Weekend Assignment: Strange New Worlds, New Civilizations…
It’s that time again. You know what time I mean, class. That’s right. Weekend Assignment time.
In case you hadn’t been following the news on all things astronomical, Astronomers did something cool last week. They found a planet in another solar system in the sweet-spot (not too hot, not too cold) to maintain liquid water, and thus to probably support life. They call it Gliese 581-g, a “Goldilocks” planet. Now, if only we had interstellar, physics-breaking FTL drives, we’d be in business. And that gets us to the Weekend Assignment:
Even as astronomers discover planets that may be capable of supporting life, such destinations remain out of reach of would-be human colonists, even if the world is “only” twenty light years away. But if some science fictional technology were discovered in the next year or two (warp drive, matter transmission or whatever) that made it possible to leave Earth behind and go live on another planet, would you be tempted to do so? If you choose not to relocate, would you be interested in just visiting the place instead?
Extra Credit: If you did go, whether on vacation or as a colonist, and you were only allowed to bring one small suitcase with you, what would be in it?
Would I move to another, habitable planet, were it technically feasible and possible? Well, in a word: no.
Yeah, I’m a huge sci-fi nerd, and I’m a huge proponent of actual space exploration and all that jazz. But I’m also terribly, personally, risk-averse. And I like being alive. I figure, the chances of survival for those first few colonists on this brave new world are… somewhat less than my chances of survival on my native rock.
Plus, there’s so much to see and do right here that I won’t even be able to see and do in this lifetime… why would I shove off, permanently for the great unknown when there’s plenty of unknown (to me, at least) right here?
But would I visit – if the trip were temporary, and a return trip were also feasible? Sure! The chance to say I’ve been to another world (and lived to return and tell about it) would be pretty priceless. That would be, without question, the trip of a lifetime.