Articles from the July 1997 Unification News
Planets From Scratch - Part Two
In the previous article I discussed how crowded this planet Earth is becoming. Empty stretches remain only because most everyone prefers to live in developed areas. Humanity needs room!
New worlds beckon. We've developed space flight, and astronomers are finding planets around other stars. No one knows whether any of them bear life, much less, the familiar kind. Apparently there aren't any civilized aliens living on them. If there are, they are deliberately avoiding us.
Humankind may soon settle the Earth's oceans, and then the Moon and Mars. Eventually, millions will dwell there. The centuries will roll on, and we will expand. It won't be easy. The stars are immensely far away.
How far? It takes several days to drive a car across the United States. The Apollo spaceships reached the Moon in several days. But NASA's space probes require years to reach the Sun's outer planets, such as Neptune. (Currently the farthest.)
The fastest existing probes, the Pioneers and Voyagers, would take tens of thousands of years to reach the nearest star, several light years distant. Would, that is, if they were aimed directly towards it, which they're not.
Past explorations were carried out by hardy pioneers, as were the first air and space flights. (As depicted in The Right Stuff.) It wasn't long before air travel became routine. Soon, space will also be opened to regular travel. The Delta Clipper and Venture Star spaceships now being built will likely provide the means. However, those ships (like today's Space Shuttles) can only reach low Earth orbit-only a fraction of the way to the Moon. Better ships will have to be built for routine flights there, much less to the Sun's other planets.
Yet even Neptune is nearby, compared to the stars. They are thousands of times farther still. Presumably, we'd like to complete the journey to another star within our own lifetime!
Enthusiastic scientists are already planning genuine starships. (Unfortunately, the galaxy-crossing ships depicted in science fiction depend upon imaginary propulsion systems that might as well be sheer magic.) The actual plans take many forms. Most of them would accelerate to a substantial fraction of the speed of light, and still their journeys would take many years.
The first starship might be unmanned: a tiny, swift Starwisp. Or crewed: a fusion-driven Daedalus. Or even a populous space ark: a lumbering O'Neill Colony. There are books; one can also visit several web sites. (See: http://www.tasmall.com.au/drmatrix/starship/rockets.htm.)
These plans are entirely realistic. Any computer-company billionaire could, if he wished, invest a portion of his wealth to back such a venture. What a legacy!
The universe has a built-in "speed limit," the speed of light itself. Nothing material can reach, much less exceed that velocity. The universe does provide one helpful advantage, first posited by Einstein. It's called "time dilation." Crudely put: the faster you go, the slower time passes. Atomic clocks flown aboard airliners have measured this effect. Above %90 of the speed of light, time "slows" dramatically. A voyage of a century could seem like only a year-but back home, the full time would have passed. Such voyages will require true pioneers.
Only a handful of people would be able to make such a perilous journey. The first starships will be small, and the cost enormous. Nothing but wilderness would be waiting at the end.
Similar objections were raised when Christopher Columbus planned his voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Tiny ships, a long and arduous voyage, and no assurance as to their eventual landfall.
Those Thirteenth Century Europeans couldn't imagine that, mere centuries later, jumbo jets would routinely fly thousands of people across the Atlantic, and in a matter of hours. Or that bustling cities like New York would receive them.
It is said that the gap between the stars is too great. We shall see.
Settling the new planets will be different. The Earth is covered by the works of humanity. Graded road and rail beds, dams, mines, and canals. Miles of metal and wood pole lines. Huge factories and power plants. Farms large and small.
Need a new world be similarly developed? No!
Technology already in use will enable the settlers to dispense, almost entirely, with those things. Even now, several Third World nations are leaping ahead, installing cellular phone systems instead of wires.
Eventually, flying cars (perhaps hydrogen powered) will be common. Graceful, elevated trains, speeding along on magnetic cushions, will carry passengers and freight between cities. These could supplant surface roads almost entirely!
Prodigious energy, whether from fusion or some other source, will be needed to power a starship. That same source will also power the new cities, so pole lines will never be strung. Such energy could distill plenty of fresh water directly from the seas, or any convenient source. And pipe it, underground, across great distances. Dams and canals will not be as important.
Robotic fabrication, perhaps nanotechnology, will bring clean, compact manufacturing closer to homes and business. Large factories will only be needed for special purposes. Bulk facilities like warehouses could be located underground; this is already done in several cities.
Genetic engineering will allow hardy, custom-tailored food crops to be grown anywhere. Huge, commercial farms and ranches would be nearly obsolete.
The new worlds can remain virtually unspoiled.
Such paradises will be popular destinations. Today many nations are embroiled in arguments over immigration. Whether of the skilled and hardworking-or of the benefit-eligible, the severely ill, or even the known criminal. (Not to mention illegal immigrants.)
Which agency, if any single one, would provide transit to the new worlds? Will it be corporate, governmental, or both?
Who, if anyone, would control immigration? No doubt every nation, company, specialized organization, and visionary religion, will feel that they are best qualified.
If there are many such worlds, all of these entities will probably have a chance. But if, at least initially, there are only a few available planets, this could become a source of great contention.
These same players will vie for control of the new worlds. The initial landings will be tightly organized exploratory parties. The first colonists will be scientists and pioneers; people too busy to quibble. They will have plenty of challenges as they settle their new homes.
Soon enough the populations will grow, and various factions -in the broadest sense of that term- will arise. Each colony, or settled world, will have unique conditions, and differing inclinations.
They will be starting with a "clean slate." Internally there will be no Providential history to replay. Externally, rival castes and cliques can be left behind. The opportunities for manifest wisdom will be great. (Or, all too familiar tragedy. Read Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars series.)
Earth societies host countless "parasitic" individuals and occupations. (To usurp an old communist term.) Investments, advertising and art can help a free society flourish. Bloated bureaucracies, criminal outfits and financial hustlers contribute less than nothing.
Yet the new worlds won't need the infamous communist "no visible job lands you in the gulag" policy. True Father speaks instead of an ideal "hobby culture."
Hopefully, many habitable worlds will be found. Also, some way to break the "lightspeed barrier."
If only a few temperate planets are found, humans could alter themselves to live on harsher worlds. Gills to live underwater, special livers to neutralize alien toxins, blood that endures tremendous heat; the possibilities are endless.
Still not enough? There are ways to make more room. Asteroids, which are numerous, could be converted into orbiting colonies, each housing thousands. Barren planets could be "terraformed." Robots could go on ahead to begin that work.
Ultimately, a star's Jupiter-sized planets could be dismantled, and a Dyson Sphere built. This fantastic construction would completely surround a star, its entire inner surface made habitable. The livable area would equal a billion Earths!
Spiritual restoration must take place first. The science mentioned above could be turned into weaponry. Among the threats: an unbraked lightspeed ship, impacting a planet, would shatter continents. Chlorine-metabolizing organisms, let loose in an ocean, would convert the salt into poisonous gas. Nanotech machines could inflict bizarre tortures.
Everyone hopes that humanity will "export" its best to the stars. In this regard, we Unificationists have our own special dreams. Perhaps our children will have an opportunity to fulfill them.
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