Stay or Go?

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Nothing is so dangerous to the progress of the human mind than to assume that our views of science are ultimate, that there are no mysteries in nature, that our triumphs are complete and that there are no new worlds to conquer.
Humphry Davy

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My youth soccer head coach obviously didn’t want me to leave our U-17 team or the south Dallas league in which I had played the last eight seasons accumulating notoriety, awards, and trophies both for myself, him, and the team. But the fact remained:  in 1980 the OCSA paled compared to the NDCCCL of north Dallas-Plano. In south Dallas I was only a semi big fish in a small pond. I knew too well that if I were to have a chance to play at the highest levels possible, I had to travel over 20-miles there and back, 2-3 times a week and every weekend where the top flight players, teams, and coaches were competing; it had to be done.

If my parents and I had listened to many of the naysayers, I wouldn’t have achieved a sizable college soccer scholarship, been mentored and coached by two world-class former pro goalkeepers, started all four collegiate years, awarded MVP and All-Tournament Team in the 1982-83 NAIA National Championship tournament, awarded one NAIA Honorable Mention All-American (sophomore year), one NAIA second-team All-American (junior year), and two first-team All-American awards by the NSCAA and NAIA my final year, then I likely could not have gone on to a rewarding pro and semi-pro career the next 11-years on three foreign continents then back to the U.S., retiring in 1996.

I can gratefully and humbly say through firsthand experience that sometimes (many times?) the rewards are so worth the risks.

In the course of human endeavors of progress, better understanding, advancement, and evolving and promoting our species, we have reached another crossroads:  interplanetary exploration and colonization. Mars. Should we do it? Should we stay put or should we go?

Because of the upcoming 6-part National Geographic Channel  series Mars premiering Nov. 14, 2016, I stumbled into an intriguing discussion with a good friend of mine about colonizing the nearby distant planet. Though he is a big Star Trek fan and all for space exploration, my friend had some valid points. Here’s how the banter went:

A crappy Earth with problems would be better than Mars, Moon Colonies, etc. The only viable solution is a nearby habitable planet very similar to Earth. If we had the technology to colonize & terraform, we certainly would be advanced enough to heal our own planet. There are too many things we are interdependent on to leave Earth behind just yet. Besides distance, even an Earth-like twin planet would have many hidden obstacles to colonization.

mars-by-the-numbersProfessor T:
Similar warnings were also given to Magellan, Dias, Drake, Vespucci, Pizarro, Erik-the-Red, Ulfsson, Herjólfsson, Zheng He, and several others. Why did they not listen? (wink)

LOL! That’s nowhere close to being equitable. Not apples and oranges! Apples and iPhones! It’s not a warning, it’s simply thinking ahead. I am by no means well versed but I know enough that Space is even less hospitable than Mother Nature here on Earth. If you saw The Martian, read the book, then listen to the author as he explains in interviews what he had to extrapolate technology wise and fudge(!) just to make that story work.

Professor T:
Not really arguing your very valid points. But like the Serengeti wildebeests, gazelles, zebras, buffalos, etc, that annually cross the Grumeti River which they all know is FULL of hungry happy crocodiles and almost certain DEATH… yet they cross it, and many/most of those migrating animals cross multiple times in their lifetimes! Now explain to me why it is human nature and animal nature to constantly take risks, including paramount life-threatening risks!? (wink)

You are definitely from the Berenstain Bears timeline.

Professor T:
Bwahaha! Are you implying that I enjoy children’s storybooks and such pleasure might reflect a similar intellectual capacity!!!!? Then if so, you’d be correct Sir. (wink)

Ha, ha! No, it’s a “thing”. Google Berenstain/Berenstein Bears, Mandela phenomenon, etc. I’m just joking though.

Professor T:
By the way, as you know, I loved The Martian! Haven’t read the book yet, but the film was excellent!

