There was a great comment made by Neil deGrasse Tyson on Real Time with Bill Maher a while back. It asked the question, or at least it gave the opinion “we stopped dreaming”. Here’s the comment in it’s entirety.
First of all, let’s clarify what the NASA budget is. Do you realize that the $850 billion dollar bailout, that sum of money is greater than the entire 50-year running budget of NASA? And so when someone says, “We don’t have enough money for this space probe,” I’m asking, no, it’s not that you don’t have enough money, it’s that the distribution of money that you’re spending is warped in some way that you are removing the only thing that gives people something to dream about tomorrow.
You remember the ’60s and ’70s. You didn’t have to go more than a week before there’s an article in Life magazine, “The Home of Tomorrow,” “The City of Tomorrow,” “Transportation of Tomorrow.” All of that ended in the 1970s. After we stopped going to the Moon, it all ended. We stopped dreaming.
And so I worry that the decision that Congress makes doesn’t factor in the consequences of those decisions on tomorrow. Tomorrow’s gone. They’re playing for the quarterly report, they’re playing for the next election cycle, and that is mortgaging the actual future of this nation, and the rest of the world is going to pass us by.
For a better representation, here’s the video clip from Real Time.
It’s something that worries me as well, because I grew up wanting to know about space, exploration, the Moon, and so much more. A while back I talked about books that introduced kids to the wonders of space. Where is that now? Where are the books and the teaching of what’s out there? Where’s the interest? It’s almost like when the last Star Trek series wrapped up, the interest in space exploration was gone. Even before then.
I don’t speak of that lightly. Star Trek had a hand in shaping people’s interests. In the documentary by William Shatner, The Captains: A Film By William Shatner, Shatner himself talks about meeting the head of Bombardier in Canada who told Shatner Star Trek was the reason he became an aeronautics engineer.
But we don’t do that anymore. We don’t celebrate the discovery of space. A very large part has to do with the current climate of politics, and the upsurge of racial tensions that are occurring again in the world. Overtly racist comments and the worry about our national security is overshadowing the want to explore space. Yes, I know Newt Gingrich said that if he were president there would be a lunar base during his term. In time, that might happen.
But not with the current climate in the world.
We need to start dreaming again.