Archives for posts with tag: space travel

Anyone who’s read my musings here for any length of time will have noticed that I’m interested in a very wide variety of topics. That interest in just about everything started when reading classics like Treasure Island and A Tale of Two Cities as a kid. It spread, as opportunities for travel grew as an adult, and became pretty much a cofoundation of my life with writing once telling stories decided to become my life. Today, TV, movies, and the internet, along with books, feed my voracious appetite for information. What better time for an information junkie to be on the planet than during our great Information Age?

Two of my particular sources of fascination have long been medical science and ocean travel. Sailing ships and their adventures are attractive for their drama and romance. The concept of transferring navigating the globe in vessels of canvas and wood lends itself perfectly to extrapolation into space. Trade the canvas and wood for titanium and transparent aluminum, and you’ve hitched your wagon to Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, though he used the analogy of a wagon train traveling the great unknown. Some of us are born adventurers, whose passion for the stuff of myth and dreams leads us to explore space in our minds and on paper…and for some lucky few, in real life. As writers of science fiction, we may invent diseases horrific and space born, but none may be more horrific or devastating than the one I just read about in this National Geographic article.

Often I don’t eat very much at all or enough fruits and vegetables. If left to my natural appetite, I eat one carb heavy meal a day, with a little grazing on the side. I have had the habit of making jokes about it, saying something like: “Time to eat a salad or some fruit. Don’t want to give myself scurvy!” After reading this article, I don’t think I’ll be quite so quick to make light of such a terrible illness.

I’ve known about scurvy since ninth grade general science. Rickets too, which led to a similar joke, because I don’t like to drink milk. The very idea of scurvy carried a slight air of mystery and romance, because of its connection to sailing expeditions. Ninth grade children weren’t informed in their textbooks of just what it did to the human body. Now that I’ve been enlightened, all traces of romance and mystery have disappeared. All that’s left is an education on an obscure medical crisis that was also absolute tragedy.

Some of my favorite fiction to write involves medical backdrops. I have a feeling a space faring version of scurvy now lurks in my futuristic writing future. Anything can be expanded on, tangented from, and transferred to space. Scurvy included, though it’s going to be hard to “improve” on this very real horror from our earthbound past.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/scurvy-disease-discovery-jonathan-lamb/?google_editors_picks=true

This. Right here, in the guise of a simple web link, we have what all of geekdom has been bating breath in preparation of for what seems like eons. Well, what may actually be eons from the other end, depending on how long lived or even still living the potential alien folks in a solar system far, far away may be. We know nothing about them. We know not if there actually is…er, are, a them, yet the space hungry version of Pavlov’s dog is salivating the instant this particular bell is clanged.

Personally, I’m of two minds about the whole thing. While my science revering, space loving, science fiction writing side is right up there in the stands, cheering its little heart out, the side that both loves and freaks out over the old TV series Alien Nation would be a lot happier if Stephen Hawking hadn’t decided to voice the resounding voice of reason by telling us not to call ET back. After all, the pop culture tinged concept of alien overlords gets a whole lot less Alien Nationy, when it comes in riding the what iffing coattails of a real life alien signal. It gets real life real and not a little scary.

Even if this one doesn’t bring us a singing telegram from the stars, it serves as a hair-standing-on-end reminder that someday there may be profound decisions to be made about just how discoverable we should be. Isolationists? Arms open wide? I’m not sure. Probably somewhere in between would be best, but as a group we Earthlings aren’t really known for our restraint. Still, even the futility of resistance in a worst case scenario would spark the one thing no alien visitors could ever be prepared to face…the human spirit.

This is the most exciting scientific article I’ve seen in some time. Actually, since the one a while back about the magical seeming machine similar to the Star Trek food synthesizer. This one has a Trek connection too. They’re likening it to the impulse drive. How awesome is that?

As a writer I’m always pondering the best way with what we know now to get humanity from Point A Right Here to Point Way Far B. Some ways would turn us into walking mummies (read all but dead or right on up to good and darned dead), others would involve an insomniac’s dream of a very, very long, long…er, long, sleep, while others involve a self-sustaining generational colony ship that would be like taking your entire town on a Sunday drive…practically forever. All intriguing, none exactly ideal.

Enter the electromagnetic propulsion drive. Invented a decade and a half ago, it was deemed impossible. Now, all of a sudden, ta da! It works. It can get to the moon in four hours! Take a moment to let that sink in. Rocket off to The Luna Cafe for lunch anyone?

Given our current predicament of being all dressed up, with every where to go, but only the slow boat to China equivalent of propulsion as a prospect for trying to get anywhere beyond the International Space Station, this is like a Model T driver being suddenly handed the keys to a Maserati. A working EM drive would open up space travel as we never quite dared hope for.

This prospect is exciting for all of us, scientists, dreamers, humanity in general. And science fiction writers. Imagine where an EM drive, combined with creative imagination, could take us. To the moon. To Mars. To the stars.

One of the first things I thought of is how important it could be for the salvation of humanity. Not that we as a whole need saving right now. That I know of. But we’re always trying to figure out how to survive an extinction level catastrophic event, like a direct asteroid hit. I’d sure rather take off in a well prepared escape fleet than hole up in a cave system in Arkansas! By lottery. (Why, yes, I do love Deep Impact!)

The thing most thrilling about the very idea to me is that for most of us it’s coming out of left field. An expressway to the stars, of sorts. An idea I’d never heard of or imagined, until I saw this article a little while ago. I can practically feel my brain expanding, as possibilities that seemed impossible yesterday set off a veritable fireworks factory of ideas and imaginings.

And, yes, plots.

Writing is going to get a lot more exciting. And just think of the new ways movies will play out. What a great time to be a writer. A screenwriter. A thinker. A citizen of Earth.