Out There: Or Why I Think Space Exploration is Vital

I’m not a scientist. I’m no expert on anything really, so don’t let my own observations on the universe convince you to alter your own views on what is or isn’t important for the human race to focus on in the first decades of this century. I am simply that – an observer. Are my observations valid? Well, you’ll decide that based on your own observations, right? I wish that were true for everyone. Unfortunately, in a world where politics and religion are often given more power than logic, a large number of people would consider my observations bunk based on tribal knowledge, a party line, ancient texts, or what ever garbage they’ve seen on television.

I merely ask that you THINK about this, not accept it.

1. Be Fruitful And Multiply – It’s our nature to expand and explore. We, as a species, have been doing it as long as there has been land to expand into. On top of that, its not just our species who have this primal urge to move ever forward. Our planet is finite – it has finite boundaries, finite resources, and definite lifespan.

The universe is a dangerous and random hell of endless possibilities. Disaster WILL strike our planet before it has a chance to fizzle out on its own, and the only way to survive that disaster is to not to center our entire focus and livelihood on this planet.

If the other species that have existed on this planet had stayed in one place and never migrated from sea to land, from arid wastes to fertile land, from imbalanced ecosystems to evolutionary hotspots, the biological world as we know it would not exist and life as we know would like have disappeared from this place long ago.

It’s natural for us to be curious. There are individuals throughout our history that have been unable and unwilling to sit still. Their desire to traverse the many frontiers we’ve expanded to have led our species to where we sit today.

We’re built to move forward, to climb higher, to dig deeper.

Certain insects know, whether instinctively or purposefully, when the next generation needs to grow wings to escape a quickly shriveling mushroom in time to find a new source of food well before the colony dies out from hunger. For us, that generation is here, we have the wings to escape, to expand, to explore, and to survive no matter what disaster may strike. It’s an evolutionary imperative that we be vigilant in this expansion.

In this infinite universe, the grain of sand becomes the beach, the beach becomes the continent, the continent becomes the planet, and now once again we stand on a beach at the edge of a vast and unexplored ocean of space.

Our species has many facets, many specialized minds, to be directed towards the most essential pursuits. The one counterpoint I hear most often when I get into discussions with other people about this subject is that “There are more important things here on Earth to focus our attention and money on.” I agree that there are important pursuits here at home, but no pursuit that benefits the evolution and expansion of the human race has precedence over the other. We must expand in all directions simultaneously with equal vigor. I think its an unfortunate misconception that these people have, seeing space as a waste before they see the ignoble pursuits that have stagnated our culture for centuries as necessary to cull.

There are asteroids to mine, planets to colonize, massive shipyards to erect to facilitate station-to-station flight without the expensive fuel necessary to exit this planet. There are resources beyond our dreams, there is infinite room to expand – an endless sea of discovery.

2. Something Wicked This Way Comes – “Nothing” never was. Every day we find evidence of existence of extra-solar planets in our own galaxy, and that’s not even considering that there are billions of galaxies in this universe. Its no longer even “improbable” that there is life beyond this planet – its improbable that there is not. Will we ever find an alien species to communicate with, to share our knowledge with, to bond with? I can’t answer that. I don’t know. It’s not even a definite “NO” if we kill our dreams of space exploration completely. Something … could find US.

Back to the grain of sand. You cannot stand on a beach and hold a grain of sand in your hand and think to yourself that you now know all you need to know about the universe based on that grain of sand. What holds true on Earth, may not hold true in another galaxy. We want to believe we can find a grand unified theory that solidifies the truth of the universe, but that’s not an old notion, and beliefs like that are almost always proven false. The greatest testament to our intelligence is that we can accept that no matter how much we learn, we know nothing compared to the infinite possibilities of the universe.

There may be islands of life out there – entire galaxies where alien life flourishes and crawls over every surface of every planet of every star system. Will they reach us? It would be unscientific to say they won’t or can’t or haven’t already.

It wasn’t that long ago that we believed the Earth was flat and revolved around the sun. To think we’ve reached the pinnacle of scientific achievement and can place boundaries on what is possible in this universe in OUR time is ludicrous. There is infinite knowledge to be gained beyond this planet and beyond this star system. Our pursuit of that knowledge may well save our species – from hostile alien civilizations, from violent and deadly galactic phenomena, and from dangerous microbial life that may reach us via rogue debris from outside our system.

Again, we can’t put all our eggs in one basket. We need to colonize and spread out, long before that grenade hits in our midst.

3. Shepherds of Life – Its a common tenet among some modern religions that we are the chosen children of some supreme being, made in its image, born to do its will. Maybe that is true, in a sense. Consider that its possible that we are the most advanced life in the entirety of the universe. Perhaps its our purpose to expand beyond these fields and contact lesser forms of life. Perhaps our presence in this universe is meant to eternally seed intelligence among the stars – to lift up the lowly sludge on Titan and breathe life into it. We save species from the brink of extinction here on Earth. What can we do off it?

Prime Directive be damned. We may be catalysts for they great Universal Bloom that is to come – whether we be Gods or Monsters. I can’t help but wonder if there is a destiny for all things, a path set for every molecule leading towards a final climactic multiversal event.

I love Science Fiction. It opens my eyes to the fact that I am not alone in these thoughts. Consider Dune where man creates the dragons he will slay later to strengthen his species. Consider Clarke’s Space Odyssey series where the seeds of transcendence are planted just beyond our frontiers. Consider the Mass Effect Universe where universal evil exists to repel life into pockets of resistance strong enough to defeat it. Consider Star Wars, where the universe is balance and creation and destruction must exist in equal parts to maintain equilibrium. Consider The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where gods disappear in puffs of logic and infinite hordes of galactic warlords are swallowed by domesticated dogs.

Perhaps we are given the means to push beyond the frontier because we must. It is our destiny.

Conclusion:

As we expand, our former boundaries have no meaning. The village becomes the city, then the county, then the state, then the country, then the continent, then the planet.

We are all humans. We were Texans, but then we became Americans. We are all Earthlings, but one day we will be Martians, Titanians, Europans, and then we will all be Solarians,  and Andromedians. The sooner we accept that and move outward from this pinpoint of existence into the rest of the universe, the sooner we become what we are meant to be.

Our species is engineered to move out and up. Anything else is stagnation.

Most importantly, we have to realize that our culture must advance at the same pace as our technology. We can’t be tied down by traditions. We can’t be boxed in by fears. We can’t be generationally selfish – we have to see beyond our lives and consider the life of our species as a whole.

We must evolve and we must transcend.

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