Thursday, May 23, 2013

When Mars Gains Currency.

If everything goes according to plan, four lucky souls from Earth will establish the first-ever human settlement on Mars by April 2023.

While landing on the red planet will be the easier part, staying put will be an altogether trickier proposition. Because out there: the average temperature is minus 60 degrees Celsius, the air pressure is the equivalent of living in a mountain five times the height of Mt. Everest, the oxygen content in the atmosphere is less than 1%, the surface gravity is 38% of what we face, and worst of all, there are no known water bodies. So the chance of survival of the four astronauts is almost the same as that of four tiny ants in Antarctica!

Assuming they rough it out and somehow procreate, in a few hundred years, we’d have created a whole new civilisation. From our wealth of earthly experience, we know that civilisations cannot be sustained on love and fresh air alone. Money is the vital ingredient for viability. And to generate money you need a currency first.

Considering Mars doesn’t have its own dollar, euro or yen, we’ll have to invent a new medium of exchange that’ll be acceptable to all. Suggestions have already started pouring in on possible options. The Mars Candy Bar is the universal favourite as it appeals to the inner child in us. Marzipan (almond confectionery), comes a close second. Between the two, it’s highly likely for people to prefer the former as 100,000 Mars Bars sounds far more sumptuous than 100,000 Marzipans.

If the Martians were to vote for a paper currency, then we’ll be forced to designate it with a name that captures the spirit of Mars. Since not much spadework has been done in this domain, let’s attempt to kick start the conversation by floating a few candidates.

Since Mars is the fourth planet, ‘Quads’ (Latin for four) offers an interesting choice. ‘Reddies’ is another likeable option as it captures the ruddiness of the terrain. ‘Ferrix’ (a variation of Ferric) could be a possibility as the planet is rich in iron ore. ‘Savoys’ (from Sevvai - Tamil for Mars) is an exotic take. Whatever the final pick, it better be out of the world!