The fence we walked between the years

“The fence we walked between the years, did balance us serene.
‘Twas a place half in the sky, where in the green of leaf, and promising of peach,
we’d reach our hand to touch, and almost touch the sky.
If we could reach and touch, we said,
‘twould teach us not to — never to — be dead.” (complete poem and link to a YouTube video where Ray recites it, at the bottom of the post)

I love this poem by Ray Bradbury, because of how it turns our gazes up. Up there is where we finally belong, where we should be pointing our efforts to. Up there may be waiting the response for so many different questions. Even if you don’t like “space talk”, there’s still so much our species can profit from that. As Cain Fraiser said, maybe we can move our factories plants to orbit, cleaning up the view and avoiding pollution. It doesn’t have to be another planet, perhaps our own Moon would suffice.

What about overpopulation? Speculatively, our planet has enough resources to provide all of only 2 billion people with the modern standards, land, food and so on. We are 7 billion, with 4 billion more expected for the next 40 years. Just a little over one generation henceforth. It’s a whole lot of people, and there are not enough resources for 11 billion to live well. Maybe some of us can move to orbit.

Maybe that’s too advanced? What about different technologies and findings, research that can be performed in low gravity environments? Don Pettit is a chemical engineer with NASA and he studied coalescence of water droplets inside of an air bubble inside of a water bubble. For some reason, those happen with the sound of cello! We don’t know why this happens with this specific sound, but we wouldn’t have ever found about it here on earth (link in the description).

But there’s no free dinner. Nothing space related is cheap or even low-cost, and we must dream with our heads on space, but feet on the ground, knowing how hard it is to get there. We are starting to look up again, thanks to names like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. NASA is bringing back the space program, and with all those efforts and investment we may set foot on Mars within a few decades. This may start a new epoch for our culture, with new technology being developed at an immense scale.

And we’ve done it in the past! Back in the ’60s, a feat of engineering called the Apollo program, have put a total of 12 (yes only twelve!) people on the Moon. Ok, here’s the thing: I cannot find any convincing evidence that we did NOT go to the Moon. The whole Moon hoax is a hoax. I’ll tell you what: if you can find any *convincing* evidence that it was a hoax, please reach out and I’ll be happy to look at it, update this page and give you credit.

But I digress.

Over 50 years ago, when we still were in the middle of a war, Kennedy’s government decided that winning the Space Race would give them the upper hand against the USSR. So we managed to stick three VERY brave guys in a spacecraft smaller than a bus, for over a week, for a trip of nearly 600,000 km (953,054 miles)! Do you know how far on average is the moon from good ol’ Earth?  Most pictures online will show the moon extremely close to Earth, which is not at all true. Here’s an image at scale for your appreciation:

actual_distance_from_earth_to_the_moon_by_shaddow24-d8vtsf9

HOLY CANOLY!!! That’s freaking far!

And they’ve done it again with a different crew later. And again later. And again…. 24 people in total have taken that travel, 12 of which have landed and jumped – and even played golf.

That all was done with a lot of brain grease, an immense amount of bravery and a truckload of hard work. There were great reasons for us to go to the Moon, and now there are even greater reasons to go back and even further away. For the first time in the history of our species, we are capable of visiting another worlds, and we have finally decided to give it a try.

The challenge is not going to be small, we will need more investment, even more bravery than the last time. A lot of preparation is due too. It’s no small task. But the payback, oh the payback is worth it.

To infinity, and beyond!

References:

If Only we Had Taller Been – by Ray Bradbury

“The fence we walked between the years, did balance us serene.
‘Twas a place half in the sky, where in the green of leaf, and promising of peach,
we’d reach our hand to touch, and almost touch the sky.
If we could reach and touch, we said,
‘twould teach us not to — never to — be dead.

We ached, and almost touched that stuff.
Our reach was never quite enough.
If only we had taller been, and touched God’s cuff — His hem.
We would not have to go with them
who’ve gone before, who short as us, stood tall as they could stand,
and hoped by stretching — tall — that they might keep their land,
their home, their hearth — their flesh and soul.
But they, like us, were standing in a hole.

O Thomas, will a race one day stand really tall
across the void, across the universe and all —
and measured out with rocket-fire at last put Adam’s finger forth,
as on the Sistine ceiling — and God’s hand come down the other way
to measure man, and find him good, and gift him with forever’s day?

I work for that. Short man — large dream.
I send my rockets forth, between my ears,
hoping an inch of good is worth a pound of years.
Aching to hear a voice cry back along the universal mall —
“We’ve reached Alpha Centauri! We’re Tall! O God! We’re Tall!”

World sustainability – http://www.worldpopulationbalance.org/3_times_sustainable

Cello droplets in low gravity

Apollo 11 mission description – http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/missions/apollo11.html

Image source – http://shaddow24.deviantart.com/art/Actual-Distance-from-Earth-to-the-Moon-537187365

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