In the 60’s and 70’s, space was huge. It was front page material practically every day.
Science hasn’t slowed down. Space exploration hasn’t slowed down. Discoveries haven’t even slowed down, but I feel the enthusiasm has dwindled.
As a 25 year old, I’m completely aware of how people went about their lives in the 60’s so I can tell the difference.
I don’t think it’s down to people getting more depressing and bored of life or any other negative approach towards society, other than that of media distribution. If your discovery or advancement in human achievement isn’t very immediately practical and aesthetically pleasing, it doesn’t hit the magazines and the headlines.
If you make a little guitar out of atoms you get some attention for it but it’s just boasting a novelty without people really realising the point of making it in the first place.
But space, going to space, that’s a real kicker. Humans going to space. Look at the attention Chris Hadfield acquired by expoliting the world’s popular media outputs, Twitter, YouTube etc. Top that off with quirky succinct style and musical creativity, you have yourself a huge following of appreciation and dreamers.
I’m certain, along with many others, that his Space Oddity cover has made a very large handful of kids look in lust and think ‘One day, I’ll go to space’. That’s what we need in this world. Adventurers, explorers, seekers of knowledge.
Anyway, The ISS is barely above the Earth and can only just be recognised as space at all. in comprehensible terms, the ISS is about 3/8ths of an inch away from the surface of the globe, if you are referring to a classroom globe. In the same scale, the moon is an astonishing 30 feet away, and Mars? a mile. A whole mile. They wouldn’t fit in your school books so the scale was never accurate (Information from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist).
Compare the attention and excitement gathered from the Red Bull jump from a balloon to the excitement you would get if Humans went to Mars. The Curiosity Rover got a fair amount of article space, but far less than various filthy celebrities I only breeze past in my life much too briefly to know what any of their names are or what TV shows they’re on.
But humans? How would we react to that? We know robots go into space almost daily these days. 500 humans have gone into space since the first ever went up. Decades ago. There are currently, and usually, 3 people in space at any given time. And this is all within 3/8ths of an inch.
This is hardly pushing the boundaries of space.
If we went a whole mile on the previous scale to Mars, I imagine a whole cacophony of rapid heart beats around the world. But is that accurate? Just because I feel that way, doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same. I am heavily biased in my passion for the sciences.
People by and large take science for granted these days, which is great in its own right, but I do wonder, perhaps worry, that when the news comes about that humans land on Mars, there will be a few days of attention, posts on facebook and people looking at the image going ‘woah awesome’, before quickly fading into the abyss of general memes and back-pagers over the next couple of months.
Of course this is only wild presumptions and I sort of feel like I lack exposure to people outside of the internet to truly have a remote idea of how it would play out. But am I the only one that thinks the reaction to this would pale in comparison to the moon landing?
But what if we push the world of discovery further. What if we found *life*?
I would go crazy and immediately take a course in astrophysics and work my way into space without rest until I get there.
Would the world as a whole give a damn bar the superficial intrigue aforementioned?
Of course the first life we find is only going to be microbial, either somewhere in the depths of mars or maybe the watery underworld of Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.
Is that impressive? Well, the level of awesomeness will depend on whether or not the discovered life is completely independent of us, or did they originate from the same roots of existence? What I mean is, did the seeds that theoretically planted themselves on earth share itself among other planets, thus containing the same core functions, or is this life created entirely, truly separately, simply by having the same universal ingredients to play with?
I don’t really know which is more exciting or provoking, but both are strong candidates for my first heart attack. One could mean that we come from space, not from Earth, another means that life essentially perpetuates universally, and is inevitable wherever you go, providing those most common of ingredients exist.
Would the economy-driven world of capitalism see this wonderous event as enough to re-ignite a passion for discovery and boost a permanent focus on driving our civilisation out into the solar system, or will it have to be left to the corporations that are willing to spend the book in order for long term gain (tourism, asteroid mining etc)?
This post was far more of a stream of consciousness than I had planned, but it’s something to think about. Are we honestly going to get out there? For me I think we need to, for a plethora of reasons, but if nothing else, to keep the human race from stagnating.
Just picturing the live footage of the first crew on the way to mars, it smells like a fresh breeze coating the entire Earth. Unshackled.