These guys are heroes.
Their names are known by most and held in reverence by many.
Some of them have even been on The Simpsons. Jim Lovell’s “Houston, we have a problem,” has become THE phrase when it comes to announcing a major problem. It’s become part of our American vernacular.
Vasco da Gama
These men are heroes. We have holidays and pool-games honoring them. Exploration of the unknown was exciting to the general population once. It was daring, it was insane, it was sexy. But now?
We pretend there are no more great frontiers because satellites and Google have given us pictures of the whole Earth. The way I see it, this way of thinking couldn’t be farther from the truth. We have the deep blue sea, where cracks in the earth provide the backbone for entire ecosystems devoid of photosynthesis. We have the tiny, the micro, the nano, the pico. For the past few decades, technology advancements have been about how small we can get things, which means we have to figure out how small things can be, and that in turn means we have to learn what things are REALLY made of and how they come together.
This is the unknown. It is a natural frontier that quite literally surrounds us.
Let’s not forget about space, the final frontier. That is exciting. We have no idea what is out there, really. Scientists still theorize bacteria and other LIFE on Mars…theories of life elsewhere! This should be exciting. We don’t even know much about THE NEXT PLANET OVER!
- Can you name a single active astronaut?
- Can you name the scientists looking into subatomic particles?
- Can you name any sea floor explorers (other than Bob Ballard, who was fictionalized in the movie, Titanic)?
I can’t, and I think that’s a shame.
These frontiers are all going to play a role in the future of the human race, and we should be excited about what the explorers of these frontiers are finding out.
And let’s be honest…
NatGeo, Discovery Science, and Dr. Livingston are very interesting, but not cutting it.
Not many of us have degrees in astrophysics, oceanography, or planetary geology.. Most of us haven’t really ever read about these lofty topics. The average media coverage of our endeavors into the unknown is chock full of jargon, science, and techno-babble that even the most interested viewer has to fight the urge to see what’s being sold on QVC instead.
Neil Armstrong walked on the moon before any of his communist counterparts did. People get that. We need astronauts getting on TV and saying, “Seriously, dudes. Spacewalks are frakking sweet. We gotta find a way to get YOU up there.”
We need average people to get it. It needs to be cool to be a scientist like it was in the 1960’s.
The same goes for exploration of subatomic particles and the deep blue sea. It has to mean something, and it has to be explained in a way that the average Joe would understand.
This is our future.