Giant leap for ‘womenkind’

2016-08-10 06:00
PHOTO: jonathan burton

PHOTO: jonathan burton

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KWAZULU-NATAL Mars One candidate Adriana Marais has proved that women’s bravery goes way beyond what the world has perceived it to be.

The 32-year-old Durban woman was among three speakers on Friday, who encouraged women at the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business lunch that attracted hundreds of women from various spheres of business in the city.

She talked on the theme “Broaden your horizons and conquer your fears to boldly go where no woman has gone before”, which paved the path for her to share details of her daunting death-or-glory Mars journey.

“The only way to learn is to get ourselves out of our comfort zone. We need to go out to places no one has ever been before,” she said.

Marais, who is eager to leave immediately­ for Mars, is a theoretical physicist in the field of quantum biology­ and has been selected as a candidate to possibly go and live on Mars.

She said the journey would be expedient to her research she is doing at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on the origins of life.

Prepared to give up life on Earth to obtain greater insight into the origins and meaning of life, she said she is more than happy to become one of the first Mars citizens.

Marais is among 100 others across the globe provisionally selected to go Mars. The last selection will comprise of only 24 individuals.

“I think the fact that we have identified quantum aspects of photosynthesis, one of the earliest living processes to have emerged on Earth, suggests that going down to these tiny scales may help us understand how life emerged in the first place,” she said.

She added that what would be really helpful in the quest to understand the fundamental principles underlying the emergence of life would be to find just one other example of the phenomenon.

“We have not yet discovered any other location where life exists and all organisms on Earth appear to have evolved from a common ancestor.

“The point I want to make is that as far as we can tell, what we are doing here on Earth as living systems, and in particular as humans, is very improbable.

“In a vast universe, so far, we represent the only instance that we know of where collections of molecules - because that’s what we are - have observed reality, made sense of it through language, and finally found ways to record and communicate this information, which has culminated in the Internet, in my opinion, one of our finest moments.

“What I find perplexing is that in spite of living in this improbable era of human existence, and even in spite of, for many of us, having the sum of human knowledge at our fingertips, rather than rejoicing in the hugeness of the picture we have of reality­, and in the spirit of exploration and discovery of the vastness of what still remains unknown, many people are overwhelmed, unnerved and indeed find it incomprehensible that I want to move to Mars, on a one-way trip,” she said.

Mars One is a NPO foundation with the goal of establishing a permanent human­ settlement on Mars. To prepare for this settlement, the first unmanned mission is scheduled to leave in 2020. Crews will depart for their one-way journey to Mars starting in 2026. Subsequent crews will depart every 26 months after the initial crew has left for Mars. Mars One is a global initiative aiming to make this everyone’s mission, including yours. Join Mars One’s efforts to enable the next giant leap for mankind. —


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