If you're anything like me, at some point, would have watched a sci-fi move made in the 50's or 60's. A shiny vision of the future with man living in distant planets, wearing space suits made out of aluminium foil, fish-bowls for helmets and not a single black, Hispanic or Asian person to be seen. Yes, it was all very optimistic, if a little racist, and people were convinced that Earth was but a temporary home for mankind as we were sure to leave our ancestral birthplace behind and head for the stars.
Yeah, so what happened?
Okay, first we
have the obvious technological constrains. Putting stuff in space is
expensive and really, really difficult. In fact, rockets use all their
fuel just escaping earth's gravity. By the time our orange juice is
floating in an amusing manner across the room, we're running on fumes
and there's no BP servo anywhere to be seen.
But let's say we
overcame this problem? Let assume we've constructed a space lift which
makes earth launches redundant. There's the distance.
fucking big. Seriously, whoever built it... WHAT THE FUCK WHERE YOU
THINKING! Even travelling at light speed it would take 100,000 years to
cross our galaxy! To get anywhere interesting we would need stasis
chambers and by the time you wake up, there may not be anyone home to
tell what you've seen.
But let us assume that we overcame the
faster than light travel issue. Let us assume we can go anywhere in a
relatively sane amount of time. Now we have the biggest problem of all.
You see, humans were developed on Earth. Designed and conceived
in the very place you're standing right now. We have a very pleasant
star, called the sun, which gives us the right amount of heat. We also
have plenty of water, food, oxygen, a rather convenient magnetic field
to protect us against cosmic radiation and the perfect amount of gravity
so as to enable us to do most thing, yet not allowing our muscles to
Earth is perfect, right? Not really. It's only perfect to us because we've been tailored to live on it.
problem is that space is not earth. That's right, you've heard me!
Humans evolved here and here is the only place we can survive.
about it, we get ill just by eating the food when we go to another
country. What chances do we have of surviving a trip to Andromeda?
is not a nice place. In fact, space is out to metaphorically butt-rape
you the second you get there and we're completely defenceless. Radiation
would kill us at a molecular level, the vacuum would make all our
bodily fluids boil away and there's no way we could survive the extremes
of heat and cold. There's also the problem of food. Even if we find
plants and animals in other planets we would be unable to digest them as
their genetic (if they even have genes) codes would be incompatible
with ours. We would starve.
There are two possible solutions to these problems.
one... You terraform. Find a suitable planet, roughly the size of Earth
with a magnetic field and soil with similar chemical make up which also
happens to reside in a habitable zone not too close or too far from a
star. Then it's just a matter of getting to work reshaping it into
something we can live in.
Option Two... Here things get
interesting. We change ourselves. We genetically engineer people to
allow them to survive in the hostile space. Make them impervious to
radiation, allow them to survive in zero gravity environments, modify
them to extract nutrients from simple organic materials found all
throughout the known universe and shield them against the heat and cold
What I do wonder is, once we're finished modifying all the DNA needed to survive, what do we have then?
day, we may reach other worlds outside our solar system but I got the
feeling that by the time we get there we will no longer call ourselves
I just hope it's girls with cat or bunny ears.