Professor James Webb argues that we are now at a crossroads in space exploration and education.
“With increasing distance, our knowledge fades, and fades rapidly.”
This quote from Edwin Powell Hubble is part of a longer thought on the limits and reach of telescopes during his time on earth, yet it plays well into what Extra-Galactic Astronomer and Professor James Webb articulated on the stage at TEDxFIU.
While professor Webb grew up, Carl Sagan made space education accessible to his generation through the Cosmos series. Man landed on the moon and one of the most popular television shows of its time, Star Trek, dealt with exploring the far reaches of space. Space education and exploration was embedded in pop-culture and the possibilites for new knowledge of the universe were infinite.
Studying the planets have taught us so much about our own. The planet Venus is a living example of the effects of global warming. A crater the size of Earth slammed into Jupiter in 1994. Even more important is the perspective one gets from the Hubble deep field image released in 1996. It represents a speck in the sky yet shows over 1,500 galaxies.
We have gained so much knowledge but Webb argues that we should be much further along. He would have expected bases on the Moon or Mars landings by now. Instead, NASA’s brain trust is being disseminated, there are no missions on the horizon and funding for the next advance in space telescopes (The James Webb Telescope) is year to year and not fully secured.
Unless we act soon and pay attention to what it seems the world has forgotten we are risking the future of humankind.