What do you think?
Rate this book
400 pages, Hardcover
First published January 1, 2006
“If science ceases to be a rebellion against authority, then it does not deserve the talents of our brightest children. I was lucky to be introduced to science at school as a subversion activity of the younger boys. We organized a Science Society as an act of rebellion against compulsory Latin and compulsory football. We should try to introduce our children to science today as a rebellion against poverty and ugliness and militarism and economic injustice.”
“Once leaves can be made to function in space, the remaining parts of a tree—trunk, branches, and roots—do not present any great problem. The branches must not freeze, and therefore the bark must be a superior heat insulator. The roots will penetrate and gradually melt the frozen interior of the comet, and the tree will build its substance from the materials which the roots find there. The oxygen which the leaves manufacture must not be exhaled into space. Instead it will be transported down to the roots and released into the regions where humans will leave and take their ease among the tree trunks. One question still remains. How high can a tree on a comet grow? The answer is surprising. On any celestial body whose diameter is of the order of ten miles or less, the force of gravity is so weak that a tree can grow infinitely high. Ordinary wood is strong enough to lift its own weight to an arbitrary distance from the center of gravity. This means that from a comet of ten-mile diameter trees can grow out for hundreds of miles, collecting the energy of sunlight from an area thousands of times larger than the area of the comet itself. Seen from far away, the comet will look like a small potato sprouting an immense growth of stems and foliage. When humans come to live on the comets, they will find themselves returning to the arboreal existence of their ancestors.”