Friday, June 23, 2006

You Have to Listen - Space Exploration is Not a Joke

End of the World
Uploaded on July 16, 2005
by jonbuys
I know that many who come here, to this blog, have quite an open mind. I guess it's almost a prerequisite for writers. Even more for those who write genre, which automatically lends itself to, if not believing, then being able to imagine larger/different than life things.

It always surprises me then when people take space exploration as a joke, as a sci-fi thing, as children's and geeks' wild imagination.

Naturally I'm sure you know what brought this about. Stephen Hawking latest address that we need to colonize the moon and Mars.

It made the news nearly some time after my mom sent me the original article above. All of a sudden Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing and Fox News were talking about it. (Didn't mean to put Cory Doctorow and Fox News in the same sentence, suffice to say they reacted differently).

But my point: Just because something has whiff of sci-fi coming from it doesn't mean it should be treated as a joke!

Ever since I can remember, reading and watching sci-fi, the importance of social and political change was part and parcel with the genre. If by depicting future dystopian culture, or by having the perfect world Star Trek provides.

Another theme that was also prevalent, we need for this planet to come together in peace. For the sake of working together on saving this planet, going to the stars, improving our lives here on Earth, and for Pete's sake, not killing each other.

I already told you on numerous occasions that I expected us to have a colony, or at least a permanent base on the moon by now. In my opinion, space exploration is paramount to our evolution as a society, as humans.

But I know, this is all terribly funny. Why should anyone take this seriously?

Well, maybe if people did take it seriously, our world would have looked different today. But if Hawking is taken lightly, who am I to talk???

[I don't tend to rant here, but after watching the jokes about Hawking, I couldn't help myself.]
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18 comments:

jayne d'Arcy said...

Not sure whether or not my comment got through; blogger just went flooey. Anyway, I don't think this should be a joke and needs to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, the more it's joked about, the sooner it will get dismissed and swept under the rug.

Flood said...

Funny you should write about this because I have been paranoid about Hawking's thoughts since I read them. Now I am wondering if there is enough time to do as he suggests, then I think holy cow we're all gonna die! etc etc

His address did nothing for the little kid in my tummy at all.

Flood said...

uhhh, by "little kid in my tummy," I meant my inner child. Unless there is something going on I don't know about.

redchurch said...

As with other serious topics, I think many people don't take it seriously because they have no control over the situation to begin with. We laugh about colonizing mars in the same way we laugh about death--both are outside of our personal locus of control.

(Just pointing out that laughing about things is not necessarily derogatory)

After considering that, if you're still bothered by the fact that people don't take space exploration seriously, then maybe this will make you feel better.

Deborah said...

My husband and I are fascinated with space/science documentaries. I can't imagine living on the Moon or on Mars. That would be a trip!

We don't have the technology to combat the effects of space travel on our bodies yet. That could explain why we haven't established a colony or two on the Moon.

However, our technology is steadily advancing. So perhaps our great, great grandchildren will get to experience this.

bekbek said...

Not very long ago, I had dinner with a man who scoffed at the idea of the first moon landing. The conversation had touched on evolution, and somehow in just a few sentences it became clear that this person thought both evolution and the idea of men going to the moon were ridiculous.

Before that night, I thought that there might be a few crackpots (i.e., people I dismissed as irrelevant) that thought the moon landing was a hoax. This man was not a crackpot.

When I saw the way many people ridiculed Hawking's statements, I remembered that dinner. I fear that there are a lot of people who don't take the idea of space travel seriously because they don't, at a gut level, really believe in that whole universe out there.

It's a scary thought, and I admit it makes me angry.

Melly said...

Jayne, unfortunately Blogger does that occasionally, but something finally got through :)
You have no idea how good it feels to hear other people feel the same way. Actually, you probably do :)

Flood, Hawking's address didn't really scare me. It's nothing I (we) never thought of before. We all know the truths of his words. What scared me was the reaction. He will be named a visionary one day, I'm sure.

