Inspection- Well, the World Didn’t End, But…

                        Mars, courtesy Curiosity and NASA


by Ken Carman

 As far as we know the world didn’t end. Yet. Crossing out all the Matrix-like, avatar, alternate reality speculation and, despite the Mayans, yes: we’re still here.
 But it will happen some day.
 There will come a time when all our Abe Lincolns, all our temples, statues, words of wisdom, internet blatherings, towering towers of Babel will be gone. They won’t mean anything to anyone because, either there’s no one else out there to notice… or we’re at best a faded memory in some off-world-er’s memory. In other words: maybe others have visited this orb in the past, or will visit, but we will still be gone… forever. Eventually all evidence of our existence super nova-ed, red giant-ed, white dwarfed, away. We will be gone before that.
 And those “visitors” aren’t out there, as far as we know for sure… now.
 Perhaps some deity will know, will remember… but really, once you get beyond the less-spiritual world: that would be another discussion.
 Before our planet goes away it will might become more like Mars, or even Venus in the sense of heat and toxicity. Eventually it will be, at best, space junk then… the sun goes nova. There are a few scenarios here. None of them end well for us, or our planet.
 It might happen sooner rather than later. Earth has been wiped clean of most life many times. Are we really going to just sit here and wait for it to happen? There’s little we can do to save ourselves.
 Unless…
 We reach for the stars.
 I feel the present space program is bordering on cowardice. I love the pictures from Curiosity and other rovers, but satellites and telescopes are like Facebook. Gee, it’s nice to see these things on my page, but there is a bit of disconnect and, more important, will mean nothing to anyone once we all, eventually, go away.
 If we are doing this “for the glory of God, should we not spread his glory, since he created us, elsewhere… or at least export his glory, leave evidence, somewhere, somehow?
 How do we achieve this? There are many ways from realistic considering what we know now. And keep this in mind as you read: much of what we know now, and much of what we have done, was once thought as impossible, absurd or ridiculous  But back to “what we know now.” Sending our DNA out with our mechanical explorers, “explorers” who may get there long after we’re gone, certainly isn’t impossible. Now I know faster than speed of light is, theoretically, impossible… but generation ships may not be. The science is there, we just need to work on it like we did the space program. We didn’t even know for sure how we’d get to the moon when we started.  In fact a book at my in-laws, from the beginning of the program, claimed it had to be a giant, reusable, space ship with a huge crew, and we would probably have to figure out how to keep them alive until we could send more fuel to them… or they could find a way to process more on the moon.
 The way you find out how to do something is to do it, in the end. It just takes small steps, and a few big ones.
 And as far as the speed of light goes, at one time we thought no one could surpass the speed of sound or we’d shake apart. Einstein was brilliant, but he was neither God, or able to foresee all the possibilities. Some advancements mean stepping around what we think we know to, perhaps folding of space type considerations. I look at old Treks and see them pressing buttons and flipping switches. Some of their advances came faster than the series predicted, like scanning the body. There are some advances we just won’t see until they are almost on top of us. But most creep into our lives with so much stealth we may notice only when some youngster makes a comment that makes us realize there was a time when none of us had computers, no cell phones and not even a dial telephone.And that’s in my lifetime. In my father’s lifetime cars started as mostly a curiosity and unreliable, and telegraph had just started to give way to using radio waves. Digital would have been considered some far out dream even Jules Verne would have avoided.
 But what does this matter if tomorrow the sun explodes? All this, on this plane of existence, will be meaningless, unless…
 We send our essence out beyond our solar system, or at least to the few highly questionable sources of life in our own. If we’re lucky it will adapt. I would prefer going there, least we unintentionally terraform what’s already filled with sentient life.
 We wouldn’t like it if they did it to us, right?
 One might argue, as the universe expands, eventually we will get to point of extinction either way. But that’s only if the expand, not expand and contract model to mention one, is correct. And only if the universe is all there is. For now, as far as we know, the end of our universe, rather than just our planet, gives us far, far more time to imagine, then make what we dream of become real. Who knows what we may find out in that amount of time.
 We can do this: somehow, some way. We have done the seemingly impossible before. Hundreds of years ago our own ancestors would have thought what we can do now only the province of Gods. Just crossing the oceans would be met with falling off the edge or, “There be monsters.” In less than 10 years we flew to the moon using tech we barely imagined might be possible 10 years earlier. Imagine where that kind of dedication to space might take us in 50 years, a century and beyond. Or might take those who follow the path we blaze.
 Otherwise maybe the world not ending on some specific Mayan calendar day was just a short reprieve from proving our very existence was pointless.

                                  -30-

Inspection  is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection  is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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