IThe life of t, but not as we know it. "
The famous Star Trek the refrain – in reality a common erroneous attribution – aptly describes the future of humanity on Mars. And as more and more technology entrepreneurs outline visions of how to build settlements on the Red Planet by 2050, Rice University Professor Scott Solomon is already starting to worry about what will happen to the first Martian settlers and, more interestingly, to their children.
"What is interesting to me as an evolutionary biologist is thinking, and if we had actually succeeded?" Says Solomon Reverse. "I don't think there was almost as much discussion about what would become of people living in these colonies generations later."
Solomon's book of 2016, Human futures: inside the science of our continuous evolution, argues that evolution is still a force at work in modern humans. In an impressive TEDx speech in January 2018 – which still inexplicably has less than 1,000 views – Solomon outlined how humans would change – literally – after spending a generation or two living on Mars.
Far from waiting thousands of years to see tiny changes, Solomon believes instead that the humans going to Mars could be on the verge of an evolutionary roller coaster. He expects, among other things, that their bones will be stronger, their eyes shortened and that, at some point, they will have to stop having sex with the humans on Earth.
"The evolution is faster or slower depending on how beneficial it is to have a particular mutation," says Solomon. "If a mutation opens up for people living on Mars, and gives them a 50 percent survival advantage, this is a huge advantage, right? And this means that those individuals will pass those genes at a much higher rate than they would otherwise. "
Outside the Solomon field, the discussion of this topic is relatively poor. Elon Musk's SpaceX team is holed up in Florida and Texas working on a stainless steel spaceship to send the first humans to Mars in the 2020s, establishing a city by 2050. Dubai has designed dramatic concepts for its Martian city , and Matt Damon skis-fired The Martian he painted how the first journeys on the Red Planet took the form of research missions.
These are all fascinating ideas, but they are curiously short on how humans can change under the treacherous and radioactive conditions of the fourth planet of the solar system.