A Space to Think . . .
We have a complex relationship with space or more correctly the Universe outside of Earth. It was once called `the Heavens’ which gives you an idea of our perception. It used to be (and still is for many people) the home of the gods. Ancient Egyptians believed the sky to be the body of the goddess Nut.
It must have helped to give the sky a name and identity because we seem to need an explanation for pretty much everything around us. As science unravelled much of the magic and superstition on Earth, it has opened up a magical, fantastic new realm over our heads.
The draw was irresistible and as soon as science and finances allowed humans began reach out and grasp at the infinite possibilities just as Earth becomes less and less inhabitable. However, in the latter vein, there are two points of view emerging in our modern relationship with the universe.
In the first place, I think there is an ongoing desire to start again afresh and do things better.
In the second, there is huge commercial pressure to exploit alien resources and resupply our dwindling fuel and mineral wealth in order to sustain our modern way of life.
You can read about the more positive view in Ray Bradbury’s `The Fire Balloons’ or `The Million Year Picnic’ or a more dystopian one in any of Phillip K Dick’s short stories or novels.
At present, there is some debate about potential mining, although there is an alarm possibility of us looking up at mining works every night. Here is an article on those possibilities.
At the same time, there is talk of sending humans to Mars . However, I am also fond of probes because we can see so much further, Voyager 1, launched way back in 1977, for instance, reached interstellar space in 2013 and transmitted those brilliant close-up images of Jupiter and Saturn we see so much. This vessel is still exciting because it may yet be found by the intelligent aliens whose company we crave in spite of the risk that they might see us as ripe for exploitation.
Finally, there is the massive SETI project that scans the sky for transmissions from alien life forms.
All this work is slow and so I hope we can look after our own planet long enough to find our alien friends and new untouched planets.