The Big Picture: Once Upon a Time in The Future

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kugs91:
I feel the same way bob. What really dug into me was that the government decided that now the "foremost misson" of nasa was muslim outreach, and not getting us into space like it is supposed to

Oh, puh-lease.

I got one question for you Bob. What would be more pathetic? Meeting a new race of aliens in the USS Mountain Dew, or having them ask us what Earth is like, and trying to explain the current mess? Yes, that's just another way to ask the questions you already mentioned in the video, but it's true. As a species, we're in no shape to be exploring the galaxy. We're still trying to find the right people to make a 9 month trip to Mars without killing each other.

Oh come ON.

That was by far the most disagreeable, and I'd be ALMOST willing to say, the most *stupid* thing I've ever heard you say so far, Bob. Are you seriously so captivated by some arbitrary idea of mankind's progress that you don't realize there's nothing really IN space, or at least nothing in the vicinity? I wouldn't necessary condemn that notion since we're bound to run out of raw materials at one point and we'll have to travel beyond Earth depending on circumstances. But how do you imagine humanity could possibly sustain itself in space while still drowning in problems back on Earth? What POINT would there be simply trasport ourselves in such a state into space? To spread the misery? Into the infinite black void? Do you know how ridiculously commonplace and meaningless it would soon feel?

I'm sorry, but you've spent too much time pushing your goody-goody morality onto us all, and dropping a bomb like this just seems contradictory. Not even I with my nihilistic and misanthropic nature would go for it. I can't discuss this, it's just preposterous.

I just want to add two things. First, thank you Bob for articulating this. The Escapist may not be the most public forum on the planet, but there is something to be said for raising awareness. And since gamer/geek culture is fairly widespread in that all-important youth demographic, maybe if enough young people tell the politicians that this stuff matters, they'll get the message.

Second, it's worse than you know. For the last two years I worked as an aerospace engineer. In the summer when my program ended I was laid off, and since then it has been very difficult to find work in the industry. I attribute this to fallout from the Constellation cancellation. My job wasn't cut because Constellation ended, but as my manager told me at my exit interview, "the entire aerospace industry is shrinking." Think about that. What President Obama and his cohorts in Congress didn't realize is that when they cut Constellation, not only were they going to get a lot of people at NASA fired (which did happen, including in my town), they were sending shockwaves throughout all the aerospace/missile defense industry. Guys like me ended up out of work, I strongly believe, because now everyone's nervous as to where the next cut is going to fall. They're hanging onto their funding, not continuing old projects or starting new ones, just trying to survive.

The end result is a very disturbing trend I've seen as part of my own job search. I'm young, have an advanced degree, two years of industry experience, and I can't find a job. When I go to job fairs I see a lot, I mean a LOT, of older folks looking for jobs. I can't compete against them experience-wise, but even THEY can't find jobs. And these are the people with families to support. If things don't get better soon, then all those mid-level workers laid off from NASA are going to have to flee the industry just to make ends meet. Then when we decide, as a country, that we actually WANT a space program we're going to find that we simply don't have the people for it anymore.

The senior level folks in aerospace are going to be retiring soon. The mid-level folks who are laid off now are going to find jobs in another field, and not be around the contribute to either the space program or the development of younger co-workers. The young guys like me might have to wait a few more years before jobs appear, putting a great big hold on developing industry experience. And as for the the really new people? What high school guidance counselor or college adviser is going to recommend a career in aerospace right now when there aren't any jobs?

I hope I'm wrong, but I suspect in a few years we're going to wake up one day and wonder where all our engineers went. We let the old guys retire, laid off the mid-levels, and didn't bother to train/promote any new ones. That's why the dream of space is going to die. So again, thank you Bob for raising awareness, and I hope everyone reading this far will write your Congressman and tell them you care about space.

What's really sad is that development of space travel could potentially solve a lot of these problems like world hunger, over population etc. After all, if we actually managed to achieve interstellar travel, we'd have access to nearly infinite resources to feed the hungry, places to live etc.

...Private sector space programs. *facepalm* That's one way to ensure first contact goes badly.

MovieBob:
Snip

Well, the reason that people aren't caring is because of a lack of optitism for the future right now.

If you look back to the peaks of both Science fiction and space exploration, they always came out in a time when the future looked bright, or at least we felt good about ourselves. The technology that allowed man to get to space only became viable right after World War 2 when America was it baby booming years, everybody had a job, everyone's father was a war hero, and it seamed obvious that America would last forever. Thus, it seamed like space wouldn't be that far off and everybody. Take note this is the time that Star Trek and a huge load of your favorite pop-science fiction novelists/comics were in their hayday.

