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# Mars-One

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L. Spiro, congratulations on making the cut. Whether the mission succeeds or fails, lifts off on schedule or is permanently grounded, there's a lot to be learned for future missions and your being involved at all in this stage is pretty cool.

I have a few questions.

What's the longest period of time where you've been confined to the office with your team in a so-called "crunch-time" scenario? Have your experiences been more like "grace under pressure" or "skin of your teeth"?. Assuming that the pressure of daily work on Mars compares to the intensity of a "crunch", and assuming that it more or less never ends, do you foresee significant long term complications with co-workers on Mars? How do you think that being unable to escape from each other might factor into the situation?

I was wondering if you've had any experience living in a small community but since you've mentioned living on a farm in Kansas, I assume that the answer is yes. Knowing how interconnected people's lives can be in small communities and how much people like to involve themselves in the lives of others (it's like they have nothing better to do or something), are you expecting a significant change in lifestyle or does your current life in Tokyo already exhibit characteristics of small community life?

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L. Spiro, congratulations on making the cut.

Thank you.

What's the longest period of time where you've been confined to the office with your team in a so-called "crunch-time" scenario?

Just overnight. These periods have been rare in my previous companies and don’t happen at all in my current company because R&D does not have specific deadlines. Especially since my main priority is optimizations.

Have your experiences been more like "grace under pressure" or "skin of your teeth"?

You are asking a question very similar to what they asked on the application form (and for the same reason as they asked it), so I will give their more-generalized question and my response to it.

When were you under the most pressure to perform and how did you handle that pressure?

1997, Knoxville Tennessee Chess Super Nationals. I was undefeated after 6 games. News cameras were filming my final game and I was extremely nervous of making a foolish move on national TV. Still, I was able to put my focus on the game, and I ended up winning.

It would be a similar story to the only time I had to stay all night for a project to finish on-time. There is pressure but once I get my focus I really just focus.

Assuming that the pressure of daily work on Mars compares to the intensity of a "crunch", and assuming that it more or less never ends, do you foresee significant long term complications with co-workers on Mars?

In the office case mentioned above it was not a generally stressful environment. I would like to think I helped by being calm and confident about our eventual success (which we achieved) but it may have just been the fact that I would have taken all the blame as the project leader.

Anyone who believes he or she can predict how it would be to have that type of situation every day forever is foolish. That is something no one can imagine.
All I can say is that when personal problem arise I am proactive in resolving them. Under those conditions long-term problems are probably unavoidable. I just intend to make them minimal.

How do you think that being unable to escape from each other might factor into the situation?

We will all have to do our best. This will be easier to answer after doing the 3-month desert training scenarios.

are you expecting a significant change in lifestyle or does your current life in Tokyo already exhibit characteristics of small community life?

I have no expectations nor any idea how to answer this in a satisfactory manner.
In Kansas I was just a high-schooler so I just had my close friends and that was it. No parties or clubs. Stay home and play video games and program and spam chat rooms with childish rubbish or build something with LEGO®.
In Bangkok and Tokyo I am an obvious foreigner. Being in a place where you clearly “don’t belong” is certainly a factor in how you pursue interpersonal relationships, but that’s not bothered me in the 10 years I have been in Asia.
In Marseille the people were hostile. Luckily I tend not to pursue relations outside of the office so it didn’t really impact me.

This just in: Received the letter of medical requirements from Mars One just before going to work.  There are 4 steps to be completed prior to March 8th, one of which is a medical checkup.
Looking over the requirements of the medical exam, I am basically set for round 3.

But it is tougher than I expected.  More people are going to get weeded out before phase 3 than I originally expected, particularly because of their requirements on eyesight.

I mentioned before that I am a supertaster.  It is common for supertasters to eat fewer vegetables—and I am no exception—and thus have an increased risk of colon cancer.

People keep saying we will die horrible deaths on Mars, crash land, blow up on the launch pad, etc., but the fact is, with a fully vegan diet, going to Mars might just save my ass!

