Thursday, March 13, 2008

Would you do it?

First, read this fantastic and thought-provoking story by Nancy over on, of course, UT. Then, think about it. Then read the rest of this post. Then comment.

My roommate and I had this lengthy debate over the content of Nancy's story. I mentioned it, and the fact that I would go to Mars on a one-way ticket in a heartbeat. He was appalled, and said it would be boring and a death sentence.

My counter to his arguments like, "But you'll die", "But you'll be all alone" and "All there will be to see is rocks" was to end those arguments with, "ON MARS!!!". Because, seriously, if you were the first person to go to Mars, and die there, and spend maybe a few years doing science there, you would both be remembered forever and revered while you were alive. That isn't all. You would be out on another planet's surface, advancing the prospect of humans blowing this popstand we call Earth and heading for further-off, more exotic places.

Yes, it would be hard to give up everything you know here and live in a stinky bucket on the way to Mars, and then a stinky shack on the surface. All alone. My thought was that you would get a lot of reading done, which would be nice. And, you would be traveling in space to another freaking planet. I mean, how many people can say that they have done that? Not too many. Not too many at all.

It didn't take me much reflection to say that I'd volunteer for it. I would miss my family and friends and biking, but to embark on such an adventure would be impossible for me to pass up. We will all die someday. Why not do it on Mars?

What would you do?


kula said...

I had to think about it for a moment, but I'd do it. Nothing I have or will do on Earth would be as cool as being the first human on Mars.

Besides, the crafty person would quickly fashion a bicycle. Imagine riding across Tharsis shouting "Back off jerk, this entire planet is my bike lane!"

Lindsey said...

To die would be a great adventure.

Michael Faris said...

I think my answer rests on the question, "What does it mean to be human?" Does it mean to explore and learn and develop scientific knowledge? Yes, in a way. But more so, I believe, it means to live with each other and learn from each other and develop knowledge collaboratively.

For this reason, I'd elect to stay behind. This isn't to say that going to Mars alone isn't a social endeavor: one would be sending information back to Earth, probably reading a lot and getting information sent back to them. It's isolating, yes, but not asocial. However, when I think about the amount of good I can do (and I know the good is a very ill-defined term — I just wish Aristotle knew that), I can't justify going to Mars. The amount of good from that trip wouldn't even be near the amount of good of the lives I'd touch here, which could hopefully lead to a more just society.

I think it comes down to ethics: both utilitarian ethics and restorative justice ethics. My feet are planted on earth.

Nick said...

Well said, Mike. I think, though, that there being 6 billion people on this planet, we could probably spare one to head off to another on a scientific and exploratory endeavor. If nobody else is willing to step up to the plate, I will.

Also, kula, if you think I haven't considered the awesome biking potential of Mars already as an impetus for going, well, you don't know me at all. Should I take the Karate Monkey or the Cross-Check with me? So hard to decide...

Pam said...

I will miss you but secretly be VERY proud of you!!!