Yesterday, I posted some thoughts on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Apparently I also had some thoughts on the 40th anniversary, among other things potential parallels between European exploration — is our space program more like Leif Ericson or more like Prince Henry the Navigator:
One question I remember from history class was the one of why the Norse didn’t end up colonizing North America. They simply didn’t have the population, technology, or other resources necessary to sustain the effort. Prince Henry, on the other hand, devoted a substantial amount of resources on behalf of Portugal to explore the African coast and ultimately find a route around Africa to the Pacific. Eventually they had Dias rounding the Cape of Good Hope, da Gama making it to India, and Portugal benefiting from the spice trade for years to come. The European gold rush that followed has shaped the world to this day.
It may be that we don’t have the resources to sustain space exploration. It may be that there is no outer space equivalent to the profits from the spice trade. But, I’ve always been of the mind that we ought to figure out the whole space colonization thing so that, when we inevitably screw up this planet irretrievably, the human race has some options.
In any event, last night the kids & I went and paid our respects to Neil on the Purdue campus.