The Question of Justice
The Outpost will be a unique environment, isolated but with a complex advanced technology. It will be dependent on that technology for its survival. The first Outpost will be primarily for research and exploration, possibly to initially support a human colony on Mars, later to explore the outer solar system. It must be self-supporting with the capability of resupplying itself from asteroids and other extraterrestrial sources.
The Outpost will be vast, with an ultimate population of several million people. With that large a population, there will be crime. Some of the crimes will be those we are familiar with today. Some unique to The Outpost we cannot even imagine today. I will leave those to the future. The question to consider today is justice.
Crimes today fall into two broad categories, criminal and civil. In general, criminal charges are brought by the state and penalties can range all the way from fines up to execution. Civil charges can be brought by individuals (corporations are legally considered individuals) or the state. Penalties can range from orders to cease and desist to fines and seizure of property.
As a starting point I will examine the legal system in the United States today. I will focus on what I perceive as flaws in an otherwise efficient system and look at how they might be altered to function in the unique environment of The Outpost.
It is said that Justice is blind. She may be blind, but she has her hand in your pocket. You get the Justice you can afford. I will give two cases as examples: the OJ Simpson murder trial and the Central Park Five assault and rape trial. Both of these cases received major publicity and the charged individuals were both vilified and supported by the press. OJ Simpson was a multi-millionaire able to mount a powerful defense with a “Dream Team” of top attorneys, private investigators, and even public relations experts. The Central Park Five were teenagers from poor families in East Harlem when it was still a poverty-stricken neighborhood. OJ walked, and the five boys? They spent many years of their life in prison. Later, the one who actually committed the brutal rape confessed while serving a life sentence for another crime. The boys were innocent! Public Assistance doesn’t pay for a Dream Team, nor any attorney, nor investigators, and certainly not for a public relations expert. The oldest of the boys, Khorey Wise, who was 16 at the time of his arrest, was tried as an adult. He spent 13 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
This brings up several disturbing factors that contribute to the suppression of Justice.
1) Pressure on the police for a quick result to an investigation.
2) Pressure on the district attorney for convictions.
3) Lack of an equal playing field between the State and the accused.
4) Lack of oversight over the entire process.
1) There is considerable pressure put on police to catch the criminal; this leads to shortcuts and incredible pressure put on the accused to confess. This was done with the Central Park Five. They had no attorney at the time of their arrest and unsophisticated parents unfamiliar with the law.
2) The District Attorney is a political position, elected to office. So are many judges. An elected official is responsible to the electorate, and the electorate wants convictions. For example, before the boys’ trial a New York Real Estate Mogul (who is now our president) took out full-page ads in the local papers implying that they should be convicted and executed. That level of pressure is impossible to ignore.
3) Unless the accused is extremely wealthy, there is no way they can match the resources the State can bring to bear to achieve a conviction. For the Central Park Five, there were no witnesses nor DNA evidence presented, despite DNA evidence having been taken from the victim. One of the five, Khorey Wise, who ironically served the longest sentence, wasn’t even one of those originally accused. He went with his friend, Raymond Santana, to the police station to support him, because that is what friends do. He wound up being accused, tried and convicted along with the others.
Many innocent people are forced to confess to a crime they didn’t commit because of the risk of the trial, particularly if they don’t have sufficient resources to mount a positive defense. This is one of the reasons that most criminal cases are settled by a plea rather than a trial.
4) Many people believe that a conviction can be challenged by an appeal. This is incorrect. An appeal only looks at procedural flaws in the trial. For example, if the district attorney has exculpatory evidence (evidence that would help to prove the accused innocent), they must turn it over to the defense attorney. If this is not done, it is a violation of the proper legal procedure for the trial and grounds for an appeal. The district attorney is always reluctant to do this. Frequently, information is concealed and never disclosed. Often, it is turned over at the last minute before trial, leaving no time to investigate it and giving the accused no knowledge of the case against him.
From the Criminal Justice Standards 4th edition, published by the American Bar Association:
“The primary duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice within the bounds of the law, not merely to convict. The prosecutor serves the public interests and should act with integrity and balanced judgment to increase Public Safety by pursuing appropriate criminal charges of appropriate severity, and by exercising discretion not to pursue criminal charges in appropriate circumstances. The prosecutor should seek to protect the innocent and convict the guilty.” (Emphasis mine)
Even if there is a blatant flaw in the trial, a convicted person is often on their own. An appeals attorney is another large expense impossible to raise for many people ‒ another contrast of the relative poverty of the defendant as opposed to the virtually unlimited resources of the State.