This glee died after we landed because of the cold war, Watergate, the tail of the sixties, the realization that Vietnam wasn't a happy sunshine war were America beat the enemy that John Wayne movies had portrayed WW2 as, the introduction of AIDS, and the mistrust of the goverment. Now this is when science fiction fell out of favor to 70's disaster movies.

The rise again of the space shuttle came in the 80's and 90's when one, Star Wars made films fun again, and the Cold War was winding down. The lack of war or a great threat made historians say it was "the end of history," and stating that we shall forever have peace. That is when Star Trek was brought back for Next Generation, Star Wars was updated (for better or worse) and the future looked BRIGHT again. And the future meant space.

But now we live in post-911 America were nobody trusts the goverment, we been in the two most miserable wars we had since Nam for an entire decade now, everybody is an enemy, and the world is a dark place. If you look at popular media right now, and ignore the reality garbage boom for a moment, a lot of media is depressing tails of war, death, and the like (why most video games have "Brown End of the World" scenery as a default). We are not optomistic, were are not looking at the future, but at the now.

I hate to break this to you, but space is boring.

We went to the moon and we found nothing. If we go to Mars, we will find nothing. Build more advanced telescopes, launch probes, but let's not waste our time with manned missions because they're a dangrous waste of time, human life and resources.

And people might call me a soulless cynic when I say this, but mankind will never colonize space. Sure, we'll try, but we'll always fall back to Earth.

You know, when I first saw the title of this episode, I was thinking to myself "This doesn't look video game/comic book/geek related, so no one's going to care as much". And wouldn't you know it, that's exactly what you said in your video.

But it DOES sounds like something geeks would care about. Hell, I'm pissed off about it, and I only just heard about it. From you! After watching your video! What the Hell, they're giving up on space exploration?!

GHudston:
While I agree with a lot of what you are saying, Bob. (Although, I'm not sure how space travel and world peace interfere with each other in the first place...) I have to disagree with the part where you say that humanity hasn't given you any special measure of kindness.

Your JOB is to rant on the internet. You don't get to complain! ;)

If he can't complain then how does he do his job?

Casual Shinji:
I hate to break this to you, but space is boring.

We went to the moon and we found nothing. If we go to Mars, we will find nothing. Build more advanced telescopes, launch probes, but let's not waste our time with manned missions because they're a dangrous waste of time, human life and resources.

And people might call me a soulless cynic when I say this, but mankind will never colonize space. Sure, we'll try, but we'll always fall back to Earth.

We WILL colonize space! in a few billion years when the sun blows up and we REALLY have to get out! Because the human race can achieve anything with a large enough blowtorch in the ass. if not we will set our goals on the new Iphone or something equally meaningless...

Well as I have been told that Mass Effect in real life is impossible in my life time so Im one of those that don't give a crap also expanding to space assumes the co-operation of humanity and we all know that is never going to happen so good luck creating space australia!

messy:
In my opinion the age of space exploration is over. The new science frontier, in my heavily biochemistry studying view, is the human genome and genetic technology. Look at a DNA molecule, that's the future.

EDIT: also giving a highly biased view of "scientists" not all of us work on making your ipods smaller. That's the fields of physics (and even then not all of physics anyway.)

2000th post as well. Rather glad it was biology themed.

You should be ashamed.
For if space is the final frontier, the big end which never ends, utopia.
For in space then you can find everything and anything, space is where almost all fields of science come and go hand in hand.
I personally love biology, but what will happen when we will have overpopulated the world and we need a new place to live on? Well...To space! But unfortunetly the nation which has the best scientists,research and such, just decided to cancel the project.
I would have cancelled loads of other things instead, to research space travel.
Yes, I love space and all science.

Archangel357:

JoeyMousepadd:
I don't understand how asking for proof of where Obama was born is racist. You have to be born in the US to be president, no matter what color your skin is.

You could argue that isn't been asked and answered, or is no longer in question. That's fine. Argue that the burden of proof has been met. No problem. But racist for asking? That's just plain lazy. "I don't like that you ask those questions, so I'm going to just call you a racist, and hope that you go away."

Sure, and every WHITE president has had a bunch of mouth-breathers asking whether he was born in Sweden, Scotland, or Croatia.

Oh, wait, that didn't happen.

