The Mars One Project

The Mars One Project

Humanity finally flying the nest?

Ever since I was very young, I had a fascination with Mars. The red planet, a world of such curiosity, such wonder. A planet that in cosmic terms is a mere stone’s throw away. I had always dreamt about what it would be like to be the first human to step foot on that dusty cold world. To go down in history, up there with Neil Armstrong, in the highly elitist group of people to step foot on another world. Science fiction you say? The ramblings of an over ambitious geek? Well, perhaps not for long.

I came across the “Mars One Project” from a post on my Twitter feed. Somehow I had managed to make it this far, without having heard a peep about them, but now I am careful to keep a close eye on they’re progress.

The Mars One Project is a non-profit organisation, their mission, to place human kind on the surface of Mars, by 2023. The team is headed by a diverse group ranging from space engineers to marketing experts. There seems to be a great pool of intellect and resource at hand.

The question on everyone’s lips – “Can they actually do it?”

Well, I think the only answer to the question, is that time will tell. The process of astronaut application has already begun. The project has encouraged people to submit video applications, and that there are no real entry requirements as such. What they do suggest is that the ideal candidates will have the ability for calm, lateral thinking, to be able to be extremely resourceful…….oh and to accept that this is a one way trip.

Now at first glance, this last point may seem rather startling. Being stranded on an alien world, for ever. What if I don’t like the neighbours?   Well I’m not sure that you would really have time to worry too many things, but as there are only 4 proposed candidates going on this trip, then perhaps your neighbours might be one to consider. It was stated by the press team that this was indeed a one way trip, because at this point in time the technology isn’t sufficient for a viable return voyage (but you never know, the sky crane tech of last year’s successful MSL Curiosity landing might prove to be of use) It’s again a case of watch this space. It might not be as “one way” as it seems.

Another question on the lips of critics is “should private companies be attempting this sort of stunt?” and again, my answer to this is a resounding YES.

SpaceX and the Google Prize are both excellent examples of how private industry is pushing forwards the space race, and forcing the superpower governments to relinquish the monopoly over the space industry. SpaceX is now providing a large percentage of resupply missions to the ISS. Something that would have been unheard of 50 years ago. Private industry is now in the position to make the space race competitive once again. Exactly what is needed if we wish to see projects like the Mars Project, moving forwards, and even venturing further. Governments are all too cautious to spend money on space, seeing it only as financial loss, but private industry sees the value. Not only the most obvious value, but also the value of all the technology and advancement that comes merely from the trying! Without the space race in the 50’s there would be a lot of technology and medical advances that we would not have the benefit from today.

So I say, Mars One may not succeed by the 2023 target. The fact that they are trying however, that they aspire to greatness. This is exactly what humanity needs.

In the words of President Kennedy;

“We choose to go to the Moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard”

Wise words.

The Importance of Science Fiction for Science Fact


Over the last few years, it has become overwhelmingly obvious to me, that the majority of the Scientific community, has become somewhat “jaded” towards any suggestion that is not 100% scientifically provable TODAY. By no means does this cover all science folk, but It worries me that a number of ‘eminently public’ scientists shun and mock any speculative suggestion made as rubbish.

Now, before we continue, let me just assert. As a budding member of the scientific world, I am fully aware of the need for any scientific theory to have results to back it up. BUT, lets just be a little realistic here. Without “speculation” there would be very few of the scientific discoveries that we have today.

As I stated before, we cannot tar the entire community with the same brush. For instance, the greatly eminent physicists Michio Kaku (one of the great heavy weights in physics today) along with Stephen Hawking (possibly THE heavy weight) are both prolific dreamers. Michio has written a whole library of books, where the “Physics of Tomorrow” are considered. From tri-corders to time travel. Without this sci-fi, head in the clouds approach to physics, the field would be a deadly boring world of mundane calculations and repetitive observation.

Stephen Hawking recorded a whole series based on physics principals that he dreams about, to the extent where he supposedly set up a dinner party for time travellers. Sending out invitations so that they might, in distant time be found by time travellers. Who would appear, at that the set time and date for this temporal gathering with canapés.

One of my most loved topics of thought, dream and conversation is time travel. Something that is greatly studied at this point in time. There are a great number of theories, papers and books all on this fascinating topic. The possibilities are endless. From time dilation at the event horizon of a black hole, to the microscopic wormholes of the quantum foam at Plank scales.1 Conversation of paradox and loopholes (the most famous of the time travel paradox is the grandfather paradox which postulates that, you travel back in time to kill your own grandfather, so that you were never born. However, that very action means that you do not exist too travel back to make the kill…..and therefore time is stuck in what becomes known as a causal loop) I have spent hours of my life, trying to unpick causal loops and paradox to see what effect specific actions would have on the overall temporal outcome. Needless to say, its normally the same outcome.

That was somewhat of a wormhole digression, so back to the original geodesic.

From the very earliest days of the science fiction genre, those of Jules Verne and his 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon humanity has dreamt of things that were (at that point) technologically impossible. THIS WILL NOT ALWAYS BE THE CASE, as Joules proved (well, you know what I mean). He was a man far before his time. Yet, over a century on, people HAVE walked on the moon, and we are well on the way to walking on Mars. The Star Trek franchise is yet another science fiction series, from which we are now taking inspiration. Walk into the medical bay on the Enterprise and you would be sure to spot a tri-corder. Well, now there is such a device, being trialed in the US. Warp Drive is yet another of the Trek Tech which is taking on a physical presence in today’s physics research. (For more on this see the Wiki for Alcubierre Drive )

Scientists in the public eye, especially, need to actually get the younger generations to dream, to speculate. For only then, will the scientific field progress and grow.

  1. I note here that the use of wormholes doesn’t technically relate to “time travel” in the same sense of the time dilation of black hole theory. However, the use of the highly speculative wormhole would effectively cut journey times from one side of the universe to the other. So it’s more of a time saving, than a time travel.