Alex was born on April Fool's day to Gerhard Beck, a computer programmer with a law degree, and Ann Fulenwider, a pathologist. Alex is survived by his brother Justin, who is studying at Pitzer, and his parents

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Alex was born on April Fool's day to Gerhard Beck, a computer programmer with a law degree, and Ann Fulenwider, a pathologist. Alex is survived by his brother Justin, who is studying at Pitzer, and his parents. Alex spent his entire life at the family home in McLean, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Alex's childhood was pampered but not privileged. His parents belonged to the local swim club, but not a country club. Annual beach vacations were made to Florida and Myrtle Beach, not the French Riviera. Big summer vacations were to the national parks, not Paris or London. His grandmother watched over him, not a nanny.

Alex's name was a familial take off on the famous inventor Alexander Graham Bell. This may explain his early childhood desire to become an inventor. In grade school, Alex wanted to invent warp drives. Throughout middle school, Alex was inspired by the genetic revolution. He wanted to be involved in gene therapy of humans and plants and did research on the legal ramifications of patenting genes. During high school, the excitement surrounding the human genome project ebbed and Alex turned his eyes from genetic engineering to nanotechnology. New developments shifted nanotechnology from a subject of science fiction to a subject of Congress, in less than a decade. Just before his departure from this world Alex was deeply interested in doing the same thing he has always wanted to do, invent things.

Alex inherited his father's love of computers. Every few years his father would buy parts to soup up the family computer. Recently Alex constructed a computer entirely from scrap parts. Alex was also keenly interested in computer games, especially on-line games. Alex's best on-line ranking was for Warcraft III where he achieved a rank within the top 200 on the East Coast. In one notable Warcraft game, all three of Alex's allies quit in the first five minutes, leaving Alex to fight alone against four enemies of equal rank. Alex began managing all of the cities his allies had left him and after a desperate struggle defeated all four players.

Alex learned a little bit about programming C++ when his father tutored him while he was in middle school. During middle school he programed "ALEXMATH" for the TI-83 graphing calculator. This became the most common math reference program in McLean High school. Alex also dabbled in Java.

Although Alex loved computers he also felt a love for the outdoors. Alex spent much of his childhood playing in the creek behind his house. At 11 months of age Alex managed to climb out of his crib. During his childhood Alex was always climbing trees and set up a 20 meter zip line in his back yard. This love for climbing was transmuted into rock climbing. The summer of 2001 Alex spent two weeks in Colorado rock climbing. Alex also enjoyed sailing, water skiing, backpacking, snowboarding, street hockey, soccer, and river kayaking.

Alex helped his family maintain trails in a local park, including building several bridges and sets of steps. Alex helped his family construct a yurt, 20 feet in diameter, foundation, and deck, from the cement pouring to the placement of the dome.

Alex ran cross-country and track during his freshman and sophomore years in high school. After pulling his left calf muscle he stopped running track. His trainer advised him to stretch his calf more. Alex stretched so often that he transformed from being inflexible to being able to do a split.

During Spring of his sophomore year, a friend convinced Alex to go to a gymnastics practice with him. At practice, Alex had little native ability for the most common gymnastic moves - tumbling, forward rolls, cartwheels, or hand stands. While stretching Alex bragged that he was very flexible. Coach Kim said "Then you will be able to get your head in your knees." With just a bit of help from his coach, Alex was able to prove his boast. Observing that flexibility was one of Alex's strengths, Coach Kim developed gym routines based on flexibility. Now Alex does things that make most people flinch - such as doing a perfect split from a back extension roll. At his peak, Alex was able to get 13 inches on v-sit and reach. With the new routine, Alex took advantage of every gymnastics practice and went on to win 2 dual meets and be named MVP during his Junior year.

For his high school job, Alex wanted something easy where he could work on his tan. So Alex became a lifeguard. He worked at the McLean Hilton - although he didn't get much of a tan indoors.

On Wednesday, October 24th, during the sniper rampage, Alex stopped at the local Exxon to fill up his car with gas...

Overpopulation is the biggest problem facing the world today. Human population has increased from 2.5 to more than 6 billion between 1950 and 2002. This is a totally unprecedented growth rate. As the population continues to grow, food, water, and other resources will become increasingly scarce. Meanwhile carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster than the population does, as more countries become industrialized. In the past 140 years, atmospheric CO2 levels have increased by 50%. Global temperature has risen approximately 0.6 degrees Centigrade during this same time period. It may not seem significant now but such climactic changes are already having detrimental effects on the environment and agriculture. In addition, starvation, poverty, and disease will worsen. The environment cannot adequately sustain even 2 billion people with our current geopolitical and industrial systems. How will it fare with the 10 billion predicted by 2050?

