Meet Generation I – The Interplanetary Generation

Valles Marineris Hemisphere Enhanced – Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Those of you who follow my Twitter stream will remember a while back that I published a few comments about Generation I.

It seems particularly topical to expand on the idea with the news today that the Mars One project has announced its shortlist of 100 candidates for the program. This is one of the final steps remaining before they announce the final 24 participants. Despite the many technical challenges that still remain to be overcome for the endeavor to succeed, this is exciting news indeed.

The Telegraph also reports that one of the participants is looking forward to having a baby on Mars. This raises a number of deep questions in the light of a situation that has not taken place in a very long time: humans will set foot on a new land, not in the service of a national interest, but rather as part of a private commercial venture.

I’ll save discussing those questions for a later time.

Instead, I want to turn my attention to the importance that this moment could represent for humankind. The possibility that a member of the human lays his or her roots down on a different planet during our lifetimes is very real. Indeed, this could make our children, those born between the year 2000 and today, prime candidates for the early participants in the flow of colonists to this new world. This marks the first time in the history of our species that our kind would span worlds. We would become an interplanetary life form.

This new generation should thus be rightfully called Generation I, or Generation: Interplanetary. Quite appropriately, it could also be read as “Generation One” as the first generation to set sail away from the cradle of humanity.

There are few parallels in history that carry as much significance. Our ancestors venturing out of Africa, the exploration and settlement of the Pacific, the discovery of North America, are some notable comparables. Certainly, each of these were fraught with danger, and none were guaranteed success. Yet, they led to great things. The same could be said of plans to colonize Mars.*

The Rosetta probe – Image credit ESA

When taken in conjunction with the heightened efforts being placed on unmanned research projects like the Rosetta probe, one could believe that we are entering a new golden era of space exploration. Ventures like setting up permanent settlements on the Moon and Mars would certainly frame well in such a situation.

Someone asked me whether I would be supportive of my child wanting to immigrate to another planet. I answered unequivocally “yes.” I would certainly miss my child, and I imagine Skype conversations are a little tough to get around with the asynchronous communications resulting from the time it takes to beam a message to and from such vast distances. And yet, as we stand on the verge of a new era, it seems slightly selfish (although completely understandable) to want to hold on tight to the precious gift that we send out into the void.

Here’s to Generation I. May great things await.

*Note: There is much room for an expanded role in unmanned exploration, and it should not be relegated to a backburner with the advent of manned exploration.

Still fighting over gay marriage? It’s the 21st century, folks. Move on.

I can’t believe that in the year 2013 we are still having to spend time and energy debating the issue of gay marriage (Toronto Sun Article).

When growing up, I was exposed to some of my parents’ homosexual friends. At school and afterwards, I had several awesome LBGT friends. I can credit them with helping me grow as an individual in many ways, and can’t attribute any of my moral weaknesses to them. My weaknesses/deviances/perversions/sins are all mine to bear.

Unsurprisingly, when one digs deeper, linking probable root causes of the resistance to the concept to the issue of money crops up: CBC News article

In a time where we believe to be on the cusp of the Artificial Intelligence Singularity, that we have begun growing human organs with the help of 3D printing, and that we’re talking about installing a commercially-deployed Mars base, I think it’s time we grow up and move on to bigger issues. If two adult, consenting LBGT individuals who love each other want to get married, let them. I think we can pretty conclusively say that archaic beliefs that gay marriage leads to warping of social values, undermining the moral fabric of whatever children they may care for, desolation of fertile lands, witchcraft, dogs and cats falling from the heavens, locust plagues, and whatever other evils that have been attributed to the concept in the past have been disproved.

Indeed, I believe there are more pressing issues which have been scientifically proven to cause desolation and plagues that should be dealt with. Pollution and climate change, anyone? Let’s get this issue out of the way so we can indeed claim to respect Human rights (last I checked every member of the LBGT community was human, no?), allowing us to get down to business over the issues that are actually vital to our continued welfare and prosperity on this little blue marble in space.

How little it takes to shatter the veneer of civilization

How little it takes to shatter the veneer of civilization

A few days without power turns a boatload of reveling vacationers into raving mobs of looting thieves. Certainly, being trapped on a ship sweltering in your own filth doesn’t do much for one’s sanity. One should keep this incident in mind when we sit back on our high horses and point our fingers at war-torn countries and call anyone ‘uncivilized’ or ‘savage’. I don’t think we’d do much better if the tables were turned.

Food for thought, and perhaps a sad statement on the nature of humanity.

We can only hope there are enough people out there who can rise above and make the world a better place.