Rimshot.  I’ll be here all night folks.

L. Spiro

Edited by L. Spiro
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I mentioned before that I am a supertaster.  It is common for supertasters to eat fewer vegetables—and I am no exception—and thus have an increased risk of colon cancer.

People keep saying we will die horrible deaths on Mars, crash land, blow up on the launch pad, etc., but the fact is, with a fully vegan diet, going to Mars might just save my ass!

Rimshot.  I’ll be here all night folks.

Seriously though, even if your expertise in reaching childhood dreams is both right for you and highly inspirational to others, don't you think you'd be better off taking care of your ass here on Earth? Cancer from vegetable abstinence would surely occur decades before you could actually get out there.

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Cancer from vegetable abstinence would surely occur decades before you could actually get out there.

Part of the 10-year training leading up to launch is to switch to a vegan diet.

I’ve actually already switched to about an 80% vegan diet since being selected for round 2.

This is one of the reasons it doesn’t matter whether it fails or is a scam etc.  It’s motivating me to get in shape, eat right, and improve my health overall, so no matter what happens it is still a benefit to me.

L. Spiro

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Wait, you are worried about a slightly elevated risk of developing colon cancer some 20 or 30 years in the future when you're more likely to die from radiation even before you reach Mars?

You are probably aware that you are subject to roughly 1000 times the radiation dose as on Earth while in the shuttle/rocket/spaceship, assuming mother Sun isn't being premenstrual (in which case you're out of luck). And of course assuming you need not get outside in a spacesuit to do repairs, in which case the dose will be yet 3-4 times higher.

That doesn't look to you like it's more of a problem than nutrition effects on colon cancer?

You're probably also aware of the article by Zeitlin in Science last spring (also picked up by the public press some days later) which basically says that it's not that much different on Mars either. You'll have radiation doses that are hundreds of times those on Earth. Which, frankly, isn't all that much of a surprise seeing how it has no magnetosphere and an atmosphere that is at best comparable to Earth's atmosphere in an altitude of somewhat like 30km.

So basically you have a radiation comparable to 3-4 times the radiation you have in an airplane, except you don't have it for 3-4 hours twice or so per year, but all the time, day and night, every day.

Edited by samoth
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Aware of it all and more (such as going outside to do actual research, not just repairs).

You read too much into me mentioning colon cancer; it was meant to set up a joke, not to indicate concern.

L. Spiro

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Well, what I'm saying is that constant high radiation isn't precisely something to be taken lightly. Put differently, I wouldn't plan for 10-20 years on Mars. It may be the biggest adventure of your life, and the biggest, most fun trip, but it may also be much shorter than anticipated -- even if nothing serious like a crash happens.

Travelling in an airplane (which is also known for having higher radiation exposure) is no significant risk even if you do it for a living so you get 10-15 times the normal annual dose because the elevated radiation is only ever present intermittedly, for a limited time and there are rest periods in between where your body is able to repair the damaging effects. That is exactly how radio- or radio-chemotherapy works, by the way -- as long as you don't literally kill the human by poisoning him too much (or by completely suppressing leucocytes, infection, etc.), the normal tissue is able to recover from the damage during the rest period whereas the tumor isn't. At least that's how the theory goes, sometimes it doesn't work out quite so nicely -- but more often than not it does.

Permanent exposure, on the other hand, is a totally different beast. No rest period, no recovery.

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Um.... sorry for my laziness for not looking into it myself, but I'm interested in that radiation stuff that came up lately in the thread without citations.

The radiation is 1000 times higher in open space, I can accept that. But what radiation are we talking about? Radiation that can be deflected by a not so very strong magnetic field (so I guess that means those are particles with mass and electric charge-> electrons and protons, maybe even heavier stuff, so NOT electromagnetic radiation), but cannot be stopped by a few millimetres of metal and a few centimetres of whatever else? (Penetration of alpha, beta and gamma ray).

