Sunday, December 3, 2006

Reagan (1988) anticipates Hawking: Colonize the Galaxy!

Stephen Hawking: Humans must colonize other solar systems

Humans must colonize the galaxy in order for the race to survive, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking said in an interview on November 30, 2006 as he received a prestigious science award.

“The long-term survival of the human race is at risk as long as it is confined to a single planet,” he told the BBC, reiterating earlier warnings by the scientist.

“Sooner or later, disasters such as an asteroid collision or nuclear war could wipe us all out,” Hawking warned. “But once we spread out into space and establish independent colonies, our future should be safe.”

Ronald Reagan

President Ronald Reagan, in an address at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston on September 22, 1988, also called for mankind “to colonize the galaxy.”

But the context was a bit different. Rather than a warning of possible extinction, it was an optimistic call to fulfill our “manifest destiny to bring our humanity into space.”

Reagan saw the colonization of space as “part of our unending journey of liberation,” the culmination of man’s struggle for freedom, sustenance, knowledge and peace. “In the limitless reaches of space,” he said, “we will find liberation from tyranny, from scarcity, from ignorance, and from war.”

His boundless optimism grew out of his religious faith that man has a God-given destiny of freedom and progress. He could not buy the idea that God’s greatest creation, mankind, would ultimately be annihilated.

Reagan took his view that America has a unique mission in the world and extended it to the stars. “I say that America must lead. The Nation that has achieved the greatest human freedom on Earth must be the Nation to create a humane future for mankind in space, and it can be none other.”

Reagan saw colonizing space as an outlet for infinite human creativity. He said, “It is only in a universe without limits that we will find a canvas large enough for the vastness of the human imagination.”

Pure human curiosity played a central role, as he called for a “great voyage of discovery” so that mankind could “explore the universe.” Reagan’s speech came a week before the launching of the Space Shuttle Discovery, which marked America’s return to space following the Challenger accident.

“How better can we pay tribute to those who came before us,” Reagan asked, “than by continuing their quest for knowledge, their struggle against limits, by continuing to push toward the far frontier?”

A thousand years from now only scant attention will be paid to America’s 20th century presidents. However, if mankind does indeed colonize distant solar systems, our descendants may well recall Ronald Reagan’s declaration that it was mankind’s manifest destiny to do so and to live there in freedom. (This obviously assumes Professor Hawking’s condition: that we must not destroy ourselves before that.)

Excerpt from speech by President Ronald Reagan
September 22, 1988

“It is mankind's manifest destiny to bring our humanity into space; to colonize this galaxy; and as a nation, we have the power to determine whether America will lead or will follow.

“I say that America must lead. The Nation that has achieved the greatest human freedom on Earth must be the Nation to create a humane future for mankind in space, and it can be none other. It is only in a universe without limits that we will find a canvas large enough for the vastness of the human imagination.

“Mankind's journey into space, like every great voyage of discovery, will become part of our unending journey of liberation. In the limitless reaches of space, we will find liberation from tyranny, from scarcity, from ignorance, and from war. We'll find the means to protect this Earth and to nurture every human life and to explore the universe. Let us go forward. This is our mission; this is our destiny.”


1 comment:

The Southron said...

You have powerfully pointed out how Ronald Reagan's vision was, and remains more powerful than mere science. It is relatively easy to find bad things lurking around every corner--Reagan's genius was to see the good through all the smoke and fog of fear and envy.

Thank you for reminding us.