Marooned On Planet Earth?

I have a confession of sorts to make. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you might have noticed that I haven’t posted nearly as much about science and space exploration as I used to. It’s true. I haven’t. And what none of you could know is that I haven’t been keeping up with those things online or, for that matter, watching the shows about them on TV either. Even worse, despite the excitement I expressed about the new COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey television show before it began, the fact is that the last six episodes are still sitting, unwatched, on my DVR.

If you’re wondering what’s going on, or what exactly has changed, I’m really not sure I can give a proper explanation. It would be easy enough to say that I’ve become disillusioned with “dumbing down” and “over-hyping” the networks have resorted to in their efforts to make these subjects “more palatable” to a larger audience. I could also say that watching the new Cosmos series, alone, is too reminiscent for me of how alone I felt watching the original Cosmos: A Personal Voyage all those years ago. But the fact is that those explanations don’t even scratch the surface of the malaise that has crept into my heart and into my soul.

For, despite all the incredible things we’ve accomplished…

All-Spacecraft-Infographic

Image from “Oh, the Places We’ve Been: 21 Spacecraft Trajectories Plotted in One Picture” on Universe Today

50-years-of-exploration

Image from “Updated! Zoomable Poster Now Shows Off 54 Years Of Space Exploration” on Universe Today

Gene Cernan on the Moon during the final EVA of the Apollo 17 mission, Dec. 13, 1972

Image from “Watch the Trailer for ‘The Last Man on the Moon’” on Universe Today

STS-135_Space_Shuttle_Atlantis_makes_its_final_landing

Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) makes its final landing on 21 July 2011, thus beginning
the uncomfortable US dependency on Russia for human access to space

The fact is that, for the time being at least, we Americans have allowed ourselves – through our own lack of focus, political infighting, and downright laziness – to become more or less marooned, right here on planet Earth…

I want ice water.

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27 thoughts on “Marooned On Planet Earth?

    • Thank you so much for commenting Iris. Although it is applicable to some extent, my references to “dumbing down” and “over-hyping” were aimed mainly at other television show, particularly those on Discovery’s so-called “Science Channel.” Although I’d love to see a more serious and “adult” focus given to all televised science programming, I think raising it up to the level of the new Cosmos series would at least be a good start. 🙂

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  1. I love, love, love the New Cosmos series. And I think I chose to not see it as dumbing down, but more making it available to those of us who are just not as smart or capable of understanding it so quickly. I do agree that at times watching the Science Channel I want to throw something at the TV screen but I remember all too quickly that I can’t afford a new one, but all and all, there is something beautiful about not having my brain work so hard to figure out something that really is almost incomprehensible to me to begin with.

    As far as being disillusioned with our space program, or lack of one, try not to be. Although I’d prefer for our government to be completely involved and for NASA to be up-and-running as before, the truth is, watching and listening to these new individuals and billionaires take on the adventures of space is also quite enlightening. And surely Americans – but just people in general — have an attention span of a nat. But, I blame that on our fast paced technology driven (because of SPACE) world we live in. I think people are still interested in Space (the ratings for the Cosmos continue to do well), it’s just everything needs to be quicker nowadays…. I think our real problem is many things, but not being able to stop and smell the roses for at least an hour… that will be our real doom!

    Eeeh, I know, I’m quite the optimist. But I don’t think the Space Program has stopped — I think it’s just taken a major turn, major shift. I’m hoping it’s a good thing!

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  2. Yes IzaakMak, I concur with your sentiments… lots of people and places are Marooned on Planet Earth…
    Sending you a COSMIC HUG my friend…. and hope your disillusion will soon break into a shooting star of enlightenment :-)… Love and Light dear friend.. xox Sue

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  3. Stringer was deeply in love with the Shuttle Program; and I was almost happy that he wasn’t here any more when Atlantis made that final landing back in 2011. He didn’t restrict his admiration to the Shuttles, but to NASA per se – as do so many of us.
    Still waiting for ‘Cosmos’ Downunder; although with TROWC’s idealogical fettering of the ABC (our government network)by removing large chunks of its budget, it may go to a commercial network. Horror !!

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  4. I tried to watch the first new Cosmos episode, but maybe due to heart medication/boredom I conked out. I’ll bet that there is some real excitement in our solar system ready or not. We have done such a bad job on climate change that we may well be forced to consider for real the Terraforming Of Mars. The humans always seem to be a dollar short and a day late and climate change is not exception. Desperation may bring the Space Program back to life with a vengeance! Scares me, but it will be exciting. I think that the Panic may come sooner than later.

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    • I liked the two episode of the new Cosmos that I’ve seen Phillip but, as I said, watching them alone was kinda depressing. I don’t know how much the other episodes have touched on it, but the climate change issue was definitely brought up in what I’ve seen so far. I agree that we humans will act once the real panic sets in, but taking action to improve the environment on Earth would be a helluva lot easier than terraforming Mars! 😯

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  5. Once again Mak, you’ve illustrated one of the reasons I don’t own a TV. There is some good programing to be found, but the mountains of junk to sift through in order to find it just isn’t worth the time. And, as you point out, the worse offenders seem to be networks such as Discovery and NatGeo.

    I, however, won’t allow myself to be jaded by an entertainment-addicted nation who finds more excitement and amazement in projections of dead pop stars than in space exploration and discovery. The good stuff is out there, and we ARE doing amazing things. I prefer to focus my attention in those areas.

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    • As with my friend Carmen, I wish I could share your optimism Alex. Unfortunately, I am jaded by the range of the moment, “entertainment-addicted” people who’s votes determine where our tax money is spent. But you’re right, great works ARE underway. I just wish projects like Orion would come online sooner rather than later! 😀

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  6. Like you, I’m pretty bummed about the whole space science thing. I’ve only watched the first 3, maybe 4 episodes of Cosmos, mostly because it conflicts with something else I always watch and I forget to look for it a day or two later on On Demand. And maybe because it requires more thought and attention than I’ve felt like giving to any TV show lately.

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      • I try not to be negative concerning the human effort to avert the main damage (was “avert” all damage) brought down on ALL of us by climate change. My religious ( didn’t know) cousin told me that God would save us at the last moment; I thought he meant me too. When he detected just a tiny bit of cynicism in my voice, he disowned me. What good am I as a cousin when I will be burning in pools of flaming oil while they all clap. On the bright side, I have all fluorescents in the abode.

        Don’t give in to curmudgeons like me. There has to be something! Seriously, we all have to keep looking and hold out a grain of hope.

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        • Believe it or not, when it comes to our capacity to overcome our problems – hell, to overcome any obstacle – I’m about as optimistic as they come. As for our having the vision and the courage to actually do what needs to be done, that’s a whole other thing entirely!

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