bezos

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once said that the creation of the space company Blue Origin is his most important job.

At the beginning of last month, Bezos not only released the moon landing device “Blue Moon”, but also cooperated with NASA to return to the moon in 2024, and once again elaborated on the colonial space vision.

The idea of his space colony came from a physicist in the 1970s.

The 1 trillion people in Bezos’ mouth, where will he live in space in the future? The late American physicist Gerard K. O’Neill proposed the idea of O’Neill Colony in 1974.

O’Neill is a high-energy particle expert who has a reputation in the physical world. His invention of particle-collision storage-ring technology in 1956 is still the basis of most high-energy particle accelerators. In the 1970s, he was funded to study the possibility of space settlement. In 1985, when President Reagan appointed him as a member of the US National Space Committee, his paper is still in the archives of the National Air and Space Museum.

The imagination of settled in space

Just like Bezos, O’Neill is also worried about the growth limit on the planet, but the focus is slightly different. In 1979, he was interviewed by the popular science magazine “OMNI”: “As the population expands, we need to abandon greater personal freedom to develop and accept more regulated and less selective lives.” Space colonies are brighter. The future: “There will be fewer people living on Earth, more people living in space that is unimaginable in space. People living in space colonies will feel more open and free.”

The O’Neill colony concept began in 1969. Although Apollo planned to land on the moon that year, the time war and ethnic inequality continued to cause social unrest. At the time, his physics department at Princeton University was puzzled, and whether the technology could make the world a better place. O’Neill then made a fuss and decided to solve a problem with the better students in the class: Is the planet’s surface the best goal for the expansion of technological civilization? By 1974, Physics Today published a landmark paper in which O’Neill elaborated on the science and estimates involved in building a home that was “far more comfortable, productive, and attractive than the earth.” Initially, O’Neill described his attempt as “almost a joke,” but as the specific numbers emerged, “it needs to be taken seriously.”

In O’Neill’s theory, these colonies are about 4 miles in diameter and about 16 miles long. They are built of steel cables, aluminum, and titanium, and resources can be dug on the moon. The structure will be that the two cylinders rotate in opposite directions, each time lasting two minutes, providing a centripetal force to create a gravitational force similar to “normal earth.” The colony can be imitated day and night by opening and closing mirrors, powered by solar panels. As the space population increases, just build a new cylinder. Three years later, he expanded the concept into the book “The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space,” which said that using the technology of the 1970s, colonies could be built within ten years, and it is expected that fifteen to Completed in twenty-five years.

Although O’Neill’s idea was still unrealized today, 40 years later, it was revived by his student Bezos. Bezos studied with O’Neill at Princeton University in the 1980s. In May last year, he was awarded the “O’Neill Memorial Award” for space settlement by the National Space Society of the United States. He also said that he read “The High Frontier” in high school. “, deeply inspired.

At the press conference, Bezos explained how the O’Neill colony is livable: each colony can live 1 million people, with high-speed traffic and agricultural areas inside; not necessarily each has the same gravity, for example, some can maintain zero gravity, let people In it, you can fly freely, some can be used as national parks; the colonial cities can be built to imitate the ancient city on the earth, and even the weather can be controlled: “The climate here is ideal, suitable for short sleeves. Like the best days of Maui in Hawaii, there is no rain, no thunderstorms, no earthquakes. People want to live here and be close to the earth, so feel free to go back because you don’t want to leave (Earth) forever.”

Bezos stressed that the earth will always be the “best planet”, and the O’Neill colony has its necessity: “What is the significance of building these O’Neill colonies on the earth? The earth will become only residential areas and light industry. It is very beautiful. The place where we live, visit, study, and do light industry, heavy industry, all polluting industries, and the destruction of the earth will be carried out outside the earth. We must both save this unique and irreplaceable magnificent planet. Without Plan B, we should not give up thinking about the future development of future generations. We can both.”

Al Globus, a former NASA contract employee and co-director of the National Space Society, agreed with O’Neill and Bezos and even co-authored The High Frontier: An Easier Way to fill some of the vacancies. He expects that the space colony will begin from the appearance of a private space station, just like the size of today’s international space station, part of which will be a space hotel. Later, larger homes will appear in the low Earth orbit and will grow further and further. “This will provide a market for lunar and asteroid material resources and develop a space mining industry.”

But Musk is not optimistic about the possibility of the O’Neill colony. He criticized Twitter: “Is not reasonable. You need to transport a lot of material from the planet/moon/asteroid, which is like building the United States in the center of the Atlantic.” Bezos himself admitted that this is not something that he or even this generation can solve. “How do you build these O’Neill colonies? No one knows I don’t know, no audience at the scene knows what to do, and I want to leave it to the future generations to come up with the details. What I am showing today is obviously the vision of multiple generations, not by one generation. Finished. The same thing we do is to inspire future generations.”

He also replied in 1975 when the US Public Television (PBS) visited the famous science fiction writers Isaac Asimov and O’Neill. The host asked Asimov, did anyone think of this colony in science fiction? He replied: “No, because we are all “planetary chauvinists.” We all believe that people should live on the surface of the planet.”

 

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