Eric, you're absolutely right. Laughing isn't necessarily derogatory. However, in this case it was. People took it as a joke, not as I'm laughing cause I'm nervous, I'm laughing cause how the hell are we going to do that? It was laughing because they think Hawking is crackpot.
(and thanks for the video :)

Deborah, I'm not so sure we don't have the technology for a moon colony, and if you're right then it's also because we don't spend enough effort in trying to evolve that technology. Come on, we landed on the moon in the early 60s! that's 40! years. I'm sure we could have developped something by now. DOn't you think?

BekBek, if this isn't the ultimate truth. Some of these smoes are far from being crackpots. They're intelligent and yet...
Boils my blood even more.

redchurch said...

Mel said:

"It was laughing because they think Hawking is crackpot."

They are the crackpots--the people who think the moon landing never happened, etc. Some of 'them' even think that we don't have the technology to get into space, and that it's all a massive case of The Emperor's New Clothes.

It just shows how out of touch they are--if anything they need to take clues from crackpots on the opposite side of the spectrum. Governments have technology that citizens aren't even aware of yet!!!

I think it's all going to turn out OK. Hawking may be ahead of his time, and that's ok. History will prove how closed-minded the doubters are when it comes to science. People used to laugh at the idea of germs, too...

People who doubt the innovators don't matter in the grand scheme of things. They usually aren't the movers who make things happen.

Deborah said...

Come on, we landed on the moon in the early 60s! that's 40! years. I'm sure we could have developped something by now. DOn't you think?

You'd think, given the leaps we've made during this time period. I'm just going by what I saw on that documentary. ;) If they do have that technology, then they should have been working on evolving that at the same time they were building those space shuttles. That would have made a world of difference for those astronauts.

Governments have technology that citizens aren't even aware of yet!!!

I'll bet a lot of it is stored in Area 51, not to sound like a conspiracy theorist. And you're right: The movers and shakers of the world are often laughed at before people see the light.

Darren said...

Most people have little interest in hard-core science. If they did, the universe would look a lot more sci-fi than it does from your average dinner table. Buy any issue of Scientific American, and one of the two or three central papers will be Star Trek material - whether parallel universes or miniature wormholes.

On a lighter note though - much of the technology that was once the wild imaginings of sci fi writers is now reality: cloning, human looking androids (far more human looking than Data in Star Trek), voice recognition software, mobile video phones, the list goes on...

Maybe the problem with space travel is that so far it's been under the almost exclusive control of national governments as opposed to private enterprise.

Melly said...

Eric, I'm an optimist by nature, so I tend to brush off stories about the end of the world (maybe I shouldn't), but yeah, regardless, we should pursue and go further.
(Interesting book, btw, never heard of it).

Deborah, oh, too bad I didn't see that documentary. It would have been interesting. Probably we still don't have the technology, but that's because we didn't even try.
If tomorrow NASA gets the order to build a colony on the moon, I'm sure they'll come up with something.

You're right Darren, absolutely!
And what you say is so true about technologies that are better than sci-fi and yet still people ridicule "sci-fi notions". Haven't they learnt a thing or two?
There's a private enterprise for space travel that just a few years ago, right? So maybe now people would be more open... I hope that would be the case.

Deborah said...

Darren's comment reminded me of that entrepreneur who successfully flew into space. I can't believe I forgot about that!

Here's are a couple of links that might interest you. :)

http://www.richard-seaman.com/Aircraft/AirShows/SpaceShipOne2004/

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/SS1_touchdown_040621.html


My husband watched this on another documentary about a year and a half ago. Again, I can't believe I'd forgotten this. If we have more innovators like this guy, we may be closer than we think.

Deborah said...

It appears that the links have been cut off. Google "SpaceShipOne" if you can't edit my comment.

Trée said...

I'm with Stephen. Only a matter of time, either way.

Melly said...

Deborah, thanks for the links.
Yeah, I think we can get there fast.

True, Trée - it is only a matter of time. I guess we'll have to endure jokes in the mean while :)

michaelm said...

That Hawking made the case he did is frightening in and of itself.
What's real estate going for in the Sea of Tranquility? Beam me up...

~m

Melly said...

No capitalism on the moon, please. We're not beaming that up :)

redchurch said...

Here ya go Mel.

Re: Capitalism on the moon: I expect it to be exported along with all the people who will whine about it. ;)