Hollywood science: Fact or fiction

By: Grace Helmke

Hollywood has allowed us to visit incredible places and experience thrilling adventures filled with death-defying jumps, and heart-wrenching love stories. It has allowed science to come alive in a way that’s never before been seen. It has led us through stories of time travel, cloning, and so much more.

However, sometimes these films have a little more fiction than fact. Today, we are going to explore the science behind some famous TV shows and movies, and determine whether or not they are fact or fiction. 

Jurassic Park’ 

Image taken from: http

‘Jurassic Park’ centers around the idea that one one could create dinosaurs from blood in a mosquito, encased in amber, and preserved for millions of years.

This is simply false.

Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist, said that the likelihood of cloning a dinosaur is close to impossible. In order to make this happen, you would need the whole genome. However, no one has ever found dinosaur DNA. So, it’s incredibly unlikely that a T-Rex could get loose and wreak havoc in the future. 

‘Star Trek’ 

A major part of the show was the crew’s ability to travel at the speed of light. They called this warp speed. Warp speed essentially distorted the fabric of spacetime, allowing the crew to travel superluminally, or faster than the speed of light.

Einstein’s theory of general relativity suggests that this is not a totally unheard of thought. In fact, it’s entirely possible. In 1994, a scientist named Miguel Alcubierre discovered what today is known as the Alcubierre Drive. His theory was that it’s possible to bend space time in a way that contracts in front of you, and expands behind you, moving you in a forward motion.

‘Back to the Future’

This classic 80s film features the creation of the DeLorean, a time travel machine.

Is time travel truly possible?

NASA tells us it is, but not in the way one thinks. In NASA’s words, “Although humans can’t hop into a time machine and go back in time, we do know that clocks on airplanes and satellites travel at a different speed than those of earth.”

So, although it’s not possible to go see the dinosaurs, or visit famous historical figures, it is possible to travel in space for three years and come back to find that five years have passed on earth. This is called time dilation, and is an incredibly prevalent topic of study in physics and astronomical sciences. 


This film features a lot of fictional science and inaccuracies. It was praised for its realistic depiction of the search for extraterrestrial life.

The film used radio signals and the translation of alien language using mathematical equations. This is incredibly accurate and is rooted in science. Math is a universal language. So, it’s entirely possible that their forms of communication could be based upon science and math.

There are also some concepts that have stirred debate; such as the idea that the main character traveled through a wormhole to speak to the aliens. It’s difficult to say whether or not a person traveling through a wormhole would survive or not.

For a significant period of time, it was believed that upon entering the wormhole you would either be stretched out into a spaghetti noodle, or be expanded into molecules. Both would mean certain death. But a Harvard physicist recently discovered that not only do wormholes exist and can connect one part of the universe to another, but it’s possible to travel through it. The only catch is that you would have to do so very slowly. It would actually take less time to go to the location directly than it would through a wormhole.  

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Ocean colonization 

By: Grace Helmke 

We live in a society based upon development. We develop our minds through education, our beings through spirituality and religion, and our cities through unusual thinking. It is no surprise that unorthodox ideas should emerge, especially when we are faced with issues of increasing population.

Ocean colonization has been proposed as a possible solution to modern issues such as overpopulation and climate change. It is believed to be a sustainable development which could aid in our world’s healing process. But upon looking closer, is this really the case? 

Ocean colonization is the theory of extending society to the water. Settlements would be created either as floating platforms, or as underwear habitats. There is the potential for practically anything in these habitats; buildings could be created atop a floating platform, cattle could be raised, a city could be built on the sea floor with a lid to create atmosphere, buildings could be built with their own systems of oxygen, bubbles suspended in the ocean could be created. Almost anything is possible.

The most popular design plan, and at this point in time most feasible, is the floating structure. The Seasteading Institute is a non-profit think tank promoting the creation of floating ocean cities. They have already finished their crowdfunding campaign and have created the company Blue Frontiers, who actually construct the floating islands.

These platforms are made of reinforced concrete that will last longer than a century. The design was meant to be flexible, so that they can be rearranged to fit the needs of its citizens. On top of these platforms, bungalow villas will be created, accommodating around 2000 residents. But, because of the design’s flexibility, platforms can be added to accommodate for the growing population.

