I've been doing weekly blog posts here on Death by Cosmos for an entire year. It was fine as a little side project while also working a full-time job, but as of right now I'm off traveling for several months in Asia and it's been difficult to keep up with this project. For the time-being, I'm going to have to step away for an indeterminate amount of time.
I would have liked to have written an in-depth blog post this week, and on time. Instead, I'll be saving that one for next week, and instead bringing your attention to something else: seventy years ago this month, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists unveiled its first Doomsday Clock—set at seven minutes to midnight—in an attempt to alert the public to the immediate dangers of all-out nuclear war.
Everyone wants us to go to Mars. And while it makes sense as a scientific endeavor of unparalleled intrigue, it doesn't yet make fiscal cents—no government has given any serious financial backing to any human Mars mission so far.
Of course, Mas is a bit of reach. It would be a huge undertaking—and an epic accomplishment—for our civilization if we're ever able to establish a human presence on the red planet. Despite the costs, there are a few reasons why it might be a good idea to start thinking about Mars more seriously. Here are four of them:
The thousand-year-old Tibetan text Bardo Thodol, translated as "Liberation Through Understanding in the Between", and known widely by its popular name, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, is a Buddhist text about death, reincarnation, and achieving liberation from suffering.
For the purposes of this blog, in which I try to objectively examine the risks to humanity's continued survival, this book is sort of useful. One notable exception: the Bardo Thordol is intended to aid the deceased in achieving liberation, whereas I'm much more concerned about helping the living and liberating humanity from the threat of extinction.
So, let's get to it.
Planning for the future is regarded as a mark of intelligence—it's part of what differentiates us from animals. We plan for seasonal changes in order to maximize agricultural yields. We plan for worst-case scenarios in order to avoid catastrophe. And we plan how to grow a small business into an empire. Human beings are natural planners, and we're wired to wonder about the future.
Our one lethal blindspot as a species is that we're terrible at planning beyond our own lifetimes. And this is really bad, because today we have the ability to destroy our own species—and a large part of Earth's biosphere—both directly and indirectly.
Think about this: NASA currently spends billions of dollars each year on conducting scientific research on how living in microgravity effects biological organisms. The International Space Station has cost around $150 billion dollars to build and maintain, so far.
But do we even need to conduct these microgravity experiments? Is that a worthwhile endeavor? I don't think so. And I'll explain why.
Imagine, if you will, a long-term goal for humanity to achieve with regards to space exploration and colonization. What do we want our far, far future to one day look like? There are a few different camps here.
This was going to be a blog post about some of the cool things the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been doing. Instead, it's a blog about bullshit.
I'm currently traveling in India, nearly two weeks into a two-month stay (that may be the reason why my recent blog posts haven't been of the best quality lately—sorry). I've wanted to write on a few topics related to India and it's flourishing technology sector. For this week's post, I had planned to visit the Indian Space Museum outside of Thiruvananthapuram on the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent.
Spoiler: it did not go well.
Life, according to Nietzsche, is tragic. We're thinking beings trapped in a cycle of life, suffering, death and, worst of all, we have no guide to life. God is dead, so religion can be of no counsel to our worldly woes. And the world itself—nature, the cosmos—can be no guide either, as it is wholly indifferent to our all too human existence.