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The Universe Speaks

From: Ray Dickenson <r.dickenson.nul>
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2013 16:40:42 -0000
Archived: Sat, 23 Feb 2013 07:52:04 -0500
Subject: The Universe Speaks

Hello List, here's the gist of a longish article in 'The
Register' science section:



The universe speaks: 'It's time to get off your rock!'

Long-term civilization on a single planet is impossible
By Iain Thomson in San Francisco

Posted in Science, 16th February 2013 02:29 GMT

The twin visitations from our solar system on Friday - one
expected and one not - are yet another signal that mankind
really needs to get out and about a bit more if we are to
survive as a long-term species.

Those with an interest in space had already blocked out Friday
on our calendars for the flyby of the asteroid 2012 DA14 a scant
17,150 miles (27,600 kilometers) away. But over a thousand
Russians are unexpectedly nursing their wounds from an
unexpected airbursting meteor, parts of which now appears to
have just missed a major nuclear facility.


More than one basket

Given the short warning we got from 2012 DA14, the chances of
doing anything to stop an impact are vanishingly small. Sooner
or later we're going to get hit by something, and if it's big
enough the planet could be uninhabitable by humans for years or
even decades.

Worse still is the chance of impossible-to-stop impacts like
those thought to have caused the creation of the Moon or possibly
the asteroid belt. They're highly unlikely to come, but if we're
looking to hang around for a few million years or so the odds of
living those eons on one planet look short and we'll need a life
raft or two, either self-sustaining space colonies or making a go
of it on Mars or some of the Solar System's moons.

Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein summed it up best: "Once
the human race is established on more than one planet and
especially, in more than one solar system, there is no way now
imaginable to kill off the human race."

Ever since we've had a space agency, people have been complaining
that it's all a waste of money. But getting into orbit and beyond
has paid huge dividends in technological advancement, as well as
intellectual inspiration, and it will ultimately be the only
thing that offers our species a long-term lifespan."



Ray D

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