I’ve posted before about Mars One, the Dutch-based project that plans to send four astronauts to found a colony on Mars in the year 2023. They officially began taking applications on April 22 and at last word have received 30,000 of them. They expect at least 500,000 by the end of August when the application window ends. Half a million people claiming they want to make a one-way trip to live on Mars for the rest of their (possibly very short) lives!
The applicants have come from all over the world. I found it really disturbing when one article I read quoted a 39-year-old bookseller in China offering his reasons for going, including that “the air must be a lot fresher and easier to breathe than here.” Uh…that would be a No. No breathable air. Temperatures that make Antarctica look good. No liquid water, no plants, no animals, no shopping malls, no hospitals, no restaurants, theatres, hockey rinks, ball fields…. No fresh supplies if a subsequent rocket malfunctions, either. And no escape from your three human companions. Do I need to go on?
My point is, how many of these applicants really know anything about Mars? How many people anywhere know any better? About real conditions in space? Or anything involving Astronomy? Particle Physics? Microbiology? Science…anyone?
We have vastly more scientific knowledge available to us than at any time in human history, often no more than a few mouse clicks away. Some of the most amazing scientific television programming is ready for public consumption all day every day. We have higher and higher rates of education, including college and university. But how many people really pay attention to all this science? Even the most basic stuff about our bodies, our planet, our solar system? If you think the gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us is large (and it is), I’d have to believe that the gap between the science nerds and the average population is even larger, and growing all the time.
While huge numbers of people spend their nights watching “celebrities” risk life and limb on the dance floor and high diving board, and the antics of buffoonish rednecks in all their grotesque variety, the founders of tech companies are making the money and staking their territory in the future of the race.
The nerds won’t have any problem inheriting the Earth, ‘cause the rest of us just aren’t paying attention.