Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Pyramid Paradigm

Long, long ago, all of the very first nations on the face of the Earth made really big things. They made the very biggest things they could figure out how to. For a long time they raised huge stones over tombs or temples. Then they took to building a wide variety of pyramids. The one we simply know as the Great Pyramid remains the heaviest structure ever built, handily beating the Romanian Palace of the Parliament, which is the heaviest modern building and an interesting point of comparison.

The Romanian Parliament, known in Romania as Casa Poporului (the People's House) was built by the nation's soldiers, in a land at the time ruled by a brutal dictator. It took between 20,000 and 100,000 of them working under forced labor sometimes around the clock for 5 years, and the rest of Romania was deprived of basic needs in order to fund this. It is said that hundreds of workers, maybe as many as 3000, died during construction. The project stopped when the dictator and his wife were overthrown and executed in 1989. I remember the film shown on the news in Canada of the Ceausescus' dead bodies, a clip taken by the Romanian revolutionaries who wished to prove to their countrymen that they were really dead. Despite their hatred of everything the building represents, Romanians eventually decided that it only made sense to use Casa Poporului as the seat of government, the purpose for which it was built. So much was sacrificed to build it, and it is, in the end, well adapted to the task if one looks past its authoritarian feel.

Monday, September 5, 2016

All the Reasons Why

Moonwards is a bit of a different approach to promoting space. It seems time to properly summarize that. I'm on The Space Show next Sunday, Sept. 11th, and i need to organize my thoughts. It hasn't seemed useful (up to now) to contrast it with various other projects out there, so this gap keeps reappearing where people wonder why it isn't done like x or y.

99% of the imagery of space that most people see is in fiction, there is a huge quantity of material. For most people, what we are really doing in space is pretty boring by comparison. Unless they have a background in the sciences that allows them to appreciate it, it just isn't going to hold their attention. However, the growing proportion of popular fiction that takes place in space is a signal of something important. Human cultures are increasingly transferring their broadest vision of our hopes and dreams to a space setting. If you want to reach people, and get them thinking about what the road to our greatest dreams needs to be, tapping that has huge potential.

So Moonwards is building a bridge between the vast energy placed in fictional visions and something that could actually be done. It seeks a keen balance between realism and fantasy that powerfully makes key points about who we are and what we should pursue. A city on the Moon can capture the imagination. Yes, you could fly by flapping wings, needing only your own strength. Yes, you could leap from the water like a dolphin. You could carry 10 people on your shoulders, jump to the roof of a house. You could run for miles and miles without exhaustion - you could just run wherever you go without it being a big deal. You could run everyplace with a friend on your shoulders, and switch occasionally between who is carrying who. The scale of what we could build there once we built up infrastructure would also be that much grander. Ladders into space, skyscrapers miles high, pits miles deep.