Tuesday, May 15, 2007

In Which Our Boy Contemplates Colonizing Mars

We're a fun bunch of guys
And we come from outer space
On the planet where we're from
War is even fun
We're a fun bunch of guys
--Sparks, "A Fun Bunch of Guys from Outer Space"

Last week was a busy one, what with Speak Your Mind Forums, Hickman Review coffeehouses, Battles of the Bands, etc. But, we've managed to navigate the last super committed week before the end of school. Only finals loom large on the horizon, unless you notice that impending move that is standing hairy and large just behind it. But, that's a story for later.

You may recall my participation with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November. Next month brings a new writing adventure from the same crew at the Office of Letters and Light: Script Frenzy (ScriFre?). The idea is to write a playscript or screenplay during the month of June. I really want to play along, but June is going to have enough going on, so I may take a rain check this year. Writing a script has slightly less appeal for me, since I have previously written a few. I never had written a novel, and I really needed the made up motivation of something like NaNoWriMo to help me accomplish that goal. But, I still might give it a shot. I'll let you know.

I rode my bike to work this morning (and barely missed getting rained on, on the way home). I took a break on the sofa when I arrived back home, and spent part of an hour watching the remainder of a Science Channel documentary on Dr. Robert Zubrin, the aerospace engineer advocate-guru of manned missions to Mars. The show outlined how we might get there and what we might do when we do get there. It was fascinating, but disappointing.

Disappointing on one level because of the indignation it engenders in anyone who grew up during the era of manned missions to the Moon (okay, I more came to consciousness rather than age during this period, but I was breathing when Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins finally made that "one small step"). After 1973, NASA seemed to have lost any sense of direction, launching experimental missions to study a million different things that may or may not be useful in the future. Without a goal, it seems that NASA is simply just another government program that politicians can use to pork up their districts. But, I digress.

It was mostly disappointing because, even if the directors decided to go full on toward landing men and women on Mars, the potential of human colonization (something I think we ought to do for several reasons which I will not get into here--but, rest assured one of them isn't because we are soon going to make life untenable here--that's not going to happen...nor is it any reason to hop ourselves on to another unsuspecting planet) isn't even close to happening for about two hundred years. I'm talking serious colonization, successful colonization (which includes a Mars that looks nothing like the Mars we know today--I'm talking about a place where Dr. Spaceman can talk a stroll around the outside of the compound without a pressure suit or an oxygen mask).

Why is that disppointing? Because I want to go! And, as much as I think I am going to live forever, my human brain does not really believe that that forever will last two hundred years. Sure, any future me may be able to go, but I am bummed for present me. (I will spare you any detailed discussion of my concept of the nature of being, viz. life/death/next life/death/next life/so on (by the way, I am not of the Shirley McLaine school here, but there are some similarities, I guess (is anyone still following this?)).

Of course, I am also left with a host of questions, not the least of which is: since space travel is by nature cost prohibitive, will colonists be limited only to those ridiculously wealthy who can afford it? Or will it be more akin to 17th and 18th century sea-faring colonization, in which one might purchase one's passage as a deck hand or an indentured servant? I could see that happening. After all, those rich bastards have to have somebody to fetch their water and protein shakes.

I know I will be around when all this actually occurs (it will, believe me--as soon as somebody figures out how to make some money off of it), I just won't be around as the me that I am today. At any rate, I'll see you on Mars, baby!


Anonymous said...

Hm, perhaps you have set the stage for your ScriFre screenplay? Your contemplation of this Mars thing seems compelling. If you can't live it in this life (and the questions about future lives are beyond the scope of this blog entry) then, heck, at least you can create the dream and live it vicariously screenplay style!

I think that before I may see you on Mars, I'll see you in Delaware. And allow me a preemptive strike for any rogue, uninformed comments that may occur on this here CentStand blog: Delaware is NOT New Jersey! We have beaches (free); they have "the shore" (costs a fee). We northern Delawareans identify with Philly; Philly and everyone else ostracizes Jersey. Delaware:DuPont::Jersey:stinky refinery and pollution smells. Delaware = the first state and home of tax-free shopping; Jersey = Huh? I don't know but you gots to pay lots of tolls to be around and to get out of there! And that is just the beginning of many differences. Don't let anyone try to convince you, otherwise, loyal reader.

Anon AMVB, First State Native; no connection to Jersey (or Mars for that matter)

comoprozac said...

Maybe we should colonize Delaware first.
Even after we destroy this planet, will Mars really be any better? Somehow I doubt it. I kinda believe this is the only planet we're gonna get, and look what we've done to it.

ATR said...

There is no hope for life on Delaware (JK, Jersey Girl). But there IS hope for this planet. Thinking any other way is debilitating to any progress we might make as individuals or as a species. It might take a complete breakdown in the structure of society, but there is hope for the ecology of Earth. Colonizing Mars can't be done out of necessity, it must be done out of the spirit of science and adventure that are some of the finest motives of the human race. If we have a purpose (and that is debatable, beyond any purpose we appoint for ourselves), might that purpose not be to go forth and explore not only our own planet, but the entire reachable universe, as well? From a human-centric point of view, why else is it there?

Anonymous said...

I seek the entire reachable universe. Of shoes. And mac and cheese.

I guess the rest of that other noble stuff = good too.