Man, oh man! Once again the reality of life in space proves to be very far removed from the science-fiction, pop culture image we are becoming used to from books and movies.
This small article from New Scientist says that extended time in space is bad for astronaut’s eyes because weightlessness increases blood flow to the brain and therefore increases pressure in the skull – leading to eye problems.
Add this to the fact that muscles deteriorate in space and the fact that, at the present moment, NASA does not have the ability to land people on Mars without killing them, and we realize that space travel is a lot more difficult than Spock and the crew of the Enterprise would have us believe.
It is supposed to take 4 light years to get to the closest star outside our solar system. That’s 4 years traveling at the speed of light. But we can’t travel at the speed of light.
Travelling at the speed of today’s fastest spacecraft would take us 50,000 years.
Considering the revolutionary changes our societies have seen in even the last 100 years, this is just absurdly unthinkable. Even a spaceflight of 50 years is absurd.
Compare the life of your average 70 year old, assuming that the astronauts start at age of 20, with someone who travels in space for 50 years.
On earth: love, marriage, raising children, long-held friendships, playing sports, reading books, experiencing art, being part of a dynamic society, experiencing heartache, traveling, visiting the dentist regularly, getting broken bones, having bones heal, surviving cancer, running a marathon, photographing birds in flight, seeing the sunset, etc.
In space: 50 years in a box maybe as big as two or three rooms from an average sized house seeing the same things everyday and talking to the same people everyday.
Those guys would go stark, raving mad, not to mention becoming blind and spineless.
Why do we spend our lives dreaming about space and our wonderful future on other worlds when it is something so far beyond our ability to achieve?
We have set our hope on things which are (almost) unattainable. You might say that, through our fast-held hope in science, fuelled by science fiction, we are living in a fantasy world of our own devising.
I’m a Christian and people say I live in a world of make believe….