thumping the tub
Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. (from oed.com). This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
THE SPACE PACE
The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defense each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace. - Bill Hicks

I love space and astronomy stuff. I even read the Stephen Hawking book and didn't give up on it halfway through. That's not to say I like science-fiction very much. Most of it is very poorly written and Star Trek is a thinly veiled representation of US foreign policy. The 'Prime Directive' is to never interfere in the 'natural' development of other societies and yet in every single episode something happens that offends the Enterprise crew so much that they just have to intervene to save these poor people from themselves. Sound familiar?

Despite the interest I have in it we need to leave it and leave it now.

The main humanistic arguments for exploring space are

1- To further our knowledge of the Universe and therefore our own origins
2- To see if we are alone in the Universe
3- To (possibly) prevent us all being wiped out by an asteroid strike
4- Humans are natural explorers - It is inherent in our nature
5- Technical gains for current Earth use and possible extraction of resources for future use

As for number one, this is probably the most fascinating information that space exploration has come up with so far. Pictures like this one from the Hubble Telescope (which shows one of the most complex planetary nebula ever seen, NGC 6543, nicknamed the "Cat's Eye Nebula.") are fantastic to look at and tell us a lot about the make-up of the Universe.



The second point is an important point philosophically and spiritually but the question is...would we know we were looking at life even if it was right in front of us? Think how long it took us to work out gravity, or that light moves. Life elsewhere is likely to be so different that we wouldn't know it even if we were looking at it. It is also very hard to define exactly what is life and what isn't....

If you think about it, a collection that includes a fruit fly and Richard Dawkins and the Great Barrier Reef is an awkward set of objects to try and compare. When we try and figure out what the rules are that we are looking for, trying to find a rule that's self-evidently true, that turns out to be very, very hard. Is [life] something, to coin someone's earlier phrase, that'll go squish if you step on it? (Douglas Adams)

It is also likely to be so far away that it could never get here. Even if it could get here, if your house is in a disgraceful condition do you invite visitors?

The answer to the third point is that it is highly unlikely we would see an incoming asteroid (until it was too late) or be able to stop if it was (unless Bruce Willis was on form that day).

As to the fourth reason, it could be argued that people migrated (explored), and still do, with animal herds or to find good arable land - not from any inherent desire to do so.

On the fifth point it is unfortunately the case that technical gains tend to be used for military purposes first before they filter to the public - the military got Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and spy satellites, the public got Velcro and Teflon. Is the trade off really worth it?

The exorbitant costs of the space program just aren't justifiable at the moment. Especially given that a lot of space missions don't work. $300 million dollars was wasted in one venture because the European made components were designed to work in kilometres and the American components were designed to work in miles. There are other things to be investing our resources in. I think everyone knows what they are.

That's the Humanistic part of it.

Now the militarisation part.

NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe- everything NASA does from now on will be "dual use" (meaning it will serve both military and civilian purposes) has said, "propulsion power generation advances that are so critical to the purposes of achieving our exploration and discovery objectives are the same technologies that national security seeks to utilize." It has long been claimed by the Pentagon that they will require nuclear reactors in space to power space-based weapons.[i]

A fleet of space planes will be designed to attack and destroy future satellites of enemies and rivals. A prototype is expected by 2005 with deployment envisioned around 2014.

In other words, with total domination of space instant annihilation of any state that gets out of line is possible. Stopping short of destruction, communications can be disrupted to ensure domination of the airwaves and then we can all watch reruns of Star Trek.

Lets not just call for an end to the militarisation of space. Let's try to stop anything that doesn't have a direct and immediate effect in pulling half of the world’s people out of poverty.

Once we have done that, then we can get round to "explor[ing] space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace."

Oh, we would finally be able to get rid of shitty satellite TV channels too.


[i] Iraq War Emboldens Bush Space plans - Bruce Gagnon, http://www.counterpunch.org/gagnon08082003.html

posted by michael the tubthumper @ 11:40 am  
6 Comments:
  • At 8:33 pm, Blogger mikevotes said…

    Two points.

    First, everything Nasa has ever done has been intended as dual use. It's a pretty common way for the US to fund stuff off the military books. Deep sea science research submersibles, as an example, were eventually used to deploy that ELF deep sea sonar that's making all the whales beach themselves.

