Expand your horizons. No seriously, expand them more than you have before — because that is what this topic requires.
The complexity captured by this topic usually leads to ephemeral interest from the neophyte.
I am talking about the space program, of course.
In case you have not realized it, our space program’s existence is at a major crossroads and is still doing amazing things.
Since the start of this summer we have seen the deaths of the first American woman in space and first man on the moon, Curiosity joined Spirit and Opportunity on Mars, and as recently as last week seen an object the size of Earth rammed into Jupiter, according to the NASA website.
That’s right, the size of Earth.
Had it struck Earth, our home planet would most likely have disintegrated.
Think about that — everyone you have ever loved or hated, every place you’ve ever been to or desired to be, everything you’ve done in your entire life or longed to do — gone.
Yet still NASA, the agency of the United States’ Government responsible for aerospace research and exploration, is facing a budget cut of $1.3 billion next year.
Proponents of cuts to NASA argue that the agency really provides no intrinsic value, that we cannot directly measure the benefits we get from exploring space.
This simply is not true as the list of societal advancements that owe their discovery to the space program is long and significant.
More importantly, though, is that we do not know what we do not know yet.
Who knows what kind of materials, medicines, or other resources we could learn to harness through space exploration?
Imagine all of the concepts and new ideas that we cannot even conceive of that we could learn about by visiting other sectors of our universe.
It’s like trying to explain what electricity is to someone who has never turned on a light bulb, the Internet to someone who has no idea what a computer is, or what sliced bread is to a wheat farmer in 1927.
We are all those wheat farmers right now but on a much larger scale — as there is so much more for us to learn.
The amount of universe we’ve been able to observe, let alone travel to is mind-numbingly small, and I am in no way qualified or eloquent enough to scope its size into layman’s terms.
You’re either going to have to look this up yourself — which you should — or just take my word for it when I tell you, it’s really, really big and has plenty to offer our society.
Soon enough, we will be facing food and other natural resource crises on Earth coupled with potentially devastating environmental shifts.
Do we have enough knowledge at our disposal now to take care of these global issues or do we have to pull from new sources to grow as a planet?
Sure, space program or not, our interplanetary system pal Jupiter would have taken that big hit for us last week, but what about in the future?
How far in advance can we anticipate apocalyptic scenarios like that and will we have enough time and acumen to take care of ourselves?
Cutting spending to NASA will guarantee that we don’t.
In the words of astronomer Carl Sagan, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
Tim Wessel is a senior majoring in a finance and is The Daily Collegian’s Thursday columnist. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.