Image taken from: https://www.businessinsider.com/

One of the best regions to implement ocean colonies is the Atlantic Ocean, near the equator. Tsunamis and earthquakes are incredibly rare here, therefore destruction due to natural disasters would be incredibly rare. The water is also very temperate compared to other oceans. This would be appealing because it could create a tourist industry for those seeking a vacation destination or a place of work. 

Another argument which promotes ocean colonization is the pursuit of science. Creating structures in the middle of the ocean would allow scientists to further explore the mystery that is our ocean. It would also force us to come up with long term solutions to water pressure and corrosion.

While this sounds like a great idea, it is only that in theory.

The development of structures in aquatic environments actually disrupts marine ecosystems and destroys the natural environment. The construction process of many of these design plans would involve the demolition of part of the ocean floor. This would destroy vital ecosystems such as coral reefs and kelp forests, which are vital in slowing down the rise in carbon dioxide. These ecosystems are legitimately maintaining a liveable planet. Their destruction would accelerate the rate at which our earth becomes uninhabitable. 

In addition to the demolition of natural habitats, immense amounts of pollution will be created. The construction process is not in an enclosed area. This is the open ocean; debris, chemicals, and gases are bound to enter the water. What this does is kill off animal and plant life, cause eutrophication, and make the area uninhabitable to native wildlife. 

Colonizing the ocean could bring about a lot of good: new industries, new living spaces, advancements in science, and so much more. But something far more important is the evil it can do as well. If these structures were to be implemented, our oceans would continue on a downwards spiral. Life would die off, and our home would be put in danger. 

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Global warming

By: Charlie Fragassi

Image taken from: bioguia.com

Global warming is a huge problem that the world has yet to get under control. A lot of people may not know what global warming is at all. Global warming is basically when there’s a temperature increase in the earth’s atmosphere. This is caused by the amount of pollutants in the air today. Experts say that around the time of 1980, is when there began a huge increase in global temperatures, and it really hasn’t gotten much better at all.

Global warming affects a lot more than just humans; it also affects animals as well. For example, the polar bear is a common example brought up in global warming/climate change because the ice is melting at a faster rate and that’s part of the polar bears habitat. They use ice floes to catch seals and other marine animals. Unfortunately, there are fewer than 25,000 polar bears left in the wild, and at this rate, with the way everything’s going, they won’t be here much longer.

There are some ways to help with global warming, and one of the ways is recycling. This, along with just bringing your own shopping bags with you while you go shopping, reduces the waste of plastic that is brought out into the world.

Driving electric cars also tremendously helps the spread of global warming because there is no gas coming from the car, so it doesn’t produce pollution out in the air.

Another main reason global warming is such a pressing issue is because not everyone thinks that it is even real. Many people believe that it is fake and is made up even though there has been full scientific evidence backing it up. People still refuse to believe in it, and that causes things to get done at a slower rate.

Global warming could get under control a lot quicker if everyone was just on the same exact page.

For more information, please visit:

  • “Global Warming, Greenhouse Effect, Climate Change and Their Relationships” sgkplanet.com/en/global-warming-greenhouse-effect-climate-change-and-their-relationships/
  • “Global Warming 101” http://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-warming-101

A new dinosaur species has been discovered in Argentina

By: Alexandra Rimbu

A new dinosaur species has been discovered in Argentina. Paleontologists have dubbed it Llukalkan aliocranianus, or “The one who causes fear”. This name is derived from the fact the creature appears to be even more terrifying than its cousin, the T. Rex, bearing enormous claws, a skull covered in bumps, horns, and deep-seated crests, and razor-sharp teeth.

The species’s appearance alone was enough to invoke fear into its prey and make it a successful predator, but what truly made Llukalkan aliocranianus a unique apex predator was its incredible hearing. 

The Llukalkan aliocranianus had cavities in the ear area that other abelisaurids, a class of carnivorous bipeds including the T. Rex, did not have. Llukalkan aliocranianus’s extraordinary sense of hearing was actually provided by one of these cavities – a unique air-filled sinus pocket near its middle ear. 

The species also possessed a powerful sense of smell. This powerful combination of super hearing and olfactory senses was a tremendous advantage in the food chain and served to further establish the species as a top predator.

