I’m safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!!
This was the Twitter (first from Mars) received from NASA’s robot rover ‘Curiosity’ after successfully landing on the surface of Mars.
Ten years in the planning; cost billions of dollars; travelled over 100 million miles before attempting a landing with zero room for error.
John Holdren, chief science adviser to President Obama, was justified in his response:
And if anyone has been harbouring doubts about the status of US leadership in space, well there’s a one tonne automobile-sized piece of American ingenuity sitting on the surface of the Red Planet right now.
The technology used for the landing was innovative, amazing and very, very risky.
The final stage, which saw the Lander gently lowered to the surface by a skycrane was science fiction turned to reality.
The whole mission is a testament to the intelligence, endeavour and vision of human beings.
The conflict in Syria, on the other hand, demonstrates just how ruthless human beings can be.
What’s happening in that country is just the latest incidence of what humans have been doing to each other since they came down from the trees.
And in particular what humans have been doing on a grand scale since they began organizing themselves into super sized tribes.
Technology is the key.
Humans have made massive strides in the development of technology especially since the Industrial Revolution.
While that technology has enabled the species to travel to the planets it has also, sadly, provided the tools of self-destruction.
It is this imbalance between our great ability to develop amazing technology coupled with our still relatively primitive brains that will decide our ultimate fate.
The imbalance can be compared to giving a loaded gun to a three-year old and hoping that nothing happens.
Or am I being too pessimistic?