On Frontiers

I read this post by Charles Stross and an image came to mind of a medieval man, scribbling in his notebook, arguing how it was patently obvious that the seven heavenly spheres orbited the Earth, and any one who didn’t accept this fact was a fool. As we all know, it is the Earth which spins round the sun. And that scribbling man happened to be Maimonides, perhaps one of the greatest minds of his day. That book was The Guide for the Perplexed, considered one of the most important texts of the period. As great as his intelligence was, Maimonides could not conceive of the likes of Copernicus, Gallileo, and Einstein. What would Maimonides think if you showed him this picture of the seventh heaven, Saturn, and told him that men & women, using little more than mathematics and imagination, lofted a box of intelligent metal billions of miles into the sky, that this box was equipped with many devices, one of which could capture images and transmit them over this unfathomable distance back to Earth for us to view on glowing squares of light? That great mind would count you as one of the fools.

So when Mr. Stross says we will never colonize the stars, I take his declaration with some skepticism. I admire Mr. Stross and his writings very much. But I think time and human ingenuity will prove him wrong. Never underestimate the human desire to climb a mountain simply because it’s there.