Why do aliens always have to look and have similar biology to us?

Exactly! To date, no life has been found on any other planet or meteor. We would really like to find life elsewhere, and the most likely candidates within reach would be the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

Beyond that you have to go interstellar. Since it would take hundreds or even thousands of years to reach even the nearest stars at the fastest speed we’ve ever achieved in space, interstellar travel is unlikely now or in the future.

Put away Star Trek and Star Wars. Aliens are not visiting us and we are not going to visit them, whatever they may look like.

Have the space missions carried out to date ended up as well as possible, and, for that reason, there haven’t fortunately been any fatalities in space?

Would it be possible to put a person on the moon for a prolonged period of time?

We are too heavily influenced by science fiction writers, movies and XBox to see it for what it is.

Space. The final frontier.

One day in our futures humans will travel to other planets, terraform them and colonize them. We will spread out and our species will survive, even if our own sun blows up. We have to start somewhere. We’ve been to the moon once. Let’s go again. Let’s live on the moon.

That would be very difficult. We would need a way to supply our moon resident with food, water and food. Perhaps it could be as we do now with the International Space station (ISS), i.e. fly up supplies once in awhile.

The problem is that the ISS is in low Earth orbit at 249 miles above mean sea level. The moon, on the other hand is between 225,623 miles at it’s closest, and 248,855 miles at it’s farthest, and is moving away from Earth at a rate of 1.5 inches per year. The moon is more than 906 times further than the ISS.

Taken distances into consideration, I would say it is not practical to have a living human being on the Moon for an extended period of time unless he could somehow grow his own food, and get oxygen and water locally.

We are too heavily influenced by science fiction writers, movies and XBox to see it for what it is. Hopeless.

The answer to your question, sadly, is no.

Man-on-the-moon

Do you think people can really live on Mars?

No, of course not. Hollywood wants us to think so, but sadly, or gladly, this is not and never will be possible.

Mars is a poisonous planet with no liquid water. It is hundreds of degrees below zero at night. You cannot breath the air. You cannot grow food. You cannot make goods there. Everything would have to be imported from Earth at great expense just so a few nuts can go and live.

It’s not happening.

The Little Rocket that Was

Let’s revisit Sir Isaac Newton’s cannon.

In the above mentioned article we had placed a level on the cannon and shot the cannonball at 1440 feet per second parallel to the ground until it fell and bounced and rolled and came to a stop.

We didn’t want to shoot it up in the air in a big arc to see how far we could get it to go because we knew if we shot the cannonball up in the air in an arc, it would go much further. Naturally. We were simply interested in the effect of gravity on a projectile as it moves forward and we chose to level the cannon and shoot straight out.

So now let’s do just that, but because we know the cannonball can only go so fast, we’ll do it with a rocket. We’ll shoot the thing up in the air into a big arc and see where it comes down.

Roar! We launched. The burning rocket fuel accelerates our rocket faster and faster until it’s going 20 times the speed of sound. That’s Mach 20. Pretty lickedy-split I dare say. It’s going faster than any jet plane that I ever flew in went. In fact, it’s going so fast that every second it travels almost 5 miles (4.9 miles to be precise). I’d be scared out of my wits if I was riding that thing.

Okay, so this rocket just goes so fast and so far, and then you know what happens? Well, it runs out of fuel of course. It can’t burn forever. We only put so much of that rocket fuel inside of it, so once we light it and run to the side and it roars to the sky it’s going to run out of fuel after awhile.

So now here it is, way up in the sky. It went so high, so fast, that it actually went higher than the air. The sky around the rocket went dark, the stars came out and it got really quiet.

Yet it’s still going forward in that big arc even though we’ve run out of fuel, because essentially we threw something up in the air really fast.

Technically we didn’t even need rocket fuel, we could have used a slingshot if we could have achieved that speed. Alas, trial and error has shown me that unless you give it that extra boost as it goes up, it’s never going to go 4.9 miles per second. I’ve been through a lot of slingshots as a kid and never managed to shoot a projectile going that fast. Good thing, too! My neighbors would have been upset.

