I wrote this yesterday.

Summer                          New Moon

A.T. noticed that the new moon came the day after the fortieth anniversary of the first moon landing.  A new moon, a dark spot in the sky where the moon normally transits, has an appropriate feel since after the last moon landing in 1972 we have gone dark as the new moon as far as manned space exploration.  A.T. listened to a Science Friday conversation with astronauts who landed on the moon.  They did not want to look backward to the past, but forward to the moon as a training spot, a transit station, a research laboratory, perhaps even a manufactory center for ships designed for Mars and beyond.

Space exploration by humans gets short shrift from many scientists who claim a greater range of information can be gathered at greatly reduced price by robots and other mechanical surveyors.  A.T. reported this observation by Andrew Chaikin, space journalist on July 11th:

“If any real scandal attaches to Project Apollo, it’s the extent to which hard science was allowed to dominate the astronauts’ hours on the moon.”

In A.T.’s mind this quote displays the value of the humanities and the sciences working together, in tandem, as ways of knowing.  While science alone may inspire some, science with a human face, with human responses makes the work come alive.  Archimedes in the bathtub.  Galileo and the Catholic Church.  Madam Curie and the exploration of radium.  Lewis and Clark.  Newton’s apple.  Albert Einstein’s luminous hair and cherubic cheeks alongside E=MC2.  Even Oppenheimer and the Trinity mushroom cloud.  The list could go on.  Schrodinger’s cat.  Rachel Carson.  John Muir.  Of course not all science, not even most science, has a photogenic star or a great back story, but we need the match up between person and science to become excited, enthusiastic.

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