Saturday, January 21, 2012

Build Fission Rockets, Become Aliens

Rockets are the key to getting into space. Not the kind of key you keep in your pocket which allows you to access your house, but the kind of key which you keep in a giant laboratory that allows you to access the entire universe. Until now we've only used combustion rockets to do anything--destroy cities, launch missiles, power jet packs, send men to the space station and the moon. But now the anonymous "they" are working on fission powered rockets.

What is special about those? you ask. 

Well, think bigger. Think bigger than Earth, think bigger than Jupiter (my favourite planet), think bigger than our star or our solar system--think deep space. Millions and billions of stars occupy our universe. And dozens of planets orbit those stars--totaling dozens of billions. Imagine that we can fly out into nowhere, soar among the stars.

Whenever I hear someone use that phrase, I always imagine standing among trees or among a crowd of people, except instead of people or trees there are stars. But it will be nothing like that. To soar among the stars is to fly between them with millions of miles between, seeing their glow on the other side of the dark matter that surrounds us, on the other side of the vacuum filled with rocks and dust that sits between our tiny vessel and them. It is to be alone in the dark, always moving forward, always searching.

Sounds lonely. But it also sounds amazing. So what are we waiting for? Let's build those fission rockets and get going. Let's give our scientists jobs. Let's catapult the best and the brightest of the human species out into space to start looking for other places to go, to live, to populate. Instead of waiting for the aliens to come here, let's go be somebody else's aliens.

It's our new mission: build fission rockets, become aliens.

Here is a video in honor of Carl Sagan, one of the greatest thinkers of our time. Enjoy. And go be an alien.

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