Re: space colonization and the future of mankind
i'm not an astronomer, so correct me if i'm wrong - i don't think the moon can hold an atmosphere forever, but at least for a very long time. i think people in the far future can conceivably generate artificial gravity and replenish an atmosphere as needed.
creating a colony below ground on the moon might be technologically easier, but one of the biggest challenges to space exploration/colonization is financial, as mentioned, and few people are going to pay for an apartment underground on the moon. but if the moon were transformed into a luxurious living space (not impossible, considering how we've transformed deserts like vegas and dubai), with gorgeous views of earth, then there would be your financial incentive - people would be lining up to go there. plus, i see space tourism as being potentially lucrative - the beginnings of which are already starting to happen. as a kid, i dreamed of going into outer space - now, i mite actually be able to do it w/in my lifetime.
if our economy ever recovers, space exploration would be a worthy long-term investment. prob better than war, but not all wars are the same. - helping to take down evil dictators and guys like hitler was money well spent, i say.