IDEA FRIDAY: Warp-Speed Ahead! Space Exploration and Society

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  • 5 years ago
  • Posted: March 27, 2015 at 6:50 pm

It has been said that Space is the Final Frontier, well, I may not really agree with that statement because I believe it’s just the beginning to exquisite and exciting things, places, and organisms (yes, folk, I do believe in aliens); but even beyond that, I fancy what I describe as an Ontological Extension Ad Infinitum (OEAI) lies past the ‘Observable Existentialism’ into what can be described as God or ‘Tao’, that gives all things-in-themselves their what I aptly describe as the ‘Higgs Boson Effect’ (essentially, making things the way they are, should be). I know it sounds technical, but it’s the way I look at the world, and sometimes a bit of complication wrapped in simplicity is good for the soul.

The period between 1957 and 1991 saw the dawn of the space age with flights to the planets, footprints on the Moon (which some say didn’t happen, I would be so, so disappointed if that never happened), and global communications; however, this historical depiction was anchored in the global cold war with its massive budgets for military space exploitation. The last ten years, however, have brought about a new era of space exploration, images of distant stars and galaxies, international cooperation and a focus on our own planet.

In the not-too-distant future we may have unlimited, clean, solar energy from space powering our industries as well as heating and lighting our homes. Imagine a world where our nuclear waste is safely and inexpensively disposed of by being carried up a Space Elevator and released towards the Sun. We may become a tourist in Earth orbit or on the Moon (Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson want to do that for you).

We may carry out extra-terrestrial mining and even introduce the development of a multi-planet economy, where the currency would be, a GALACT, for instance, 1GALACT= 1 million dollars, therefore it becomes important for you to hold GALACTS than dollars. In addition to the enormous knowledge that space exploration has already delivered, space technologies have become integrated into everyday life so deeply that modern society could not function without them. Weather, tele-communications, environmental analyses and national security are only the most obvious space, so much potential lies out there; say whole democracies built upon intermarriages with non-terrestrial species, gosh! I am sighing in anticipation right now!

Yes, that’s the whole idea of Deep Space Exploration, which am always thinking about, I only pray to God that I live long enough to see some of the amazing things that only take place in film manifest before my eyes.

Space activities impact society in diverse ways. The path to gaining knowledge through scientific as well as technical discoveries which in their turn benefit society in many ways such as; the camera in space developed to take pictures of far-distant galaxies now used as a medical instrument to detect lymph-node cancer; the instruments on an orbiting spacecraft designed to discover more about the structure of planets can be packaged into a portable device for identifying the minerals in rocks on Earth; the Sun’s rays can be harnessed to provide cheap and abundant solar energy to warm and light our houses. These spin-off technologies would not have been possible without development of space technology.

The search for life also drives space exploration. Are we alone in the Universe? Are we unique? That is the whole anthropomorphic query, isn’t it? Just before I wrote, a newly found friend of mine were having a pretty neat discussion on existence, parallel universes and vis-à-vis extra-terrestrials-we concluded right off the bat that life does exist on other instances of our universe(s). We will never rest until we know. For the purposes of such exploration, we then have a need for new or improved technologies (with a direct impact on the society).

Given that we have this built-in desire to explore, we will eventually develop the technologies to do this when the real need is there and when other enabling technologies and materials become cheap enough or feasible enough to do so. Hey, have you heard about the Mars One program where the global search has begun for the first humans to set foot on Mars and make it their home. In an elongated training period, candidates will learn the skills they will need on Mars and on their journey there. The combined skill set of each astronaut team member will cover a very wide range of disciplines. I wish I could be there, there’s nothing on earth for me!

This may take years or centuries to achieve, but as is evidenced by human perceptions and thoughts such space activities will always have an impact on society and humanity. The impact of space activities upon society has hugely been measured in numerical terms. How many spacecraft have been launched by a given country? How many phone calls are made over a Satellite? How many lives could be saved by hurricane-watching satellites? How much money was spent on space within a given country or by a corporation?

The issue with this approach is that, in overall, the value to humanity is not measured. Then, since space endeavors are, for the most part, funded through taxes from the general public, it becomes inevitable that the value and benefits of such space activities must be justified.

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What is your opinion on the topic?
Stefan Wolf

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