While in Scotland, Leslie and I rode on trains. I was inordinately excited about this, because I had never been on a train before (except for that time in third grade which I don't remember) and because trains are a rather weird form of transportation. Basically, somebody takes a bunch of boxes, hooks them together, and drags them across the countryside on really, really long metal rods. And people sit in them and eat and read and play bridge. I spent a lot of time looking out the window. I saw castles and sheep and a few beehives.
I fully believe that humans will go to space, one day, and build colonies and eat weird tasting potatoes grown in an artificial environment or eat weird tasting potatoes that aren't actually potatoes because they are native to Caprica, not Earth. All the common theories of space travel tend to lean towards space ships: big ones, small ones, ones with sails and nuclear engines and jump drives that allow them to skip over massive chunks of space or fly faster than the speed of light (a very useful trick, considering the size of the universe).
But what I want is a space train--a number of boxes run together in a chain and dragged from here to there by a massive engine harnessing the power of a star.
It makes sense: each car would explode away from Earth separately, and they would then be assembled while in orbit. Once assembled, the engine would leave orbit dragging a number of boxes and people behind it. Then, if one car exploded while taking off, only a few people would die, but the whole train wouldn't be ruined. If it were a big enough train, entire colonies could start out, ready and willing to colonize New Scotland and New China and New New England.
And when they look out the window of this train--the space train--instead of sheep and castles and beehives, they would see stars and spaceships and gravity whales, and on their way to New Scotland, they could make a stop at New New York and visit the black statue of liberty that sings when the wind whistles through her teeth, or visit the Big Apple which is actually the original, red spaceship that brought everyone to this planet.
New Scotland would be a planet of rolling hills and sparkling crags, with boiling water in Equatorial Ocean, and massive spheres of ice in the North, home to a particularly ornery species of furry dinosaurs. They would keep their royal crown, scepter, and stone in a sacred box hidden in a secret spot on the highest mountain in the world, and Great Britain would not rule over her any more. Then children would learn how their ancestors escaped from the rule of the Queen of England by traversing a billion miles across the universe and settling here, on the beautiful blue-green planet of New Scotland.
So if we could maybe hurry our technological advancement up a bit, then maybe someday, instead of backpacking across Scotland, I could backpack across the universe.
And for your entertainment, I have included this video about the Scottish boy in the Scottish McDonalds.
Administrative Note: posting schedule will be changing, but I don't yet know to what. Thanks.