I love space.
I’m a space geek. I love Star Wars, but I REALLY love Star Trek. One’s about an intergalactic war; the latter is about mankind’s pioneering spirit and yearning for exploration. That’s what speaks the most to me—the thought that one day the stars will be as well-traveled as our planet’s seas.
Last month, I went to a planetarium show. Not a laser show, but an actual “check out our half-hour movie about the solar system” show at the Gates Planetarium at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Last time I did this was in elementary school, and I have no idea why I waited so many years to do it again. The technology’s a bit better now, and the show was engrossing.
We’re on the cusp of commercial space travel now, and while it’s still going to be out of reach for the salary of a local magazine entertainment editor’s salary, I find the concept to be exhilarating. But even that’s not the most exciting thing that’s coming.
Warp speed is around the corner.
NASA physicist Harold White is working on a warp drive. It’s a concept that’s existed theoretically for a while—that it’s possible to create a space-time bubble that could propel a vessel to vast distances in a fraction of the time it would take the speed of light. The kind of thing where you could get to the next nearest star system—four light years away—within weeks.
Originally, it was thought the amount of energy it would take to do this would necessitate something that generated the mass and energy the size of Jupiter. White’s figured out a way to get that down to the size of an average sedan.
Obviously, this is insanely simplified. You’ve guessed it—I’m no theoretical physicist. But I’m absolutely enamored with this direction of innovation and science. Interstellar travel could legitimately be within our grasp.
Which brings me to the reason I’m even rambling on about this: NASA’s incredibly shrinking budget.
We’re so close to so many amazing, enlightening discoveries; things that could help propel us into a future not marked by post-apocalyptic tragedy, but a real time of hope and triumph. But we seem focused on kowtowing to fear and imminent material greed. NASA represents the best of what the United States should stand for, and we need to elect vocal representatives respectful to what that means. There’s an entire galaxy of 200 billion star systems out there, ready for us to explore. Why wouldn’t we spend everything possible to do it?
And if you’re still committed to fear, think about what’s to be gained in terms of protecting Earth from the inevitable collision with another oversized celestial object. It’s happened before and will happen again. A well-funded NASA could save us all from that.
When the sun sets on our time on this blue marble, don’t we want to have some place to call our new home? It’s out there, somewhere. Just set the course.
Second star to the right. And on till morning.