To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I guess I will duck in here to say that things appear to be straightening out. F has her car ... she has driven it to work and back by herself, without incident. We continue to run across things she needs to have, so not one but two trips this weekend; R went by himself today. You'd think we'd have this down pat after moving her to school and back so many times. Well, today I made up a care package for her and L too, so not just things we didn't think to pack or take.

I made a pot of soup today, and cooked enough chicken for sandwiches as well. You know how you slice the chicken after it's chilled and make a sandwich on whole wheat bread, with black pepper and just a bit of mayo, and maybe a lettuce leaf. I've been thinking about sandwiches like that and I think that will be some good lunches to take to work next week, with baby carrots, etc. Okay, enough with the mundane.

We are at the 40th anniversary of the moon shot. I remember 40 years ago tomorrow. I was eight years old, running little trucks around in our gravel driveway, when my mother made me come inside and watch Neil Armstrong's "one small step for [a] man" on TV. "This is history," she said. I stood on one foot, as it were, waiting for it to be over so I could go back out to my trucks.

Now with the space shuttle program nearing its end, plans are being made to go back to the moon as a preliminary step to going to Mars. I want them to get this done while I am still alive to see it. I would be part of the Mars mission, if they would have me, even if I knew I would not be coming back. We are going to have to get off of this planet. We're too vulnerable here - another such asteroid as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, and there we'd be.

The next step - well, maybe next after some of Jupiter's moons - will be a generational ship that will go beyond the Solar System. I will not live to see that. But it's been thought about, dreamed about, written about, a thousand times. I have to believe it will happen.

We'll take human nature with us, of course, with all of its strengths and terrible flaws. God knows what fashions people will be wearing - now that's a fun one for the SF writers and lots of them have had ideas. Will the various ethnic groups have intermingled by then so that our eyes and skin and hair will all look alike? Racism and sexism and all the other isms- will they still be talked about and fought about? How much of our brain functions will we have outsourced to technology by then - I'm kind of surprised every now and then to see how much I already have. What music and what literature will be considered to be classics? And what will language be like?

Without something cool and totally theoretical like hyperspace or warp drive, those hypothetical generational-ship people will be permanently cut off from Earth. The closest star is 4 light-years away, so if they end up somehow setting up a colony there, everyone who could possibly remember them will be dead, and their children, and their children's children, and so forth. And communications will take 4 years to go each way. That sounds like an impossible thing to ask humans to undertake ... until you think about explorers and pioneers and such. A young family could leave home in a covered wagon, travel a couple hundred miles, and never see their extended family again, ever. Or travel further than that with not much idea of what they would experience and having to make it up as they went along, and live or die by their strength and their wit. Of course, one can think back to the Mongols who crossed the Bering Strait and came into this continent and even South America thousands of years ago, and moved all through it and made it their home despite the very different climate and geographical regions and plant and animal life. So we've got it in us to do it.

And then, think how determined the life force, or whatever you want to call it, is, here on Earth. There are organisms that find a way to exist and even thrive in just about every conceivable environmental niche we have here. I can't believe that this happened only once and that we're it, in the universe. I want to know where everybody is.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

I was three, in a pre-school class, and we were herded into another room where we sat on the floor and watched the tv. I don't really remember the image, just the sense that the teachers were very excited about it. I hope I live to see a lot more space travel.