Or are we talking about some strong electromagnetic radiation, that can be stopped by 40 kilometres or air (um... which one is that??), but not by a fully closed metal structure?

Radiations, that doesn't ruin calibrated, and I guess somewhat sensitive electronics systems inside probes, such as Voyager and so on?

Is this radiation really that tough that technology is not able to overcome it? No protecting shields of a few centimetres of metal or ceramic  at the side facing the Sun?

Okay, the risk is much higher than I thought, but doesn't seem to be so impossible to solve.

Edited by szecs
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Radiation is an ultra complicated topic which one can't easily assess, since there are not only many different kinds of radiation which vary greatly in what they do to machines and men, but also many effects that aren't easy to overlook and some effects that are counter-intuitive. Most of the biological effects are not well understood either (or only "understood" in a meaning of guessing).

I doubt that anyone could really give an easy, conclusive answer on that topic. The fact that NASA says it's "problematic" should be enough, though.

Is it generally possible to shield from cosmic radiation? Sure, our planet proves that it's possible, it does a mighty fine job at it. The more important question is what shielding costs and how practical it is. If you wrap a spaceship in a one-foot thick lead mantle, I'm sure there's not much going through, but the weight would be quite forbidding. An extremely strong magnetic field might do the job as well, but where would the necessary energy come from (and, what are the health effects of such a strong magnetic field)?

Also, the obvious is not always the correct thing with radiation.

For example, shielding may help against radiation, or it may create different, and more harmful radiation. As may pretty much any "solid" matter that comes in contact with some kinds of radiation. It is entirely possible that you inadvertedly kill your crew by adding the wrong kind of "shielding", and since much of our knowledge on biological effects of radiation is guesswork, you can never be certain.

This makes me remember a technical assistent back in the days when I was studying. He used to be standing next to the linac and laugh at me, the stupid guy from university who didn't know that radiation goes in a straight path and doesn't go around corners. So as long as you're not standing in the ray, there's no risk. No need to hide in the next room. And yeah, only pussies wear dosimeters anyway. Needless to say that he wouldn't bother to leave the x-ray room either, because hey, rays don't go around corners.

The day he became ill, he learned about secondary radiation. Which, of course, doesn't go around corners either, but it's going diffuse in every direction, including yours. (To be honest, I wouldn't know for sure if that's really what he learned as I never found out what "sudden grave illness" he had, but I think it's a fair guess).

To give another example of how easily one can be mislead with "radiation stuff", beta radiation and even more so alpha radiation is "entirely harmless" because it cannot even get through the callus of your skin (or is absorbed in air). However, at second look, beta radiation creates brake radiation upon hitting solid matter which will penetrate your skin, and an alpha radiator that is ingested is many times more harmful than e.g. a gamma radiator of similar dose (probably around 20 times). That's the idea behind the "equivalent dose" figure, which is more a guesstimate than a real science. Nobody knows for real how much more dangerous one is compared to the other.

Technical issues apart, another important question is how much money would an organization with limited funds who is running a TV show put into into radiation shielding? Regardless of what is feasible, and regardless of what they actually could afford.

It's not the makers of the show who are exposed to the radiation, so there is no urgent motive to make it the best possible. It's a reality TV show that goes for a decade, including training and all. As long as the candidates survive long enough to reach Mars and live for a year or so, it's all good. The reality show probably won't go for much longer anyway -- who watches a 10-year old show that is the same every day.

On the other hand, with the number of viewers decreasing over the years, a few dramatic deaths might be very beneficial. It might bring up quotes and might lend for more funding to include better protection for the second (or third) crew. Oh the poor heroes. We will never forget their sacrifice.

Seriously. You need not assume that people who have a strong financial interest necessarily have the same interests as you have. Especially if you're in a position where you can't complain. They give a fuck whether you die from radiation or not, as long as it attracts spectators.

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