Perhaps nothing is more mind-bogglingly massive than the universe itself. No single number can accurately capture the sheer vastness of this infinite realm that holds all of life as we know it. To emphasise, space is enormous, there’s no doubt about it.
Mankind must be forgiven, then, for wanting to take a swipe at trying to learn as much about this all-encompassing cosmos we find ourselves in. Where does it end? How did we get here? Is there any other life form out there? Are we one of many universes inside of larger and larger universes? What is the point of the existence of not just ourselves, but anything at all? Plug in any astronomical or philosophical question and there’s probably a case for enquiry.
Then comes a follow-up question to this endless stream of queries. What is the point in knowing these answers and does it bring any fulfilment?
Let’s just say that “aliens” are clearly discovered. Scientists have found undeniable evidence to indicate this notion. The overtly religious will see their beliefs tested and shaken at their core. They will be unhappy.
The conspiracists who have “always known we aren’t alone” will no longer have anything to prove or speculate. Like an excited dog, they’ve finally caught the squirrel they’ve been chasing and don’t know what to do with it. They will be unhappy. Government personnel and scientists (assuming they don’t try to cover it up) will be accused of lying and misplacement of resources and will have to rewrite many of their secret plans, policies, and procedures. They will be unhappy.
Perhaps most importantly of all, the everyday human being who doesn’t usually consider the seismic proportions of this potential new knowledge will absorb this information reluctantly. Eventually, they will probably feel even less significant in the grand scheme of life, history, and existence than they currently do. They will be unhappy.
And that’s just in the instance of finding more life. I’m sure many other scenarios could play out depending on the discovery, the way the news is delivered, and the time it occurs. To put it bluntly, no matter what kind of big news is discovered, it’ll cause a ton of disruption.
People will be confused. Stock markets will crash. Riots will start. Anarchy could prevail. Surely, we are not better off knowing some of the biggest answers that further space exploration could reveal.
Yes, I think that knowledge brings power and capability. But sometimes not knowing certain things about life is soothing, easy, and if anything, numbingly comforting. With NASA being budgeted a whopping $601 billion since 1958, it seems that a few people with the control of the purse strings do not share this idea. They’re looking for something. And I’m not even sure they want to find it. And even if nothing is found, won’t it feel like a big waste of time and money that could have been used elsewhere?
Perhaps these resources could be better put to use in solving the problems on our home planet. Amongst the distractions of television gossip, political drama, and sporting news that consume the media, one may forget that around 20,000 kids die each day due to poverty. Furthermore, around 750 million people on the globe still do not have access to clean water and 2.5 billion lack access to basic sanitation (that’s one-third of humans on earth).
Is space exploration the cause of poverty and tragedy on earth? No, of course not. But it sure does provoke a little bit of thought into how resources are allocated. All I am saying is that trying to find the edge of the universe or determining whether or not aliens exist may not be a pressing matter, especially with the implications that can result from such findings.
Will ground-breaking space discovery really make anything here on earth better? Or is a spoonful of ignorance the key to a little taste of bliss?
With the potential for overpopulation and depletion of resources, we might be ready for further space discovery in the future to look for solutions. But we are a long way from arriving at that stage at this present time.
Right now, space exploration and its prospective discoveries will just make most of us unhappy.
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