How can we create a legal system on The Outpost that does not incorporate these flaws?
1) The pressure on the police.
This is perhaps the most difficult problem to solve. When a crime is committed in a closed society like The Outpost, there will be considerable pressure for closure.
A large part of this pressure comes from publicity, and that publicity can strongly influence police action. A false accusation can ruin someone’s life. One example is the case of Richard Jewell, who discovered a bomb at the 1996 Olympics. He was first hailed as a hero, then later accused by the FBI of planting it himself. He was later cleared, but the attendant publicity destroyed his life.
Another example is the so-called “perp walk” where the alleged perpetrator of a crime is paraded before the Press.
What is needed is an Independent Evidence Review Office that would look at the evidence available and determine if there is sufficient grounds for arrest. In addition, since a person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, the identity of the accused is to be kept confidential. No public accusations, no perp walk. The police can only announce that an arrest has been made.
2) The pressure on the district attorney.
The confidentiality of the accused will eliminate part of the pressure on the DA. Eliminating the election of the District Attorney will remove the need to pander to the electorate. If the DA is selected to serve for a long term, say 10 years, and the term is not renewable, there will be less pressure to get an unjust conviction.
The district attorney could be selected by a council of public defenders who would naturally want someone who would consider the rights of the accused.
3) Lack of an equal playing field.
The overwhelming power of the state for convictions has to be counted with an equal and opposite power for defense. The accused must have access to investigatory resources as well as competent defense attorneys that have the resources to put in the time and effort to defend the case. Today, Legal Aid lawyers may have hundreds of cases, and are unable to put in the time and effort to defend a case properly. Only the poorest of defendants are even eligible to be assisted by a legal aid attorney. The Public Defender must have far more resources, finances, and support than they do today.
4) Lack of oversight.
The Innocence Project estimates that in about 4% of capital crimes (such as murder), the convicted person is innocent. Keeping in mind that capital crimes are more strongly defended than lesser crimes, the general number may be much higher. With almost two and a half million prisoners in the US alone (more than any other country in the world, followed by China, Brazil and Russia, all dictatorships), that would mean well over a hundred thousand innocent people are in prison.
After conviction, there should be an automatic review of the entire case by an impartial board appointed for life, like the Supreme Court. They would review the evidence and the trial, and have subpoena power for any other records of the case. They could vacate the conviction in the case of a gross miscarriage of Justice, send it back for retrial, or choose to uphold the conviction.
I would rather see a guilty person go free due to an excess of caution than see an innocent person suffer for a crime they didn’t commit.
Schools on the Outpost?
by Anyi Wen
Right now, students are experiencing a major change in how classes are held because of safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many schools have moved their classes partially or fully online, with mixed responses from students and school staff alike. Some people love this new way of going to school, while others miss learning with their classmates in-person. How do you feel about these changes to the classroom experience? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A lot of people wonder about when things will go back to “normal.” We have a good idea of what normal everyday life and school days look like from years of experience, but what about for people who are starting out in the High Frontier Outpost? What would normal education there look like?
We can’t know for sure until schools actually open up there, but we at HFO have some ideas for what we’d like to see in space-based schools.
1. Multi-grade classrooms:
As a student at a High Frontier Outpost school, you may have classmates who are younger or older than you. Everyone learns at different paces and different ways, and in this setting you can easily find a peer mentor or be one. You would develop leadership skills and learn from great role models. Classes will generally be co-taught, which means there will usually be two teachers in each classroom. You would also have different teachers who specialize in the subjects they teach.
2. Study Buddies
You would be part of a study group that meets after school. You might end up in a group with your friends who live in the same neighborhood as you, and they could be from your class or a different one. Your group could meet to study together before tests, and maybe do homework together a few days a week. If you need extra help organizing or understanding some concepts, there would be a mentor or teacher your group could check in with. For the most part though, your group would be responsible enough to organize regular gatherings on your own, and you’ll support one another. There are sure to be many opportunities to celebrate your academic successes together!
