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Finish goal set long ago, in galaxy far, far away
San Antnonio Express-News ^ | January 25, 2004 | T.R. Fehrenbach

Posted on 01/25/2004 10:09:30 PM PST by Cincinatus' Wife

Born into the last great era of boys' tales, I was able to battle across Barsoom (Mars, in Martian-speak) with the Edgar Rice Burroughs character John Carter and decipher Wauxums, Delameters and other space weapons. I knew who spoke for Boskone, the mysterious force for evil in the Burroughs books. I roamed the jungle with Tarzan of the Apes and explored "hot and humid" Venus "hidden behind its clouds." That was before mamas started pushing their little darlings, teenage girls tarted up and pubescent males could concentrate on the important matters in life, like finding lost kingdoms, fighting savage tribes and rocket science instead of sex.

This was, of course, the Golden Age of Science Fiction, when we didn't know enough science to understand most of the fiction was impossible. There's no life on Mars or at least none able to invade Earth, and the Galactics, if any, don't call back. However, in the 1940s many of us believed we'd soon be mining the moon — already technically possible — and by 2000 have explored solar space. But you know what happened.

We went to the moon for the wrong reasons, without a backup plan and with no vision. The Little Earthers prevailed, those who say this planet is enough; who cares what's out there; and we should be content to cultivate our pastures, improve our lot and use our resources to make things better on earth. But I've never bought this; I do not believe the human race was made to ruminate and rusticate like sheep.

I believe we're made to push the envelope, climb mountains, cross the void, strive for heaven and raise hell in Hell if we could locate it. I recall the Little Englanders who could never see beyond their gardens and politics. It was the adventurers and misfits who braved the oceans in cockleshell ships, landed on hostile shores and made America in the first place. Providence provided enough people who paid the price of admiralty, to feed their seas with ships and bones. Without curiosity and bravado, our kind might still be cowering up African trees or in Ice Age caves.

While I believe in physics more than destiny, I think humanity has a role to play beyond this island earth. Men once looked at the seas and wondered what was beyond. Today we see the firmament and know there's something up there that with cunning, sacrifice and courage we can reach. In short, I support President Bush's plan to put us on the moon again and go from there — the fruition of which I shall never see. Fortunately, it's given to our species to think beyond our years.

I don't see this in investment terms. No Brit saw a penny from funding investment in early America; the Massachusetts Bay Company went broke. But you can say that in the long run the colonies paid off. Sure, the Spanish got rich from plundering the Indies, but which "investment" did more to save the sum of things?

There are reasons to return to space: scientific knowledge such as lured the explorers of the Enlightenment to dark continents and distant isles; the fear that we may ruin our world from overuse or war and a backup would be nice; the spirit of challenge and adventure. And, of course, just as French shipwrights were paid to craft La Salle's vessels, dollars spent on space are spent at home. We no longer have slave economies such as erected the pyramids, so in one sense there is no waste.

As for all the good causes that might otherwise be funded, if we were going to fund them we'd be doing it now. There's an ultrarational cast to the human mind, whether building ziggurats or space ships, a belief that God will not deny glory to those who are the first to burst into new starlit seas. Great peoples — Romans, Israelites, Americans — must have goals and causes greater than themselves.

However, the new cause must embrace all humanity, afford opportunity to all nations in the original sense of the word. What difference does it make who colonizes Mars, if we explode two-legged, carbon-based, oxygen-breathing life across the cosmos? We have the technology; what is needed are the will and bucks.

Finally, there's little of science fiction or Star Wars or galactic empires in this concept. Those notions are based on suspension of hard fact and belief. Einstein was no doubt right — there are no wormholes, space-time warps, hyperdrives; they all run into paradoxes. The nearest star is 4.3 light-years distant. At any Newtonian speed it would take decades to centuries for any multigenerational ark to traverse that void, and all the resources of this world couldn't get us to Alpha Centauri and back.

Let's explore the near shores first, and who knows what the mind of man may yet devise?


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: exploration; history; imagination; knowledge; man; mars; moon; space
What a great piece.
1 posted on 01/25/2004 10:09:31 PM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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.
2 posted on 01/25/2004 10:16:10 PM PST by StriperSniper (Mine the borders)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

3 posted on 01/25/2004 10:20:56 PM PST by BenLurkin (Socialism is Slavery)
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To: BenLurkin
My move?
4 posted on 01/25/2004 10:21:46 PM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
ALL the Edgar Rice Burroughs books are available for FREE! at http://www.blackmask.org. It has all formats. You can put it on your respective PDA and look busy.
5 posted on 01/25/2004 10:35:41 PM PST by longtermmemmory (Vote!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The Little Earthers prevailed, those who say this planet is enough; who cares what's out there; and we should be content to cultivate our pastures, improve our lot and use our resources to make things better on earth. But I've never bought this; I do not believe the human race was made to ruminate and rusticate like sheep.

Could this sum up the Democrats any better?
6 posted on 01/25/2004 10:41:03 PM PST by Democratshavenobrains
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To: Democratshavenobrains
And what's their track record? Pretty lousy, I'd say.
7 posted on 01/25/2004 10:43:24 PM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: longtermmemmory
Thanks for the LINK!
8 posted on 01/25/2004 10:43:39 PM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: longtermmemmory
Think you for this great web site.

9 posted on 01/26/2004 12:21:23 AM PST by HuntsvilleTxVeteran (A little knowledge is dangerous.-- I live dangerously::))
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Does anyone remember the Super Collider cyclotron?
It was designed and was started to be built in Texas.
They spent a lot of time to find the safest place for
it to be built.
This project may have found answers to many problems.
The demoncraps stopped funding for this project
because Texas elected a Republican senator.
They said "They are going to punish Texas for not
voting for a democrap".
They punished everybody, but they think any project
in a state is for that state only.
10 posted on 01/26/2004 12:31:43 AM PST by HuntsvilleTxVeteran (A little knowledge is dangerous.-- I live dangerously::))
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To: HuntsvilleTxVeteran
Yes the Left wants to stop progress and U.S. strength. Clinton's first line-item veto killed Clementine II. Clementine I discovered evidence of ice on the Moon. It was an unclassified DoD/NASA technology demonstration mission. It was very successful, thus the Left had to kill it.
11 posted on 01/26/2004 12:54:00 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Let us all think beyond our years, ( I would very much like to give my nephews the stars ).
12 posted on 01/26/2004 3:00:41 AM PST by teancumspirit (knowledge is the key to a better life than our grandparents had, press on!)
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To: longtermmemmory
What a great link - thank you!

(And they have Doc Savage TOO!)

13 posted on 01/26/2004 3:05:28 AM PST by Johnny_Cipher (Miserable failure = http://www.michaelmoore.com/ sounds good to me!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
I knew who spoke for Boskone, the mysterious force for evil in the Burroughs books.

Errr...aaahh...Boskone and Delameters both come from the Lensman series by E.E. "Doc" Smith, not Burroughs.

14 posted on 01/26/2004 3:37:18 AM PST by aBootes
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To: aBootes
Thanks for the correction.
15 posted on 01/26/2004 3:44:04 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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