Monday, May 16, 2011

An eighth grader writes the Space Show

This is what the program was about yesterday.  I listened for a little while, then I turned it off.  Why?

I think it was part anger, part despair.  Maybe I am over reacting.  I do that sometimes.

It is tempting to call the kid an idiot, but I couldn't have written a letter like that at that age.  I'm not too much better of a writer NOW when I am 55.  There was some speculation that the kid got some help.  Whatever the case may be, the mind behind it is not of the same mind as mine.

Not that I think that NASA should get a lot more money.  The government could do better.  Yet, as I watched the Shuttle take to the sky this morning, I realize how big of a job it is to do this.  So, I feel some appreciation for the effort it takes to put a crew into orbit and bring them back safely.  I do not want to denigrate the work they do.

The bottom line for me is that I want to see civilization reach the next level.  It can't do that by staying on the ground.  The Earth is limited, space is unlimited.  Everything we got here on the ground can be duplicated in space, but in greater amounts.  By limiting ourselves, we limit our futures.  For a kid to think the way this kid does, or to be influenced by an adult who thinks this way, is to me almost criminal.  Why deprive ourselves of a brilliant future?  Would you deprive yourself of something far better than what you have now if the better thing is available to you?  What could be better than having many orders of magnitude more material abundance than what we have now?  This to me is absolutely senseless to oppose it, unless you don't actually know this.  If you do know, you may as well take a loaded gun and point it at your own head for all the sense it makes.

I suppose I am arguing from the point of view of a true believer.  Really, the only thing to not believe here is our own ability to get to space.  But this has already been done.  It has been done for over a half a century.  The thing that is missing is the economics of it.  Once that problem is solved, the rest will follow.  Keep in mind that it took nearly 50 years for Henry Ford to popularize the automobile.  All it takes is someone with the right vision in order to come up with a method of conquering space economically.  It is already been conquered scientifically.  It is just a matter of time.

But maybe not.  What if Henry Ford didn't make the Model T, which paved the way for the mass production of automobiles?  We might be riding around on horses even today and automobiles may be mere curiosities. Progress isn't automatic.  Let's not stop it while it is still in its infancy.  Let it grow.  Then we can decide whether we need it or not.

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