In this episode, we’re going to do something a little bit different. We’re going to talk about the future of human health and whether it will take place here on Earth. Does that sound like science fiction? Well, many of our brightest minds are already hard at work trying to make this happen.
Joining me are some of the experts who have devoted their lives to this question. Each approaches the problem in a different way, but all agree on one thing. Right now, we only have one place to live and it’s here on Earth. But there is one man who’s planning to put people on the moon someday soon.
Naveen Jain – Going to the Moon
It was 5:55 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on December 14, 1972, when the last human beings to walk on the surface of the Moon actually lifted off and said goodbye. And nobody’s been back to the moon since. My first guest Naveen Jain, however, says that that needs to change. And he wants to be the one to make it happen. Naveen is the founder of Moon Express, a company with an ambitious goal: to redefine what’s possible by returning to the Moon and unlocking its mysteries and resources for the benefit of humanity. Naveen joined the ranks of a pretty elite club. Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos are focusing on the same goal. However, Naveen clarifies that his company is the only one on the planet to have permission to leave Earth’s orbit and land on any celestial body, including the moon. The others are stuck in the sub-orbital.
If you are wondering why bright people, who could do anything on Earth, are thinking of going to space, then Naveen has the answer for you. He explains that all of us are living on this single spacecraft that we call planet Earth. And imagine if something were to happen to our planet…then we all would become dinosaurs. We as human species may not exist. So we have to find a way to become a multi-planetary society. If we don’t, we could be the next dinosaurs. And the last thing we want as humans, is to be like the dinosaurs.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t protect the Earth. It is not one or the other, but both. Naveen and I have a very interesting conversation about this.
Stephen Petranek – Going to Mars
Whenever we talk about living on another planet, it seems like it’s always Mars. There’s something about the red planet that just holds our collective fixation. My second guest, Stephen Petranek believes this isn’t just the stuff of science fiction. He says that there’s a good chance your own children will be soon walking on Mars.
Stephen is a journalist and author of the book, “How We’ll Live on Mars”. He says that while it’s easier to fix our planet, part of the problem is overpopulation. We have seven and a half billion people on the planet now. That’s not a sustainable number of people. And unless we want a bunch of wars to kill off about half of them, or to have them die of a terrible disease, we have to have a place to expand to.
However, saving Earth is a tough subject. We have 195 nations who often don’t agree on things, including how to take care of our planet. Stephen explains that we have been nomadic for about 99% of our existence, with the exception of the last 20,000 years. Humans have always moved from where they were, over the horizon, into the next wilderness. It was a survival mechanism.
Stephen and I have a fascinating conversation about this topic, and you too will learn much about the possibility of going to Mars.
Paul Van Susante – Traveling and Living Outside of Earth
My next guest, Professor Paul Van Susante is a professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech and a former NASA faculty fellow. He’s been involved in major research projects for companies like Lockheed Martin and Caterpillar, amongst others.
Professor Van Susante explains the idea of living on other planets is not new. This has been going on since the space age in the 1960s when we first landed on the Moon. And a lot of people were disappointed that we didn’t stay and didn’t go back sooner. He says a lot of people got tired and said, “You know what? We’re going to do it ourselves.” And that’s we’re seeing now, the generation that was disappointed formed companies, and with all the technology advances, now believe we can actually do it.
This new movement is not about giving up on Earth. Professor Van Susante says that we’re only talking about moving part of the civilization. It’s about small colonies. So Mars One, for instance, wanted to move only a hundred people over there. But one of the challenges is getting there. We need a big rocket. And then once you get there, you, of course, need to be able to survive. So you need a bunch of different things. And forming a colony and living off the land is even more of a difficult challenge. There is a lot to think about and a lot to do.
Professor Van Susante shares a lot of great info about this topic, and I bet you will learn a lot about the possibilities of living outside of Earth.
Would you want to travel to the Moon or Mars? What do you think about these initiatives? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments. I would love to hear from you.
Naveen Jain is an entrepreneur and philanthropist driven to solve the world’s biggest challenges through innovation. A man who knows no limits, Naveen pushes big dreams into action, spurring massive cultural and technological change. His audacious vision and magnetic personality continually inspires others to follow what feels impossible. To learn more visit naveenjain.com
Writer and technologist Stephen Petranek became a reluctant doomsayer when his earliest TED Talk (“10 ways the world could end”) racked up 1.5 million views. But Petranek is in fact an optimist who believes that humanity will escape its predicaments — literally. Within a century, he predicts that humans will have established a city of 80,000 on Mars: and that not only is that plausible, but it’s also inevitable.
Petranek is the editor-in-chief of the Breakthrough Technology Alert, a technology newsletter that ties scientific breakthroughs to investment opportunities. He’s the author of the TED Book How We’ll Live on Mars.
Paul Van Susante
Dr. Van Susante is a senior lecturer in mechanical engineering at Michigan Technological University, Faculty advisor to the Mining INnovation Enterprise, former chair of the ASCE Aerospace Division and secretary of the AIAA Space Resources Technical Committee. His research focus is on mining water on the Moon and Mars. He was a NASA Faculty Fellow in 2010 and consulted for a variety of companies on SBIR or STTR projects such as University of Arizona, Sysrand Corporation, Energid, HoneyBee Robotics and others. He has been involved in research projects for many customers including Lockheed Martin, DARPA, NASA KSC, JPL, Bechtel, Caterpillar, NCHRP, NSF and others. Learn more at www.mtu.edu.