If you lived closer, I’d let you borrow my copy.


from NASA’s website

The history of human exploration is indeed littered with many failed expeditions, fatalities and disasters. Perhaps the more notable ones just on Earth were The Narváez Expedition (1527), Hudson-NW Passage Expedition (1610), The Reed-Donner Party (1846), The Franklin Expedition (1845), and the 1996 Mount Everest Party to name just five. Moving out from Earth we have the doomed space disasters of several Russian Soyuz flights, NASA’s Apollo 1 (1967) and near disasters of Apollo 13 (1970) and Gemini 8 (1966), the 2003 Colombia Space Shuttle, and of course the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle. Why haven’t we learned that stepping outside of our cozy, known (safe?) comfort zones could turn into a debacle or fatal tragedy? What is our malfunction? (laughing)

Is there really a need for further space exploration and interplanetary colonization at the risk of more deaths? Why or why not?

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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42 thoughts on “Stay or Go?

      • A thousand apologies for being so flippant, dear professor. I’m torn, in truth, between the need to get our own house in order and exploring other worlds. If an argument convinces me that the latter will facilitate the former, then I’m all for it. What say you, does such an argument exist, and does time permit of its application? Time does seem to be running out for our specie. Let’s compromise, and send our emissary Trump on an exploratory mission.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh hush up Hariod. No apologies necessary. I enjoy British humour in times of crisis; it calms us and promotes heady action. 😉

          Does it have to be either or? Why not get our house in order AND prepare for other planetary calamities NOT produced by human waste and greed? For example, volcanic eruptions or asteroid strikes. Of the 13 species on Earth that are eusocial — i.e. fully capable of serving the Superorganism at the expense of self — humans are the only ones with the unique capacity to save this planet and most/many species on it! And yet, we continue to BITE the hand that feeds us and sustains us. This attitude has to change and change immediately!

          I am all for sending tRump first and those rich and powerful like him! If they act like they’ve got the balls now for anything (Haha!), then SURELY they will be the FIRST to volunteer and go, right?

          Liked by 1 person

        • A very good point professor! Why not do both? Do we have the brains to go ’round, the money to go ’round, and again, the time, sufficient to make what Mr. Zande appears to want, that is to say, some other planet to colonize?

          As an aside, I’m quietly trusting that the Martians at least left his bulbs intact. 😮

          Liked by 1 person

          • Very valid questions Hariod. Humanity’s historical track record of eusociality fares horribly when compared to those other 12 eusocial species. Our ability to REACT to tragedy is present and in many cases adequate, but our ability to be PROACTIVE to reduce or avoid those tragedies needs MUCH improvement! And ironically, it is that capacity to be proactive — i.e. excercise forethought and preparation — that sets us (relatively) far above all other planetary species. Thus, to answer your legitimate questions, yes, for I am an optimistic humanist. I absolutely DO believe we have the collective brains, money, and time to do great things not just for our kind, but for the majority of species on Earth. I personally feel that if we would abolish many of our human pretense, there are few limits to what we could COLLECTIVELY accomplish! 🙂

            …bulbs intact“? Haha, you’re going to have to elaborate some on that one. There are more than one strict meaning of “bulbs”… particularly if they’re Martian. 😛

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ahhh, I see! Yes, JZ’s horrific azalea “deflowering” episode! Clearly we should leave azaleas and everything related to azaleas behind on Earth or else risk extreme azaleforcation! 😮 So glad Mr. Zande discovered this rudeness before we did, eh?