But the first time a black man takes office, it JUST SO HAPPENS... Sure, buddy. Lemme guess, you start every other sentence with "I'm not a racist, but..."

Haven't played the video yet, was checking the comments to see if I wanted to. :P

I will say in response to this that there is more to the issue than that. The whole "I'm not a racist but" thing is due to fear of persecution from questioning a popular leader.

I don't feel any need to start comments that way however, and I've never made bones about my problems with Obama. Largely because of the efforts being made to sidestep certain questions about his citizenship. By this I don't mean the question of whether he was born in the US, or en-route to the US and given a birth certificate when he shouldn't have one.

The problem with Obama is that when he went to school overseas, one of the requirements was that people had to renounce citizenship to other countries in order to attend. There is a BIG question about whether he did this or not. This comes down to a very simple pass/fail thing where you don't even need to ask him or his people. All you have to do is look at whether that's a policy, and if he attended there. Nobody was willing to look into that one officially, and that accusation tends to get "glossed over" in these situations.

Now, no offense, but if this guy renounced his citizenship to attend school he definatly shouldn't be President, even if he got it back later. Simply being willing to do something like that should have been a major mark against him. People were however so anti-Bush, or wanted a liberal victory so bad, that nobody was willing to address this issue officially as far as I ever saw.

What color he is doesn't matter with that kind of accusation, it would be a big deal with anyone. What's more, when you discuss racism in regards to Obama, it's just as easy to ask people "Do you support him just because he's black?". The race issue cuts both ways with Obama and criticism.

Any way it goes, questions WERE raised that should have been addressed.

Above and beyond his citizenship, which is now a moot point (we can't very much have someone prove he wasn't a citizen now that he's been in office for years), I've had more of an issue with his actual term as president. I had less issues with Obama than I did with say Kerry, despite voting for Mccain (and I actually wanted Giuliani for president for reasons I won't go into), however he started me towards joining the Anti-Obama crowd when he assumed the office during a time of economic crisis, and then ran what was supposed to be the most expensive circus of an inaugeration in history. If there was any time for a president to ascend quietly, that was it. Even so I wouldn't have had an issue with the inaugeration celebrations (they all do it) if his price tag wasn't supposed to be so record setting under these conditions. It's almost as bad as Bill Clinton using "Air Force One" to go get a hair cut (which was a legendary incident), but Obama this happened when he was just coming into office.

The solution another cold war :P

Feed the poor? We are already too many mouths to feed, if we are to feed everybody it WILL be at the expense of the other living creatures around us.. We are simply too many!

There are two solutions to that: Kill some off or find more room.

Where oh where would we be able to find more room I wonder?..

Space-travel is not an expensive hobby, its an investment!

Glad to see I'm not alone in placing space as a priority above feeding the hungry and the like. Sure I'd like those problems to be solved, but no matter how hard people try, I believe they will never be fully solved.

Yeah, all those arguments about problems on Earth outweighing our fascination with the stars are clichéd. But for a god damn reason. Arguments against the Nazi's methods are also numerous and clichéd, but it doesn't make them any less valid.

Sure, I'm totally with MovieBob in saying that Cities on Mars would be cooler than Peace on Earth. But I thought we could get past what's "Cool" and look at what is not just better in the long term - i.e, working towards helping our own pollution and poverty-addicted planet rather than handing our adolescent cousins their first joint - but also a hell of a lot more realistic.
Practically speaking, it would probably be centuries if not millennia before a self-sufficient city was made on Mars, and it probably would have worsened Earth's situations.
What in the hell is so great about Space? There's probably more interesting stuff in our tiny insignificant speck than there is in thousands upon billions of any give direction away from us. We might discover a new type of rock, or the chance that perhaps some day maybe, improbably, possibly, something nearly resembling a bacteria that could, with luck, begin to form into life a couple million years after we've died out. That's all that is waiting for us out there.
What's waiting for us here is the onset of another environmental disaster, a rapidly exhausting supply of resources, geopolitical divisions and an enormous percentage of the world in desperate poverty.

It is not evil to want to have space ships before we have food for children in LEDC's. But it is silly and irresponsible.

Finally, Bob, (Who I am addressing because I ASSUME you read every single post in these threads,[/self-imposed ridiculing]) I have only the greatest sympathy for whatever or however Humanity has mistreated you as you said, and I've learned not to belittle what anyone has gone through. But are you really responding to it in the right away? Because "Humanity" mistreated you, you respond my not wanting to help those who suffer by way of poverty or war? People who are not just NOT the people who caused your misfortune, but probably people who have suffered similarly?
Have you really thought about this?

