Where No Man Has Gone Before
Is It Natural or Is It ADHD?
Rand Simberg on the urge to explore:
In turning our back on the Moon almost thirty-six years ago, after the flight of Apollo 17, were we denying our nature, our fundamental human urge to explore? Many in the space community have thought so, but there is some recent evidence that curiosity is not as dominant a human trait as we might like to believe. Or, if it was at one time, it may no longer be evolutionarily advantageous. It seems that those who want to see what’s over the next mountain have an attention-deficit disorder[.]
You have to give the article a much closer reading than I to see if he has an answer to his (I think) rhetorical question. Regardless, Rand Simberg provides more than a few very good answers to the real question – “Why return to the Moon, or explore space at all?” – answers a lot better than “…because it’s there.” and “…because it’s ha(r)d” and definitely better than “…it’s the cold war, stupid”. Greed, pure and simple, is a good one. It’s rich out there!
Simberg finally settles on a more political and social rational. The moon is, to him, what Colorado was to Ayn Rand; a place to experiment with better social, policitial and even economic structures, and maybe get them right.
May freedom continue to reign, and the world continue to advance in that regard, but in the event (not at all unlikely) that the global politics will deteriorate to recreate the conditions against which the Founders rebelled, it might be nice to have a new petri dish, off planet. One in which we can continue to advance the ideals of Locke, Burke, Smith and others, and escape the romantic and misguided ideals of Rousseau about the perfectability of man, rather than his institutions, that resulted in the brutal deaths of tens of millions over the past decades. As America did in the eighteenth century, space in the future will provide an equivalent such laboratory, if only we can follow up on the frail beginning of four decades ago.