Sunny Days, Space Ships and a Robosphere Parade

The idea of throwing a Manhattan-sized nuclear bomb into the sun in order to save the world is probably the last thing I would have thought of… safely blowing up a dying star in order to create a new one to take its place seems about as effective as putting batteries inside a pop-tart to cook it. Regardless, Danny Boyle’s Sunshine is a beautiful movie, and the bizarre premise takes you in and dazzles you with simultaneously creepy and incredible cinematography. This is that odd day when the Scarecrow and Captain America come together to save humanity in a flurry of explosions and bright lights. Also, if you’re interested, here’s a little on the science of stars.

Earth finds itself in a conundrum as its life source fades out millions of miles away. Cillian Murphy, physicist extraordinaire, and a crew of dedicated astronauts carry off into space with the hope of reigniting the sun. This journey was already attempted and failed once, and after depleting the Earth of all of its resources to create one last “stellar bomb,” this is the planet’s last chance for survival. It’s taken them years to traverse the solar system to drop of their payload and just as they round the next corner from Mercury—surprise—the Icarus I is found, as well as a whole shipload of crazy.

Their ship, the Icarus II, is actually a pretty interesting concept. It’s not a space station, nor is it a “generation ship”—a vessel created to harbor colonies of people out in space for decades on end. The Icarus II is a cargo ship of no simple stature. In addition to the necessary laboratories, navigation centers and operation sectors, the ship contains a kitchen, a holographic psychiatric center, and a greenhouse fostering food as well as an oxygen garden. The crew is completely self-sufficient and there’s even a special chamber for viewing the sun. It’s also tethered to a bomb. A pretty snazzy setup, I should say. Actually, the concept of a self-reliant space colony or community has been in the works for a while. The NASA Ames Research Center presented the idea a few years back about the possibility of deploying robots into space that would build a “self-sustaining robot ecology” that could, in time, be appropriated by humans who would slowly settle into the robot outposts and add onto their pre-made structures and infrastructures.  It’s an expensive plan, but this would eventually lead to the first human space colonists. Who knows? With enough development, we might soon have a Titan or an Icarus on our hands after all, though with humanity’s current track record of generously lubricating the ocean and expanding an ozone skylight into space, it might be best to stick with working on the things close to home, first. Next Week: join me for another ride through the post-apocalyptic alternate universes that the silver screen has to offer with Mad Max 2: the Road Warrior.




Carisse Ramos, Guest blogger: “Carisse Ramos is a graduate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a degree in Visual and Critical Studies. Besides blogging about geekery and thoughtful thinking, Carisse now works as a freelance writer, editor and visual artist in Chicago. Her writing focuses on using pop culture trends as a vehicle to facilitate productive dialogues.”

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