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Space & Astronomy

Colonization requires at least 10,000 people

By T.K. Randall
April 9, 2014 · Comment icon 53 comments

Humans may one day live on other worlds. Image Credit: NASA
A new study has calculated how many people it would take to viably populate another planet.
In the future we may see generational ships heading out across the stars on voyages lasting thousands of years in the hopes of finding new Earth-like worlds to colonize.

Back in 2002, anthropologist John Moore calculated that such a ship would need at least 150 people in order to survive a 2,000-year trip across the cosmos, but is this really enough ? A more recent study conducted by Cameron Smith or Portland State University has cast doubt on this conclusion and suggests that a more realistic number to ensure survival would be between 10,000 and 40,000 people.
These figures were reached by taking in to account the necessary genetic diversity of a population, the possibility of disease or disaster along the way and the likely growth rate from natural births.

"I did this study to materially help in putting together the millions of puzzle pieces that will be required to allow humanity to spread out from our earthly cradle," he said.

Source: Popular Mechanics | Comments (53)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #44 Posted by Frank Merton 10 years ago
The only thing keeping the human species from colonizing the galaxy in a few million years would be either our own weaknesses (lack of foresight as we see above or self-destruction) or an encounter with ET, which would make us go slow if at all.
Comment icon #45 Posted by DieChecker 10 years ago
It maybe b.s. to you but its true,have a nice day. We've already left the solar system. Voyager.... You said "no chance" which is wrong. The chance is small, but it exists. The technology exists. Like Frank said, it is only humans not wanting to go which is the limitation. And look how many signed up to go die on Mars.
Comment icon #46 Posted by StarMountainKid 10 years ago
I'm not sure it would be a good thing for humans to colonize the galaxy.
Comment icon #47 Posted by DieChecker 10 years ago
I'm not sure it would be a good thing for humans to colonize the galaxy. For humans? Or the galaxy?
Comment icon #48 Posted by StarMountainKid 10 years ago
For humans?Or the galaxy? For the safety and mental health of all the other life-forms in the galaxy.
Comment icon #49 Posted by BarnabasCollins 10 years ago
Setting aside the technical difficulties for such a trip, one would have to keep human factors in mind. The first issue is a moral one. The first generation would all presumably be volunteers. However, the second and subsequent generations would essentially be cons, having had no say in the decision to leave Earth. This could lead to the second issue. Subsequent generations might decide not to go along with the agenda into which they were born. They might decide to scrub the mission and return to Earth or otherwise change the original goal in some form or fashion. Then there is the human facto... [More]
Comment icon #50 Posted by stevemagegod 10 years ago
The human race at one point in time survived a near extinction event which wiped out everyone on the planet except for an estimated 10,000 people which have survived to this day.
Comment icon #51 Posted by taniwha 10 years ago
The human race at one point in time survived a near extinction event which wiped out everyone on the planet except for an estimated 10,000 people which have survived to this day. Yes if you stayed on earth you still have a fighting chance at least...
Comment icon #52 Posted by Azznerak the Black 10 years ago
The last thing this Galaxy needs is for the infection of humanity to spread. With humanity comes their laughable morals, religious views, and self-centered attitudes. Unless humanity wakes up, which would take the eradication of at least 95% of your population, the human virus will continue to infect this planet and this planet alone. Humans cannot cooperate with each other long enough to establish any viable project for colonization. Damn Skippy.
Comment icon #53 Posted by rodentraiser 10 years ago
How many people would it take? In the case of the Duggars, only two. Yes, I missed my meds and I'm being snarky tonight.


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