Means and a Reason

We had decided to fully harvest the energy of in Earths oceans, both in the form of hydroelectric as well as the separation and combustion of the hydrogen atom. Granted at first the energy we acquired was only slightly more than the energy expended. At the end of the day, though more was added to the supply then diminished from it, so good was being accomplished. As the years progressed we sophisticated our refining skills, until energy was an inexpensive and plentiful commodity. Something that had plauged the human race since the dawn of the machine was finally behind us. Clean and abundant energy was a reality.

Although we were better equipped for the future, man was man and would always be. The notion that one event could change the course of history was not realistic. The turbulent motion of the events that had governed the planet for thousands of years had an inertia that could not be stopped suddenly, even by such a discovery as plentiful clean energy. It’s not to say that some change was not already evident, and in a small way we began to work together for goals that mattered to all humanity. As the sharing of viewpoints and ideas increased over the decades that followed it became apparent that the world might be ready to change. Out of this new cooperation came the first major collaboration of all nations, and the focus was on Mars.

The idea has been to setup a colony on Mars, in the name of exploration, understanding, and future human expanse. Mars was perfectly suited for terraforming, though it could not support a life of its own. With proper buildings and advanced temperature controls it might be possible to sustain water in a liquid form. Mars was also the most hospitable place we could land, without being melted like solder or crushed in the atmosphere like a tin can.

Colonization was going to be the salvation of humanity, the further expanse into space, the establishment of new worlds, humanity reaching out past it’s own world and into the solar system. The real trouble was getting there, and making it feasible to supply that new world with all that was needed.

Byron Landover’s work had been consuming him now for years. He believed that if space travel was advanced enough we would be willing to take to the stars. He reasoned that humans had been explorers since the dawn of creation. Reaching for the unknown, searching Earths oceans for land, and journeying places for little reason other than to say we could. When we finished charting the Earth we looked to the heavens, landed on the Moon, sent dozens of probes to Venus and Mars in search of life, and generally wondered in awe of our solar system, the galaxy and the universe.

After subsequent discoveries that Venus, Callisto, Europa, would never be able to support life, we had begun to stop searching, stop exploring and stop reaching. It seemed to Byron that we had failed. It was essential that we colonized Mars if we wanted move off this solitary rock orbiting its middle-sized star.

The trouble with a shuttle to Mars could be summed up in two words, muscular atrophy. We use our legs every day to repel ourselves off the surface. We are always fighting gravity, and in turn, by preventing our legs from being useless, we are able to stand. In space this is not the case, weightlessness is a catalyst for atrophy. Every day in space, even with exercise, muscles deteriorate and limbs become less useful. After the six months required in space to get to Mars, human legs would be like butter back in the pull of gravity. Not the best way to land on an unknown rock.

The theoretical answer to the problem was quite simple; give a ship some gravitational pull. This had been theorized since Einstein, the creation of mass from energy. The process had even been witnessed in gamma rays, and highly accelerated particles. With enough energy it should be possible to create an atom with an atomic mass large enough to simulate gravity. This mass would not have the pull of Earth but should provide enough resistance to slow the muscular atrophy down for the trip to Mars. With Earths abundance of energy this was more than theoretically possible, it was a sure thing.

Five years passed and a shuttle, capable of conforming to Byron’s specification for the Landover gravity source, was completed. The Mars ship was dubbed Indagator or Explorer in Latin. The ship was in orbit around Earth after its completion. It had been launched up in bits and assembled in spaced. So now we had it, the first human spacecraft with an artificial gravity source. A ship capable of reaching out into the heavens for the sake of exploration. Byron had done it and we were now standing at the doorway to human expansion into the solar system.

In the end you have to ask yourself, who can really foresee the advance of any civilization?

The only question left for humanity to answer was not how or where, but why. As humans we have tried to convince ourselves that we long to explore, to reach out. I suggest that we are merely the catalogers of the cosmos, the scripes of the galaxy. We explored the Earth to complete our land maps, weather patterns, and history books. We explored the heavens to chronicle asteroids, stars, comets, meteorites, planets, satellites, systems and galaxies. We needed no water, no metal, or land. Why would we want to persevere into space? Just to be the first to record anomalies of other worlds that have no scribes?

When it all came down to who was boarding the ship, everyone was looking at someone else. So there it sits in space, our passage to another planet, fueled and ready, built because we could, and not because we needed it. At the time of Byron’s death, the Landover museum was a testament to the past. For a mere 65 dollars you could board one of the shuttles leaving hourly to view the last legacy of a dying age obsessed with the stars. An age with not enough vision to see our world for what it turned out to be. For when it all comes down to basics, there are two things you need for any trip, a means and a reason. It seemed we had only one.

by Peter Brown

8 comments:

Roberta said...

What a fascinating story. I myself shudder at the thought of leaving my home planet, but I love stories about space travel and the (would-be) colonization of other planets. The Martian Chronicles is one of my favorite books.

I didn't know you were such a talented writer!

kludge said...

Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

I found this in my files from a few years ago. It was three times as long and twice as dry (if you can believe that). I never had the nerve to share it before.

I spent a few hours editing it last night, attempting to make it a bit more readable. I think I can do better, and will continue to try with any future stories I post here.

jenylu said...

Hey,
Where was this post when our debate resolution was "decreasing dependence upon foreign oil"? :) How about posting something on the need to reform NATO? :)

Ando said...

Nicely done. Seriously that was really good.

jenylu said...

oh well...I keep hoping someone will help us with our research...:)

Jason said...

That was a fascinating story. Of course, Mars is just rust and ice-sort of like a large tin can left in the rain too long. But it would be neat to go there.

kludge said...

Jason-

Thanks. You'll have to let me know when you finish your book, I'd be interested to read it.

kludge said...

Jenylu-

Clearly someone who doesn't read NATO as NAFTA, and then write a stupid comment about it.