Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Deep Space or Deep Oceans?

Good Evening Friends:

This evening is one of those times when about all I'm "up for" is thinking. When I look back over my life, I have to admit that the act of thinking has rarely if ever resulted in a "Eureka!" moment. Rather I think that my personal brain machine is hard wired to glean a small nugget of thought-leading-to-knowledge type of datum. What I am admitting is of course self evident to those few people who follow my blog, and that is.....I am not brilliant (for want of a better word), perhaps not even very smart. I know for a fact that there have been too many occasions to inventory when I have slapped myself in the head and basically said "Wake up Stupid"
because an elusive answer was right in front of my eyes all along.

But.....The particular subject that has my tattered old brain tied in knots this evening is thinking about Outer space, and in particular, Our (man's) exploration of the same.

I am speaking of course, of NASA, that agency chock a block full of brilliant people who have accomplished so much, within the constraints of the contents of our Scientific Tool Box. There is, I think, a way, or perhaps many ways, of expressing what we, as a species, have accomplished including all our forays into space, our various orbits and travel. Say, just for arguments sake that the sum total of all possible knowledge that is known, or ever will be known of "Outer space" could be represented by a pile of buttons one million miles high, one million miles wide, and one million miles long. And perhaps we will argue further that our knowledge and efforts of outer space and other galaxies, stars, planets, quarks, black holes, quantum whachamacallits and all other space do-ies equal ONE of those buttons in that Million Mile Pile.This is what we have learned. One Buttons Worth!

What then have we really accomplished with the expenditure of Billions of Dollars on the various space programs we, as a Nation, began and ended, plus the tragedy of the loss of life of the Astronauts who died trying?

I guess I just don't quite get it. All one has to do to realize, even to an infinitesimal point, the immensity of space is to find a spot, far from any city lights, just the darkest spot you can imagine, and, given that it is a cloudless night, just look up.. go ahead look....now try to count the stars or planets or whatever is the source of those tiny spot of lights in the sky. Now think; How long will it be before a mortal man sets foot on any of those pinpricks of light.
Think, if you will, that in order to reach the nearest galaxy to ours, That of Andromeda, a space vehicle would have to travel at the speed of light for TWO BILLION YEARS!.....any volunteers? The answer, best beloved, is that with the exception of Mars (and that is improbable) the best we can do with our space endeavors is to go back to the Moon, and I for one, think we have a sufficient quantity of Moon rocks to populate all our Museums.

I'm afraid that I think that what we have accomplished in the 50 years that the space program has been in existence is: We have shown we can put a man in orbit.We have shown that we can successfully land a spacecraft on the moon and return. We have shown that we can place the Hubble Telescope in high earth orbit, and through more or less constant maintenance, employ it to take some awesome pictures of celestial bodies. We have invented velcro. We have invented Teflon.

These things we have done, at a cost of Billions of Dollars, but to what end?

I suppose Astronomers really appreciate the pictures of far distant heavenly bodies that we now possess, courtesy of the Hubble, but other than that, just what exactly is the benefit to the ordinary citizen? I like a pretty picture as well as the next man, but I think there is a point that we as a Nation should perhaps scale our space program way back.

If we want, or just have to have a program to keep the Scientific Fraternity happy, I suggest we begin an accelerated exploration of the worlds Oceans. I am, of course, aware that we already have an agency charged with certain explorations of the Oceans, that being NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, but said agency has been sort of a poor step-sister to NASA, where the bulk of our Scientific Dollars have been spent. Now I realize that it is imperative that we maintain the capability to launch Satellites of various types, but beyond that, I fail to see a really good reason to continue to spent huge amounts on basically what amounts to expensive guessing about what is out there in space.

If I understand the theory of the Universe(s) correctly, there is no end to space. Beyond our Universe are other Universes and on and on, without end. We can send an endless amount of spacecrafts to various Heavenly bodies, and discover an endless variety of rocks and Minerals, but why should we?

It is a fact that the Oceans can yield more essential minerals and other things that would benefit mankind than the space program ever could, so my suggestion, if anybody wants it, is to spend our Scientific Dollars on Exploring the Oceans, and put space exploration on the back burner. Seems to me to just be Common Sense, which has never been a big seller in Congress.

Folks, let me know what you think. a one-sided argument is no fun at all, as as far as I can tell I have about one or two faithful readers, if the number of comments I have received is any indication.

But, what the hey, I'm mainly maintaining this Blog for the fun of it.

Stay Well