Reflections on manned spaceflight, the fate of humanity, and the universe in general, brought on by a recent reader email, and my experience earlier this year conducting tours through the Visions of the Universe exhibit.

Comment by Michelle Phelps on September 15, 2011 at 5:08am

So, what do you think about the scientist that think the earth is going to end in 2012?

 

Comment by Rob Lippmann on September 15, 2011 at 5:30am

No scientist thinks that the world will end in 2012.

Comment by Michelle Phelps on September 15, 2011 at 6:24am

well the Mayans think the world will end in 2012 

Comment by Albert Bakker on September 15, 2011 at 6:49am

Well maybe mad or extremely gullible Mayans. No world will end, but the calender will and so the counting has to resume from start. Big deal. And actually the correlation between the Mayan calender and the Julian and then Gregorian calender is itself subject of study and unresolved.

Comment by Steve Shives on September 15, 2011 at 9:33am

Even if the Mayans who devised that calendar did believe the world would end in 2012 (which I don't believe they did), what reason do I have to accept their opinion and reject that of modern science? Why should I assume that an ancient, pre-scientific culture knew better than our best and brightest today?

Comment by Albert Bakker on September 15, 2011 at 10:48am

I don't know because it is older? Like Chinese medicine...

Comment by Wynprks on September 15, 2011 at 8:19pm

Hopefully we'll see some of these doomsday believers come to their senses.

Comment by James on September 15, 2011 at 9:42pm

The Mayans never even predicted the world to end in 2012. Yeah, it's the end of the Mayan long count calendar, but freaking out about the end of that calender is akin to freaking out that every Dec. 31st is the end of the world. It simply restarts December  22, 2012. They actually called it 'the dawning of a new golden age'. Think of it this way... We keep track of years, and they used a larger span a-la age or era. Also, every 2012 claim has been thoroughly debunked.

 

As for the video... I agree 100%. I'm amazed by the cosmos, and he things we have achieved. But at the same time ashamed of our cowardice that has kept us from pushing further forward.

Comment by Albert Bakker on September 16, 2011 at 1:58am

I subscribe to the point of the video, but perhaps we can zoom out a little and take a longer perspective on space travel too. Consider us lost generations who primarily focused on spending as much natural resources as we can, fight wars over it, while polluting and warming the planet to the brink of sterility and the most visionary souls, the most imaginative among us were builders of sportscars and interior decorators.

We'll function as the clearest anti-example for all generations to come. We might serve the same function for political and economic order as Hitler does for moral issues. We might even have our very own fallacy named after us. Glory oh glory!

In addition to that I'm not so sure we have the technology for interplanetary travel just yet. For example finding workable solutions to radiation well outside Earth's magnetosphere is going to be huge problem I think.

Comment by Albert Bakker on September 16, 2011 at 2:27am

Can you elaborate a little further on our Sun an the galactic core lining up? Is there ever a time when they don't line up? Are you referring to the bar?

What is a Galactic year? In my understanding one orbit of our Sun around center of the Milky Way and that takes about 226 million years.

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