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Out of This World

<img src="http://www.tribolum.com/images/posts/grs.jpg" align = "left" border = "1" alt = "Gamma Ray Spectrometer Orbiting Mars" hspace = "7">The <a href="http://www.arizona.edu" target="_blank">University of Arizona</a> has these lunchtime lecture series on Wednesdays where guest speakers are invited to speak about their current field of work. I am fortunate enough to have attended a few of these, and I must say that people at the cutting-edge of their fields absolutely <strong>love</strong> their stuff. Last week a mathematics professor spoke about geometric patterns in nature.
Today's lecture was on the exploration of Mars, in which the U of A has a huge stake in. The professors at the <a href="http://www.lpl.arizona.edu" target="_blank">Lunar and Planetary Laboratory</a> have been hard at work these two decades creating <a href="http://grs.lpl.arizona.edu" target="_blank">instruments</a> that would collect data from Mars. After two failed attempts (one of which failed due to some scientists' persistence not to conform to the metric system of measurements), humankind finally managed to successfully send a satellite into Mars' orbit.
Though the scientific nature of the discussion was intriguing, what really caught my eye was the passing on of knowledge that occurred within the walls of that lecture hall today. Professor <a href="http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/people/faculty/boynton.html" target="_blank">Bill Boynton</a> looked more like an archaelogist than a space explorer. There was the subtle crackling of electricity in the air. Though none of us said it out loud, many must have subconsciously realised that what was presented before us may well be a pivotal step into humankind's future.
It is a future that lies in the hands of the youth of today. Many of these young people may go on about their lives nonchalantly and haphazardly, making their big bucks and bringing up families. Some of them, no, some of us hear the call to do something more. To look beyond the mundane activities of human life. As I sat there this afternoon I felt responsible for the knowledge that has been gathered throughout the generations. These giants that have gone on before us paved the way that some of us may continue in it. One of them now stood before me, sharing his life's work. It was his life.
Never before in our history has such a majority been so affluent or so educated. Yet in a mob mentality we trample over boundaries our ancestors have so carefully tread around. We rush into technologies not thinking about the long-term consequences. "Let them deal with it" we cry, not knowing the magnitude of the burden in which we lay on our children and their children. We work only for the here and now.
May we learn the temperance of generations past, and not let youthful exuberance cloud our judgements. For we hold in our hands tools crafted over many generations, both with the capability to do both good and evil. Know your tools. Wield it carefully. We owe at least that much to the many who have spent their lives making ours better.
<span class = "byline">Art by Corby J. Waste</span>
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