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Time to Leave Earth? A Guide Through the Movies and Articles

October 9, 2018

Time to Leave Earth?

In May 2017 physicist Stephen Hawking said that humanity has 100 years left on Earth. His suggestion was another planet.

SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, Stratolaunch, NASA and more are chasing the stars - but why? If the old adage of ‘if you want to start an airline you need a lot of money’ - then if you want to go to space you need billions of dollars and if you want to stay there you need resources. 

Too many people, too much waste?

The discussion of why leave earth is actually fascinating. There are more people producing more waste (taking resources) and not replenishing the ecosystem. Eventually leading to? Dust? Smog? Can we even get off earth? We are starting to hear about more satellites crashing or being launched illegally - making certain orbits not navigable.

See: Gravity
See: Wall-E

Infrastructure

I watched the round table discussion from a 1975 Round table TV interview  that Jeff Bezos recommended during Wired 25 discussion. The video featured Princeton University professor of physics Gerard O’Neill and biochemist and science-fiction author Isaac Asimov.

In the video O’Neill promotes the idea of giant space colonies for human settlers, as opposed to the idea of settling on the surface of other planets.

Bezos states, “For me, Gerry was very formative in my high school years,” Bezos said. “I read his book called ‘The High Frontier’ and it resonated with me and made a lot of sense to me. He was the first person to ask this very fundamental question, if we are to expand into the solar system, is a planetary surface the right place to do so.”

Once you get past the science of it - the idea that we are “planet chauvinists” might make sense. What if the new normal in say 200 years was large ‘stations’ heading to the stars? 15,000 or so souls on board. Visiting earth or earth like planets are essentially vacations or resource gathering expeditions? At first you have to think?

So when I watched Bezos explain that he is building the space infrastructure so that the next generation or inventions could be built on top of what Blue Origin learned - it starts making sense. Much like utilities or transportation, the internet or the cloud - getting off earth eventually could be the 5th or 6th industrial revolution. Maybe in 100 or so years (mother Earth will be a distant reality).

Life among the stars

Renewable energy, recycling, sustainable farming are all models for living in space. While we seek to keep our home planet around for the next 1000 years - we are also unknowingly preparing for life out in dark space. Medical equipment that performs operations remotely, robots to clean up after us all can be transferred to ‘stations’ in space.

When a ‘station’ is built - the environment on-board would eventually feel like an open atmosphere so that the journey is not a cruise ship to nowhere. What industries could exist in populations w/ 15,000+ people. Could docking w/ other stations be the new trading posts of past?

Mining the asteroid belt for resources? Setting up colonies on planets could be rest stops for refueling or longer term stays.

See: Interstellar (Cooper Station)

The moon as a rest stop

Recently NASA confirmed the existence of water on the moon. Water on the moon is big via The Verge… “the biggest and most immediate application for lunar water is making rocket propellant. The main components of water — hydrogen and oxygen — are two of the biggest materials that are used to power rockets right now. And making rocket propellant out of the water on the Moon could drastically cut down on the cost of doing ambitious missions in space. Right now, rockets leaving Earth must carry all the propellant they need with them. But by leveraging lunar ice, rockets could potentially refuel once they get to space, allowing them to reach distant locations for less money.”


Conclusion

From stations in space to future wars. Creating a space force might be seen as truly visionary 100 or 1000 years from now...regardless of politics.

If we are destined to live among the stars - today matters more than ever. Our life as we know it is truly transient. What can you do today to make a greener planet for the next generation. What could you create or build that translates to the galaxy not just the world as we know today.
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The movies that might capture the future.

Elysium
Passengers
Interstellar
Wall E
Star Wars
Waterworld