Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Boxwork in the basement of Mars

Polygon ridges in Hellas Basin
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, shows what resembles closely what in Earth caves are called boxwork, polygonal ridges sticking out from the bedrock and usually indicating cracks filled with harder material that resist erosion.

Taken by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on March 23, 2021, what makes this boxwork especially interesting is its size and location. On Earth cave boxwork generally ranges from a few inches to a few feet across. Not only do these Martian ridges range from 100 feet to a half mile in length, they are located at the lowest point in Hellas Basin, the basement of Mars. In fact, this spot is as close as you can get to Mars’ Death Valley, as shown by the overview map below.

Overview map

The white box indicates the location of the boxwork image. The darkest blue color indicates the deepest spot, which sits more than 26,000 feet (about five miles) below the Martian “sea level”, deeper than Mount Everest is high.

What formed the ridges? According to this 2017 paper, there are many types of such polygon ridges on Mars, likely formed from a variety of processes. However,

Hellas Basin is host to a fourth type of ridge morphology consisting of large, thick, light-toned ridges forming regular polygons at several superimposed scales. While still enigmatic, these are most likely to be the result of sediment-filled fractures.

In other words, the fractures are thought to be are filled with some sort of material that when hardened is resistant to erosion. As you can see by the image, the only place the ridges are visible are in depressions where the surrounding material has started to disappear, leaving the ridges standing above the surrounding topography.

What is the material that is eroding away? Dust? And what are the ridges made of? Lava? While both are likely, both are also pure guesses based on the available data.

The deep location, however, suggests we are looking at some of the oldest geology on Mars, billions of years old and likely giving us a glimpse of the planet from its infancy. What this is telling us is right now unfortunately very difficult to figure out, because our information is so incomplete.


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