January 23, 2010

The End Is Near

Seen here imitating Neo
The White House now has an imminent threat: Apophis. Though the likely hood is small, it is entirely possible that this asteroid may be hitting us relatively soon. While the chances of such impact are small, the consequence is dear. While the odds are in our favor compared to what we regularly deal with, on a cosmic scale the odds are very small for us. That consideration aside, this issue has raised awareness for the need to closely monitor the skies for all such threats. The White House only now really understands that need, and is seeking a way to meet that need.
The country is not entirely stable. We are engaged in two wars far from home. We have a global energy crisis. We have an impending global food crisis. We have a global environmental crisis. Just pouring the money into NASA won't sit well with most voters, despite the relatively cheap investment needed. The WH must justify the expense somehow, and Apophis suits the purpose. Additionally, the WH sees this as an opportunity to look like the good guy, a political booster shot for the whole idea of our government. They can accomplish this by claiming they gave NASA a mandate to start this research years ago. In order to look like the good guy, though, you have to make someone the bad guy.

A zenith view of the International Space Stati...
Image via Wikipedia. And Space!
Using this situation to build prestige will hurt NASA's image. If the WH wants to achieve its goal within the time alloted, they are going to need not just the loyalty of NASA, but that the public be loyal to NASA. By attaching blame to the administration, the WH forces NASA to defend itself any way it can. The have chosen to freely admit that there was a mandate to search for Near Earth Objects. They also raise the point that though the WH did indeed order them to achieve this goal, they did not provide any funds for the job. This has thus far been a frank telling of fact, with no concern for the guilt involved. And yet NASA goes still further, and says that they never asked for funding. NASA always fess's up. They rarely make mistakes, and when they do, they admit it. From Apollo 1 until now, NASA has always been very honest. This gives most people pause. If nothing else, they figure, NASA honestly tries, and usually succeeds, in their endeavors. That can rarely be said about a politician. I think that most people would be willing to give money to NASA to accomplish the goal of cataloging all large NEO's, and developing the technology and experience to do something about it if one of those objects is heading straight for us. All that is needed is for the WH to do the same: Dispassionately lay out the facts. Then together, NASA and the WH can confidently and openly declare what needs to be done, how it will be done, and how much it will cost.

Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr
The backwards 'N' indicates their certainty
As some have said, the end is near. The end of our old ideas of nationalism. Globalization is coming. From many sources does it come. From the WWW and GPS, Google Earth, and global woes. The exploration of space is vital to the future of Humanity. But such exploration must be done as a species, not as nations. And yet it is space exploration that is helping drive globalization. From the WWII and it's subsequent cold war came the Apollo-Soyuz test project. From those two events we have the international space station. And now nature has seen fit to give us a dispassionate global threat, one that enforces cooperation. The end is indeed near. Globalization is coming.

Enhanced by Zemanta


January 05, 2010

I Am

I am. I exist, and nothing anybody does or says can convince me that I don't exist. Because I can state my existence, then I must be aware of my existence. Being aware of my existence, I can understand how I interact with the world. Knowing how to interact with the world I can learn how the world works. Knowing how the world works, I can judge the consequences of my actions. Being able to judge the consequences of my actions, I have free will. From the moment we achieved sentience, we possessed free will.

If I have free will, then I must be able to know that I actually have free will.

I must be aware of my own existence before I can contemplate the consequences of my actions. If I do not understand the consequences of my actions, how can I really be said to be choosing? If I were told to pick a number between 1 and 1,000 I would have just as much reason to pick one number as another. There is no way to make a real decision which uses your intellect and awareness, and is therefore essentially choiceless. I do, however, understand the consequences of my actions. Not perfectly, no, but well enough. Because of this knowledge I am able to use my intellect to discover new possibilities and my reasoning to choose which path to take.

If we are at any level of the decision making, then we are at all levels of the decision making. I do not supplicate to a higher authority in the confines of my own head. I assess, I understand, I decide. If my decision is biologically and environmentally conditioned, so what? All those paradigms of our existence (i.e. I rather enjoy breathing, hard work brings about satisfaction) are the outcome of the decisions of all my ancestors. I naturally know how to do many things, like breathe. The choices of my forebears shaped me into this person. My environment is similarly the product of the choices of those that came before, as well as those alive now. Centuries of people acting, living, choosing, creating, destroying, has shaped my world. There is much to be learned from the environment I exist in. As I grow I choose which patterns of thought I want ingrained in me, ready for immediate use. It is only rarely that I need to question the pattern. But at all times I have the ability to choose: do I follow instinct? Do I do as the others have done? Or do I see a new way of being?

Everything has a price, but that doesn't prohibit action. That only deters action. Everyone can choose to do something really stupid sometimes. We have before us a plethora of possibility, and yes, our decisions are weighted. And they are considered. Our choice is our own to make. All of my decisions are mine to make, no matter if the decision is the best one, or the worst. I still made the decision.

The idea of free will is predicated on the fact that I exist.