Tuesday, September 29, 2009

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Forty-Three

43. Launch people to Mars. Or even further.

If there's one thing we can learn from history -- and I'm not entirely sold that we can learn anything from history-- it's that mankind benefits from exploration. Every great advancement in society can be directly traced back to mankind's desire to see what's over the next mountain, across the ocean, on the other side of the world... and, eventually, outside of our own planet's orbit.

I'm tired of the Space Bus. I'm tired of sending radio-controlled skateboards to other planets. I'm bored with satellites that pretend to see other planets through the motions they create on the stars. All of that stuff is lackluster, boring, and, ultimately, unhelpful.

What do we learn when we launch a tiny globe out into the middle of nowhere? Nothing new, nothing exciting, nothing challenging. What do we learn when we turn our space program into the equivalent of the Disney World tram, transferring people between and this place and that place? Nothing.

Instead of all that rinky-dink stuff, we should be getting all the industrialized countries in the world together, and planning to send people to Mars. We should be building giant rockets and planning how people are going to live for a couple of years in space while they head to Mars, and we should be planning how they're going to live once they get there, and we should be doing that, right now, taking actual steps towards having people walk on Mars. And then we should aim for other planets and other systems, send whole colonies of people out into the universe, people who will live their whole lives in unimaginable but fascinating conditions, people who will inspire us to follow them, or to at least do something a little better back home.

The benefits are not just that people are put back to work, and put to work on something useful and long-lasting, but also that we will actually have a goal that the entire world can work towards, building bonds between countries and focusing our energies on something productive.

And, more importantly, the benefits are that then, someday, humans will again walk on an entirely new surface, some place no other person has touched yet (or no other person they know of), and doing that leads people to open their minds, to dream of new things, to look at life in a new way.

Exploring is in our blood. It should be in our future, too -- and our present.

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

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