Society for Popular Astronomy

Colonise space or perish ..
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Author:  Northerner [ Wed Jul 27, 2011 1:56 pm ]
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I don't blame Hawking for having expressed pessimism about humanity.
I believe we have achieved so much and have the potential to achieve almost anything but it could so easily go wrong.
Even if we do not destroy ourselves future events/problems could seriously affect our technological civilisation.
Surely the exploration of space must be one of the most important future aims for humans. We could be the only civilisation in the Milky Way and it is not simply a matter of "flying off into space". The need, or drive, to explore the universe does exist in our species.
I still feel this is what Hawking has been saying along with the argument, mentioned before ,about the error of keeping all the eggs in one basket.

Author:  brian livesey [ Thu Jul 28, 2011 9:21 am ]
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It's doubtful whether our early ancestors had any interest in reaching for the stars. The immensity of the night sky might well have terrified them, as it terrified Pascal.
It was with the coming of agriculture and the need to regulate food production with the rhythm of the seasons that astronomy came into its own, i.e. through social necessity.
As for the modern "space age", the spur here was surely military considerations.

Author:  Northerner [ Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:28 am ]
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I'm sure our early human ancestors knew that reaching the stars was impossible, but I am very sure looking, at the heavens, filled them with a sense of wonder and curiosity about the objects they saw there.
I am certain that the Cold War was vital in determining the timing of what you call the "Space Age" but I am equally certain the move into space would have happened, eventually, without any Superpower rivalry.
I remain convinced that humans need, and want, to explore all the rest of what there is and I believe we will do this by studying the universe from the Earth, and by travelling into space.
To suggest that the effective study of astronomy only came about because of "social necessity" and that space exploration, also, happened simply because of narrow earthbound (military) considerations would, I feel, only come from someone who is fairly cynical about the aspirations and motivations of humans.

Author:  brian livesey [ Thu Jul 28, 2011 2:23 pm ]
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The way we interpret the universe is the result of many centuries of social development and with the hindsight of science. Early humans saw the night sky in a way very different to the way we see it.
They mythologized the night sky to try to make sense of it; the alternative would have been near insanity.
I'm all for space exploration, but not too keen on manned flight at this point in time, because of the violent method of getting into space.

Author:  brian livesey [ Thu Jul 28, 2011 2:42 pm ]
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To quote Pascal: "[ I feel ] engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces whereof I know nothing, and which know nothing of me. I am terrified. The eternal silence of these infinite spaces alarms me."

Author:  Northerner [ Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:43 pm ]
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I'm sure Pascal was an important thinker, in 17th century Europe, but I don't quite see why you believe his views are so vital to this thread.
I suppose there are individuals who are "terrified" by the immensity of space and the universe. There are others (I was going to say "morons" but that would be unfair) who find the subject dull and not relevant to their lives. And there are some of us who are fascinated by the "how and why" questions that humans have always asked.
At some point, early on in our lives, we realise that there is the Earth and then everything else. As long as we survive, as a species, I find it inconceivable that we will not move out into the universe. If we manage to do that the survival of humanity is guaranteed.

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