3. Connections to Earth
By the time schools are ready to open on the Outpost, the rest of the Outpost has already been around for a few years. In school, you’d be learning about the short history of the High Frontier Outpost so far as well as key points from the history of Earth. Even though you may or may not be coming back to visit Earth after you start living in a space habitat, it’s important to continue to learn about our roots as humans who have lived on Earth for thousands of years. Life on Earth and the Outpost may be different, but we can learn from what has worked well and not so well back on Earth.
4. Student/Teacher Exchanges
Some high schools and colleges offer international student exchange programs, which can give you the opportunity to live and study in another country for a while.Well, what about a space-Earth exchange? As an HFO student, you’d have the chance to go back to school on Earth for a semester or year. This would be an even more valuable opportunity for people who are born on the Outpost and have never experienced life on Earth. Students back on Earth would also have a chance to experience school and life on the Outpost.
The same opportunities would be open for teachers. Your teachers on HFO might return to Earth for additional training or experience with different types of schools, and from time to time you might have teachers new to the Outpost.
5. Exploring Careers
Do you know what job you’d like to have? Some people figure out what they’d like to do when they are very young, while others only choose a path once they’re adults. HFO’s schools will expose students to different career paths and help them make connections to professionals early on. Since the High Frontier Outpost is at its heart a huge research facility, there will be many opportunities for students to see scientists at work. There will also be jobs that were available on Earth but have to be modified for a new environment in space. Your class would go on many field trips to see scientists working on breeding a new species of vegetable that can thrive on the Outpost, performances by zero-gravity ballet dancers, and more. If you become interested in a certain career, your school can help you find a mentor in the field who can give you the experience you need to decide on whether it’s the right fit for you.
6. Getting What You Need
In order for all of this great learning to happen, students need to have their basic needs met! As an Outpost student, you would enjoy free meals during your school day and free transportation to and from school. Physical and mental healthcare services would be available to everyone for no or low cost. Following Finland’s example, HFO schools may have a relatively late start to their school days at 9-9:45 AM, so that less of our scholars and teachers come to school sleep-deprived. Learning is done best with a full stomach, good health in general, and after a good night’s sleep.
Of course, none of this is set in stone. This is a plan that may end up being changed in time, just as education is always evolving on Earth. What we do know for sure is that we want schools in the High Frontier Outpost to be a place for life-long learners and leaders to grow. What do you think of these ideas? How similar or different are these practices to what your school does? Do you have any suggestions for what an Outpost school should offer? Please share your thoughts with us at email@example.com.
For More Information
Alber, R. (2012, December 31). Deeper Learning: A Collaborative Classroom Is Key. Edutopia.
Colagrossi, M. (2018, September 10). 10 reasons why Finland’s education system is the best in the world. World Economic Forum.
KidsHealth Medical Experts. (n.d). Six Steps to Smarter Studying. KidsHealth.
Mayhew, K. (31 July, 2017). The Argument for Multi-Grade Classrooms in Today’s Schools. The Educator’s Room.
The University of Utah. (2018, April 23). 5 Tips for an Effective Study Group. David Eccles School of Business.
Transportation in Space Habitats
by Roxanne Lee
The year is 2199. Judith Jemison (Judy to her friends) lives in a space habitat, and today is her first day off in a long time. She sleeps late, drawing the curtains so the station’s interior lights don’t wake her up. Because the space habitat has gravity, she is in no danger of floating away in her sleep.
Once she wakes up, Judy makes food in her small but comfortable living quarters. If she were in, say, the International Space Station in 2020, she would eat dehydrated or thermostabilized food (May). The space habitat she lives in, however, has its own hydroponics growth labs. Hydroponics growth labs are labs that can grow plants not with soil, but by using water with lots of nutrient solutions (To learn more about hydroponics labs, check the article by HFO writer Anyi Wen here). Instead of freeze-dried tortillas or shrimp cocktails, Judith has hash browns made with fresh potatoes. Gravity also means that residents of the station can safely cook.
Once she’s eaten breakfast, Judith is ready to go. She leaves her small home, ready to enjoy the day. She wants to spend her day off visiting a friend. How will she get to them? Well, first of all, we should know where she is.
