Monday, May 26, 2008


There is really something quite peculiar about Nasa's search for life beyond this planet. I am not a great fan of space exploration. It seems a very costly and dangerous endeavor. However, when it comes to probes -- which are both cheaper and do not endanger people -- is a little different. Nonetheless, why is it that all space exploration has to be justified by the search for life. Are not the odd geometrical areas in the above enough?


  1. I'm not sure I understand your opposition to space exploration. If it was completely privately funded, would you still disagree with it?

  2. JPK,
    If space exploration was completely privately funded I would have no objection. It's their money, not ours. I also have little objection to real space exploration when done by government, with public money, on the cheap and safe, and for a decent reason. Too often. however, it merely seems an exercise in very expensive and dangerous propaganda and that is what I used to object to. But now that the cold war has ended, the justification is always along the lines of: there is evidence that life 'could' exist in space, we need to confirm that. Space exploration for the purposes of pure science, i.e. learning more about the universe with the justification that learning more about the universe is a worthwhile endeavor that requires no further justification seems to me to be sufficient. Sending rickety old space shuttles up that are ricketier than my car with the blood of 14 astronauts already on Nasa's hands to a low orbit to conduct experiments that could be conducted without human intervention seems further folly and quite simply wildly reckless. Similarly, landing people on Mars or the Moon... What can humans perform that robots can't for a fraction of the cost and the nice fact that the robots you can just leave. Astronauts you must bring back at considerable cost and danger.

  3. Would just add one more thing. Phoenix and Rover before I have little problem with. I just don't know why they have to be justified with a search for life. Pure science and scientific research with or without practical application is a very noble thing indeed.

  4. The next time you've got a spare hour, listen to this podcast of Peter Diamandis speaking at Stanford. Peter is the founder of the X PRIZE foundation. I listened to this a few weeks ago. Very fascinating.


Comments more than welcome!