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Elon Musk says nuking Mars is the quickest way to make it livable

The SpaceX founder tells Stephen Colbert that a thermonuclear bomb could be key to starting a Martian real estate boom.

If you love something, sometimes you've got to nuke it. CBS / Video screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

Elon Musk will stop at nothing to get humans on Mars, even if the way to make it more habitable is to launch a nuclear strike.

That was the counterintuitive suggestion that the Tesla and SpaceX founder made on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" Wednesday evening when the two got into a conversation about terraforming Mars to make it ready for that Martian colony Musk loves to talk about. Last we heard he was still planning to beat NASA to our blushing neighbor by as much as 10 years. (Editors' note: "The Late Show" appears on CBS, which is also the parent company of CNET.)

The idea, if I dare to translate what's going on in the mind of a madman -- er, iconoclast -- like Musk, is to jump-start climate change on Mars. Musk told Colbert we could do it the slow way and somehow pump greenhouse gases into the Martian atmosphere, or...

"The fast way is to drop thermonuclear weapons over the poles," Musk said, straightfaced.

This prompted Colbert, naturally, to call Musk a supervillain:

"Superman doesn't say, 'Let's drop nuclear bombs.' That's Lex Luthor, man."

Musk also mentioned the possibility of humans being transported in space by SpaceX rockets as soon as two to three years from now, although the recent explosion of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket certainly might dampen the enthusiasm of potential Mars colonists.

The thing is, Musk has a habit of promising amazing futures just around the corner, whether it's his supersonic Hyperloop transit system or self-driving cars.

In reality, it took him several years longer to get SpaceX rockets off the ground than he initially thought, so I wouldn't buy a yurt on Mars from him just yet -- but I probably would go there with Musk before I'd go with Mars One, because suffocation.

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