|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?