While most high school freshmen obsessed over girls, football and MTV, Alex Moore found his passion on another planet. At age 14, the Canonsburg native was inspired by the novel Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson, to launch redcolony.com, a Web site dedicated to the colonization of Mars. With the help of two friends, Moore the built the site into one of the Internet's most comprehensive Mars colonization sites, with 82 articles, some written by NASA scientists, on establishing a home for humanity on the Red Planet. Now a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh, Moore still spends an hour each day updating the site.
Why colonize Mars?
First of all, it offers some scientific opportunities. We can find out once and for all if Earth has the only life in the solar system. It gives us a great project for all humanity to work toward; for everyone from all different fields to put together their brains and come up with this great plan. It can spark the economy. It can create jobs. It will lead to new rocket technology, life-support systems, ways to make food out of nothing and ways to find water underground. It's nearby. It's not that hard to get to. It has as much land area as Earth does, so it offers huge room for expansion of the human race.
Some people would say that we've already ruined one planet, why mess up another?
Mars is the most similar to Earth of all the planets. It probably, at one point, had conditions similar to the ones on Earth now. It could be said that we would just be restoring it to that state.
You get a lot of e-mails from people with questions about colonizing Mars. What are some common questions?
Usually, it's people writing science papers for high school. They are usually interested in the science-fiction aspects of it. Will there be galactic battles between people on Earth and people on Mars? Will Mars offer new opportunities for government? Can we do things rightly that we screwed up on Earth? Can we start fresh with a new planet?
What do you tell people who have ideas about galactic warfare?
I tell them to calm down. We don't want an intergalactic war within our race. It's bad enough here on Earth.
You have been contacted by people from NASA. What did they have to say?
What's cool is when we get an article from someone at NASA, a renegade, breakaway scientist who wants to share his own ideas. Most people who work at NASA want to go to Mars. Well, I should say everyone who works at NASA wants to go to Mars. Everyone talks about it around the water cooler. Our Web site gives people a chance to share their expertise in these fields.
Do people from NASA post under a pseudonym?
We get some anonymous articles. People have asked to have something removed because they got in trouble for it.
How do you feel about President Bush's plans to land on Mars?
He wants to go to the moon first, which is an unnecessary step. He also wants to spend way too much money. NASA estimates several billion dollars while a private company could do it for less than 10 [billion]. A company would do it sooner and have more long-term goals in mind, where a government might just be on a flag-planting mission.
Mars has been the subject of a lot of B-grade science-fiction books and movies. Does that make your job as an advocate harder?
It does. People are so caught up in life on Mars and the face on Mars and the pyramids on Mars. Only a few people give serious thought to colonization. Some think it is a pipe dream, but we have the technology. We can do this now.
Let's say you are at a party and you tell someone you just met that you run a Web site dedicated to colonizing Mars. What do they say?
I try to keep that to myself [laughs]. It does shock people, especially when they hear I am not majoring in anything relating to Mars.
What is your major?
English literature and philosophy.
If a colony is set up in your lifetime, would you go to Mars?
Maybe for a vacation. I like Pittsburgh.