TimbukTurnip:
Glad to see I'm not alone in placing space as a priority above feeding the hungry and the like. Sure I'd like those problems to be solved, but no matter how hard people try, I believe they will never be fully solved.

I don't mean to be directing my argument at you, but more using this statement as an example to work off.

I mean, I do not understand this logic that so many people seem to have. "I can't see it changing, so why bother?" How many times throughout history has this been said? When someone noticed the glaring inequalities to women, or to black people, how many times did they shrug and say "That's how it's always been" or "It will never change"
Futility is no reason to stop trying.
It is certainly not a reason to say "Whelp, I don't think putting money into the glaring flaws of our society will fix them, so, let's make SPACESHIPS!"

When I think about the bleeding hearts, as you call them, that are focused on more immediate Terrestrial things, then my response is that renewed interest in the Space Program, combined with the education for the new generations can help really invigorate an industry that really has been forgotten for some time, and have people focused on the innovation in Space Travel to acquire great wealth, metaphorically and monetarily- instead of all the people I see on campus trying to get their MBAs to work at some corporate job- or far too many wanting to be investment bankers.

Change the incentives and the rest comes

Actually, technically speaking, when you look up into the night sky you're looking into the past, not the future. The light from those stars traveled millions/billions/trillions of light years to get to us, we're seeing them as they were millions/billions/trillions of years ago.

However, I do get where you're coming from, luckily the U.K. space centre is still going on strong (until Cameron cuts that, too, that is). Although we don't launch many (if any) rockets into space, we do a lot of engineering work on the technology that makes it up there. Although, it's a shame that NASA isn't doing it any more, they're the guys I found the most likely to achieve the lofty goals of space colonization. At least we still have China, I suppose.

This review made me so sad, as I'm in the exact same boat as Bob.

What happened to striving towards progress? To furthering human achievement and becoming more than we are? I usually sarcastically respond in this situation with something about flying cars, but honestly, what the hell is wrong with us? Arguably, the internet has been ground zero for everything awesome over the last twenty year: nearly instant dissemination of information across class and geopolitical boundaries and what do we do with it? porn, WoW, and facebook.

Humanity epic fail.

The end of the space shuttle does by no means mean the end of space exploration.

First of all, there have been many ideas that have been proposed over decades, like orbital launch platforms and thing like that, as substitutes for the shuttle program. Hell, many of the die-hard rocket scientists didn't want the shuttle because it would phase out multi-stage rockets, which were then seen as the pinnacle of manned space exploration, and to be fair, man didn't go to the moon in a shuttle, so it can be said that it hasn't even had the biggest impact on space exploration.

On the other hand, even if this does mean that people are no longer interested in going to space themselves (at least for the moment), unmanned exploration has always brought back plenty of information in terms of the viability of establishing settlements on the moon, mars, and even further away.

If the probes, robots and telescopes all say its not worth trying to colonize right now due to lack of resources, quite honestly that's good enough for me.

I honestly do not care

I'm with Bob here but not just for the ohh wow where finally here reason (Though it is a frikkin large part of it). The choice isan't really feed the starving or go to Mars; its go to Mars and the technology that will be necessary to create a viable colony will also be the technology that improves the lot for the poor people of Earth.

I'm pretty sure there were still hungry people in Europe when mankind saw the need to explore the Atlantic Ocean.

Mankind needs to explore. It's in our biological makeup. The fact there isn't an organization whose sole purpose is to explore the one area not yet explored (space) is a damn shame. I agree with you entirely on that.

I ever become president, that'll be my first priority.

Makes me proud to be a Canadian where we still care about the exploration of space.

image

http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/missions/expedition34-35/default.asp

Danik93:

Casual Shinji:
I hate to break this to you, but space is boring.

We went to the moon and we found nothing. If we go to Mars, we will find nothing. Build more advanced telescopes, launch probes, but let's not waste our time with manned missions because they're a dangrous waste of time, human life and resources.

And people might call me a soulless cynic when I say this, but mankind will never colonize space. Sure, we'll try, but we'll always fall back to Earth.

We WILL colonize space! in a few billion years when the sun blows up and we REALLY have to get out! Because the human race can achieve anything with a large enough blowtorch in the ass. if not we will set our goals on the new Iphone or something equally meaningless...

