The news last night told us that it was snowing on Mars, a computer enhanced picture showed the weather there.
We are so used to such things now that we have mainly lost our sense of wonder at mankind’s achievements. Incredible as it may seem we know less about the ocean here on earth than we do about space, we can chart the ocean on maps and sail across it with ease, we can photograph it in fact from space but a couple of miles of deep water is far more impenetrable than millions of miles of space despite our longer attempts to explore the oceans.
This seeming contradiction is not alone when it comes to scientific achievement, and that sentence takes me into troubled waters (pardon the pun). Man reached space in the late fifties when Gagarin circumnavigated the planet in about 40 odd minutes and the wonder of space travel and the stars and planets were suddenly a wee bit less awesome. Armstrong’s “giant step” took them down a further peg. They remain of course the great mystery and delight of the human race and have been since the dawn of time. That's either hundreds of millions of years ago if you believe Steven Hawking or six thousand years ago if you believe Sarah Palin, sorry I couldn’t resist that.
The trouble that this takes me into is this. Every time I see, or hear, or read about scientific achievement such as space walks, and machines which can recreate the big bang I am firstly impressed and secondly, forced to think about priorities. I can’t help it, I am certainly not anti science and some/most of my heroes are scientists, Galileo, Einstein, Mari Curie, Steven Hawking etc. but, there is always a but right ? Well it’s just that every time I see a rocket launch and think of the billions of pounds it takes to do this I get an image in my mind of a starving third world child, when I see a multi million pound war plane or a nuclear bomb this image is magnified a thousand fold.
I know that you can’t stop science from advancing and that is as it should be, scientists and inventors have advanced mankind more than any other group and continue to do so, they are the true visionaries. The question is this, if we can send an explosive device the size of a washing machine hundreds of millions of miles into space at 28,000 mph that's (Glasgow to London Approx. 70 secs.) to rendezvous with a small comet travelling at a similar speed and hit it smack on and smash it as an experiment, why do children still die of preventable diseases and hunger here on Earth ? Approx. 50 years after Gagarin flew in space and we still haven’t conquered Earth, something has gone wrong and it’s not the fault of science it's the fault of politics.
Travel from here to Australia in 40 minutes ? this is going to happen, it’s unstoppable and in theory not difficult, ten minutes takes you clear of Earth’s atmosphere 20 minutes takes you to Ozz without friction and 10 minutes takes you back to Earth (give or take) If you were a scientist given the choice of curing malaria or achieving this incredible journey which would you choose ? I don’t suppose the 3Rd. World child clinging to life would get a vote right ?
I would choose both and that’s not a cop out, like other decisions of this kind I would prioritise, the sick child comes first and then the fast route to Ozz, all of this needs some loose ends tidied up but I’m sure you understand where I’m coming from.