Judith lives inside High Frontier Outpost, a space habitat modeled in part after an O’Neill cylinder. An O’Neill cylinder is a kind of space habitat for people to live in, first envisioned by Princeton physicist Gerard K. O’Neil (O’Neill Cylinder Space Settlement). He first described its details and function in a Physics Today article published in 1974. The habitat is made of two cylinders rotating in opposite directions. Its proposed dimensions are 20 miles long, 5 miles in diameter, 6 stripes along its length to make 3 habitable spaces and 3 windows (Kanchwala). The size of O’Neill cylinders can vary, based on what they’re built for, but they can be very, very large. The inside of a cylinder could have as much space as the entire state of West Virginia! Or, if you wanted to measure the area in football fields, an O’Neill cylinder has as much space as 232,691 football fields! (If you want to learn more about O’Neill cylinders, check out the GeekWire article here.)
The High Frontier Outpost is an outgrowth of this original O’Neill cylinder concept. To increase space, the windows and solar panels were eliminated, and it no longer exists as a paired structure like the cylinders pictured above are. By getting rid of the windows, the interior surface area is doubled. In addition, the Outpost cylinder modules have close to 50 stories more space than the original O’Neill cylinder designs. Those could range in size from 5 miles (2,438 stories) to 20 miles (9,754 stories) long.
One of the most important things about an O’Neill cylinder is its gravity. The rotation of the cylinder every minute and a half would be enough to create a gravitational force that simulates Earth’s gravity (Hadhazy). Artificial gravity is a key part of the O’Neill cylinder’s effectiveness. Gravity is a very important part of life on Earth. It keeps us from flying away and makes sure that the things we put down stay down, but gravity also keeps us healthy. Gravity ensures that bodily systems like blood circulation and digestion work properly (To learn more about the effect of gravity on the human body check out NASA’s article here).
So, while gravity is key to living and making Judy feel at home, it also means Judy can’t just drift where she wants to go. Maybe she could drive there?
A private car would probably not be the best way to travel in the cylinder. Private cars, used by one person or a household, are already resource-heavy on Earth. Cars need gas, possibly from fossil fuels, as well as upkeep, and sometimes they need to be replaced entirely. They can also cause accidents. With space hard to come by in, well, space, a private car might consume too many resources for any one person to justify.
To go from one end of the cylinder to the other, Judy might be able to take a maglev train. Maglev is short for “magnetic levitation.” Maglev trains travel on rails using powerful magnets, rather than wheels (Chandler). Maglev trains can travel without friction, so they can go incredibly fast. The fastest commercial maglev train on Earth, located in China,reaches speeds of 268 mph on one of its routes (Wakatsuki). In addition, because maglev trains don’t touch the tracks, they generate less noise and wear themselves down less (Chandler). Maglev trains also don’t require fossil fuels like other kinds of train, making them a safer option for space habitat.
There are many short-term transportation possibilities. These cylinders will be quite large on the inside, and some could be as large as small states. In the initial Physics Today article promoting the cylinders, O’Neill himself recommends bicycles and low powered electric vehicles as adequate transportation (O’Neill). And, for short distances, they are. Bicycles can get someone around a neighborhood or between neighborhoods, as can small low-powered electric vehicles.
But what if someone needed to travel outside of the O’Neill cylinder? Travel between one cylinder and a neighboring one would be relatively easy. Much of the difficulty now in space travel is effectively and safely leaving earth’s gravity. To drift in space from one cylinder to the next would be simple, especially if it was close by. In his article, O’Neil envisioned these “recreational vehicles” to be “simple spacecraft, consisting of well furnished pressure shells with little complexity beyond an oxygen supply and with much the same arrangement of kitchen facilities and living space as are found today in our traveling homes.”
Even a horse could be a viable form of O’Neill cylinder transport! In a cylinder modeled after a city, it may not fit. But if there were a cylinder made to primarily house nature, like forests and mountains, a horse could be the most efficient way to safely cross the varied terrains.
Judy, our O’Neill cylinder resident, will not be traveling by horse. Her friend is a bit far away, but she’s going to use the opportunity to stretch her legs. She takes her bicycle, riding out of her neighborhood as the rest of the settlement wakes around her.
None of this is set in stone. By the time we are living in O’Neill cylinders, there could be transportation options vastly different from anything we have now. The only limit is our imaginations. How would you like to travel through an O’Neill cylinder?
For More Information
Boyle, Alan. “Where Does Jeff Bezos Foresee Putting Space Colonists? Inside O’Neill Cylinders.” GeekWire. Geek Wire. 29 Oct. 2016.
