The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 53
The solar system

Living in a time where pretty much any illness could be cured, allowed humans to live indefinitely. We didn’t really know how long humans could live. The medicines had only been around for a year. Hearing Einstein talk about rebuilding a person when all you have is a brain gave me the feeling that pretty much the only thing that could cause death would be some kind of an accident. We’d be able to survive, frozen for 85 years, on a trip to Alpha Centauri, and come back 85 years later to visit our parents, but the obvious problem is that it’s a very long time for them to not be around us, and so, in order for us to travel into space, everyone we loved would also have to be frozen until our return, and everyone who loved the people that we loved would have to be frozen, and so, really, the whole world would have to be frozen for most of 170 years in order for no-one to have to spend too long away from someone whom they loved.

We were too eager to travel in space to wait for the space projects to be completed, and so we spent most of the next two years frozen. On average, we’d be unfrozen for one week of every two months, allowing us to spend time with friends and family. For us, it felt like we were seeing people all the time, but for them it felt like we only came around every few months. Other people also had the same idea that we did, and it became quite common for people to make plans to meet up months in the future, even though they lived nearby.

In July, 2015 inventions were no longer being made in a factory under a castle. The giant worldwide network of robots could invent products and build them wherever they liked. It was no longer a case of walking down into the factory to see what Einstein was up to. Instead I would browse order.org, to find whatever was available. My eyes had healed quickly, following surgery which I had done two days before, enabling my computer to display graphics directly on my retina. I sat down on my comfortable recliner, closed my eyes, and switched on my computer. A 3D virtual world instantly appeared around me. I connected to order.org and selected the latest inventions category. An upgraded replicator was available. ‘Tell me about the upgrade,’ I asked.

The voice in my head responded. ‘Replicators now have two special functions. The first is the ability to download the design of an object that you wish the replicator to build. The second is the ability to specify the temperature of the object.’

‘Show me one in silver,’ I requested.

I opened my eyes and walked around my home. The image of a silver replicator, the size of two large fridges appeared in front of me. When I found a suitable spot in my house, I positioned the image with my hands to see how it would fit. ‘Order 1 upgraded replicator,’ I requested.

An hour later the doorbell rang. My replicator had arrived. ‘Kirsty, come check this out’, I called.

‘Hi, you must be Nathan. I’m your new replicator. Where would you like me to install myself?’ it asked me.

I showed the replicator where to install itself as Kirsty came down the stairs to see why I had called her. ‘What would you like for supper, honey?’ I asked her.

‘What do you recommend?’ she asked the replicator.

‘The squid is our most popular meal’, it replied.

‘Okay, I’ll give it a try,’ Kirsty told the machine.

The meal arrived instantly, but it was frozen in a solid block of ice. ‘Would you like it hot?’ the machine asked Kirsty.

‘Yes please.’

The ice melted instantly and the output door opened, revealing the pleasant aroma of cooked seafood. Hidden in the steam was a hot plate of food. Kirsty took the meal off the shelf and breathed in. ‘Yum.’

‘Smells good,’ I agreed. ‘I’ll have steak and mash please.’

Of course it wasn’t really steak and squid that arrived. It may have been copied from steak and squid at some point, but now it was simply a delicious and nutritious meal, made from the atoms of waste, without harming any animals.

Any waste that could not be used was rejected in the form of hard, little, black pebbles. The pebbles were pretty much the only things that could not be used in replicators, and so we had special disposal systems for them. They would be transported away from the cities and dumped. We didn’t really care much about the waste that was being generated, because it was not toxic, and didn’t smell bad either.

In 2016, the space stations were ready. Many other people had been on trips to the Moon and back, and some had already been to Mars, but we were the first humans to venture out in the super high speed, nuclear pulse propulsion rockets. The robots had an idea to populate the universe in an exponential pattern. What that means is that they would travel to planets and build stations for building robots, shuttles and space stations. The newly built robots would then travel to other planets and do the same. Of course it would take 85 years just to get to the nearest 3 stars, and 340 years to get to the nearest 65.

