Sunday, March 19, 2017

Space as The Final Frontier - The ultimate High



Movies like Interstellar or 2001:A Space Odyssey always make me feel insignificant and hopeless.  It leaves me in despair.  But also accompanying it is a sense of grandiose and greatness, it's a mixed and confusing feeling that feels like an afterglow of a drug binge (metaphorically), quite difficult to put in words or even describe orally.

What I can describe, though, is the sense of adventure and camaraderie I feel towards humanity and the earth after watching those movies.  We don't take Elon Musk seriously enough when he says that humans need to be a space faring civilization.  We cannot leave all our eggs in one basket, aka the Earth.  There are very high chances of a global extinction event over a long period of time.  It could be caused by anything among disease, war, extra-terrestrial objects hitting the Earth, climate change, a gamma ray burst etc.  It's a question of 'when' and not 'if'.  And as the current species roaming around aimlessly on the planet, we have to start acting in that direction, else our progeny would never forgive us.

But apart from acting out of the fear of the impending doom, it's the sense of adventure that moves the needle for me.  It's exploration for the sheer sake of it, like pure mathematics or like when the medieval explorers went out to range over the then formidable and unconquered seas.  Space is the next frontier, and in a few hundred years, we surely could and should have a colony on Mars.  By then, hopefully the rocket technology will have advanced enough to send humans beyond the Oort cloud to the nearby stars to search for our neighbors, just like medieval explorers did (although it did not turn out very good).  It's going to be humanity's blind ambition and hubris that will take us there.  Everyone alive today won't be there to see it happen, but we owe it to the future generations.  We owe to expand the knowledge we have of our past and future.

So what's to be done?  Bask in the glory of current scientific achievement.  Dream big and hope bigger.  Some people claim that we might have reached the end of Physics as we know it, but so was felt in 1920s when relativity was known, even before the giant called Quantum Mechanics was in its infancy or DNA hadn't been discovered.  Such is the nature of Nature.  Layers of mysteries that lead to further questions.  An endless race towards finding the grand unified theory, the ultimate truth of the cosmos.

Feels good to vent the High out.
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