Paleontologists have dubbed this discovery as significant to the research of all dinosaur species as a whole. “These dinosaurs were still trying out new evolutionary pathways and rapidly diversifying right before they died out completely”, said Ariel Mendez, a paleontologist from the Patagonian Institute of Geology and Paleontology. 

Paleontologists have also labeled this discovery as particularly significant for abelisaurids themselves. National University of San Luis, Argentina, paleontologist Gianechini said, “This is a particularly important discovery because it suggests that the diversity and abundance of abelisaurids were remarkable, not only across Patagonia, but also in more local areas during the dinosaurs’ twilight period”. 

Ginanechini remarked that he believes this find will signal many more important abelisaurid discoveries to come. He believes that the fact of the Llukalkan aliocranianus’s hearing ability alone means that researchers have more to learn than previously thought, and this discovery has unlocked new pathways to unlocking the secrets of these prehistoric creatures.

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Endangered species: tigers

By: McKenna Nutter

The tiger is a very popular and well known animal. The large cat is known for its unique pattern. Despite having grown up knowing a bit about these animals, I was surprised to find out that these animals are endangered. Since learning of the tigers endangerment, it has crossed my mind that there are many species that are facing the brink of extinction while many people are unaware. The overall tiger population of approximately 3,900 has earned tigers a place on the ‘Red List of Threatened Species’. 

3 out of the general 8 species of tigers have now gone entirely extinct. About a century ago, there were estimated to be about 50,000 to 80,000 tigers inhabiting the wild. Female tigers will only give birth to two to four tigers every two years.

The growing human population has caused growing communities. Because of this, tigers have lost so much of their habitat to society.

Tigers are a natural predator, but they also fall prey to hunters. Tigers, for a very long time, were large targets for trophy hunting because they were big, dangerous and beautiful. Tigers were also largely hunted because in some cultures, they believed that tiger bones had healing properties, and could cure disease. Some tiger bones were even used in traditional medicines.

Livestock farmers also have a very big place in their endangerment. As we pushed back on their habitats they have lost a lot of their natural prey. We have built farms, and on those farms are animals such as sheep, cows, chickens, etc. Many farmers have shot tigers in order to protect their livestock, and while this is required to take care of their business, it has had a major impact on the species.

While we may never get the tiger population back to what it was before, there are still ways we can help them hold on. WCS, or the World Conservation Society, is an organization that conducts research on tigers, then uses that research to inform and teach communities local to tiger habitats about tigers. They also reach out to wildlife rangers and wildlife conservations to teach them about tigers as well. Donations to any non harmful research societies and wildlife conservation organizations can do wonders for not only tigers, but other endangered species. 

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How “green” are electric vehicles really?

By: Alexandra Rimbu

Around the world, governments and automakers have pushed electric vehicles as a key solution to curbing oil use and fighting climate change, but are these vehicles really as “green” as advertised?

The answer is yes, but also no. While electric vehicles are, in fact, very “green”, they do still have environmental effects.

An argument that is often put forward when discussing how environmentally-friendly electric vehicles are is how polluting and damaging the process behind the manufacturing of their batteries can be to the Earth. The batteries behind electric vehicles are actually composed of a range of rare-earth metals, and the extraction of these metals contributes significantly to carbon emissions. In this sense, electric vehicles are not exactly “green”.

Additionally, the production of electric vehicles consumes a lot of energy. In fact, the emissions from the production of an electric vehicle is higher than those during the production of a conventional vehicle. This is due to the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries needed for electric vehicles. More than a third of the lifetime CO2 emissions from an electric vehicle come from the energy used to make the car itself. This is not very “green” either.

However, electric vehicles produce no tailpipe emissions, producing no carbon dioxide emissions when driving. When evaluated on that factor alone, electric vehicles are a lot more eco-friendly than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles on the market today. Over a year,  an average of 1.5 million grams of CO2 can be saved just by one electric vehicle on the roads.

Electric vehicles are also much more energy-efficient than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. Approximately 17 to 21 percent of the energy is converted into power for the car when the gasoline in conventional vehicles combusts. 59 to 62 percent of the energy is converted into electric energy to power electric vehicles. 

So, the answer to our question is quite ambiguous, but perhaps, as technology advances and electric vehicles become even more environmentally friendly, we will have a definitive answer.

