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Into the Future

Now that, at last, in the later part of 2051 the Entangled Proton Drive (EPD or colloquially the Super-Cool Engine) had been fully tested and proved successful for creating massive long-term thrust, and so finally the last piece of the jigsaw for distant space travel had arrived.  Greg’s life had been developing the ideas and systems for extended space travel and he could now see it literally taking off.  He was excited, but for a different reason.

For thirty years he had been reviewing the potential future of the planet, and whichever way he turned his ideas, there did not seem to be any sensible way of getting to the future without the necessity of going through a great and unpleasant upheaval.   As an amateur futurologist he had always been interested in technology, its fundamental place in the ascent of mankind, and its place in the near future in determining man’s greatest challenge of all, the clever machine – changing politics, economics and societies forever. 

This was just beginning, with the recent development last year of the first clever autonomous machines, currently the ‘play- things ’ for the richer classes but with price and availability limited by big business who could already see the downside if they were mass produced.  Many still seemed to misunderstand the impact of how these machines were bound to turn the world upside down and inside out.  Already there were laws in some countries banning them from being used in many workplaces.  China was the first to see the dangers.   Still developing, but now with a huge middle class grappling to keep the lid on the still many poor rural populations who still outnumbered them and whom eked out a living doing simple manufacturing and bio-agriculture. 

These machines could replace all of these jobs overnight, along with the attendant livelihoods. How could the powerful middle classes deal such a change?  They didn’t want to share out their newly found power and resources with the rural hundreds of millions. The new laws prevented the use of such machines, but the writing was on the wall, the masses would not be kept down forever and that meant massive change worldwide and the sweeping away of entrenched power bases.  The means of production would not mean anything anymore, economics would enter a new paradigm.

Greg had been hugely successful in business, using his company to mine some of the first asteroids in local space along with patenting new space technologies such as the basis for the EPD engine itself. But Greg also created and patented many of the core technologies for maintaining life processes over long periods in the very harsh environment of space.  He had made his fortune and invested wisely as he knew that eventually he must take his family away for a long, long time.  The EPD engine allowed continuous acceleration over many years. Fuelled by hydrogen, a carefully planned route could gather more than enough hydrogen to replace the used fuel.  The thrust was enough to keep them constantly accelerating at one G.  In just a few years this thrust would take them to 99% the speed of light.  Greg’s trip was not the usual dream of space travellers, his trip was simply into the future.  Just like circumnavigating the globe to get back to where you started, Greg’s plan took him ten years out and ten years back.  He reckoned that this would be enough for the human race to either have destroyed themselves or found a sensible solution.  He and his family would arrive back around the year 20150 but only twenty years older, he could retire gracefully and his family would still have plenty of time to live out their lives in a future time.

Greg now just had to put the final touches in place, the orbital had long been built and fuelled.  The orbital had self-sustaining bio-agriculture units and with complete re-usability of resources, using just a little of the massive power from the EPD, the orbital could maintain a crew of over a hundred for thousands of years.  The new super-cool engine was now being installed, for what everyone else in the business thought was just a test flight.  Positioned in a geostationary orbit it could be seen easily from earth.  Few knew his mission, but he was taking several families with him, partly to keep them from boredom, but also just in case on their return they found a burnt earth and had to go elsewhere. With plenty of room in the orbital and due to the one gravity acceleration, the trip would be just as comfortable as staying in a very large and well equipped hotel.  The turn around was designed as a fly by using a large planet near Alpha Centauri (planet Bb), this would provide an elliptical course and cut the acceleration time for the return journey.  Greg’s family and their friends were excited to get going, they had called it the trip of many lifetimes.


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