Apollo 11 – 50 years later the Earth is flat

50 years ago yesterday, Apollo 11 lifted off on its way to bring the first humans to the moon. A lot of things have happened since then, science has progressed, we now have a colony on the moon, the first men have stepped on Mars!

Vision of a Mars Colony (c) NASA, public domain

The future of space travel just looks ama… Oh, hang on, no, this is not what happened. This is what Wernher von Braun and his people imagined the future would be like 50 years from the first men on the moon. Back in the 1960’s, most people agreed with this vision. The future was bright, technology-dominated and really atompunk. It did not turn out this way…

The man in the White House and his gang of cronies are ant-science buffoons (and they are not even amusing), there is a growing dark-underbelly of conspiracy-theorists who believe everything from lizards ruling the planet to the Earth being flat and no one ever went to the Moon.

People believing the Earth is flat is at least a segue to share some awesome music with you:

Moving on….

In the last two weeks this whole farce has reached a new peak with people gathering online to storm Area 51. When I first read about this particular piece of insanity, I thought it was an article by The Onion, it was not.

What have we come to? It has been lamented before, we have the greatest repository of knowledge humanity has ever created at our fingertips but what we do with it is post about cats, share memes and it also brings out the worst in us. Instead of actively sharing our knowledge, proven, peer-reviewed, tried and tested knowledge, shit peddlers with watery cure-alls, conspiracy theorists and hollow celebrities and equally hollow politicians gather their cults to aggrandize themselves and their worldviews while the people who offer actual help and reasoned discourse are being drowned out.

Our children are no longer learning how to think but what to think and that makes them more susceptible to the influences of people who know how to shout louder on the web than anybody else. We have, as a society also turned in towards ourselves, created our little echo-chambers inside which we are always right, but at the same time, we are stuck.

What we need is a rational vision to unite us all as the race into space did in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Perhaps the fight against climate change will be what will unite us again and turn us towards science in the coming decades. What choice do we have? If we do not tackle this issue, we will all fry and/or drown. On the other hand, the race for solutions might bring technological advances that may have unexpected benefits, just like space travel had and has. After all, without space travel we would not have:

  • OpenStack
  • GPS
  • Mobile Phones
  • Water Purification and Air Scrubbers
  • Solar Cells

The list goes on, you can check a more detailed article on NASA spin-off technologies here.

So I hope that the fight to make our planet better again will unite us and bring spin-off benefits, just like space travel does and did, and I hope that we will eventually learn that not everybody who shouts louder is automatically right. Let’s see what the future may bring. I hope that in 50 years, people do not look back and see that we have actually regressed further concerning the public perception of science, progress and truth.