Space Colonization: Where do I sign up?

Hi again, this is Ben Thomas, a space geek who was excited to attend J. Richard Gott's session, 'The Space Colonization Imperative.'  Gott is a Louisville native and is Professor of Astrophysics at Princeton University.

His message focused on two central ideas: Why space colonization is important to the survival of the human race, and why we need to start.

In 1969, Gott used the Copernicus Principal to forecast events such as when the Berlin wall will fall.  His prediction of the wall only lasting 20 years ended up being a very close approximation.  Later, he decided to apply this principal to more important questions such as the future of the human race.  According to his prediction, the human species will only last 5001 to 7.8 million more years.  We're uniquely intelligent, but this prediction is consistent with actuarial data of other species.  The human race could be wiped out in a near instant if Earth was hit by a comet or asteroid. 

News flash: we don't have a backup plan! Space colonization is our only hope.

The space program is expensive and highly technical.  Gott pointed out that there is a great probability that we'll quit before we are successful in colonizing any other planet.  It is already apparent that we haven't progressed as much as was predicted in the 1970's.

"The goal of the space program should be to improve our survival prospects by colonizing space."

What can we do about this?  Gott proposed an interesting plan using mostly-existing technology to begin colonizing Mars.  "Mars has all of the chemicals needed to have a self-supporting colony."  Rather than focusing on how to bring astronauts back, we should find astronauts willing to stay.

Gott repeated that colonization is possible and it is something that we should be doing.  "Not colonizing Mars would be one of the biggest mistakes of the 21st century."

If we as a human race decide to stay on Earth, we must understand "we are not special."  There's a significant chance that we will not survive as a human race.  Colonizing Mars is valuable because it will "double our chances of survival."

"Space colonization is a challenge we should be willing to accept, and unwilling to postpone."