By Anthony Pilloud
Why don’t we have a Moon-Base? Why haven’t we cloned a dinosaur yet? And for that matter, why haven’t we already been to Mars and back?
Admittedly they do appear daunting at first.They are all straight out of our science fiction culture, where robots and aliens interact casually with humans who are easily traversing the darkness of space as though they were parking downtown. But when will science fiction truly become reality? We label these events as though they were fantasy, not science fiction. The latter should, in all reality, not be called what it is; it would be more accurate to call them possible reality.
We had already stepped on the moon by 1969; just under a decade before Star Wars took the science fiction market in a bull rush of blaster fire. Countless conspiracy theories aside, we have since been to the moon and even now have a functional orbiting space station. Space exploration was already possible before George Lucas created the fantasy of his own.
Jurassic Park popularized the concept of owning your own dinosaur. Mr. Hammond’s childlike wonder and capitalist glee shines with all the imagination we had felt as children. Dinosaurs have always been mysterious, monstrous, and often magical, with their own functional mythology that continues to elude us. One man took all that and promptly sold it as fast as possible, regardless of Goldbloom’s chaos-theory flirtations and stern ecological warnings.
Yet this all comes at a terrible cost, as we all know now how much Tyrannosaurus rexes hate the rain and how much Velociraptors love the kitchen. The consequence of the old man’s youthful dream was a horrible lesson paid in blood. The ultimate lesson was that science was wrong.
Is it this fear of the unknown that has halted our technological progress to meet its full potential? Goldbloom’s warning was, of course, that nature will find a way; as in, a way to overcome our human intentions. Hammond learns (at least until the sequel) that there are some matters that are best left extinct. However, what are the odds that a cloned dinosaur would even survive for a second in our brave new world even if we did manage to successfully draw its blood from fossilized mosquitoes? It seems more likely to me that the 65 million years of environmental and ecological changes alone would be enough to kill off the scaly ancestor. It would most likely need to live its entire life within a controlled space. There are serious reservations on the fact that they would run a rampage down the streets of San Diego, stomping down streets and eating your dog.
Despite having stepped on the moon, in the face of the awesome knowledge we have that we, as a race, have walked across the dusty surface of our smaller solar sister who has stared us in the face since the dawning of our cognitive awareness, there are still those that believe the earth is flat. Once again this skeptical fear hinders the progress of development for the betterment of humankind by arguing that it is not even possible to begin with.
Who can forget the sometimes hysterical concern over CERN’s particle collider, those who feared the possibility that these mad scientist would unwittingly unleash a black hole right here within the confines of our own atmosphere? The hubris! and already there is evidence from this very same device that neutrinos were moving faster than the speed of light. If this proves to be true, than the very fundamentals of our current sciences could be altered, and I can tell you confidently that if it does prove to be true, then that is exactly what like-minded individuals will do: accept the change, regardless of its magnitude, in the face of outstanding evidence that favors it.
So why don’t we have a base on the moon? I admit that I have glossed over the problems at hand; there are many, many difficulties to create what I am claiming should be easy. The winds on the moon can kill a man if left unchecked, so a base would need to built within a crater. But that still means we would need to build an immobile, functional and stable facility on an interstellar object. Yes, it is difficult, but it is not impossible.
Yes, getting a man to Mars is a tremendously difficult task, but it is further from impossible than it is from earth. In fact, it makes more sense to consider colonizing Mars before simply putting a man on it. The cost input-output on spending to just get a man to step on it sooner would make it near worthless, whereas advancing the technologies needed to succeed in colonization would naturally assist technologies that we need here and now.
So once again I beg the question why don’t we have jetpacks, at least?
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