Riders of the last ark?


Photo downloaded from open.salon.com

YOU CAN’T live forever. But you can outlive the Earth destined to die on 21 December 2012.

The pessimist in me tends to believe in the Mayan doomsday prediction. The optimist presents a world of opportunities in inter-galactic transportation.

Men, we are told, are from Mars and women from Venus. Whoever said that probably didn’t consult scientists on the livability of these two planets. I, for one, wouldn’t blast off to Mars when Earth begins to crumble under the onslaught of super tsunamis, tremors and volcanoes. And I am sure some of you won’t like to return to Venus, nowhere as inhabitable as the unobtainium-rich Pandora of the Na’vi tribe.

But I can try to make it to Super Earth revolving around a distant star with a life-friendly surface temperature of 22 degrees Celsius. Unless scientists discover more Earth clones in the next 350 days, Super Earth suits me for two reasons. One: it is presumably more hospitable than Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, the Earth-like planets orbiting star Kepler-20 estimated to be 950 light years away. Two: I might end up as a superman on Super Earth to make up for not being man enough on Earth.

If you think that’s far-fetched, recall how Kal-El got superpowers after landing on Earth from Krypton. Jor-El was probably the only Kryptonian to heed a Mayan equivalent of a doomsday prediction and devise a crystal craft large enough to accommodate his infant son.

Cut the crystal craft out of your thought process, advised a friend. “Don’t think we have enough time to develop anything close to the Krypton quality. And even if we make a breakthrough, the technology to flatten a human to fit in will take millions of years,” he said.

Rocket-boosted spacecrafts are no good either, said another friend in queue to lift off before Disaster Day. “Forget Super Earth, you’ll die before you go past Pluto,” he said.

Downloaded from gizmodo.com

That leaves us with two options – Noah’s Ark and Energizer. The Ark scores on experience; it saved the world during the only alleged Apocalypse after the one that did the dinosaurs in. Downside: it can’t fly.

The Energizer, a cubicle with buttons and discs to stand on, too is no flying machine. But it is the ultimate transporter, superior to and faster than the Krypton crystal. It was an accidental invention, we learn, because Gene Roddenberry and the Star Trek team “couldn’t afford to build a shuttle craft for planetary landings”. It helped Captain James T Kirk, Spock and the others aboard Starship Enterprise get atomized and transported to alien lands.

I love going places but hate the travel in between. This has often dictated my desire to find every year a transporter that would enable me to zip in nanoseconds. The 2012 phenomenon means I have one last chance at a New Year resolution, nay wish. And accidents, like the Energizer, do happen.

If you come across the Energizer, do count me in because I am working on the coordinates to take us to Super Earth. But I am yet to figure out how to document the destruction of Earth as we travel, atomized, across light years in a jiffy. The Energizer, after all, is no Krypton crystal that turns into an apocalyptic recorder after ceasing to be a super craft.

(This appeared in Hindustan Times on 28 December 2011)

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About rahconteur

A mid-career journalist who's worked horizontally across India - from Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat
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