Obama in Space
Charles Krauthammer had an interesting column today about how Obama is stifling America’s Space Program. I have absolutely no expertise whatsoever in astrophysics, or space travel, so I’m in no position to examine the specifics of this argument. But in principle, I’m a sucker for a good space program. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been a somewhat serious Trekkie (I’ve been to three conventions, but only wore Spock ears to one of them), but exploring the new frontier, or the final frontier, or whatever you’d like to call space, has always seemed to me like a worthwhile endeavour.
Many on the left, and some on the fiscally conservative right, have argued otherwise: space exploration is a waste, let’s fix the problems on Earth instead. And when I think about this rationally, this line of reasoning makes sense. After all, it’s not that different from my lack of real sympathy for animal rights: let’s worry about people first, before we start helping out the animals (also, animals are delicious).
But then I think about the flip side of this. We’ll probably never eradicate all of the world’s problems, or all of human beings’ problems. So we might as well at least be mindful of animals. And we might as well, (to quote Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation): “see what’s out there.”
The point is, some things are worth it. Traveling to space, exploring what lies beyond the Earth’s borders, other planets and solar systems, is worth it. It expands knowledge. Even if this means fewer resources are allocated to fixing problems on our planet, I still think we should do it. Just like I think we should continue to fund scholars (like myself and my fellow bloggers) who produce scholarship that may not seem directly relevant or useful to most people on Earth. Knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Exploration for exploration’s sake. I like it.
Also, there’s the very real pragmatic possibility that space exploration may lead us to encounter new resources, new life forms, or potential solutions to our problems on Earth (and maybe, just maybe, some of our historical research can do that too). But even if not, I think we should do it.
**Wotty asks: Weiner on the Moon?**