One might think at first that if one wanted to visit other planets in the solar system it would make sense to visit them in order of closest to furthest, however the optimal route was a slightly different order, because the planets are all scattered in different directions. The optimal order in July, 2016, was Mars, which was actually rather close to Earth, and then Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, Neptune, and finally Uranus. In order to re-fuel, and take a break, however, we would return to the Moon after Mars and Jupiter, and then do a very long trip to the other planets. If you know your planets, you’ll have realized that I missed out two, Venus and Mercury. Unfortunately, those two are too close to the sun to visit.

The Mars trip was very exciting. It was a similar trip to the Moon, because Mars is smaller than Earth, and so one can bounce around. We set off for the hottest location on the entire planet, which was 10 degrees Celsius that day. When we arrived, we bounced around, as we had done on the Moon, while the ladies took photos of the red rocks and the pink sky. After half an hour, we climbed back into the space shuttle, which took us to the major tourist destinations, the 25km high Olympus Mons Volcano, and the 4000km long Great Rift Valley. It was awesome.

As we flew over the surface, gazing at the incredible, and completely naked planet, I suddenly realized that this was the biggest canvas I had ever seen. The whole planet was ours, and we could do whatever we wanted with it. When we arrived back at the Moon, I sent an email to Einstein, telling him that we need to chat about the future of Mars. Yes, I had Internet access on the Moon.

The next planet was Jupiter. Jupiter is gas, which means that you can’t land on it, but you can orbit it, and wow, it’s really pretty! Saturn is also gas, and also very pretty, but the rings around Saturn are incredible to see. We decided to orbit with the rings. Because the particles in the rings don’t have gravity, you can’t exactly land on them, you’d just be bumping the bottom of the space ship into them, and so, just for the fun of it, we asked the space shuttle to gently bump a mass of ice that was part of the ring. When you’re that close to the rings it just feels like you’re on the ground, but with an insanely huge planet to your left. That’s a bit weird.

Our next stop, after going back to the Moon, was Pluto. Pluto’s gravity is even less than the Moon. I weighed only 5 kilograms! Apparently it was ridiculously cold, but we had special suits with some sort of nuclear powered heating system, so we didn’t worry much about that. Pluto is nothing more than an ice rink, but a massive ice rink, where you can easily jump up in the air and spin around 10 times before landing back on the surface. And so, that’s what we did on Pluto, we ice skated until we were tired, but it was definitely needed after being cramped up in a space shuttle for 2 and a half days. The ladies were doing graceful spinning stunts, while Raymond and I competed to see who could do the highest and most back flips.

Neptune is also just a mass of gas, but a very pretty blue. We landed on one of its eight moons, on the surface facing the planet. We lay down on our backs and enjoyed the view.

As we lay there, Kirsty looked at me, lying next to her, and whispered, ‘You want to know something?’

‘Sure,’ I replied.

‘I sometimes think about that first email that you sent me, when we were 22. If you had never sent it, none of this would ever have happened. I would have had a very boring, normal life, working as a travel agent.’

‘You sent me the email about Zimbabwe first. Don’t you remember?’ I asked.

‘I never sent it to you,’ she replied. ‘Someone else must have forwarded it to you.’

‘I’m sure you sent it to me,’ I explained, hoping that she wasn’t getting Alzheimer’s.

‘It must have been a computer glitch,’ she replied.

‘Computers don’t make mistakes,’ I corrected her. I was convinced that I had received the email from her, and she was convinced that she had not sent it to me. Well, I have been wrong before. I wondered if I had been so excited to see her email address in the ‘To’ list that I imagined it was from her, and perhaps I had clicked on ‘Reply to all’! No, it couldn’t be.


We made the decision to skip Uranus. Even though we were very enjoying our trip, we knew that Uranus wasn’t a particularly exciting gas planet, and since we had a very long, 4 day flight back to earth, we chose to stay a little bit longer on Neptune’s moon and then fly back to Earth. 4 days is a really long flight, even in first class, and so I had loads of time to think and chat about what we could do with Mars.

 

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