Nearly everyone has expressed a wish to someday travel in Space. We'll see that the desire to escape Earth's gravity is as old as life. This week you'll see an entirely new vision, where BILLIONS of people live in Space, without rockets. Before we get into that, we must learn from beings far older than us.
Scientists need to get their heads out of computers and take a walk in the woods. The oldest known redwood tree was 2200 years old, dating from before the time of Christ. Redwood species date from 110 million years ago. During the Cretaceous era of dinosaurs, they grew in all parts of Earth. The tallest of living things survived mass extinction 65 million years ago and survive mostly in foggy valleys of coastal California.
The highest known redwood tree is 112 meters, tall as a Saturn V rocket. Its needles absorb water from the coastal fogs, allowing the highest reaches of the tree to remain hydrated. The bark is armour nearly a foot thick in some places. When exposed to fire, the bark forms an ablative shield, similiar to the Apollo heatshield. (The Shuttle thermal protection system--fragile, expensive, difficult to apply and maintain, was not ablative.) Redwood is chemically resistant to termites and so tough that it was used as a separator inside batteries.
No one knows if trees have religion, but they build many cathedrals. When a redwood dies, seedlings grow around it's remains in a circle. The trees lining this cathedral are clones, genetically identical to the progenitor. Redwoods have learned to survive without sex, for only 20% of their reproduction is sexual. By producing seedlings, a single tree can survive indefinitely. The redwood's life cycle shows great faith in the future.
A redwood forest harbours more biomass per unit area than any other region of Earth, including rain forests. As a redwood grows toward the sunlight, it brings many other life forms with it--ferns, birds, mammals, insects and the ever-present microbial life. Life first thrived deep within Earth, warmed by internal heat. It began with organic chemicals from the stars, and has since been trying to get back. Life expanded outward to the oceans, then to land, eventually climbing trees toward the sky.
This walk in the woods has much to do with spaceflight. As we can see from observing Earth life, the desire to reach Space is far older than humans. Alarmists will always clamor that the Universe will end in chaos or "dark energy," yet life continues to create more complex forms. As Space/Time expands, growing outward into Space is a natural part of life.
NEXT: More fun things to make with carbon.