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comment by mk
mk  ·  2302 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Philae has landed! (We landed on a comet. +1 for humans)

I wrote a very short essay here about my thoughts on this perspective some time ago:


I don't expect it to change your mind, but it's why I feel that our exploration of space and the condition of the one that we live in are interconnected.

Lintel  ·  2302 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Interested in opening it: however I don't see anything else but 2 comments. :s

thenewgreen  ·  2302 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm not sure why you don't see the post. It's worth reading, it is one of my favorite pieces that mk has written. I'll copy and paste it below for you and others:

    Yesterday I posted a nice article by Cadell Last, where he gave his thoughts in response to a friend’s suggestion that we humans “don’t deserve Mars”. Some time ago, I promised caio that I would share my opinions on space exploration, and specifically, why I feel that it is worth doing. After reflecting on Cadell’s post, I decided to get my own thoughts down. Like Cadell, my ideas on this are a bit scattered (and probably a bit more romantic), so I am just going to let them flow. Space is real. Daily circumstances rarely prompt us to consider that the immense expanse that surrounds us is a physical reality that is no less genuine than our own. At this moment, a thin, dusty wind is swirling through a Martian canyon. A bolt of lightning just flashed in the dense atmosphere of Venus. The Voyager probe drifts away into the darkness of interstellar space. Dawn has just come to a lake on a planet within the Andromeda Galaxy. When we consider space exploration, it is important that we take a moment to allow our mind to adjust to an extra-terrestrial perspective. When we look up at night, what we are looking at seems less real, but only because we have never experienced it. Today we have the ability to do things that were magic only 100 years ago. Some things that we have done with these powers we want to share with children. Some we do not. Our current abilities to explore space far exceed our current endeavor, and space exploration is something that we happily share with children. What we do as a species matters. When we start a new war, we become a more war-like species. When we exhaust a resource, we become a less sustainable species. Our nature as a species creates our destinies as individuals. What we do, and what we wish to do as individuals, is defined by the nature of our current circumstances. Space exploration makes us a more inquisitive and more adventurous species. As a result, it brings a reality of wonder and discovery to each of us. Our accomplishments extend what is thought possible, and our new knowledge extends our perspective. We each care about what we do in our time. We care about what we have accomplished, and what we will leave to others. Space exploration brings accomplishment for us all, and leaves knowledge to all that follow after. Our nature as a species is a reflection of what we do. When we explore the space around us, we choose to better understand our reality, our situation, and ourselves. When we ignore space, we choose instead what we already know. As a species, we explore space as a child. The universe around us is really there, and our choice really matters.
mk  ·  2302 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You don't see the text up top?

Lintel  ·  2302 days ago  ·  link  ·  

There are plenty of pages where I don't see the text; the ones who automatically redirect me to the source work fine, but the user-gerenated ones (by lack of a different term) don't always. Thanks thenewgreen, your copy/paste worked :) Lemme have a look.

Edit: had a look. Damn, that's a beautiful text, I really liked it. I have to agree that exploring the space around us we choose to better understand our reality, (hope I quoted the right part), and that we need to explore things we have not yet explored. Fully with you on the fact that if we don't explore what's out there, we look at what we already know. But. There's plenty down here we don't yet know. And if we don't act- as a species- in the here and now, there unfortunately won't be a liveable place for those who come after us. And that's the whole point I've tried to make. You know what I'm trying to say here?

mk  ·  2302 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    You know what I'm trying to say here?

I think so. But, I have the sense that our environment suffers when we don't have frontiers for expansion. Perhaps it's something intrinsic about resource scarcity and our adaptive behavior. If you look at the US (and ignore the plight of the Native Americans), I believe that the East Coast (actually, the world as a whole) benefited from the frontier of the West. The expansion played a role in technological developments in communication, refrigeration, transportation, and even the political and legal systems, art, and literature. I think the advent of mercantilism had similar results in Europe. Of course, I am not saying that one scenario implies the other, but I do believe that there is truth in the analogy. Perhaps an external outlet brings internal adaption in addition to the obvious ones that it requires.

On top of that, whenever we contemplate humankind's place in the expanse, one byproduct is often a shared perspective, and the notion of a shared plight.

But, you are talking to a research scientist. My career is dependent upon notions like this.

Lintel  ·  2302 days ago  ·  link  ·  

But even if we would have frontiers for expansion (the window of opportunity opened once more thanks to Rosetta) we are stuck with a suffering environment, not to mention human suffering. You'd have to ignore the plight of the Native Americans, for whom the suffering still isn't over but also take into account that as soon as that Western Frontier was closed, the suffering of the rest of the world began (see America's expansion-politics which date in more covert forms back from the early 1800's). Yes, art, culture, laws have benefited, for a time. But the complexity with which laws for example have formed have nothing to do with justice anymore, only with legality. And right now that means that whoever has the big bucks makes the rules. And the rules are kept in place to profit, which inevitably means there has to be suffering (for without it, many flourishing businesses would cease to exist. THat will vex the companies' respective shareholders). Art, music, transport, communication: it's no longer about improving the all-over state of the species (which one could state when talking about the old inventions) but to make a fast buck and plenty of them. The idea of programmed obsolescence abhors me to the core.

In other words, what is there to expand TO? We haven't even been able to fix our already existing problems, how would we ever be able to get it right if we were to explore/colonise/utilise other comets or planets? You cannot fix problems using the same attitude and tools which have created the problem in the first place.

mk  ·  2301 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'd argue that political and cultural change most often follow technological change. Personally, I think we are on the verge of another technologically-driven upheaval, and that space exploration will only play a very small role, if any. I believe that our cultural systems are a reflection of social systems that are technologically possible and stable. Our situation will not be undone by political will, but by new technologies that make it obsolete.

What we learn from space exploration can be a component, and I think it would be a positive one; I don't think all of them are.

Lintel  ·  2301 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Upheaval like...?

mk  ·  2299 days ago  ·  link  ·  

In a word: decentralization. I believe that we are entering a new phase where the systems of nation-states are going to increasingly run counter to the realities of human interaction. In short, our technologies are going to enable global organization and exchange between people that will require new political structures. Probably something more fluid than any republic can offer.

cc thundara

thundara  ·  2301 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Personally, I think we are on the verge of another technologically-driven upheaval, and that space exploration will only play a very small role, if any.

What context? I think biotech boom will be huge, but I'm biased :)

mk  ·  2302 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's odd, and not good. What browser/OS?

Lintel  ·  2302 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Mozilla, could be the problem right there.