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Agriculture and the ocean

By: Grace Helmke

The ocean does not take credit where credit is due. It sustains all life on earth. Without it, humanity would cease to exist. Oxygen would slowly dissipate, temperatures would drop to astronomically low levels, jobs would be lost, and coastal economies would be suffering.

Even so, there is complete disregard for the ocean and its inhabitants. Agriculture, amongst many other things, is one of the greatest plagues our oceans have ever seen; contributing to the complete eradication of life in many areas of our ocean. 

What are dead zones? 

Human activity has created areas in the ocean known as “dead zones,” which are regions where less oxygen is dissolved due to lack of marine habitation. Dead zones occur in areas that are unusually high in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. This dramatic increase causes large scale red tides, which are harmful algal blooms that are toxic to all forms of life. It can become deadly to fish and birds, and can cause severe illness in humans. The red tides will die off after using up all the oxygen in the area, sinking to the bottom to decompose, leaving a barren environment in its wake. 

Causes of dead zones 

While dead zones can be created naturally, man has significantly impacted their frequency and extremity. Overfishing, global warming, and urbanization can all cause dead zones, but one of the most significant causes of dead zones is the industry of agriculture.

Animal manure and commercial fertilizer runoff makes its way into waterways, and empties out into the ocean. Both manure and fertilizer contain phosphorus and nitrogen, the two chemical nutrients which, when built up, can cause algal blooms. The environmental protection agency suggests that around 335 million tons of animal waste is produced by livestock every year.

If a farm doesnt have the correct system to deal with waste, it ends up in the waterways. In 2011, The Economic Research Service, of the USDA, stated that 22 million tons of fertilizers were used in crops in the United States. According to Edf.org, about 50 percent of fertilizer is actually taken up by the crops themselves. The rest ends up in waterways. 

Dead zones around the world 

The biggest dead zone in the world is in the Arabian Sea, right between the nations of Oman and Iran. It covers almost 63,7000 square miles of the Gulf of Oman (equivalent to the size of Florida). The cause is a combination of overfishing and a buildup of phosphorus and nitrogen from the agricultural industry. 

The famed waterway, the Mississippi, is a significant carrier of nitrogen and phosphorus. Midwest farming operations have produced so much chemical population that they have created the second largest dead zone in the world. The Mississippi carries the chemicals through the nation, and empties them out into the Gulf of Mexico. Its area varies in size, but can cover up to 7,000 square miles. 


The effects of dead zones can be incredibly detrimental to a region’s economy. Many coastal cities rely on their seafood industry, and biodiversity, to bring in tourists. In addition, many locals work in commercial fishing. If the fish disappear from the ocean, they have no job. 

What can be done to prevent dead zones? 

  1. Buying organic: Organic farms are prohibited from using fertilizer or pesticides on crops. Supporting organic methods of farming is a great way of contributing to a cleaner ocean. 
  2. Buffers: Planting trees, shrubs, and grasses would help reduce the amount of nutrients making their way into the ocean. The plants absorb nutrients, keeping it away from bodies of water.
  3. Animal waste systems: Implementing animal waste systems in farms would help to reduce the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen being released into oceans. 

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The viral Tiktok trend “Reality Shifting”- Fact or fiction?

By Caroline Crosby

If you’ve been anywhere near TikTok, or other similar social media platforms, you may have been exposed to the strange concept of “reality shifting”. It was first popularized by avid fans of the Harry Potter franchize in early fall of this year, and spread like wildfire across the internet in the months following. 

Essentially, reality shifting (or just “shifting”) is loosely described as a shift in consciousness from one reality to the next. Now, this may sound like an improbable conspiracy theory promoted by a mob of fictional wizard obsessed teenagers, but there’s more to this trend than meets the eye. 

As a disclaimer, the science behind shifting is mostly theoretical and difficult to grasp; to attempt to understand the complex quantum mechanics of human consciousness is a daunting task indeed. 

First, we address the multiverse theory. 

For those who aren’t in the know, this theory proposes that the realm of space and time that we exist in right now, or our universe, isn’t a singular body of matter. It states that there simply isn’t one universe, but rather an infinite number of dimensions of existence.

