it is extremely good to know when hurricanes are coming
The other day an intelligent person wrote something along these lines: caring about space exploration is dumb. I’ve been thinking about that. I don’t know why—maybe because I feel something off-kilter inside myself when intelligent people opt out of weighing what they write (because I am often guilty of doing that myself, maybe it’s a vicarious embarrassment).
Anyhow, the thought she expressed is probably a pretty common one—that we shouldn’t be looking at space because we should be looking here. She didn’t lay out an argument—I’m presuming she meant we could do more useful things with our time, money, energy, intelligence, and other resources.
I’m originally from south Mississippi, so I sort of keep track of the Tropics, and today I encountered a concrete example of the false choice embodied in the outlook characterized above.
This image represents just one aspect of one application of satellite technology, and satellite technology is just one of many space-related technologies. I’m not going to write a long post about the good of space programs—the agricultural, ecological and other environmental applications, the direct impacts on communications, materials, electronics, medical applications, the paradigmatics, etc. That’s already been done better by other people, including NASA itself, which is bound to offer justification for the tax dollars it is begrudged—do your own googling and thinking. That’s what I did, and it was fun.
I do recognize that knocks against space programs have merit—some of the intelligence aspects, the nationalistic competitive roots, the dollar figures (not as high as most people think), the human costs, and so on, but space exploration is Science. It is engineering. It is biology. It is a bunch of stuff I don’t feel like listing and probably couldn’t. It is a miracle of organization, management, and a real human triumph that pays real dividends.
http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/hqlibrary/pathfinders/spinoff.htm#websites —>the internet resources at the bottom of these NASA library pages are great places to start (like the space technology hall of fame, second from bottom)
It has been a while since I’ve given the space programs much thought. Oh cool pictures, really neat landing procedure—that’s about it. It’s probable the person whose comment got me thinking about it again was just trolling her Facebook followers, or (more likely) was having a negative reaction to a slew of Curiosity rover comments, tweets, updates, but whatever. I’m glad she made the comment—it sent me off reading and thinking. Reminding myself of stuff and learning other stuff about the history of space exploration has made me feel better about people and even about Organizations.
(and it is extremely good to know when hurricanes are coming)