life

The last frontier… on a travel card?


It seems the Kepler Space Telescope might not be operative anymore… It won’t discover any new planets. When I read the news, I thought about it, and as usual, I was filled with questions, but the main one that popped into my head was

Given the chance, would you just jump on a spaceship to leave Earth and live in a different planet?

Mind you, I’m not talking about the whole Earth being destroyed in some sort of apocalyptic situation and us having to evacuate. No. The scenario I have in mind is the following: suddenly, we hear on the news that a new planet has been discovered somewhere in space, and it can hold life. It’s pretty much like another Earth, only farther. We now have the means to ship a bunch of people off to the New Earth, so they’re, I don’t know, selling tickets?

Of course, the journey would be long… Think of either living in a spaceship for many years (maybe even too many years, and only your children setting foot on the new planet?) or something along the lines of some life suspension pods for the duration of the journey. Realistically, any planet able to hold human life might be way too far in light years for us to actually be able to complete a trip to it, so there you go.

Anyway, given the scenario above… Would you do it?

You know how the saying goes: better the devil than you know… Of course, there is no guarantee the new planet would be any better than this one, but then again, it would be all new and, hopefully, unpolluted! I’ve only asked this question to a few of my friends, and they both said “hell, yeah!”, maybe with different wording, but that was pretty much the meaning. Space…

I’m guessing knowing that you would help build a new civilization from scratch is also a good incentive… The idea of travelling through space, arriving at a foreign planet, not really knowing what to expect, and always on the basis that there were no massive blood thirsty wild creatures, that is, sounds quite exciting indeed.

Possibly all the cool and intelligent and creative people (hipsters!) would jump on the first spaceship available (as long as the money of the ticket wasn’t exorbitant!) but I would definitely not be one of them, at least, not in the first batch!

See, I wouldn’t be too quick about jumping onto a spaceship and travel for a few years in the middle of… nowhere! Hell, I don’t even like jumping on a plane for two hours to go to the beach! Don’t even get me started about packing. Anything that takes me more than 30 minutes by transport already takes so much effort… Light years? Er… can I use my Oyster card?

I’ve seen films, and space always seems cold, and dark. Don’t get me wrong, it also looks beautiful, and I’m guessing the views must be breath taking, but then again, it’s just a bunch of rocks floating around… To me, space is not only the “great unknown” but also a bit hostile. There are no flowers in space, no birds, and no sunsets. Fair enough, there would be sunsets in the new planet (or should!), but if I had to travel for, say, 10 years to get there… I don’t think I could be happy for that long without feeling the rain on my face, or listening to the ocean.

I think I would feel claustrophobic.

I mentioned that I’ve watched a lot of films… Somehow, travelling in space is never an easy ride, there’s always so many problems. What if we get stranded up there? What if we can’t find the place? What if we discover we’re not alone in the universe, only the other creatures don’t like us at all and decide to attack us? What if we run out of fuel? What if we get to the new planet, only to find that there are some organisms we, humans, happen to be allergic to, and we all die? Alien, Battlestar Galactica, Armageddon, Pitch Black…

To be honest, I’m not usually this negative about things, it’s just a couple of topics that get the worst out of me. Also, when I think about getting into a spaceship and travelling around the universe, I can’t help but think of a song, one that makes me sad. This song is called “Laika” by Mecano. I still remember when I heard it for the first time. It talks about Laika, a stray dog from Moscow, the first living being in space, how she became famous for that, and how obviously there wasn’t any device to bring Laika back to Earth… So she died in space, alone and scared.

Terrible thoughts to have just before you’re about to board a spaceship, aren’t they?

Anyway, when I asked the question, I actually looked at it from a different point of view.

If everyone leaves Earth by the numbers, then that would mean this planet would get considerably depopulated. I can already see the advantages of staying. I already have a flat here (rented, OK, but still, there would be many properties available) and I already know my way around things. I could possibly just run around, and have fun or something, as long as I’m not on my own.

So… this brings me to the following… I wouldn’t like being on my own. A couple of my friends, after giving me some answers and thinking about it for a moment, asked some variant of the question: “are you coming too?”, which led me to think it all depends.

If everyone I know and love was leaving this planet to live in a different one, well, I guess I would go to. I would not be excited about it at first, but I would make do, I guess. We’re going on an adventure, yay! (I wonder if my travel insurance will cover this trip…)

Any sort of adventure is always better when shared with friends, you always have more fun. Even when you travel alone, you make friends along the way and share experiences with other people, and then, you show your friends your photos or videos, or whatever. We all think of adventures as something you can do in a month maximum, we don’t think of them being a long-term trip or situation. When faced with the idea of being on your own for a long period of time, opportunities become a bit less attractive all of a sudden.

Most people don’t change their jobs because, even if they’re not happy, they have made friends in the company they work at. When invited to a party one of the most common questions is “who is going?” and we dread the idea of having to go somewhere on our own. I’m not saying you would have to travel for 10 years on your own, no, I’m guessing they would send people out by the thousands! You would probably need to make new friends, and hope that nobody in the spaceship gets cabin fever and goes all psycho on the rest…

So, to return to the original question, if you were given the chance to travel through space to live in a New Earth, would you do it?

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