Infinite realities means infinite possibilities – and this is where the process of shifting comes into play. The idea is that through a plethora of different mediums, that allows the user to manipulate their state of mind, you can transfer your consciousness from this reality to the next. 

In truth, the concept of reality shifting existed long before Harry Potter fans discovered it. A document from the CIA – “Analysis and Assessment of the Gateway Process” was written in 1983, but only recently approved for release in the summer of 2003. The report explains the science behind “Gateway training”, a process employed by the U.S. military that was used to improve the cognitive function and other aspects of it’s subjects. It’s author, Wayne M. McDonnell, explains that “Fundamentally, the Gateway Experience is a training system designed to bring enhanced strength, focus and coherence to the amplitude and frequency of brainwave output between the left and right hemispheres so as to alter consciousness, moving it outside the physical sphere so as to ultimately escape even the restrictions of time and space”.

This is a difficult concept to understand without appropriate background knowledge, and before we delve further, it’s important to establish that everything is made of energy and energy fields.

In the report, McDonnell states that “Science now knows that both the electrons which spin in the energy field located around the nucleus of the atom and the nucleus itself are made up of nothing more than oscillating energy grids. Solid matter, in the strict construction of the term, simply does not exist. Rather, atomic structure is composed of oscillating energy grids surrounded by other oscillating energy grids which orbit at extraordinarily high speeds… …The point to be made is that the entire human being, brain, consciousness and all is, like the universe which surrounds [it], nothing more or less than an extraordinarily complex system of energy fields.”

After acknowledging the complex concepts behind human consciousness, and it’s physics, reality shifting may seem like less (even if only slightly) of an enigmatic experience. 

The aforementioned Harry Potter fans, as well as other members of the “shifting community”,  have taken these conceptual ideas and turned them into structured processes, including “the Alice in Wonderland method”, “the Raven method”, the “I Am method”, and many more. 

The I Am method, like most others, has a very specific procedure. An anonymous acquaintance of mine, with adverse shifting experience, describes the step by step process of this method:

“Close your eyes and breathe in and out continuously until your mind is clear and there are no longer distractions. If you prefer, meditate before starting this method. Repeat the phrase ‘I am pure conscious not attached to any reality.’ After a while you might feel your body vibrate and get tingly, (if not that’s totally okay!). You might feel like your brain zoomed off, like it turned off or like it’s expanding. You might feel like you’re floating, like you’re in a void. When that happens repeat affirmations over and over until you feel lighter and lighter. Repeat the affirmations ‘I am in my ideal reality permanently’ over and over until you feel lighter and lighter. You could possibly see images from your desired reality, and when you hear, smell, or feel like you’re there just open your eyes!”

This method relies heavily on the use of affirmations and biofeedback. McDonnell explains this occurrence:

“Biofeedback teaches the left hemisphere first to visualize the desired result and then to recognize the feelings associated with the experience of successful right hemisphere access to the specific lower cerebral, cortex, pain or pleasure or other areas in the manner needed to produce the desired result.” 

This can be heavily utilized for other consciousness altering techniques as well, such as manifestation. It promotes the self-cognitive powers of the left hemisphere in gaining access to areas of the “right brain”, such as the lower cerebral, motor and sensory cortices and assorted pain or pleasure centers. Basically, by convincing their brain that it’s somewhere else, shifters can transfer their consciousness to an altered state or plane of existence. It’s a liminal experience that depends on the will of the individual, and according to “ShiftTok”, you’re in full control. 

It’s all highly relative, and when addressing the conceptuality of the universe itself, it’s important to remember that there’s no right or wrong answers. Scientifically, we may eventually find a concrete answer to what theorists now deem hypothetical, but what better way to find out than experiencing it yourself?

For more information, I recommend reading Wayne M. McDonnell’s analysis mentioned above: https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP96-00788R001700210016-5.pdf 

Traveling at the speed of light 

By: Grace Helmke

It’s something out of a sci-fi novel. The thought of being able to travel at 670,616,629 miles per hour seems impossible. But is it really? Traversing the cosmos at the speed of light may not be as fictional as we once thought. 

