Wednesday, December 28, 2011
to launch my imagination into space
For the last few weeks, I've been fascinated by the discovery and images of the planet Kepler. It's interesting to know there's another sparkling gem of a planet with blue seas and green land masses, although they appear oddly shaped compared to the earthly ones we're used to. With its pleasant average temperature of 22 degrees C, it doesn't seem too presumptuous to imagine people living there. If they are at least as technologically advanced as humans on Earth, they may have spotted us too. Images of our planet may have been televised across Kepler as they wonder whether there could possibly be life here.
I imagine them as similar two-eyed, two-legged quadrupeds to us, although they would surely have their own random appearance. They may quite likely have their unique flora and fauna. If not, imagine them with powerful enough telescopes to get a glimpse of, say an elephant, and concluding, 'The people on that small planet are big and grey with weird obtrusions coming from their faces.' Of course they'd say it in their own language, which would be nothing like English or any other language on Earth. As their planet is twice Earth's size, airfares may be twice as expensive there, making the notion of international travel even more of a dream. Science fiction writers could have a field day with Kepler.
We had a good conversation in the car the other day, beginning with Emma, my 13-year-old daughter, fascinated with the thought of one day getting to visit there.
Logan, her 16-year-old brother, is a pragmatist. "Forget it, Emma, because nobody will ever make it. It's 600 light years from Earth. It'd take over a thousand years to get there and probably far longer."
Andrew, their dad, likes to be controversial and get them to keep their minds open. "We could find a way to get humans to Kepler if we wanted to. How about a voyage that takes several generations?"
I was beginning to like the sound of this. "You mean it's a family quest? The older generations die off and their babies, who are born on board the space craft, take over the mission they've inherited?" If I was a science fiction writer, I'd be getting excited. Think of all the stops and adventures this dynasty could have along the way.
Logan, who's rolling his eyes and smirking, says, "They'd need a pretty huge fuel tank to last over a thousand years." We need people like him to help us fine tune our plots.
If any aspiring George Lucas type of person reads this post, feel welcome to use my Kepler idea, as long as I get some of the royalties (just kidding). I challenged either Andrew or Logan to write the story but they are more interested in doing other things. Emma's creativity takes a far more 'hands-on' practical bent too. Then I looked at 7-year-old Blake just sitting between the others, quietly taking it all in. Perhaps he may be the science fiction writer. As a homeschooling mother and fiction writer, I've learned to recognise the rich potential of an impromptu, casual car conversation.
As we stand on the threshold of a brand new year, my challenge to everyone is to let your imaginations soar beyond your own sphere of influence and daily mundane duties. And remember that in a cosmos the size of ours, the weird and wonderful things we may scoff at are always possible.