NASA’s Chief Technologist, Mason Peck, took to Reddit this afternoon, answering questions on everything from the democratization of space, and our current research into warp drives, to the role of 3D printing in the colonization of other planets, and the possibility of encasing our astronauts in water during the voyage to Mars in order to protect them from the negative effects of radiation. It’s fascinating stuff, and, in a perfect world, we’d be investing more than just a half a percent of our federal budget on it. Unfortunately, though, it’s not a perfect world… as evidenced by the fact that we spend so much time talking about who holds our President’s umbrella, and so little about what it would actually take to build sustainable human communities in space. And I suspect this will ultimately be humanity’s undoing.
I would have thought, in the wake of our moon landing in 1969, that fear and superstition would have slowly started to melt away in the face of science, giving rise to a new age of enlightenment, but that’s not really what happened. Instead, a great many of us doubled down on ignorance, denying global warming, and demanding, until blue in the face, that our President, in spite of the overwhelming documentation to the contrary, was born outside of the United States. And, as education budgets are being slashed, and the grasp of lowest-common-denominator “reality” television is becoming more strong, I think it’s likely that we’ll see the dumbing down of the American population continue, and our federal dollars being spent on things like walls along the Mexican border, instead of manned space exploration. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of humanity, and a big part of me thinks that we should just allow the whole experiment to end here on earth. But, at the same time, I also think that we’ve gone too far to just throw in the towel and give in to the forces of stupidity now. And it’s that part of me that thinks that we should begin looking more seriously at what it would take to get a rocket to Mars, full of brilliant astronauts of childbearing age, ready to blast off and leave this rapidly decaying planet of ours for good. So, that’s the big question for tonight – should we give up on earth, or should we focus our activities on saving it?
This, as I see it, is the biggest question facing humanity… and I think it’s summed up pretty well by the following two quotes – the first of which is from theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, and the second of which is from celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. I don’t think the two are by any means mutually exclusive, but, if you follow them through to their logical conclusions, I think you’ll agree that they point toward two very different visions for our future. So, with all that said, I’m curious as to what you stand… Should we put all of our efforts into finding another planet, where humanity might have a better chance of long term survival, or should we fight to make that future on earth? (Personally, I think we need to do both, but where’s the fun in arguing that?)