Author and OG io9 founder Annalee Newitz has an excellent new SubStack newsletter (although, doesn't everyone?) called The Hypothesis. Each week so far has been a focused explosion of themed scientific madness — things like fossilized brains and space colonization — with a ton of great links and insights.
In the most recent edition, Screw the Mars hype. Here's why we should move to Venus., Newitz presents their case with some surprisingly straight-forward clarity (while still acknowledging the caveats):
Let's start with the pragmatic reasons to pick Venus as our next stop for human habitation. First, Venus is slightly closer to the Earth than Mars is, so it's faster and easier to get there. Its gravity is comparable to Earth's, so that means we wouldn't suffer from bone density loss and other problems associated with low-gravity environments. And perhaps most importantly, its upper atmosphere and magnetic field would provide protection from cosmic radiation.
But wait, you say — we'd live in a balloon? Isn't that kind of dangerous? Well, no more dangerous than living inside a radiation-shielded bunker on Mars. Either way, you're looking at some degree of precarity when you depend on a fabricated habitat for survival. The good news is that if something did smack into one of our breathable-air balloons floating in the Venusian atmosphere, the pressure inside would be equal to the pressure outside. So that means the balloon wouldn't catastrophically explode, but instead leak very slowly until we patched it up.
If you want a good dose of weekly science, subscribe to Newitz's newsletter. Last night, I also started reading Newitz's most recent science fiction novel, The Future of Another Timeline, which is quite a delight so far:
1992: After a confrontation at a riot grrl concert, seventeen-year-old Beth finds herself in a car with her friend's abusive boyfriend dead in the backseat, agreeing to help her friends hide the body. This murder sets Beth and her friends on a path of escalating violence and vengeance as they realize many other young women in the world need protecting too.
2022: Determined to use time travel to create a safer future, Tess has dedicated her life to visiting key moments in history and fighting for change. But rewriting the timeline isn't as simple as editing one person or event. And just when Tess believes she's found a way to make an edit that actually sticks, she encounters a group of dangerous travelers bent on stopping her at any cost.
Tess and Beth's lives intertwine as war breaks out across the timeline–a war that threatens to destroy time travel and leave only a small group of elites with the power to shape the past, present, and future. Against the vast and intricate forces of history and humanity, is it possible for a single person's actions to echo throughout the timeline?
Screw the Mars hype. Here's why we should move to Venus. [Analee Newitz / The Hypothesis]
Image: NASA/Rick Guidice (Public Domain)