Saturday 17 March 2018

Mars interview was out of this world as they saw red in Limerick

Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Is there life on Mars? Joseph Roche may yet be among the first humans to find out. He's one of three Irish people selected for a shortlist -- well, shortish -- of 1,058 for the Mars One project. This aims to establish a colony on the Red Planet by 2025. Roche, interviewed on Futureproof (Newstalk), hopes to make the final cut of just 40.

He's already placed in the top half-a-percent of some 200,000 applicants, so Roche seems to have, as they say, the Right Stuff. But why on earth -- yes, pun intended -- would anyone want to leave their home planet forever?

For Roche, who came across (ironically) as a very grounded guy, it's less a matter of disliking this world, more a case of discovering new ones and thus appreciating Earth all the more . . . even though he'll never return to it, if he does go.

It all sounds absolutely mad to me, in the best possible way. They're all bonkers and it's fantastic, and this was a great interview, broadcast alongside a related chat with Mars One founder Baz Lansdorp.

I can't wait for the first pictures home, or the first tweet. "Hello from Mars! Literally no atmosphere here. At least we've got wi-fi."

But never mind Mars -- is there intelligent life on Earth? After all this City of Culture craziness, you'd have to wonder.

I normally find these rolling news stories exhausting -- too much detail, way too much tragedy -- but in Limerick, nobody was killed or maimed or dispossessed. Some people left their jobs, but compared to real disasters, this was tupenny-hapenny stuff.

As a consequence, all the coverage was very entertaining, in a slightly depressing and embarrassing way.

I especially enjoyed the debates on Claire Byrne and Marian Finucane (Radio 1).

All that anguish and anger, all that "something must be done" chest-beating, over a relatively unimportant matter. I love the arts, but these festivals are over-done, and people overreact. Sometimes I feel we're just looking for an excuse to vent some steam at a good old-fashioned "disgrace".

Besides, it's not like this kind of stuff only happens in Ireland; contrary to all the "typical Paddy" self-flagellating, it goes on everywhere. Except maybe Switzerland. And possibly Mars.


Irish Independent

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