Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Human Exploration, Post 1. Victoria Lay, Section H01 Group 3

Robert H. Goddard, the creator of the first liquid fueled rocket, once said “It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today, and the reality of tomorrow.” Evidence of this is all around us. We have advanced immensely as a species, but from the hunter-gathers using tools of stone and bone to the car-driving, phone-using, plane-flying people of today, one thing has remained the same. That thing is the need to explore and discover. Mankind has travelled across the cradle of Earth, crossing its deepest oceans, climbing its highest peaks, and later flying across the sky. Now humanity turns to beyond the sky, an untouched frontier awaiting brave adventurers to reach it. With our neighbor Mars in sight, human footprints may soon be found on the red planet’s surface. We as a species feel the deep need to go above and beyond, to seek what we cannot even imagine. However, the reason is subject to opinion.
It cannot be denied, unfortunately, that some people are what many people consider greedy, which might be considered as a need to gain wealth and power with no concern for others or being truthful. History provides evidence of this all over the globe. One example would be the theft of Native American land by European settlers once precious resources were discovered on said land. Another would be when a weakened China was carved into “Spheres of Influence” by European countries in the 19th century in order to create exclusive trading rights with these areas.
            The vast heavens above us represent a frontier untouched by man and filled with resources. It could be assumed that if we created (or perhaps joined) the galactic community there would be some people who would try to wantonly take advantage of these resources, likely resulting in the destruction of several non-Earth celestial bodies. The moon and Mars could eventually be up for land grabs, and wealthy entrepreneurs may decide to stake claim to these lands for the construction of off-planet facilities, all for a substantial price of course. Entire asteroids or planets could be claimed by mining companies, stripping them of anything of value. These bodies may be altered so much that anything that might have been available for discovery: a rare formation, microscopic fossils, etc. could be wiped away before scientists could find them. Important objects and research may be stolen and sold to the highest bidder on the black market. Fake information and artifacts may be planted off-world in order to gain publicity and fame. These areas are completely separated from the Earth. The “space police” might not be a thing, so early colonists would be susceptible if anyone with less than good intentions managed to slip through the cracks and reach a colony. These concerns are more than likely for advanced future colonization. The earliest explorers should be carefully selected from major space agencies like NASA and will likely be only sent to Mars and possibly some asteroids for very short-lived missions. The earliest colonists would also be selected in order to ensure their ability to create a startup colony on another world. However, eventually space travel will be accessible to all kinds of people, and that includes those looking for fame and fortune even if it means not playing fair.

            I believe John Locke has some validity in his belief that a newborn’s mind is blank slate. I do however believe some tendencies are tied in to our genetics, and thus some traits are more likely to emerge than others. However, we are not chained by our genes. Our experiences play a key role in who we become as a person. The things we see and do, the people we meet, the events in the world have critical roles in shaping us as people. Every person should have an equal opportunity for advancement, should have access to essential services, and be able to grow into their best. It is true that in the news we see terrible things every day. Sometimes people go against what they are taught is good, and these people might be considered “inherently bad.” I would like to believe that these people are less common than we think, and that the media focuses on bad events far more than good ones. I think that this negative focus might actually make things worse. It might make people lose faith in humanity, and thus care less about how they act.
A study was conducted over the Prisoner’s Dilemma, which is where two players have two options, and the outcome depends on each other’s choices. Computers were set up to show a situation where two people were able to either cooperate or defect. If both people cooperate, they both gain $300. If both defect, they both lose $10. If one person defects but the other tries to cooperate then the person who defects gains $500 and the person who cooperates loses $100. After several different scenarios were tested the researchers found that the most effective strategies were the ones in which the first person would not be the first to defect, were quick to forgive someone who had earlier deceived them, and were not envious if the other person won just as much money. The researchers also noticed that strategies where the opponents continuously tried to deceive each other made the least amount of money in the long run. These cooperative strategies can be seen in the animal world with social species helping one another to survive and shunning uncooperative members. This proves that it is better for people to cooperate, and we should act based on these good strategies.

Although the risk of corruption and greed certainly is a concern, not all humans are like this. As long as teams are subject to extreme scrutiny we could hopefully avoid incidents of espionage, theft, and destruction. Once more and more people are sent to off-Earth colonies, law enforcement as well as frequent check-ins should reduce the criminal presence. But hopefully, the first explorers of non-Earth planets and asteroids will have nothing but curiosity and a thirst for adventure.

1 comment:

  1. I love your topic. And you'll love the works of Carl Sagan and Neil de Grasse Tyson on the mind- and purpose-expanding possibilities of space exploration. Happy exploring!