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Leading article: Children of the stars

Bad news for all those who fancied the idea of having a baby in outer space. It almost certainly won't happen. According to three scientists who have looked into the business of human beings colonising other bits of the galaxy, a pregnant woman moving through space is likely to be so bombarded with cosmic radiation that the chances of her egg remaining fertile are remote.

But do not be dismayed. The same scientists who brought this bad news say that were humans actually to reach another destination, such as Mars, they could potentially shield themselves from the damaging rays by concealing themselves using a wall of Martian mud. Apparently, this substance is very thick and resistant to cosmic radiation, so there is a faint possibility of the human species being able procreate in space after all, if only behind walls of mud.

This obviously raises cheering possibilities for those who cannot bear to part with the idea that, one day, people will be busy populating other planets. It is comforting, perhaps, to know there might be another planetary bolthole once we have rendered earth uninhabitable. But might it not be smarter to manage the planet that we are on now more wisely? That way, we could forget about reproducing on Mars.