Democratic Norms and the Settlement of Iceland

Iceland today is a small island of roughly 300,000 people in the North Atlantic, often credited as the oldest functioning democracy. Iceland was originally colonized by Norse migrants leaving Scandinavia in search of land in the Ninth Century. Except for a few monks, the Norse settlers found an uninhabited island and began claiming tracks of land. Due to a remarkably high degree of literacy among the earliest Iceland Settlers, substantial and detailed records exist of this of this settlement period. We can use these settlement records to understand how the people of Iceland interacted with each other, developing elementary government.

Notes on the Moon Treaty

I talked about the Outer Space Treaty a couple of days ago and I would like to expand upon the theme by discussing the Moon Treaty, formally known as the “Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.” The Moon Treaty was adopted in 1979, and provided some additional restrictions on how celestial bodies could be used. In this treaty, all celestial bodies in the Solar System are included in the terms, with special terms of use provided for the Moon. While the Moon Treaty applied to the entire Solar System, except Earth, there were

A Note on the Outer Space Treaty

The Outer Space Treaty was adopted in 1967 to establish a baseline of rules governing the acts and behavior of those in operating beyond Earth’s atmosphere. In general, the Treaty applies when acting in space, on the Moon, or “other celestial bodies,” which presumably means asteroids and other planets. The language of the treaty seems likely designed to have effect anywhere outside Earth’s atmosphere, generally promoting the peaceful use of space resources. The Outer Space Treaty provides many rules, but several stand out as relevant to providing independent governing structure in space. One of the most important is that nongovernmental

The Structure of a Space Corps

There’s been a lot of breathless coverage of the surprise United States Space Corps being all of the sudden. Here’s a brief listing of links: Ars Technica Russia Today Space News The Independent Really, I could go on for a while, but you get the idea. But the most interesting of the pieces, was this one in the National Interest: Against An Air Force Space Corps: Space Belongs to the Navy! The Air Force is fighting legislation directing it to create a “Space Corps” to better specialize and prepare for conflicts in space. They are absolutely correct in doing so,

Population Dynamics for a Better Future

Understanding human population growth is important to policymakers for a variety of reasons. As a society, we need to be clear about both our long-term plans and our long-term needs. For instance, if a society is going to double in size every 50 years or so, then we need to make sure we have the capacity to produce the resources necessary to support that every 50. Hans Rosling was a Swedish demographer who just recently died, but he’d done quite a bit of work in the area. For instance, he gave a TED talk showing not just how the population

The Fish Bowl

Purveyors of various Malthusian models like to compare the Earth and its population of humans to a pond and a population of fish. As we all know, a pond of a given size will really only support at most a fixed number of fish. The fish pond is an important model. I often use a fishpond, fixed by logistic growth, as an example in precalculus. I even used a dynamic two species version to demonstrate differential equations in Computational Methods for Numerical Analysis with R. But the logical jump to humans isn’t that simple. Allow me to explain. First, the