Because humanity evolved on Earth, it's hard to imagine a different form of space colonization than settling other planets, moons, and celestial bodies.
In the early 1970s, American physicist Gerard O’Neill was one of the first to realize this when he asked his students at Princeton University, “Is a planetary surface the right place for an expanding technological civilization?” Their research convinced O’Neill the answer was a resounding No. That moment became the inspiration for his groundbreaking work designing rotating habitats.
A few years later, Isaac Asimov coined the term “Planetary Chauvinism” in 1975. During a joint TV interview with Gerard O’Neill, carried by WNET’s Round Table in New York, Asimov shone the light on our bias against living in rotating habitats. He argued that born and raised on Earth, inhabiting another spherical body was too deeply ingrained into people’s psyche.
Today very few are aware of O’Neill’s work, as we continue to plow our way towards colonizing Mars—despite the daunting challenges it poses. Planets are crucial to understanding the evolution of life, not grounds for technologically advanced civilizations to thrive.
Earth is humankind’s womb, we must leave it behind. But our blind-spot towards rotating habitats prevents us from seeing their amazing possibilities. Just as our cave-dwelling ancestors went on to build cities, our descendants will create these floating oases around the stars.
or reload the browser