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Monday, April 6, 2015

Interstellar

photo credit: IMDB


We watched Interstellar over the weekend. While I can’t say it’s one of my favorite movies, it does present an interesting premise. What if we stop spending money on space exploration and maintain the planet as is? If so, what happens if our planet becomes uninhabitable? How does mankind survive?

In the movie, Earth experiences such extreme temperatures, drought, and famine worse than the Dust Bowl of the 1930s that humanity faces extinction. A secret NASA (secret because nobody wants to spend money on space exploration when people are starving) sends a team of astronauts beyond our solar system to find an inhabitable planet. Of course, there are various crises and dilemmas. Wouldn’t be a good sci-fi action/adventure if there weren’t.

Much has been written lately about the discovery of new planets that appear to be capable of sustaining life. But it would be no quick trip to check out what telescopes and probes tell us. To get beyond our solar system we’d need either faster-than-light propulsion or wormholes (hypothetical shortcuts through spacetime). So far, we haven’t invented the former or discovered the latter.

Let’s say, scientists discover a wormhole that will let us travel to another part of our galaxy or into a different one. What would it take to get mankind to leave Earth? A global disaster? Would we see it coming? Would we heed the warnings in time? In Deep Impact (an asteroid will hit Earth), we hide underground until the Earth becomes safe again. In the movie 2012, we build an ark. But who is chosen to survive? How? A lottery? Your job? Bribes to officials?

I’ve written before about Mars One, the privately funded project to send a team on a one-way trip to establish a colony on Mars. NASA is also working on a plan to go to Mars. Progress is slow. Funding is always a challenge. If we knew that sometime in the future humanity would have to leave Earth, would we expedite that endeavor now? Or would we leave it up to future generations?

A lot of questions in this post. I love a good adventure movie. Disaster movies, not as much. But they do make me think. It’s that “what if” question that writers instinctively ask. It’s what makes a good story. But what if (see?) it’s not just a story? What if it’s real?

What do you think?

21 comments:

  1. Nothing like an early Monday morning brainteaser. What if? I've always loved the movie Contact for this very reason. The complexities behind the answer are enormous.

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    1. Loved the line in Contact about "a waste of space" if we were the only ones in the universe.

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  2. Nothing like an early Monday morning brainteaser. What if? I've always loved the movie Contact for this very reason. The complexities behind the answer are enormous.

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  3. We need Nasa and private space exploration for this reason. Unless we crawl out of the well we live in, we are as prone to extinction as the dodo or the polar bear.

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  4. Nice post! I think we have to keep reaching out to the stars to save ourselves and to grow :).

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    1. Thanks, Maria. Intellectually, "to grow" is more important. Money-wise, saving ourselves is a higher priority.

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  5. My thought is those aware of the danger have a better chance of survival. A heroic, saving the world fantasy is nice. The unfortunate reality might be every man (or woman) for themselves.

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  6. I think there will only be a few willing to leave Earth. The majority, I believe, will keep hoping until the end that something will change and they will be able to go back to life as they knew it.

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    1. Yep. Weren't they the ones laughing at Noah while he built his ark?

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  7. I'm not sure I'd be one to get on a spaceship to travel to another place, but if faced with the situation I might sing a different tune. I think there would be many who would be willing to go, but I wouldn't want to be the one to choose. Something to think about though.

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    1. I hope a situation that would force us to leave Earth doesn't happen in m lifetime. But then I think about my grandchildren. Would they have to make that decision?

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  8. I saw the movie and was interested in what might happen. Unfortunately I was disappointed with the concept of the science behind it. Certainly a fantasy movie. We do know that our choices are impacting our planet and we must do something. Unfortunately no one can agree on what to do. So many of the countries can't even get along.

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    1. I was disappointed, too, with the near end. (no spoiler) I thought it went from sci-fi into fantasy.

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  9. The Biker Chef and I went to this movie, on a whim, and enjoyed it. It is a little slow in parts, and you have to accept time travel, but I liked the premise, as well. I'd watch it again.
    I heard about the Mars project on This American Life. Hmm. I don't know. It takes a brave soul to be willing to relocate to another planet!
    Play off the Page

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    1. Biker Chef? Love it! Yes, Hubs & I both thought the movie was slow in parts. I think if I had no family (and was a lot younger LOL) I'd relocate. What an adventure that would be.

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  10. Great post. I loved the movie, but I love Christopher Nolan, disaster movies, and I'm always willing to suspend disbelief in favor of a terrific story, well told. I thought the visuals were stunning and the characters/actors fantastic. If there was a weak spot, it was probably that last act. The bookcase scene was just the tiniest bit hokey.

    As for the "what if..." I think it's more of a "what happens when..." After we watched it, my kids asked if the earth would last forever. How could I tell them it will when it won't? But I don't think it's something anyone should worry about now! From a practical human perspective, I think the world will last so long it will seem an eternity.

    But I also think we should support space exploration. Getting ourselves off earth and elsewhere, if a global disaster happens, won't happen over night.

    My preference for humanity? Feet firmly planted on terra firma with one eye on the sky. :-)

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    1. I love Christopher Nolan's films, too. What a difficult question to answer from kids. I think we should be prepared for the end of Earth--either underground or on another planet.

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  11. I saw Interstellar and enjoyed it except for the Deus Ex Machina alien assistance. It did make me think about mankind's future--if we don't kill ourselves off in the next year or two. Aside from Earth having finite resources that we are depleting daily, our sun "Sol" has a finite supply of energy. Both are old and both will die. It's inevitable. Arthur C. Clarke described Earth as mankind's cradle. We left the cradle to walk on the moon and build a space station. They were only baby steps. If we want to survive as a species, we must take bigger steps. We will have to leave Earth and find a new and younger world to colonize. If we start such a project before disaster strikes, we have a better chance to save more of the Earth's inhabitants and perhaps some of the animal population too. My guess is that if I'm alive when the colonization begins, I won't get to go. Neither will any member of the elderly population. The young, the astronauts, the scientists, the builders, the medical professionals, and others who are tops in their respective fields and are young enough to make the journey will probably be selected. If the project developers are smart, they'll leave all the politicians behind. One can only hope so.

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    1. Very interesting observations. I agree about getting started colonizing a new planet now before we need it. Also agree about the politicians. :)

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