            Hah! A Meliorist? To an extent I am. However, I also deeply appreciate our current human limitations. As I blogged about recently Hariod — Spring Attacks! — Mother Nature and her Cosmos doesn’t always cooperate with even our best laid plans. (laughing hysterically) 😛

            Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed John. Speaking of “getting off this rock“… I was catching the NatGeo Channel documentaries last night on climate change, where the planet’s pulse is at, and what MUST be done to reduce and/or reverse the very real fact of passing the “tipping point”… the point of no return for Earth’s ability to compensate/readjust… and it AMAZES me how easy it is to begin slowing and reversing global warming! What is very disturbing is that scientists (e.g. climatologists, marine-biologists, chemists), corporate leadership, and environmental agencies have KNOWN about this rising trend of oil, coal, and natural gas addiction and its catastrophic effects since the 1960’s! 😦

      Yes, we BETTER have alternative plans — an “Exit Strategy” if you will — ready to go in order to save humanity when the powers that be refuse to surrender their collapsing financial empires and lifestyles. Never underestimate the power of the people/masses when too many ivory towers ignore change.

      Liked by 2 people

        • My my John, I could not agree more with you! I realize you are (fortunately) not in the U.S. dealing with our Corporatocracy, as Hariod so appropriately termed it, in relation to the sources of global warming & climate change. The U.S. and China, then a few other smaller economies are the LARGEST contributors to Greenhouse Effects and if we cannot fight adequately against mega-funded media campaigns and super pacs in our Congress, then the masses have one alternative: what we buy/consume or not buy/consume. Some examples, support carbon-taxes and penalities on corporations; buy renewable energy sources, ala wind and/or solar power; purchase electric vehicles, use mass transit a lot more, etc, etc. 🙂

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          • As an Australian, we’re a criminal in this whole affair, too. Coal, we’re cursed with it… a lot of it… and happily sell to China.

            As, however, a nominal Brazilian, I’m part of the solution! Brazil is 90% clean energy, and over half of all vehicles run on sugar cane.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Ahh, just another reason — aside from their beautiful futebol/soccer — for me to LOVE my Brazil and Brazilians more! Bravo you guys, BRAVO! ❤ 😉

              See, there are enough major players in the world economy, including Australia, that CAN INDEED slow and reverse global warming that have enough "in common" culturally and philosophically to get this done before 2030… the predicted decade when the tipping point will likely be reached if “business as usual” remains and nothing is done.

              But if change doesn’t get done soon enough, then THAT (i.e. psychological denial and opposition) is why we must also pursue exploration and colonization of other planets. There are STILL not enough human beings that fully grasp the concept of eusociality, change-adaptation, and species-survival. :/

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  1. Excellent post Professor. I enjoyed the conversation back and forth. It was less dirty-minded than I am used to when conversing with you. Maybe you just like talking dirty to me. 😉

    I mean you’re friend has a point. History is littered with the stories of explorers who made it. Most didn’t. Most died alone in the middle of an ocean and were never heard from again. However I do think that you are right too in that these new places while still on Earth were as mentally foreign as Mars is. So despite the extreme differences in conditions, we are at least more aware of those properties than perhaps Columbus might have been with the flora and fauna of North America. Through our current lens it seems ridiculous that they couldn’t handle it, but I do think there was much that was unexpected.

    Ultimately, I simply think that we should be trying to continue to explore. Neil DeGrasse Tyson in advocating for funding to NASA when it was cut a number of years back, talked about the fact that we had become a nation that has turned it’s back on dreaming. I think these things are important. To reach slightly beyond our grasp, because this is essential to growth whether as an individual or as a species. Things might be hard or impossible, but without a vision of a future we won’t know how far we can actually reach!

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    • Thank you Swarn. And it is so good to see you back here! It has been awhile; understandably given education strikes, etc, in PA. Nevertheless, glad to see you here and I’ll “try” to temper my dirtiness with you. 😉 –evil chuckle

      Though exploration into unchartered places has always had risks, always will, I agree we must keep pushing ourselves & humanity to better understand our environment, what footprint we carefully or recklessly put on it, but also push ourselves, our own abilities, and to evolve and progress! That cannot be done if we remain stagnate and robotic in our routines to merely “survive”. Proactive is as much a life-teacher as repetition or reaction, perhaps more, huh? 😀

