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Switzerland

Why Earthlings Are Vying For A One-Way Ticket To Mars

A unique competition for humans seeking to inhabit Mars has prompted more sign-ups than you might have ever imagined. Inside a space program with the most pioneering of spirits.

Artistic rendition of a human settlement on Mars
Artistic rendition of a human settlement on Mars
Nic Ulmi

GENEVA — Say you were offered a one-way ticket to spend the rest of your days, all-expense paid, lost in an endless desert, where the unbreathable air makes it impossible to go out without a space suit, and accompanied by people you hardly know. Oh, and you’d also have to grow your own food. On Mars. Interested?

Believe it or not, between May and September 2013, 200,000 people applied to do just that. The Mars One foundation, a private organization that aims to establish a human colony on the neighbor planet by 2025, just selected 1,000 candidates — including five Swiss citizens. In the end, six teams of four people will be recruited and will begin the project full-time in 2015. For these individuals, the next nine years will be spent training, before a seven-month journey and finally an entire life in a setting similar to that of the picture above.

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Geopolitics

Our 'Emotional' Divide: How The Ukraine War Reveals A World Broken In Two

Russia's invasion has created a stark global divide: them and us. On one side are the countries refusing to condemn Moscow, with the West on the other. It's a dangerous split that could have repercussions far into the future.

Protesters against the war in Ukraine demonstrate in front of the Russian embassy in London

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — "The West and the Rest of Us." That's the title of a 1975 essay written by Nigerian essayist and critic Chinweizu Ibekwe. I've been thinking about his words as the war in Ukraine both reveals and accelerates divisions of the world that I believe are ultimately "emotional" in nature.

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With war returning to Europe and the risk of escalation, there is a gap between the Western view and that of the "others," a distinct "us and them." This gap cannot be explained in strictly geographical, political, and economic terms.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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