As our burned out rocket shell continues to move upward, it’s going to slow because of gravity. After all their’s no more rocket flames to boost it any higher. When it reaches the top, we call that the Aphelion, it levels out and slowly starts to curve down toward the Earth. Wherever it hits, somebody’s going to get really upset.

Except it’s so high and going so fast, that as it arcs downward toward the ground, accelerating faster and faster, it completely misses the planet! It just goes zooming right by planet Earth, it’s course warped by gravity, and whipped all the way around to the other side and then flung out into space again.

Marvelously, this happens again and again, much to our amazement. It doesn’t look like that rocket’s going to crash down at all! It’s in what they call an elliptical orbit.

That my friend, is another example of what keeps things in orbit. The speed one needs to achieve orbital velocity is 4.9 miles per second, or 7.9 kilometers per second. At that speed things go up, then free-fall to the earth, miss the earth, and keep going round and round.

Sometimes the orbit is highly elliptical, or if you’re very clever, you can make it almost round. The Earth’s orbit around the sun is elliptical, and the moon’s orbit around the Earth is also elliptical (that’s what a super moon is all about, when the moon is both full and closer to the Earth).

I’m sorry, Sir Isaac. Your cannon didn’t cut it this time. Had to make a rocket. If you want to see how this works, click here!

Can Going to Mars Fix Earth?

Mars is cool. Isn’t it? Well, spoiler alert: neither you nor I are going to settle on Mars.

It’s inhospitable and has no benefit. It’s not a safe haven if we screw up Earth. Why? Because Mars lost its hot core billions of years ago. Without a hot core Mars lost the magnetic field shielding it from the sun. The atmosphere blew away, the volcanos dried up, and there’s nothing protecting any people there from the dangerous rays of the sun. It has no value for humans to go there, what to speak live there, and NASA has a whole department dedicated to making sure we don’t bring germs to other planets or from other planets back to Earth. That means we’ll never terraform Mars. We will never grow stuff there, and we will never survive there. Mars is useless except, maybe, for rovers to rove.

Same goes for the moon. No point in going back to the moon. Anything you want to do there you can do without human hands. That’s what robots are for, and if a robot dies it costs money but no lives.

We were born on this Earth. We will die on it. We’ve got stuff in orbit, and robots on Mars and in space, but that’s it. Maybe SpaceX or somebody will put some poor souls on the surface of Mars, but they will either die or have to come back to the safety of Earth.

There will be no Star Trek Enterprise. There will never be a spaceship that can go “warp” speed. There will never be a Federation of Planets. Get real. Sorry if it’s upsetting. Great TV, great movies, but it’s science fiction.

We won’t be able to visit those 7 “earthlike planets” recently discovered over 40 light years away, 10 times further than our closest stellar neighbor.

We’ve got one place to live. Earth. Screw it up, and the future’s screwed. We have the science to sustain it, but greediness and politics, international conflicts and third world governments, big industry and you and me in our cozy environment choking homes, will not allow us to save it. Gradually a wide variety of species will go extinct, both plants and animals. Gradually the food chain will be disrupted. Not for you, probably not for your kids, but down the line it’s coming.

Sometimes Earth people go “green” – reducing their “environmental footprint.” Yeah, you can try. You can even succeed if you try really hard. You can live off the grid, by candlelight or self generated electricity, don’t buy any food in containers or wrapped in plastic, make compost and grow food.

I know people who live like that and it’s great for them.

However, let’s get real here. Out of billions of people, if a few people leave less of an environmental footprint than most of the others, it might make them feel good but will it really save the world? No it won’t, because at the core of the problem is humanity itself. We are the polluters of our own planet. We are not likely to stop as a whole. We are not one world government, one people and one culture. We are diverse and dream of going to other planets if this one gets screwed up.

Is this a pessimistic view? Probably. I’m going to be 64 years old in a few months. This is the world the boomers and those before us are leaving behind. See if you can fix it.