Focus-Science and Technology - - CONTENTS - Daniel Ben­nett, Editor

"When I first looked back at the Earth, stand­ing on the Moon, I cried." Those are the words of as­tro­naut Alan Shep­ard, who in 1971 be­came the fifth per­son to walk on the Moon, 10 years after be­com­ing the first Amer­i­can to travel into space. He's one of the se­lect few who've seen Earth as a globe from space — an ex­pe­ri­ence that's of­ten de­scribed by as­tro­nauts as giv­ing them a sud­den aware­ness of the fragility of our planet. Psy­chol­o­gists have dubbed this 'the over­view ef­fect'. One day, we might all ex­pe­ri­ence this feel­ing. As tem­per­a­tures rise, pop­u­la­tions grow and ecosys­tems strain un­der our in­flu­ence, the Earth is look­ing in­creas­ingly frag­ile. In­deed, last year Prof Stephen Hawk­ing warned that we only have 100 years left to find a new home planet. It might sound like pie in the sky, but the idea of leav­ing Earth for good is one that sci­en­tists are tak­ing se­ri­ously. From 3D-printed build­ings to asteroid mining, and from space agriculture to food made from poo, a raft of new tech­nolo­gies will make it eas­ier for our de­scen­dants to set up base else­where in the cos­mos. Mean­while, re­cent ex­per­i­ments on the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion are re­veal­ing more about how we'll stay healthy on long-term mis­sions, and how space travel af­fects the hu­man re­pro­duc­tive sys­tem — some­thing that's cru­cial to un­der­stand if we're ever go­ing to go forth and pro­cre­ate on an­other planet. Our spe­cial re­port starts on page 40.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.