Print Edition: February 1, 2012
I like living in the future.
Sometimes I just stand back and take a look at what technology allows us to do, and let’s face it: it’s pretty damn cool. Bullet trains in Japan go upwards of 250 km/hour. I can buy anything from anywhere and have it shipped to my door – from clothing to books to vegetables to German candy. We built a tunnel underground and underwater from France to England just so we didn’t have to go outside. And have you seen what kind of real-time shenanigans you can pull with Google docs?
This is the kind of world imagined in 1960s science fiction – minus the freeze-dried food.
Except for one little thing: the moon. Or any interstellar travel, really. The race to space has pretty much ended with a whimper, and it’s gotten to the point where rockets are launched into space without any kind of a fanfare. After Neil Armstrong’s big gig, to be honest, we all became kind of jaded. Personally, the wow factor of watching other people walk on the moon has completely disappeared. You have to up the ante, NASA – if you don’t have the technology to send me to the moon, I’m frankly not interested.
Which apparently was Newt Gingrich’s thought as well.
Last week he declared that, if elected president, he would have a permanent colony on the moon by his second term in office.
Gingrich, you’re playing with my heart and I don’t like it.
I’ve always wanted to be part of a space colony, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. The interesting thing is that Newt Gingrich has finally made me sit up and take notice. It might just be a crazy campaign promise that he’ll never follow through on (it does, after all, hinge on the assumption that he stays in office for two terms), in which case it’s fulfilled its purpose of separating him from the herd. In a world where apathy is the real president of the people, maybe that one crazy claim will be enough to drive people to the polls, even if their votes are founded on a pipe dream.
But back to the future (no pun intended): just think of the technology we have at our fingertips. Is a moon base really that crazy? Think about what kind of an impact computers had on humanity’s way of thinking, or the telephone, or radio, or calculators. These concepts are beyond normal to us. Some of them, like typewriters, which were the pinnacle of technology when they were first produced, are straight-up outdated. Which is exactly the point: as a species, we are driven to advance.
This kind of progress rarely happens overnight, but sometimes there are sudden leaps forward. Might it be possible we’re due for another one? Say, putting a permanent base on the moon?
I’m sure people laughed at Kennedy when he said he’d send man to the moon, but years later Neil Armstrong proved that even crazy claims can come to fruition.
In short, Gingrich’s might never follow through on his promise – but there is a distinct possibility, however small, that he might. People are capable of nearly anything if they put their mind to it and dedicate the resources and time to making it happen. Maybe I read too much science fiction as a child, but I have to admit that Gingrich’s moon base claim doesn’t just have me thinking about the future, but hopeful about it as well. And isn’t that exactly what the American people – people everywhere for that matter – really need?