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  2. I say go. This was a great post that made many valid points and observations. I especially like your examination of the history of earth exploration as an example. Space is the next logical place to venture. I feel it is an evolutionary progression, we have almost reached the limits here. We have to go forward and outward. We should not remain bound because something seems impossible or implausible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello grevisangel, and thank you for your comment. 🙂

      I agree with you, “GO!” In all honesty and in my humble opinion, just between all the “advanced industrialized” economically-stable 1st-world nations, we/they easily have the resources and intelligence to make it happen AND take care of pressing necessary domestic issues and ecological issues on Earth! The wealth of those nations and hundreds of thousands of wealthy individuals (e.g. Elon Musk, Amancio Ortega, Bill Gates, et al) on the planet absolutely have the funding to make it happen! Period! There really are no excuses NOT to make repeated attempts to go despite how unforgiving space and interplanetary travel then colonization… will certainly be and losses are inevitable. However, how close is death or disaster in our every day lives here? 😉

      Please visit and comment as frequently as you’d like grevisangel. Your feedback is appreciated!

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      • It truly is a worthy goal. I hate to see so much money and lives squandered so a few could profit, or put another feather in their crown. I know that anyone with an interest in space travel would willingly take those risks. Your parallel is a good one. Elon Musk gets knocked a lot for only being in it for the money. I don’t believe that is his prime motivation at all. I think he has a deep interest in exploration. As for Gates, I am not sure about him.
        Are you watching,”Mars” on Monday nights?

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        • When I listed those 3 billionaires Grevisangel, I was merely implying an indirect question to all billionaires: “To what capacity do you feel, show, support, and give to avoid extinctions on Earth if it were completely feasible?” The answers from billionaires and millionaires of the planet would be VERY interesting to hear and document. I imagine many of them have spoken on it already. LOL

          I am ABSOLUTELY watching the NatGeo Mars series; haven’t missed a single second of it! It is very well done isn’t it? 😀 ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          • I missed tonight’s episode, but will watch it on On Demand. I have liked it very much. Some people were complaining about the intercutting between now, with the people that are in the forefront and the actual series, but I find that to be an interesting and added dimension. I was happy to see Ann Druyan included.

            I understand that now a little clearer about the billionaire-millionaires. I am not sure some of them would be very truthful about their answers. I feel they would say what they think people would want to hear. Remember the billionaire in the film Contact? He was interested in space, but he also had a personal reason for the project, so in many ways I think they would have to have some incentive, whether it be for personal gain, or some other personal reason. I would love to see what you suggested, them being interviewed and seeing their answers. It doesn’t bother me if they do it for financial gain, but I truly believe Musk is interested and wants to expand and since he has the money he can indulge in that endeavor with some support from the government. I don’t know about Bezos, he has always seemed to be an ass to me. I can’t see him having any concern for the planet or for the future inhabitants. I could be wrong. My point was, I think that in order for the momentum to be there for the ones that finance the projects, they should have an interest in the subject of space exploration, and not just for the financial benefits that could be gained. It has to be personal. I guess it doesn’t really matter what their motives are, as long as we are working on it at all.

            So many people think that it is a waste of money to even bother with it, especially when we have so many issues here that need to be addressed, but it is imperative that we do this. It is convincing people of the worthiness that will take some selling. I would like to know what they have said as well.

            I am glad that there are film directors and actors that are interested in this subject and keep it out there as to inspire more people. The young especially need to take this cause up. Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, Seth McFarlane and James Cameron are a few that keep this in the forefront.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I really liked the episode. I am not sure how many episodes there are, I think 10. I liked the Antarctica comparisons. I think it’s the only place to go to get an idea of what it could be like. It’s interesting to see how each new arrival brings help, and new supplies, but also problems. A new colonization has the same problems as an established one. The personalities of each individual their strengths and weaknesses., that’s real life, and something that we will have to be prepared for. Cooperation is essential and that is probably one of the toughest challenges.


