ridcully

Adventurer
As I am getting older, I can't get as excited as I used to be about these things, but I still feel these are quite important missions.
The universe is ridiculously big. We know so little about it. We should always try to learn more about it.
And the idea that we might figure out more about the past, present or future potential of life on Mars is pretty amazing actually. Hearing our first sounds from Mars is crazy. And the new video material is impressive. We've really come a long way.

I don't believe that Mars will be something we will realistically colonize (at least not in the sense the Expanse did), but just trying to solve the problems of building stuff that survives there for long, and potentially having some kind of outpost there (or on the Moon) is going to also help us solve problems on Earth. Pretty much anything really bad that could happen to Earth or rather the ecosystem we rely on, be it climate change, supervolcano, nuclear holocaust or asteroid strike, can probably benefit from what we're solving out there. And that's just the goal-oriented research. The stuff we figure out along the way might yield to completely new, unexpected developments.
The early concepts of machines that can calculate stuff automatically naturally gave us the idea that we might have "thinking machines" at some point that could maybe translate stuff or solve complicated equations or store the world's knowledge or whatever, but few people imagined how it would transform how we live and work. And giving how far we still have to go in the realm of artificial intelligence and sapient robots - the "side benefits" and unpredicted transformations happened while we are still on our march toward some of those grand visions.


On a side note:
I just started watching "For All Mankind", and so far it has been really exciting view on a "what-could-have-been". It kinda brings me back to how I felt about research like this as a kid. It has of course an easier time because it's a "TV" show and things can happen that make compelling stories. I enjoy it a lot so far. It might stretch what was actually realistically possible in terms of space exploration back then (but I have no idea if it does), but it stays so close to it that so far it seems low to non-existent on the fictional science...
 


Horwath

Hero
There has been detailed archaeological work done in recent years on the lives of ordinary Egyptians, as well as ancient Egyptian social structure. Slaves were not employed in the building of the pyramids. This idea was popularized by Hollywood movies. They were paid, and there was a large infrastructure of rotating workers, made up of labourers, engineers, scribes, painters, etc. They found evidence of long dormitory type houses where the workers stayed, supported by rows of bakers and brewers. The work was incredibly hard and dangerous, as evidenced by the wear and tear we can see in the bones.

The first known recorded strike in human history took place during the reign of Rameses lll. The payment of grain was late.

This is off topic, but the building of the vanity projects in Egypt did provide paid work, as well as support for secondary businesses such as bakers, painters, brewers, and supposedly tool makers. So, there is a little similarity to the positive effects NASA has on the economy. Okay, it's mostly a side topic. 😊
This all may be true to degree.

As ancient Egypt had "levels" of slavery, from captured as POW, from people who sold themselves and their families into servitude and state mandated forced labor(that was paid for, but still was hard physical labor).

Any version of those might be used for pyramids.

Even if your were "free", having been forced to hard labor, might feel same as slavery, even if you did get housing, food and some beer in addition to your paycheck.
 

Arilyn

Hero
This all may be true to degree.

As ancient Egypt had "levels" of slavery, from captured as POW, from people who sold themselves and their families into servitude and state mandated forced labor(that was paid for, but still was hard physical labor).

Any version of those might be used for pyramids.

Even if your were "free", having been forced to hard labor, might feel same as slavery, even if you did get housing, food and some beer in addition to your paycheck.
It seems the social structure had some similarities to feudal England, so not free in the way we think of it. I'm certainly not trying to make the life of an Egyptian commoner seem rosy. Hard life, early death! And yes, Egyptians had slaves. But the bulk of the pyramid labour force weren't. It's the idea of thousands of slaves labouring away under a master's lash that has been refuted thoroughly.

In later eras, after the Egyptians abandoned pyramids for more hidden tombs many of the workers, who knew the tombs' locations, would loot the tombs they helped build. Very few ended up executed for it, because officials were given a share to look the other way. Some things just never change about human nature.
 

aliens.jpg
 

Getting back to the Rover (if that's okay with everyone) NASA just unveiled a high-def, 360-degree panorama of Mars from the Perseverance rover. It's made from 142 photos.

 

Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
Well, I dunno. The classic examples of slave-built multi-lifetime projects are pyramids, and they don't benefit the living, so are hardly examples of long-timescale projects for future generations.



How many of those were vanity projects for the national leader, vs projects that were actually for the people? Tombs are out, for same reason as the pyramids. We can accept, say the Cathedral of Notre Dame as at least a building for public use. The Roman road network took a long time to complete, but it wasn't conceived, planned, or executed as a single project. For similar reasons, I don't think "building a city" counts as a single project.
My realm of thought was centered on some Cathedral's that took lifetimes to complete. But yes, I can see where a nation or leader's vanity could be the cause of the actual project. May be modern thinking here, but that sort of project seems less and less likely.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
My realm of thought was centered on some Cathedral's that took lifetimes to complete. But yes, I can see where a nation or leader's vanity could be the cause of the actual project.

So, not intending a dig at the Roman Catholic Church - I'm noting a historical point: back in the 1300s, when Notre Dame was completed, among its other aspects, the Roman Catholic Church was a significant political power - so "vanity of a nation" pretty much fits for cathedrals.

May be modern thinking here, but that sort of project seems less and less likely.

Well, I suspect that the boondoggle/value ratio for such projects is historically not that great. We probably shouldn't be taking on such things with great frequency.
 


Ryujin

Hero
So, not intending a dig at the Roman Catholic Church - I'm noting a historical point: back in the 1300s, when Notre Dame was completed, among its other aspects, the Roman Catholic Church was a significant political power - so "vanity of a nation" pretty much fits for cathedrals.
Or vanity of a ruler (Louis VII, I believe).
 










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