TITLE

EARTH DIARIST: Rational Exuberance

AUTHOR(S)
Scoblic, J. Peter
PUB. DATE
February 2004
SOURCE
New Republic;2/2/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 3, p34
SOURCE TYPE
Periodical
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
This article, though expressing concern for political motives and fiscal costs, promotes sending men to Mars for the experience of awe it would bring. It's hard not to scoff at the president's call for a return to the moon, Mars, and" beyond" if for nothing other than its political transparency. But, despite its narrow opportunism, the president's plan is important, because it thrusts the prospect of a manned mission to Mars back into the public sphere. One objection to a manned mission to Mars is that robotic craft could do the job just as well at a fraction of the cost--a compelling argument as we watch the Spirit rover successfully bound (or rather inch) over the surface of the Red Planet. Exploration is valuable precisely because it is a "quest" that evokes "awe," precious not only for its visceral thrill but for the perspective it proffers. It is also true that information is not the same thing as experience. The very tactility of discovery, as opposed to simple knowledge, is part of what makes it vital. A manned mission to the Red Planet, then, is nothing less than a mission to rescue our appreciation for novelty and all that it inspires.
ACCESSION #
12038314

 

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