    Second, I still do believe in a space program, perhaps that is because I live down here at the heart of the US space program, but it should all be unmanned. There is absolutely nothing that people can do in space that can't be managed through unmanned spacecraft.

    To much greater distances and at a tenth of the cost.

    Mike

     
  • At 4:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Steven Weinberg, the Nobel winning physicist, has also argued against a manned flight to Mars which will end up costing a cool trillion dollars (ten times more than the unmanned venture):

    http://www.slick-net.com/rnr/wrg_stf.phtml

    Starry eyed talk about the "adventure" aspect of manned flights is moot when one begins to perceive the distances in space and the physical impossibility of ever getting outside your immediate neck of the woods. I was in "Space City" (Houston) last week and apart from the legend on police cruiser doors, hardly anybody other than geeky, white males is interested in throwing a trillion dollars into the maw of the Military-Industrial complex.

     
  • At 9:26 pm, Blogger justin barker said…

    I can think of a few peope I'd like to send into space.

     
  • At 9:27 pm, Anonymous Justin said…

    and I agree100% with the third to last paragraph

     
  • At 10:13 pm, Blogger michael the tubthumper said…

    mike...

    your first paragraph there was a section of this i deleted but still have for future use. i try to keep it between 700 -900 words

    anonymous person...yeah. 'whitey on the moon' by gil scott-heron

    justin...

    thanks, if bush wants to go to mars then stick him and bLIAR in a capsule and get rid of both of the f*ckers.

     
  • At 11:52 pm, Anonymous Mickey Z. said…

    I hope this doesn't appear as a shameless plug, but I wrote something about NASA after the last Space Shuttle accident:
    http://tinyurl.com/83bp6

    Much of it is echoed above...

     
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What is Tubthumping and who is doing it?

Name: michael the tubthumper
Home: Glasgow, Scotland
About Me: Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant. 28 years old, I write and research for a couple of websites and also do my own stuff.
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Thumping The Tub Video

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I have made a few short movies. Here are links to free downloads for them all in the order that I made them (as far as I can remember). Please feel free to use, distribute, disagree with, shout at etc etc

  • Praise The Lord and Pass The Ammunition
  • This was a REAL song from World War 2. I was so stunned by it I had to make a movie

  • How Far Is It From Here to Nuremberg
  • This is my attempt at a video for the excellent, if worrying, David Rovics (see links) song

  • What You Like
  • I believe the word for this is "splenetic". Only 20 seconds long.

  • Imperial Measures
  • What is going on in Iraq? Some things you knew, some you didn't. A couple of bits of info are out of date now.

  • Wish You Were Here
  • Wish You Were Here is a 6 minute film about the unprecendted rate of animal extinction we are currently experiencing

  • Gorillas and us
  • I don't like creationism, neither did Douglas Adams

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    some of the blogs I look at
    Arse of the month

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    The inaugural 'Arse of the month' award goes to our very own Scottish First Minister Jack (Joke) McConnell. He seems to spend a lot of his time sucking up to english politicians and yet it appears they don't even know his name. Follow the link to see..

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    It's All Gone Scottish

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    A list of some other Scottish sites and blogs most of which, if not all, are pro-independence. I don't agree with content on all of them obviously. Some are Scots at home, others abroad.

  • The Scottish Patient
  • Kim Ayres
  • Our Scotland
  • average tosser
  • 1820
  • big stick small carrot
  • J. Arthur MacNumpty
  • World of Jack McConnell
  • The Firefox Chronicles
  • Independence 1st
  • Radio Free Scotland
  • Scots and independent
  • Scottish Independence Guide
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  • Inveresk Street Ingrate
  • Radical Glasgow
  • Want to Swot?

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    If you like this site and think it is time to start getting informed here are a few real favourites of mine that will help you blow away the corporate and government propaganda you are constantly bombarded with. It is added to every so often.

  • politics and the english language
  • Beyond Hope
  • the gore exception
  • your tax dollars at work
  • a cultural chernobyl
  • choose life (not trainspotting)
  • shooting an elephant
  • a war crime within a war crime...
  • the menace of liberal scholarship
  • the modern era of law
  • naming the problem
  • the four ages of sand
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