Where do we go from here?

Talk about anything under the sun or stars - but keep it civil. This is where we really get to know each other. Everyone is welcome, and invited!

Which scientific field do you think humankind should prioritize?

agriculture
4
25%
computers/A.I./robotics
0
No votes
energy production
8
50%
entertainment
0
No votes
medicine/biotech
1
6%
spaceflight
1
6%
weapons
0
No votes
other (explain)
2
13%
 
Total votes: 16

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Where do we go from here?

Postby neo-dragon » Tue Mar 29, 2011 11:26 am

Which scientific field do you think humankind should prioritize?
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Postby Young Val » Tue Mar 29, 2011 11:31 am

Agriculture. At least in America, our current system does not work and needs serious, immediate attention.
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Postby Rei » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:27 pm

I went for energy production. As things stand, we do not have much in the way of viable sustainable energy sources. Until we can at least curb our oil usage, we're going to keep making huge issues for ourselves.
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Postby Janus%TheDoorman » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:00 pm

Energy production.

A big part of the problem with agriculture is how energy intensive it is. Resource absorption in the form of soil erosion and otherwise toxic, unsustainable procedures are a problem, but as it is, with hydroponics and advancing resource recycling techniques, these problems are solvable, but they would still only allow us to support the current levels of production. We need much greater energy production to increase agriculture production to the point of being able to feed everyone comfortably.

Computers and AI, and robotics are different fields, but both need cheap, sustainable energy production in order to be implemented widely. Server farms are expensive to run - there's a reason it was worth Sony and other companies shutting them down temporarily to reduce the strain on the Japanese power grid following the earthquake. Automated factories would be even more intensive.

Medicine/Biotech is obviously important, but it's not the sort of research that throwing money and resources would have a dramatic effect on. It still takes decades to do long term studies no matter what, and medical studies should only be relied on after meta-analysis and a long history of reproduction.

Spaceflight is again important, but only in the longer term. If we're talking about the next 30-50 years, there's no crisis approaching spaceflight will solve. Those issues are quite a ways off yet. They'll be here sooner than we think, and I would advocate spaceflight after we have the energy situation sorted, but energy gets priority right now.

Weapons... well... that's a bit of a zero-sum game as far as mankind as a whole is concerned, unless you're worried about the buggers. And while defense contractors are keen to tell you about all the advances that have been made related to weapons development, it's a far less efficient engine of innovation that just about any other form of research, largely due to all the secrecy measures involved.
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Postby Wil » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:05 pm


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Postby starlooker » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:30 pm

Why is "entertainment" a scientific field and psychology not? Just curious.
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Postby neo-dragon » Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:30 pm

Why is "entertainment" a scientific field and psychology not? Just curious.
Because I was thinking of the "hard" (not as in difficult) sciences. Things more associated with technological advance. When I say entertainment, I'm thinking video games, 3D tech, more advanced iPods, virtual reality, etc.

However, the hard science aspect of psychology (ie. neurology) could go under medicine/biotech.
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Postby mr_thebrain » Tue Mar 29, 2011 5:33 pm

agriculture. for sure. a lot of the tech is surprisingly antiquated. and it's kind of the forgotten underbelly of the U.S. we need more farms and farmers, and the more we expand our cities, the harder that becomes.

then i think energy, medical, space tech, weapons and then media. in that order.

honestly we need to rely more on nuclear power and we have some pretty impressive and safe nuclear tech, we need to be using it. there are some other energy issues that need advances. why are we using oil? we need to advance our batteries and our hydrogen production and USE IT! and we need to make conversion units to have existing gas vehicles run on other power sources inexpensively.

we need to continue our medical advances and get smarter with our prescription drug advances.

i honestly hope our private companies will advance our space tech and bring it up to date. and we need a more effective fuel source for getting into space. not to mention our airplanes... could also fall into the energy category.

weapons, just to make our troops safer. honestly better body armor and whatnot is more important, but yeah. where are our laser guns.. i want star wars!

entertainment shouldn't even be on the list i think. there will always be advances, and it's not very important. computers could be faster and more efficient, smaller and more powerful, and they will be. we will eventually be getting rid of all CDs and DVDs/bluRays. it'll all either be downloaded, or stored on mini sd cards or something. disc based information is stupid. by now we should be using solid state drives for everything... inexpensively. there's no reason we aren't already doing it.
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Postby starlooker » Tue Mar 29, 2011 7:59 pm

Why is "entertainment" a scientific field and psychology not? Just curious.
Because I was thinking of the "hard" (not as in difficult) sciences. Things more associated with technological advance. When I say entertainment, I'm thinking video games, 3D tech, more advanced iPods, virtual reality, etc.

However, the hard science aspect of psychology (ie. neurology) could go under medicine/biotech.
Sorry. When I think of entertainment, technology is not what enters my head. I mean, at all. Makes more sense when you put it that way.
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Postby Dr. Mobius » Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:38 pm

Nanotech, which could eventually be applied to any of your categories and dozens of others that people don't usually associate with science and technology, but for now would be computers/biotech/other, I guess.

Where's the all of the above option? One of my biggest pet peeves is that a lot people seem to think that just one thing will make or break modern civilization when in reality we require all of them.
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Postby Rei » Fri Apr 01, 2011 3:43 am

I was more treating it as a first priority among many. Much like a government might put more money into one project, there will still be money in the other ones.
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Postby Bean_wannabe » Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:40 am

Energy - once we have that, we can stop worrying about the environment and then all the other projects get more money.
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Postby Paul » Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:35 pm

Spaceflight is again important, but only in the longer term. If we're talking about the next 30-50 years, there's no crisis approaching spaceflight will solve. Those issues are quite a ways off yet. They'll be here sooner than we think, and I would advocate spaceflight after we have the energy situation sorted, but energy gets priority right now.
I disagree with you on this. Advances in spaceflight will most likely have huge impacts on both energy production and agriculture.

