Humanity, how do we ensure the survival of our species?

It’s to dangerous to keep the consciousness of the universe on only one planet, it could be wiped out… Sax Russell, from Kim Stanley Robinson‘s Red Mars

Mars, 2001, with the southern polar ice cap vi...

Mars, 2001, with the southern polar ice cap visible on the bottom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy is top of my “Recommended Reads” list and I am featuring it and an authorial review on day M of the A to Z April Challenge (14 April).

In the first volume, Red Mars, Sax Russell, a scientist and one of the first 100 people on Mars has a long and thought-provoking monologue that I found life changing. I’ve included just an excerpt of it in this post; it was in response to Anne Clayborne’s case for leaving Mars as it is – too beautiful to risk loosing.

The beauty of Mars exists in the Human mind , … Without the human presence it is just a concentration of atoms, no different from any other random speck of matter in the universe.

It’s we who understand it, and we who give it meaning…

But science is more than that. Science is part of a larger human enterprise, and that enterprise includes going to the stars, adapting to other planets, adapting them to us. Science is creation. The lack of life here [on Mars] and th lack of any findings in 50 years of SETI indicates that life is rare, and intelligent life even rarer.

And yet the whole meaning of the universe, its beauty, is contained in the consciousness of intelligent life. We are the consciousness of the universe, and our job is to spread tha around, to go look at things, to live everywhere we can. It’s too dangerous to keep the consciousness of the universe on only one planet, it could be wiped out…

We can transform Mars and build a cathedral,  as a monument to humanity and the universe both!

This is more “one hand clapping” stuff I know but read in its entirety, and using the terraforming of Mars as a literary example, it makes a compelling argument, and one wonders why this argument is brushed aside by our nations’ leaders.

“H” is for Humanity


Transcending the physical limits of Einsteinian laws

Just as humans have broken through barriers we’ve previously thought to be insurmountable, so will we find a way to transcend the physical laws of gravity, space and eventually time.  In simplified terms Einsteinian law sets the practical physical limit for space travel at much less than the speed of light; the faster we travel the greater our mass and with a corresponding increase in energy to continue to accelerate. Yet in contrast we can send data at the speed of light without even trying, and have done since early last century.

Distant Spiral Galaxy NGC 4603, Home to Variable Stars

Ray Kurzweil describes a point in our evolution—it is closer than we think—when we can convert our entire consciousness into data (not just our memory), and, therefore, send it at the speed of light where ever we want. But if there is nothing out there to receive it, it will remain as data and continue on infinitely through the universe. If we do come to communicate with a similarly intelligent and advanced society light years away we could first send information and instructions on how to build a biological vessel for our transported consciousness to be downloaded to. We will find ourselves having traveled across space at impossible speeds for physical objects.

To me this sounds perfectly plausible and if it sounds plausible to us in our current primitive state then it will be much simpler in the future.

We have to unshackle our minds from the physical world, and limiting our thoughts to the current and immediately past paradigms. The universe is too big [yet another physical term?] for that. I think this is a way for us to comprehend the universe as infinite. With our minds shackled to physical ideals we cannot grasp the infinite; the best we can do is think of something so large we can barely comprehend it. To truly be able to understand the infinite we must release our maniacal grasp on physical ideals…all of them.