Understanding Einstein’s general theory of relativity

Einstein’s theory of general relativity is essential to this idea of traveling at the speed of light. He stated that gravity was a geometric distortion of spacetime which could not be predicted by Newton’s laws. Einstein defined spacetime as the dimension which time and space shared. It was the formation of a four dimensional continuum which was made up of space and time. It would look something like a piece of fabric. Each planet, star, or mass would make dips in it. Or, they would bend spacetime. 

Relativity in space travel

Scientists have since been looking into light speed travel using various methods. In several projects, spanning all the way from 1950-1980, researchers discussed using nuclear fusion to propel a spacecraft, however they decided it might be best not to launch a nuclear warhead into space. 

However, researchers have begun to follow in the footsteps of science fiction in an attempt to achieve light speed travel. Warp drive was a concept introduced on Star Trek, a television show from the 1960s about a space crew completing missions in the 23rd century. Warp drive essentially distorted the fabric of spacetime, allowing the crew to travel superluminally, or faster than the speed of light.

Einstein’s theories suggest that this is not a totally unheard of thought. In fact, it’s entirely possible. In 1994, a scientist named Miguel Alcubierre discovered what today is known as the Alcubierre Drive. Essentially, his theory was that it’s possible to bend space time in a way that contracts in front of you, and expands behind you, moving you in a forward motion. 

This field of study is still largely unexplored. However, there have been some discoveries in recent years that have significantly contributed to its advancement. Scientists working at LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) discovered naturally occurring gravitational waves. It confirmed Einstein’s predictions of relativity and proved that the basis for the warp drive exists in nature. 

There are some problems that come along with this form of travel. It requires negative energy. This is an issue because we have no physical evidence that negative energy is real. At this point in time, it only exists in the laws of physics, and in quantum theory, which states that it’s possible to borrow energy from a vacuum at another location. It’s like borrowing money from a bank.

Another issue is the sheer amount of energy needed. Scientists believe that the total energy required to travel via warp drive would be equivalent to the mass of Jupiter. That is simply not in our capacity at this point in time. The production of that amount of energy will only come from the furthering of science and technology; well into the future. It’s not impossible, it’s just not in line with our current abilities. 


So, is it possible that humanity may one day travel at the speed of light? Most likely, yes. It is probable that we may one day travel at astonishing speeds. Although we do not currently have the capacity to create the amount of energy needed, scientists are working to change that. We will one day achieve a seemingly fictional feat. One that may change our society forever. 

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The future of commercial space travel 

By: Grace Helmke

In May of 2020, SpaceX launched two Americans aboard Falcon 9, the first manned rocket to journey to the International Space Station (ISS) in over nine years. The flight took place aboard a commercial vehicle, representing the beginning of a movement towards accessible space travel. 

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), is working with several private companies to expand their production and create space crafts capable of carrying the average human into orbit.

SpaceX was the first to produce reusable rockets. They did this by establishing a model, which has now been running regular missions to the ISS since 2012.

The several companies manufacturing these shuttles maintain ownership of the vehicles they produce. NASA then provides their launch facilities, and sends the astronauts into space. By creating business with these companies and starting their Commercial Crew Program, NASA predicts that the economics of spaceflight will change, increasing competition between nations and driving down the cost of intergalactic travel. 

Other nations around the world are also becoming increasingly invested in the idea of a commercialized space flight future. Russia currently has in orbit a reusable vessel which has made several trips from earth to space on resupply missions to the ISS. China is in the earlier stages of the production of a space station capable of housing multitudes of astronauts for an extended period of time. Several test vehicles have been launched, but all have incinerated after multiple years in space. 

The fact that private companies in the United States, and around the world, are beginning their work in becoming commercial space companies means that spaceflight is no longer exclusive to government-funded projects. It is now becoming increasingly accessible. 

It is also foreseeable that as a result of these reduced prices and increased accessibility, that a hospitality industry might emerge in space and on other planets. Meaning, hotels and inflatable habitats will likely be created.

Bigelow Aerospace, a company in Nevada that specializes in space technology, has actually begun to produce these alternative housing solutions. The idea of this module, named B330, is that it is completely collapsible. It will arrive at the destination shriveled and compacked, and will inflate to accommodate visitors upon arrival. This balloon like home, surprisingly enough, would last a person’s lifetime.

With the continued advancement in technology, and newfound partnership between the government and private companies, a society where space travel is routine may not be so far away. 

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