by Mo Bhula of John Good Holbrook. © JGH 2000
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE?
Modern science, with all its technology and brilliant insights have decided that the universe is like a vast oddly-shaped novelty balloon. At a point in the distant past known as the (snigger) Big Bang, it started inflating. Depending on various factors one of three things are likely to happen in the distant future. It may go on expanding forever; (eventually becoming big enough to finally take Richard Branson round the world). It may grow to a certain size and the start contracting; (hopefully it won't go flying round the room making a squealing raspberry noise). Or it may get to a certain point and then remain like that, perhaps just one of many universe/balloons decorating the wall of some bizarre divine shindig!
ARE BLACK HOLES REALLY BLACK?
Perhaps, perhaps not. Inside they might be red, blue, purple or a delicate shade of Midnight Serenade, for all we know. The crucial point is that as NOTHING can escape the gravitational field of a black hole, that must also include light. And, as no light can come out the black hole, or collapsed singularity, as it is otherwise known, it must appear invisible.
WILL WE EVER SEE THE SUNRISE OVER URANUS?
Despite the existence of infinitely huge expanses of space to explore, we have only just made it to our nearest neighbours; the cosmic equivalent of popping down the road. And what we have found is exciting for the boffins, but dull for those of us hoping for a slightly different destination for this year's holidays. One planet's too hot, the other too cold, the other likely to simultaneously stretch, squash, poison, burn and corrode you... Thus it seems increasingly unlikely that man will inhabit more than a couple of the planetry bodies in our Solar System. Of course, we have had the odd triumph; for a few years between 1969 and the mid-seventies, man walked on the moon. Unfortunately a few years later, man felt a bit tired and came back home and has stuck to mere space stations. In addition, no real solution has been found to replace limited, outdated rocket technology, which is basically the art of placing explosions beneath £2 billion worth of delicate instrumentation.
TO BOLDY GO...?
Not likely, unless a way to travel faster than light is invented. The problem is one of distances. Even travelling at the speed of light (which is impossible to reach anyway) it would still take over four years to reach our nearest star after the sun. And after all that we'd probably find the place less interesting than Nuneaton on a Sunday afternoon. On the other hand, projects lined up nearer to home, for the near future, include colonies on the Moon and Mars, which may finally lend truth to the saying "I married a Martian".
IS THERE LIFE ON MARS?
Thorny one this. For long ages past, mankind has wondered whether the red planet could be the one to harbour extraterristrial life. This is partly due to its relative proximity to us and partly due to its similarity to earth, including the presence of ice-caps like our own beloved poles. In 1894, speculation was boosted up a gear or two when the otherwise sane, competent and respectable astronomer Sir Percival Lowell decided that he had spotted canals on the Martian surface. Canals? Well I suppose it is possible that another intelligent race would also want miles of sad, dilapidated waterways ranging across the surface of their planet haunted only by leaky narrow boats, discarded shopping trolleys and some school kids desperately trying to catch fish, but is it very likely? Significantly, closer inspection by the Viking space probes showed no canals, motorways, railways, tram lines or bus lanes, and no signs of life.
However... recent investigations suggest that some form of microscopic life may well have existed on Mars at one time, and may well do so now; and remember, they don't have to be big to be bad!!!
Music is "GOOD VIBRATIONS"