Escape to the Stars – Prelude
Today is September 4, 2018. Scientists have determined that the Earth’s days are numbered. Earth’s populace can see the handwriting on the wall. The scientists predict with a high level of confidence that a gigantic asteroid will strike the Earth in 2037. It will be an extinction-level event (ELE). All life on the Earth will be wiped out. All the countries of the world have decided to put down their weapons and pool their resources to build a humongous colony ship that can house one million people. The ship will be built in orbit around the Earth, and passengers and workers will be shuttled up to it by space shuttle.
It is the year 2027. Five hundred thousand of the top scientists, engineers, philosophers, doctors, artists, chefs, craftsmen, and musicians have been selected to be passengers on the colony ship. These first half-million people have already been moved aboard the colony ship for security reasons. The other half million people will be selected from among the populations of all the countries of the world. Teacher Lee has been selected to be one of these elite few that comprise the first half of the passengers due to his diverse background in the fields of nuclear and computer engineering and training development and instruction — all critical skills that may be of use on a new world setting up a new civilization from scratch.
As one of the chosen few, Teacher Lee has been given the perk of being able to select one hundred people to bring along as passengers on the colony ship. Teacher Lee has decided that his selections need to be able to adapt to new living conditions and to be amenable to learning new and diverse skills. So he has decided on three criteria for his guests: diligence, passion, and curiosity.
It is December 2036. The sky is filled with the monstrous asteroid as it relentlessly and unerringly proceeds along its intercept course with the Earth. The colony ship is ready and has been fully provisioned. All that remains are selecting the remaining passenger candidates chosen by the elite passengers. Teacher Lee has enough vacant slots remaining for ten people and their families. He invites all of his English-learning comrades to an online Google Hangout and explains that ten of them, along with their families, will be selected IF they can answer one question correctly that he considers to be a single indicator of their diligence, passion, and curiosity. He tells them to text him their answers by private chat channel. He asks them if they are ready. All attendees nervously nod that they are. Some are perspiring, with tiny beads of sweat gleaming on their foreheads. They realize that answering this question correctly could mean the difference between life and death.
The question is given with thirty seconds to reply. Within a minute, it was done. Their fates had been decided by a roll of the dice. It turned out that Fortune had smiled on Teacher Lee’s students. They all passed! Within the next week, all had moved aboard the ship with their families. Preparations were finalized, and on December 24th, 2036 CE, history was made. The colony ship launched out of Earth’s orbit and out into the solar system. Earth’s first, last, and only planetary evacuation had officially begun. Now a long interstellar journey awaited them.