If we haven't already gone extinct within those few billion years, we'll mostly likely will so in the supernova.

Humanity has very much a God complex in that we think we can do anything because of our theories and science. But there are some things we just cannot achieve and space colonisation is one of them. We might one day make it as far as Jupiter, but you know what we will find there? Nothing. Nothing worth colonizing anyway.

And as for contact with aliens, ...that's never going to happen either. Even if there is intelligent life somewhere in the infinite vastness of space, the shear change that we might bump into them is 1 in a quadrillion. The reason why we so desperately wish for there to be intelligent life beyond our own is, because we are a lonely species who thinks a lot yet doesn't really know anyhing. We can't be blissfully ignorant and follow our instincts like every other creature on Earth so we're left to our own devices, wildly flailing our arms around, hoping to grab hold of some answers... Which we are never going to get.

Just as an atheist will tell a Christian, Moslim or Jew that no magical man from the sky will ever appear so as to give us answers, I'm here to tell all of you who dream of alien contact that no all-knowing alien race will ever contact us in order to cure us of our stupidity.

Wait, you mean they cancelled the programs that would have had us going to Mars?

Wow, now I'm really sad.

This is outer fucking space people. We were going to go to other planets. Other planets in outer fucking space! It would have been amazing, we would have stepped out of our planet, become something else entirely.

God dammit. Just god dammit.

+1 Bob

+1

Hmmm, for once I have to agree with everything Bob is saying. The only nitpick I can make is that the proper response to those liberal questions is to point out that the solution to those problems is in space. That's where we can colonize for more living space, and obtain more resources, and all kinds of other things.

As a pragmatic cynic will point out, we could solve a lot of our problems by killing off like 80% of the human population and then instituting stringent birth control and zero population growth policies... which might still be nessicary anyway.

Overall though, space travel is actually the nicer way to strive for a solution at the moment.

The Stonker:

messy:
In my opinion the age of space exploration is over. The new science frontier, in my heavily biochemistry studying view, is the human genome and genetic technology. Look at a DNA molecule, that's the future.

EDIT: also giving a highly biased view of "scientists" not all of us work on making your ipods smaller. That's the fields of physics (and even then not all of physics anyway.)

2000th post as well. Rather glad it was biology themed.

You should be ashamed.
For if space is the final frontier, the big end which never ends, utopia.
For in space then you can find everything and anything, space is where almost all fields of science come and go hand in hand.
I personally love biology, but what will happen when we will have overpopulated the world and we need a new place to live on? Well...To space! But unfortunetly the nation which has the best scientists,research and such, just decided to cancel the project.
I would have cancelled loads of other things instead, to research space travel.
Yes, I love space and all science.

Ashamed? I don't think so.

Yes space is a very nice dream. But with the way things are its just not plausible at the moment. Over population I imagine was going to get to us long before we have sustainable bases on places like Mars. The distance alone makes any sort of mission. Also if we keep thinking "on to the next planet" why would we bother looking after this one? I prefer a much more sustainable living philosophy.

MovieBob:
Once Upon a Time in The Future

This week, Bob rants about the abandonment of the Space Shuttle program.

Watch Video

We've lost our sense of wonder. Anything that requires imagination is a waste of time, a diversion meant for children... or so we're supposed to believe as "grown-ups." We have forgotten the pivotal role imagination plays in our lives, or the role it could play if we don't abandon it foolishly.

What is it really that separates us from the beasts? Isn't it, at least in large part, our ability to look at something and imagine something better? That's what feeds our ability to solve problems, invent things, empathize with other people--it all comes down to being able to imagine something. Imagination isn't a childhood fancy. It's a critical thinking skill, and we're losing it. I blame our consumption-based entertainment.

As I'm fond of saying, how can we ever hope to make the world better if there's no one who can imagine how that better world looks?

USS Mountain Dew? More like the iShip or Windows 9 XXX JK LOL Premium Space Spacehip Edition... ship.

Bob you have only one choice.

Become a super-villain, steal money from around the world, and build your own colony on mars.

There are better arguments for space exploration than "I like it". And as Bob is well aware of you do need to find and name those arguments in order not to be a bad guy™. Hunger and justice are indeed more important problems than a selfish wish to be prod of NASA's achievements.

BTW, that sounds very much like the kind of pride I just cannot get my head around. Sure, NASA has done awesome things, but what was your or my part in that to be proud of it?

Space science is not only cool but also important and we shoud spend money on it, but not just so we can win d*ck size competitions.

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