Monday, December 5, 2011

Life on other planets far, far away

I may be interested in space, but I am also quite practical.  Some may say too practical.  This bit of news about a planet in a habitable zone on a planet hundreds of light years away just doesn't do anything (practical ) for me.  That's because there is practical no useful value in this information.  Even if you find something, what do you do with it?

The distances are so great that even if you can go the speed of light, it would take hundreds of years to go there and come back.  Nobody could have any emotional connection to such a journey.  You can't even communicate with them because it would take a message that long to get back and forth.  What good is this knowledge?

All of this curiousity about Mars also isn't very useful either.  Even though we could possibly get there and back with today's technology, what useful value can be derived from it? 

This may all seem to contradict my interest in space, but if anyone thinks so, they aren't paying attention.  There are practical useful things that can be done in space, but looking for life on other planets either in this star system or in another-  is not one of them.

I suggest starting with the moon.  If can't do anything on the moon that is useful and practical, you probably can't do it anywhere.  The cost of going to far away destinations will be too prohibitive, the danger will too great.  It just won't happen in anybody's lifetime.  But we were on the moon over 40 years ago.  We haven't done anything with that knowledge either.  But getting there was a start in that direction if anyone would just bother to see it that way.

In this age of budget austerity, it would make a lot of sense to reorder our priorities.  There is too much waste, and programs like searching for earth-like planets is an example of that.  We need to concentrate our efforts on goals that are reachable, not on goals that can never be reached in our lifetimes.  We should concentrate on useful information, not information that we can't possibly do anything with.

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