Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Proud To Be a Human Being

It’s a hell of a thing to be a consciousness encased in flesh and riding on a rickety skeleton. A precarious predicament, exposed as we are to the rude impacts of a physical universe that cannot even be called indifferent. A mere reed, but a thinking reed, an engineering reed. A reed who risks his hide to explore and know.

In the westbound lane of U. S. 60 a huge tractor rig appears, escorted by police cars and hauling a long flat-bed trailer atop of which sits a monstrous turbine or reactor core. A surge of pride energizes me, a pride in belonging to a species of animal that envisages and implements great projects. I am reminded of the exhiliration I felt as a man of twenty two returning from a six month European sojourn. As we took off from London’s Heathrow, I glanced out at the wings and the jet engines and contemplated the audacity of essaying to ride through the air on a controlled explosion.

How pusillanimous and shortsighted, therefore, those who balk at space exploration. Have they stopped to consider what ‘satellite TV’ means? Are they aware of how those communication satellites were placed in their geosynchronous orbits? Do they think that money spent on a Mars expedition would be wasted and better spent on terrestrial needs? That’s an illusory way of thinking.

Had all the time and money spent on pure research and exploration over the centuries been spent on alleviating immediate needs we would have none of the technological wherewithal with which we most marvelously and most efficiently – alleviate our immediate needs.