Friday, March 11, 2011

The Gospel according to NASA

The good news given to us in the Bible is that Jesus Christ has paid for the sins of those who trust in him, and will return to create a New Heavens and a New Earth. If you do not want to accept this gift from God, here is an alternative gospel, from NASA and other potential colonizers of the heavens, as reported by Ben Austen in the March 2011 issue of Popular Science.

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"Given the risks humans pose to the planet, we might someday leave Earth simply to conserve it." (Liberty Foundation)

"The dinosaurs died out because they were too stupid to build an adequate space faring civilization." (Tihamer Toth-Fejel, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems)

"After completing a $200-million study in 2000, NASA reported that a colony could be dug several feet beneath our own moon's surface or covered within an existing crater to protect residents from the constant bombardment of high-energy cosmic radiation." (NASA)

"The presence of life-sustaining ice on the moon is a precursur to permanent lunar bases, hotels, and even casinos." (National Space Society)

"Mars compares to the moon as North America compared to Greenland in the previous age of maritime exploration." (Robert Zubrin, head of the Mars Society)

"In 2002, NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft detected continent-size regions of water ice in the Martian ground, and in 2008, photographs from the Phoenix Mars lander confirmed the presence of ice there." (NASA)

According to Princeton University physicist, Gerard O'Neill, "a massive freestanding orbital habitat" could be designed consisting of large cylinders spinning along an axis at a rate of about one rotation per minute.... Populations on these ships would be kept well above 150 people to avoid the consequences of inbreeding, although ideally the rotating habitats would exist in socially interactive clusters. Residents could also use stored DNA whenever the gene pool needed more variety." (Al Globus, contractor at NASA Ames Research Center)

"If you get your ship into orbit, you're halfway to anywhere." (Robert Heinlein)

"A massive centrifuge, called a 'slingatron', could be used to spin objects until they reach a velocity at which they can be flung out of our gravitational well." (physicist Derek Tidman)

"We should keep an open mind about the possibility of more advanced approaches, including wormhole teleportation and faster-than-light warp drive" (Marc Millis, Tau Zero Foundation)

"Self-replicating nanobots could one day be sent to an asteroid, where they would bore through the surface and begin the mining process, or they might be shuttled to the moon or a distant planet, where they would reproduce and spread and in time create an entire industrial civilization ready for people on their arrival. Human DNA might even be packed along with these civilization-building nanobots and used to spawn people when the time was right." (Mark Hopkins, National Space Society)

"There is no reason to think of human biological evolution as a passing phase; one day we all might be reengineered into sentient machines, our identities uploaded and transmitted into deep space, with scaled-down ships no longer having to provide radiation protection, closed-loop habitats or legroom." (Mark Hopkins, National Space Society) (author Ben Austen responded "your vision of the final frontier, sexless and bodiless as is, doesn't seem especially romantic". Hopkins acknowledged, "Well, maybe not, but you didn't ask me about romance.)

"A manned mission to Mars is already financially and technologically achievable, if only we drop the notion of a return flight." (Dirk Schulze-Makuch, astrobiologist at Washington State University)

"In 20 years, humans would have established a permanent Martian base." (Dirk Schulze-Makuch)

"In the weeks after Dirk Schulze-Makuch and his co-author published their article in the Journal of Cosmology, they received more than 100 emails, from 16-year olds and 65-year olds alike, each one announcing a readiness to leave for Mars immediately."

"Right now, most of the progress toward space settlement is being accomplished in the private sector."

(excerpts from After Earth: Why, Where, How, and When We Might Leave Our Home Planet, by Ben Austen, Popular Science, March 2011, p. 46ff)

(Marko's comment: I hope you live long enough to see this dream, and that you are one of the tiny elect number of people chosen by our leaders to embark on this odyssey, since there will be much less room than the 6 billion people that God currently accomodates on our planet Earth!)

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