Monday, April 13, 2009

Space Exploration and Colonization - Impossible?! Probably Not

"Earth's Dwindling Resources Drive Space Exploration" (April 10, 2009)

"Space exploration has created whole new fields of science, and revolutionized our understanding of the Solar System and the universe. But before the Space Age had even begun, German-born space visionary Krafft Ehricke had given us the 'real reasons' for exploring space.

"He wrote in 1957: 'The idea of traveling to other celestial bodies reflects to the highest degree the independence and agility of the human mind.'..."

"...There are no 'natural' limits, Ehricke insisted, only those that mankind places on himself...."

Acknowledged: Ehricke's writing is very 'fifties.'

But I think he has a point.

Particularly that "...There are no 'natural' limits'..." business. I'm not one of those people who think that humanity can do anything and everything1 On the other hand, I think that many people assume that the technology and culture that they grew up with is not only the only 'right' one: but the best possible.

Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society is a pretty good example of this.
  • 1895 Lord Kelvin,president, Royal Society:
    "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible"
  • 2003 Remarks by Frederick Gregory, Deputy Administrator, NASA: "Rumor has it Lord Kelvin was slightly in error."
As far as I can tell, Lord Kelvin isn't the pompous, ignorant, buffoon he's sometimes made out to be. "Lord Kelvin Quotations" is a pretty good online selection of Lord Kelvin quotes: and gives sources for some of them. That 1895 quote, although it's used quite a lot, is very hard to pin on Lord Kelvin. Everybody 'knows' he said it. Some put the year it was said as 1895, but I haven't found a reliable source that pins in on the British Peer.

Maybe someday, when the family library gets sorted out - - - .

Slightly related post:
1 I'm a Catholic, which puts me at odds with Shirley "I am God" McClain and other cultural leaders of the twentieth century - Shirley 's revelation is from her "Out on a Limb" book and series.

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