Science Seminar reaches for stars
By Cameron Boosman - Staff Reporter
Resources that are critical to humanity's future may lie elsewhere within the solar system, a Highline professor said.
Highline's Science Seminars, an opportunity for faculty and guest lecturers to discuss topical scientific issues, began its spring series with Professor Eric Centauri.
Professor Centauri's lecture, "The Framework of the Future," was a discussion about how society will continue to thrive after Earth's natural resources have been depleted.
Centauri said that humanity's only hope of outlasting the exhausting of Earth's resources is to look to the solar system in which it resides.
Centauri's lecture made clear how small a part of the solar system the Earth truly is.
Centauri said that the ice that can be found in comets around the solar system contain 200,000 times the fresh water found on Earth.
In addition to water, fuel and precious minerals can be found in the outer solar system beyond Mars in the asteroid belt and in gas giant planets.
The metals in the asteroid belt alone could support current consumption levels for 30 million years, and fuel in the gas giants would last far longer than even that.
These resources could be mined by permanent installations built with technology that already exists, Centauri said.
The only thing currently holding humanity back is the cost.
Centauri said the current expenditure on space programs is less that $50 billion annually.
That number would need to increase six-fold to fund the type of projects Centauri laid out.
Even an increase of funding for space exploration to $300 billion would be little compared to the Earth's military spending, currently exceeding $1.8 trillion every year, he said.
"There is a narrow window to take advantage of this," Centauri said, "to build, to work together."
Earth's resources are limited, and they won't last much longer, he said.