Hadhazy, Adam. “How We Could Actually Build a Space Colony.” Popularmechanics.com. Popular Mechanics. 2 Oct. 2014.
Kanchwala, Hussain. “What Is O’Neill Cylinder?” Scienceabc.com. Science ABC. 24 Feb. 2019.
May, Kate Torgovnick. What Will We Eat on Mars? 21 Nov. 2014.
“O’Neill Cylinder Space Settlement.” Space.nss.org. National Space Society.
O’Neill, Gerard. “The Colonization Of Space.” Physics Today, vol. 27, no. 9, ser. 32, 1 Sept.
1974. 32, doi:10.2514/6.1975-2041.
Wakatsuki, Yoko. “Japan’s Maglev Train Sets World Record.” CNN. Cable News Network. 19 Oct. 2016
Building the Outpost
While most people believe a large habitat like The Outpost would be made of exotic materials, nothing could be further from the truth. The main construction materials would be steel and concrete. Not the steel and concrete we use here on Earth, however. On Earth, smelting iron from ore requires a large amount of energy, usually from coal or oil. In space, we will use mirrors to focus sunlight to reach the high temperatures necessary. In addition, vacuum-cast steel is of a higher quality than steel cast in air. Free oxygen weakens the molten steel (steel is iron with a higher carbon content. Other materials such as chrome and molybdenum are added to alter its properties).
Concrete is any aggregate with a binder. The common form that we are all familiar with contains sand and crushed rock as the aggregate and portland cement as the binder. Some playgrounds are covered with concrete made of ground-up rubber tires in a polyurethane binder.
NASA’s Mars habitat contest was won by a company that 3D printed a shelter using simulated Martian soil and a plastic binder. For the habitat, there would be many things the aggregate could be made from, such as lunar regolith, slag from steel production, and asteroidal material.
The prototype Mars habitat was made from a polymer concrete formed from basalt fibers and polylactic acid (PLA) as the binder. Comparing this compound to standard structural concrete, the results showed that “this recyclable polymer composite outperformed concrete in NASA’s strength durability and crushing test. ASTM lab tested and certified it to be two to three times stronger than concrete in compression, our space-grade material is also five times more durable than concrete in freeze-thaw conditions.”
Basalt fibers are used today for many things. Commonly called Rockwool (a trade name), it is used for home insulation (the green stuff that looks like fiberglass Batts) and hydroponics.
In construction today, fiberglass fibers are commonly used as a reinforcing material with standard portland cement concrete.
The binder material, PLA, is produced from dextrose, a sugar produced from corn. The sugars dextrose and glucose are chemically identical, the only difference being how they are produced. Algae can make glucose from carbon dioxide (CO2) and water. This means that it can be produced in large tanks. This could be done in space.
Because of the size of The Outpost and the forces produced by its rotation (one gravity at the shell), the shell of the habitat would need to be strongly constructed. This would counter the rotational forces trying to pull the structure apart. The massive shell would also provide a significant amount of radiation shielding for the habitat’s interior.
Another advantage of this material is that it can be 3D printed. This has already been demonstrated in the construction of the 3D printed “MARSHA “habitat by AI Space Factory that won the NASA Mars habitat contest.
There is a considerable difference between building a habitat in space and one on a planetary surface. Some of the considerations are:
A) The production of the fiber from available materials.
B) The production of PLA from algae and growing the algae.
C) Production of the steel reinforcement.
D) Acquisition of materials.
E) 3D printing of the materials.
F) Development of space capable 3D printers.
These general criteria indicate areas where further research will be necessary. We hope to be able to contribute to the furthering of that research.
Around the Cosmos
In this edition we are featuring work from reader Darleen Pfingsten. Creating space-based art is a huge hobby of hers. She shared a little of what inspired her:
“This painting was inspired by a crest from the Nintendo game “Fire Emblem: Three Houses” which you can spot on the top of the left side. Since the crest’s symbol resembles a moon I wanted to create a fantasy looking scenery which includes small galaxy elements like the planets or the shooting stars.”
Show us your creativity of bringing science and art together! Submit your art to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have also started a poster challenge project. For details please visit our HITRECORD challenge page.
Are you or someone you know interested in joining our team? Use our volunteer form to notify us!