Date: Sat, 20 Jan 1996 07:02:15 -0800 From: DVEZINA@socrate.droit.u44sherb.ca Subject: Children in space Good morning, afternoon, night, depending of your time zone... ;-) First, I want to tell you all how much I have enjoyed reading Jeanette's thoughts on space and human disabilities. Such great pieces make my day! Thanks, Jeanette! The response has been equivalently impressive. Kudos are in order here... My turn to put my .02 on the future of space exploration. We have seen in such episodes like Alpha Child, The Exiles that Alpha, with its present technology, cannot support children. Nevertheless, other shows like ST:TNG showed us that space travel with families could be possible. NASA is currently planning the first permanent space station (Alpha? Geesh, the coincidence!!!! ;-) ) and it is more than certain that someday Mankind will find a way to stay permanently in space and will make its way towards the Solar System... and beyond. That is, if and only if we are not destroyed by our own War Games... The question is this: what do we do with children? Certainly, living permanently in space will mean that we will litterally live our lives there. Which includes working, sleeping, interacting with other people, having relationships, and so on. If our species want to expand into space, it will have to deal with the childbearing issues and the raising and educating of children in space. My idea on this is that if we are bold enough to "go where no one has gone before" (to paraphrase a very well known sentence...), then we must assume the consequences and have some kind of "family planning" or, rather "demographic planning". For sure, it will not come easy; space is an "abnormal environment" for our kind, so we will have to compensate for physiological problems (BTW, anyone has read something about the experiments done with female rats, fish and so on in space? If so, can you share it with the list? Thanks!). Bu moreover, we cannot afford to be as careless as we have been on our homeworld with population growth. Not because of the limitations of space but because of the conditions in which we will have to live, most probably. So spontaneous "conceptions" may cause a problem in certain installations. But it must not turn into a "Brave New World" situation, where people are born out of production lines and so forth... That would mean the killing of what makes us human in the first place. I know that in the very near future, we will be able to manipulate our children's genes to the extent of literally having a child "a la carte". Imagine this: "Will this be a boy or a girl? Would you like blue eyes? A mole on the left cheek? A 155 IQ on the side?" The Human Genome project has already produced impressive results. We have found genes responsible for cetain disabilities and sickness, ranging from dystrophy to Alzheimer's disease. The current news are that a genetic test that will pipoint the probability of having breast cancer will soon be available for women with a family history of the disease. But if we can make good use of this knowledge, the reverse can be also true. And the consequences are almost too frightening to even consider... Some people are still talking about "ethnical purification" and it must scare the living daylinghts out of all of us! There are ethical questions to be answered and, as of today, we still don't know exactly what to do with it. But in the context of space exploration and living in alien environments, we must find guidelines for ourselves. For Mankind's sake. EEW! Too long post already... I am afraid that my thoughts may neither be original nor well organized. But here they are. You probably have your very own ideas on this subject. How about sharing them with us? That would keep this very interesting conversation started by Jeanette very much alive. Your turn, now... Your annoying aspiring lawyer, Daphne Moonbase Alpha's lawyer type Alpha's Chief of Biological Studies
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 1996 21:21:25 -0800 From: Levi@spirit4tag.com.au (Graham Levi and Cecilia Levi) Hi Everyone, This is a reply/response to Daphne's post on Children In Space. A very challenging topic and where to begin? I suppose if mankind is to pursue a life in space, then children will be apart of that future. As the chaos theories tell us "Nature will find a way" and children are apart of our nature. It is scary to think of children that would be brought up away from Earth and would probably never have seen Earth except in pictures. E.C. Tubb deals with this issue in 'Earthfall'. Koenig has difficulty even with his own children as he starts to realise that they are not really from Earth. They might share his genetics, but the children are from a space environment Alpha, he is not even sure that they could cope on a Earth like planet because they are so different. They are physically, mentally and emotionally different from their parents. They have been brought up in a totally different environment that the Earth parents can't even begin to understand how it has affected them. Koenig views them with compassion, but is suspicious of their difference. In 'Earthfall' the Alphans have to start having children. It is necessary for survival. They are needed as replacements for the people that have been lost since Breakaway. The Alphans had to consider the ethical and moral implications of this step. But, it was after the horse had bolted so to speak. They had women on Alpha that had already made the personal decision and were pregnant. Much to Koenig's horror and dismay. He believed that they hadn't considered the big questions about having children on Alpha. And what questions they are? We would have to reconsider our whole belief systems - Science or God(theology)!! What morals apply to all races? How do you enforce proper conduct?( without becoming fascist) Who decides who should have children and how many? What of the children! Can we even know what they will be like? Will they need to be genetically engineered to survive in space? What of the radiation hazzard to them? What of the emotional and psychological problems that could occur? As in 'Alpha Child', it is Helena 's major concern for Jackie and the eventual children of Alpha. The big issue in 'Earthfall' is genetic diversity and how to stop inbreeding on Alpha. The bigger issue for mankind today is Designer Humans. How do you control or monitor an issue like this? The idea of "ethnic purity" is surely an idea that will have to go, if we are to survive in space. Yet here on Earth, most of the 70 wars that occured in 1995 were based on Ethnic grounds in the search for purity. This is a very difficult topic to get your head around. As it poses issues and questions that are complex and open to frail human decisions. I hope some of this made sense. An interesting and fascinating post - Daphne. Yours, Cecilia.