Due to the logistics of setting up some sort of permanent settlement anywhere other than low earth orbit, we would need to learn to "live off the land" so to speak. Shipping food/water/air with us where ever we go is just to impractical. Advances in water/air recycling as well as growing food locally (hydroponics) would be required in order to make any type of long term mission possible.

The effects of this type of technology would then have profound impacts here on earth. Just imagine, if we figure out how to set up a sustainable settlement on Mars, a world MUCH more inhospitable than anywhere on earth, then those technologies can easily be applied here on earth. Think about it this way, no matter how much we mess up the earth, it will always be more hospitable than Mars.

Large parts of the earth become inhospitable? Build/convert skyscrapers into vertical farms. Vertical farms have the added benefit of producing food much closer to where it will be consumed (duh, they would be in the city) as well as require much less water/pesticides/fertilizers due to the closed loop nature of a vertical farm.

Energy. Im pretty sure that space travel will help with this issue as well. Its well known that the moon has large supplies of helium 3, an element that is very rare on earth, that could supply most of our energy needs here on earth.

There are also several near earth asteroids that contain VERY high concentrations of precious metals. Almost all the cost of setting up a mining operation in space would involve getting the mining equipment into low earth orbit. Once operational it would provide earth with a very large supplies of platinum, silver, gold, nickel, iron, exc, thus removing the need to mine for these materials here on earth.

And with huge concentrations of these materials in space, it may be possible to start building truly massive solar based installations in low earth orbit. Placed in an orbit where the solar panels would receive sunlight 24 hours a day, the energy could then be beamed back to earth for use here.

In my opinion, the advances brought about by space flight could really change our lives here on earth more than just about any other emerging technology.

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Postby Mich » Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:23 pm

I'm wondering what ever became of this.
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Re:

Postby AngeloFreeman » Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:30 am

Spaceflight is again important, but only in the longer term. If we're talking about the next 30-50 years, there's no crisis approaching spaceflight will solve. Those issues are quite a ways off yet. They'll be here sooner than we think, and I would advocate spaceflight after we have the energy situation sorted, but energy gets priority right now.
I disagree with you on this. Advances in spaceflight will most likely have huge impacts on both energy production and agriculture.

Due to the logistics of setting up some sort of permanent settlement anywhere other than low earth orbit, we would need to learn to "live off the land" so to speak. Shipping food/water/air with us where ever we go is just to impractical. Advances in water/air recycling as well as growing food locally (hydroponics) would be required in order to make any type of long term mission possible.

The effects of this type of technology would then have profound impacts here on earth. Just imagine, if we figure out how to set up a sustainable settlement on Mars, a world MUCH more inhospitable than anywhere on earth, then those technologies can easily be applied here on earth. Think about it this way, no matter how much we mess up the earth, it will always be more hospitable than Mars.

Large parts of the earth become inhospitable? Build/convert skyscrapers into vertical farms. Vertical farms have the added benefit of producing food much closer to where it will be consumed (duh, they would be in the city) as well as require much less water/pesticides/fertilizers due to the closed loop nature of a vertical farm.

Energy. Im pretty sure that space travel will help with this issue as well. Its well known that the moon has large supplies of helium 3, an element that is very rare on earth, that could supply most of our energy needs here on earth.

There are also several near earth asteroids that contain VERY high concentrations of precious metals. Almost all the cost of setting up a mining operation in space would involve getting the mining equipment into low earth orbit. Once operational it would provide earth with a very large supplies of platinum, silver, gold, nickel, iron, exc, thus removing the need to mine for these materials here on earth.

And with huge concentrations of these materials in space, it may be possible to start building truly massive solar based installations in low earth orbit. Placed in an orbit where the
solar panels would receive sunlight 24 hours a day, the energy could then be beamed back to earth for use here.

In my opinion, the advances brought about by space flight could really change our lives here on earth more than just about any other emerging
technology.
You seems to have great idea but I think most of them are impractical.. Science is developing but still we need lot more to implement your thoughts.

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Re: Where do we go from here?

Postby buckshot » Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:12 am

I say agriculture , my partner,friend,neighbor Tim and I went "no till" 100% over 20 years ago and we experimented quite a few years before that. We met a lot of opposition locally but now only very few and then only small farmers in our area still use a plow. Change is hard ,risky and expensive but saving valuable resources, fuel, time, and the topsoil is always going to payoff in the end. What we have done here just scratches the surface of what we can do to grow more food with less inputs and longterm damage to the soil and water. The greatest inheritance we can leave the next generations is the fertile land. :wave:

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Re: Where do we go from here?

Postby elfprince13 » Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:06 pm

I say agriculture , my partner,friend,neighbor Tim and I went "no till" 100% over 20 years ago and we experimented quite a few years before that. We met a lot of opposition locally but now only very few and then only small farmers in our area still use a plow. Change is hard ,risky and expensive but saving valuable resources, fuel, time, and the topsoil is always going to payoff in the end. What we have done here just scratches the surface of what we can do to grow more food with less inputs and longterm damage to the soil and water. The greatest inheritance we can leave the next generations is the fertile land. :wave:
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