Man and the Infinitely Great

Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann, 1940

 “We have had moderate success with our explorations of the infinitely small; now we are on the threshold of exploration and firsthand contact with the infinitely great.”  – Robert Duncan-Enzmann.

The purpose of this paper is to arouse interest in what may be man’s Greatest Endeavor. Navigation in space is simple because of the many references: the shape of the solar system is like a disc, fixed stars are still fixed, navigation by the book, tables of positions, etc., could be prepared on Earth.

There are several hurdles to space travel: the first and most formidable is the attraction of the Earth and a proposed spaceship for each other. The difficulties presented by the gravities of other planets are almost as serious. Second, the field of the sun must be overcome whether approaching it or leaving it. Third, the maintenance of a livable environment within the spaceship is paramount.

The principle of pyramiding is used in polar expeditions and in attempts to climb Everest. The construction of space stations is similar but not quite as crude as pyramiding, as it leaves something permanent and is not consumed like the pyramids of arctic or mountaineering renown. Space station pyramids, though they do need continual supplies, are more of a cross between pyramids and ladders. In the future, they might be fed from both ends and even generate power locally.

Next, work would be the enlargement of the Earth Station, reconnaissance of the Moon without landing, establishment of a Moon Station, a halfway house, landing on the Moon, and a base on the surface or under the surface of the Moon.

The sort of man who would gain the most information out of a landing on the moon would be a geologist trained in mineralogy. He could make the simple measurements needed by military or staffs directing exploration, and he could also gain valuable scientific information quickly – the sort that would be impossible to transport back ss specimens, photographs or otherwise. Later, geophysicists and geologists could be used for the construction of a base; this way, both scientific objectives could be accomplished, and the labor could be done.

A Government, governments, or companies engaged in exploration so extensive that it would lead to the establishment of space stations about the Earth, Moon, halfway between, and a base on the Moon would not linger long before it made a reconnaissance of the nearer planets.

The reconnaissance of the near planets would not include landings for the first expeditions – these would be more in the nature of aerial photography, spectroscopic and telescopic examinations, geophysical studies, studies of communication problems, and temperature and atmospheric studies. This would all be done from a distance of hundreds of miles from the planets while the ships orbited about them, or perhaps even just quick work as ships made a near pass at the planet.

The planets studied would be Mars, Venus, and Mercury. A landing on one of the moons of Mars is conceivable at this stage.

This stage of exploration would be a quick one, and we can imagine that even as the flights were being made, factories would be constructing equipment for further space stations and landings on the near planets.

Mars is the most practical place for a first landing. A station could be established on a moon; the moon could be entered, and the base built underground. This would give final protection against the small meteor danger. Two stations might be built – one on Deimos and the other on Phobos. Mining methods will have to be devised for working on the moons. Tools will not be the traditional ones used on Earth. Drills would be lighter, and power for them could come from the ship. Removal of material would be relatively easy. Transport of explosives to Deimos would be expensive; it might be manufactured on location. The final hermetic insulation of the base presents challenges.

Space stations about Venus and Mercury could be of traditional construction. The Mercury station might be shielded with a tinfoil umbrella. Power generation would be easy here.

Establishment of bases on Mars will be with rocket planes with the use of radio-controlled planes run from one plane. Surface reconnaissance without landing would be conducted. Dropping of material would be by parachute through the planet’s atmosphere. Gliding down to the surface of the planet, use of balloons to help with landing, parachutes to slow landing speeds, and use of a tractor and ski landing gears are all viable. The question of life and the question of quarantine to protect Earth must be considered. Transport on the surface of Mars could be by foot, bicycle, supercharged turbo cars, planes, and gliders; a study of landing speeds, atmospheric thickness, and local gravity will be necessary.

Materials would be readily available on the Moon, Mercury, Venus, or Mars. Energy might be provided by the sun and converted using sun mirrors and steam turbines; Mercury would be the best for this and Mars the worst. Explanation here of temperature differences and available energy; steam engines work best in Siberia and would work even better at the South Pole. It is conceivable that mining might be profitable on a place like Mercury or the Moon – profit, meaning the creation of a livable environment.

Tinfoil or fabric mirrors might be the basis of great power stations. They would be easy to construct and could be constructed miles in dimension if in space. They might be used to control the weather on earth, melt ice caps, increase evaporation at critical locations, and moisten deserts. Building mirrors in space would be a science ink itself.

Astrophysical experiments could be carried out with a perfection unknown on earth: vibrationless mirrors of 20 inches could produce photographs with exposures of several months or years that would far exceed anything that could be done with the 200-inch mirror when it is working through an atmosphere.

Spectroscopic, light, heat, and electromagnetic studies would be much more accurate. High vacuum technique, thermionic emission, low-temperature studies, cosmic ray studies, and gravity-free physics would be possible; gases could be stored as liquids with relatively small refrigerating plants – only insulation from the sun and refrigeration to balance the slight defects in insulation would be necessary.

Biologists might receive a clue as to the origin of life if such things as hemoglobin and chlorophyll appear on Mars. Then perhaps life was driven to the Solar System by light pressure from another origin, and if they are vastly different, then life may have evolved locally. Gravity-free and other biological studies could be conducted in space stations. Life on, say, Mars would be a boon to biologists.

Geology would be able to study the age of the solar system, its mineralogy, origin, composition, and origin of the continents of Earth. Knowledge of the origin of atmospheres and hydrospheres, layering of the Earth, sima (continents), and the age of the Earth would be discovered – was the Moon frozen at the early stage of the solar system? Mineralogies under various conditions will help to write a “universal chemistry.” Other geophysical environments, such as the possibility of working on other celestial bodies, would be the greatest impetus that geology ever received.

The mass of humanity will have nothing to do with initiating space travel. Neither will the mass in any one country such as America. However, the masses in one country, or in several countries, will pay for the brainchild of a small group. They will pay for it through their taxes and will receive no immediate profits – in fact, it is unlikely that they will receive any benefits for it in their lifetimes, though their children might benefit from the results of all the research.

As a great deal of taxes will be paid to carry out the project, the public ought to at least be given good accounts and be provided with entertainment of an adventurous and educational nature. This is only fair and should be done as much as possible without jeopardizing various national securities.

Some opposition is to be expected from religious fanatics to such work, and, more dangerously, some groups will try to take control of the entire program to gain mastery of the universe. The second must be watched out for from the first stages of its conception. Governments will fight for a monopoly of space; supranational groups will want control; fanatics will struggle for places; groups will use weapons of publicity and governmental pressure to hinder or foster space travel according to their own advantage.

The evolution of humans toward a norm is decay and death of a species. The tendency toward a monochrome is the same: divergent evolution is survival. In space, it may be mind; on other planets and in other stellar systems, it may be yet other biophysical characteristics. Man must change, there is a definite rate of change in his genotype, and this cannot be stopped; it can be turned toward divergence or toward death by latent weaknesses due to gigantic cross-breeding.

Interstellar migration will be man’s greatest achievement and his last. If the migration can be successfully accomplished and colonies established, he will soon cease to be man; his evolution will diverge. What end he will diverge toward, we cannot tell. Some may advance in intellect; some may change and acquire different bodies and new senses; some may degrade into efficient digestive systems and very rapid reproducers, which will bring an end to the machine age by over-use of resources and overpopulation.

Space is infinitely great and small. We must move forward, face toward the light, encouraging evolution of mind and body. The mind is more appealing; it gives pleasure to see man go ahead, longing for what is visible; is it attainable? The questions answered will both provide an encyclopedic background concerning Mars and Venus and provide necessary information for later manned expeditions or permanent stations.