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 1996 08:54:06 -0800 From: DVEZINA@socrate.droit.u44sherb.ca Subject: Re: Children In Space/novelisations Hi again, Alphans! In addition to Cecilia's comments on E.C. Tubb's Earthfall, may I suggest you all to read Philippa Siddle's excellent novel, "Transformation"? It is a crossover between our favorite show and Star Trek: The Next Generation. It features an interesting discussion on the childbearing issue. But, hush! I will not dare to reveal any more. You will have to discover it by yourselves. I believe you can have a copy of Transformation by emailing to Philippa directly, although it is still avaible on the Space:1999 Archive made by Eddie Lotter. Read Ande's FAQ for more references. Have a nice Sunday/Monday/Whatever! ;-) Daphne
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 1996 19:55:57 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeanette Quimby) Subject: Children in space Well Daphne, You have started another interesting debate - children in space and genetic selection. This subject is particularly interesting, as I myself am expecting this July (number 3)
! Cecilia mentions in Earthfall - Koenig wondering about his own children and their relationship to Earth. Does the planet make us human? Or is it our heritage that makes us human? I would wonder how a child would miss something they never had on Alpha - the snow capped mountains, the wild life, the seasons. Would it be that much different from, say a child raised in Hawaii to never have experienced snow at Christmas, a child from the Serangti of Africa never experiencing the "city". Children are a reflection of ourselves and how we raise them. They are capable of the knowledge of these things, but even if they never truly experience them, they are no less an "earthling/human". I would think the adults on Alpha would attempt with the hydroponics section to allow them to experience the greenery of Earth. The animals could never be replaced, but then we have already lost some to extinction that we have never experienced. To grow up in a "closed" environment, a child would have to be reared in an open atomsphere, nurtured to ask and explore, to envision the unknown, and to use their imagination. Is not a blind child, raised in a dark and restricted environment? They will experience life and learn, yet never fully comprehend that what is around them. The Alphan children would be the same, raised in a restricted environment, yet still if nurtured properly, grow up and be "humans" with a limitation. They would never fully understand the loss that their parents experienced in losing their connection to Earth, but in their own way, they will experience a different type of loss. I would not restrict children in space due to the idea of a closed environment. We already know restricting children due to limit of space and resources does not work even on this planet - e.g. China with the limit of one child and the severe penalties. It has led to infantcide to determine the sex of the only child, but it has also led to parents having more than one child and facing economic sanctions. If it doesn't work on this planet, how can we expect it to work on Alpha with even more severe limitation of resources. Intelligence over instinct - instinct would probably win in the end. Concerning the Human Genome project and possible future selection. Heck, even now they are developing techniques to select the sex of a child prior to in vitro fertilization. I, myself, feel that the whole matter should be in someone else's hands and He's not on this planet. Yes, I have already had an ultrasound. I don't plan on amniocentesis. This decision is up to an individual, not a society. I hope like most parents that my child will be health with ten fingers and ten toes. The tests available would prepare me for what could be, and would not be a decision in whether or not to continue. As with my debate with handicaps, you would never fully realize that persons potential until you have raised them. The Genome project is not "geared" to selecting the perfect child (at least not now), but to helping cure and prevent some diseases. The ethics involved with this project limit the "perfect" child idea. Also, with advanced testing in the future, who would make the decision of who has the perfect child and who would make the decision of not allowing a mother to have the "imperfect" child. Would we look for "breeders" or allow for nature to take its course? Would we revert to Nazism and Hitler and create the perfect race for the sake of having the perfect race? I hope not. I realize Alpha has limited resources, but I would hope each child be given a fair chance. The mind, whether Albert Einstein (who was considered "weird" when he was young) or a mentally handicapped IQ, would be terrible to waste. The input of both would be valued. As I see working with physicians, the highly intelligent sometimes lack the common sense of the common working person. Use the technology to prepare for the birth, not take away from it. And regarding the sterile environment of Alpha, I would assume that just like on Earth, with a little elbow grease, hard work and imagination, you could make it a pleasant place for a child. Heck, we invent the moonwalk (big air filled trampoline) just to give kids the chance to "walk on the moon", on Alpha, they will just have to minaturize a space suit, and they have all the trampoline space they want! Jeanette