            • I believe there are six episodes if I remember correctly Grevisangel. It is very intriguing to watch the arrivals, growth, and further challenges with more people, more growth. It is exactly (or would be) what explorers, colonists, then opportunists faced during the 14th-17th century Age of Exploration, then Colonization, and Imperialization — the good and the bad. Hah! Cooperation tough? Oh come on Grevis, where’s your ridiculous optimism? 😉 hehe

              I am very interested to see what this coming “storm” does. I got the impression it is going to last for several MONTHS! 😮

              Liked by 1 person

            • Six?? That isn’t enough to fully explore the subject. We are already on episode 4. Yes, I am sure the storm will last for quite some time. It is certainly a hostile enviornment, and so many challenges, and I think this shows them quite well, even the tensions among the members of the teams and the psychological strains and stresses. It’s basically a reflection of human behavior, which I think is something that needs to change, and evolve, if we are to succeed as a species here, or on another planet.
              The comparsion to the early explorers is very relevant, and if we are to use that as a model to measure the outcome, it’s not very hopeful, at least to me. We have to grow up asa species. I don’t have optimism. I feel we are destined for failure. I hope I am wrong. This journey to settle other planets, is really our last best hope. I

              Liked by 1 person

            • Looking forward to tomorrows episode. Well as I am writing this it’s already Monday. I would have liked to seen more to Before Mars.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Returning to Mars | The Professor's Convatorium

  4. You’ve posed a difficult question. I understand all the arguments for why we should undertake such a project. From where we sit, it is impossible to assess the myriad benefits that would likely follow. It’s just so costly and we have a lot of complex problems here on earth, like finding a solution to climate change, educating the illiterate (many of whom are girls living in societies that oppress them), and ensuring that people don’t die of malnutrition, to name a few. In the end, I’d feel better about a smaller space program that explores the universe without spending the billions needed to sustain human life in the frigid vacuum of space.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your concerns Carol are all very valid. Too often humankind gets quite impatient and PLOWS THROUGH recklessly all for the sake of “I don’t care how hard or impossible it is… GET IT DONE! Or I/we will find someone else who will!” That is the predominant American arrogance of (mostly) the Alpha-males we seem to have way too many of here. 😉 😛

      There is a time and place for everything, for sure. We primates tend to have a short-sighted tunnelistic foresight don’t we? I think so. However, I often do NOT like to be told something can never be done or that it is “out of our league” or “just not feasible.” If we, as a species, do nothing or too little, then we most certainly will go extinct—your point and case about Climate Change is the horribly true prime example! 😬 And if we do not consistently get out of our safe comfort-zones, be exploratory on a regular basis in many various ways, push the envelopes when necessary, then we risk the very true reality that everything around us, including our Sun and Solar System to name just two, will leave us behind. We are just fortunate, for the most part, that these macro-systems move very, very slow—until they don’t! HAH! 😄 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I meant to add that it’s fun knowing how much soccer has meant to you. My son played through high school. I loved watching the games. It’s a great sport that I expect him to play for many year to come, just in recreational leagues.

        I’m afraid there’s not much hope for mankind if we fail to teach people how to enjoy learning. If we could do that, I think we’d be in a much better place.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ugh, I couldn’t agree with you more Carol regarding “enjoy learning” or even CRAVING IT!!! When people would ask me about my teaching career (i.e. in middle school & high school classes) and why we would do it when the pay/money (except for Principals & District Supervisors) was SO pitiful, but the hours are often endless—I worked no less than 6-days a week, from before Sun up to after Sun down—I’d answer “You don’t go into primary or secondary education for money. You do it to impact the lives of young kids. You HOPE you inspire them to great things in their adult years. But in reality we should have no term of “teacher” in the dictionary. We should ALL be students, always for our entire lives, right?” 😉 Learn and challenge yourself every single day. It’s a very short life! 😄

          Liked by 1 person

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