If you are a devotee of time travel...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Forty Years from the Moon, and Still Counting

Forty years since we humans walked on the Moon - on July 20, 1969.

I was thrilled at the time, and still am, but I already could tell then that it would be a long time before our species got much farther. Lots of people, even back then, didn't seem to care all that much about this extraordinary accomplishment - the most extraordinary, in many ways, in our history.

Some said, back then, that it was the Vietnam War - that it soured many people on anything connected with the military. But it was more than that. I think there are some people, many people, who just didn't and still don't see the big deal about getting off this planet and out into space.

For me, it's always seemed crystal and pressingly clear. And the reason is not just scientific, or economic, though they play a part.

But the main reason is simply this: we'll never know truly who we are from our vantage point down on this planet. We live on a planet that is part of an immensely larger universe. And until see some more of that, first hand, we'll be lacking a crucial piece of our self-awareness and discovery. To borrow from Socrates, we'll never be able to truly know ourselves from just on this planet.

And once, against all odds, we did make it off this planet, and more than once. But we followed up with missions, which though heroic and valuable, have not really pushed the human envelope beyond the Moon.

Where will we be 40 years from now?

I hope further than where we were 40 years ago, and where we still are today.

5-min podcast about the Moon


robbwindow said...

Excellent tribute, well done Mr Levinson. O think 40 years from now kids will be breaking universal boundaries. Maybe they send out robots on missions at the speed of light or into some manmade wormhole. Who knows it might even be really peaceful land like that film with Slyvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock.

eanbardsley said...

When I saw that capsule at the smithsonian that went into space, I thought what an achievement, with those primitive hole punctured scrolls of paper for computers, in what looked like a little tin can. You are right Paul, we need to get off this planet to know ourselves. Imagine how easy it would be, now with computers and technology are compared to back then.
Maybe we will, soon again, or even to another planet, like Mars.

mike's spot said...

Been a while Dr Levinson. I hope your summer is going well!

I agree with your sentiment. sometimes you need to take a step back from things to gain perspective. How better to gain perspective on our place in things than to take a nice big step back, and see it from a new perspective.

Paul Levinson said...

Great comments, folks.

And Mike - excellent to see you back here. Hope all's going well with you (and your PhD) ...