Aside from controlling the birthrate, the only solution to our overpopulation problem is to transfer the human population off-planet. The most feasible approach would be to create free-floating space colonies. Such space colonies as conceived by Gerald O'Neil would be cylindrical and provide artificial gravity through centripetal acceleration. They could employ a system of mirrors and filters to provide natural sunlight to their inhabitants. Food could be grown and harvested in specialized containers. Our solar system has enough resources to house and sustain over 10 to the 15th people with less population density than we face on Earth. Unlike every movement of population to date, no humans or other species would be harmed or displaced.

Through on-going research at the Space Studies Institute at Princeton University most of the technological problems of space colonies have been solved save one: the astronomical cost of building them. Current proposals for reducing the building costs involve boot-strapping manufacturing facilities to use lunar resources.

The primary cost of constructing a space colony derives from the extremely energy intensive process of bringing the materials needed for the construction of a mining base on the moon and/or space colony out of earth's atmosphere. It costs approximately $100,000 per kilogram to transport cargo into space. Even when a reusable space vehicle is developed. the lift costs will still hover around $10,000 per kilogram. Needless to say an extraordinary effort would be needed to construct a full scale, self-sustaining colony. However current developments in computers and nanotechnology may provide a relatively inexpensive method to construct space infrastructure and human colonies.

Lift costs could be reduced using a space elevator. However, no reproducible materials are strong enough to endure the high tensions put on the shaft. Carbon nanotubes, according to the 2002, October 5th issue of Science News, could overcome this problem. A space elevator with its center in geosynchronous orbit could lift materials and people to twice that height. This could be constructed with carbon nanotubes or another super strong material and would provide cheap transport to a high earth orbit where payloads could be jettisoned easily to the moon, or anywhere else in the solar system.

I believe that with advances in replicating nanotechnology a new method of lunar bootstrap colonization could become viable. The initial cost of colonization would be in the millions rather than the billions.

First a small space probe could be sent, through conventional means or though the space elevator, to the moon. When it lands on the moon it would deploy nanobots suited to 1/6 G's, 0 pressure, and high radiation. While the probe itself would contain the primary computer it would be in constant communication with the Earth, provided that communication satellites orbit the moon. The construction of the solar diodes and other machinery could be produced entirely from the moon rocks. (A site with diverse elements and compounds would be chosen for the mine.) The probe could be micromanaged by people and computers stationed on the earth. The probe could release microbots which would be microscopic and intelligent. These microbots would control the nanobots and would be managed by the probe, forming a robotic hierarchy built to effectively manage all of the projects the nanomachines would undertake. The larger, more intelligent microbots could be used to triangulate the nanobots' position, provide direction and order for the nanobots. This would increase the efficiency of all nanoproduction on both Earth and in space. Microbots could curb rogue nanoreplication through a collective intelligence, and prevent this disaster entirely. These microbots could send out certain signals telling the nanobots when and where to reproduce. This would place the reproduction rate of the base of this pyramid indirectly into the hands of humans controlling the operation. These microbots along with the space probe could be reproduced by the nanobots, along with all other equipment on the moon.

To ensure success, multiple probes would be launched to multiple sites. The nanoreplicators would reproduce in the mineral rich moon rock and would construct the entire power network and mining operation. Processes on the moon would take moon rock from refining to partially assembled final products that fit in the rail launchers. These launchers would be around half a meter in diameter. Refining the moon rock could be done by electrolysis if it were impossible to accomplish through nanomachines. By applying the idea that everything could be done at the nanoscopic level to an extreme, the buckets could even be equipped with ion or chemical retrorockets to get them to the construction site. When the buckets got to low earth orbit, it would be very easy for a small number of human workers, robots, or nanobots, to fuse the partially assembled materials with blowtorches or nanotechnology. Solar power plants could be constructed in geosynchronous orbit and could transmit electricity in the form of microwave radiation to receiving stations on earth, to provide a pollution free form of electricity. Once the population on earth has stabilized it would be easier to build industrial infrastructure based on reusable energy sources and fusion.

All of the resources needed to build and sustain permanent space colonies are on the moon. This technique could also be used for the majority of celestial bodies, with the exception of bodies too hot or too massive to manage.

Long term space colonization will commence many decades, even centuries in the future, and will be dominated by fully automated nano, micro and macro robots. In a century beyond this one we will have tamed space. After space has been colonized and much of the moons and asteroids have been transformed into space colonies that orbit the sun and contain sustainable ecosystems with controlled sunlight and climate, the world will look to the colonization of other Solar systems. Like the initial colonization of space the colonization of other solar systems will be completed by machines that build themselves utilizing indigenous elements and compounds. But this colonization will take place on a completely unprecedented scale, and will require no micromanagement from people/computers that orbit the sun, but discrete thinking entities stored in the "Seed probes." Millions, billions, even trillions of these probes could be launched at very high velocities all over the universe, and when they reach their targets they will build colonies and expand the reach of civilization at something comparable to the speed of light. Thus overpopulation will never be a problem again.
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