As the Voyager probe edges ever closer to the outer limits of our Solar System and looks outwards into unfathomable depths, through the proxy of context, we shrink. As a remote controlled science station named Curiosity pulls itself around a planet we once imagined the home of ghoulish aliens, through the proxy of evidence, our vision sharpens.
Now, we can zoom in on the history and actions of the human race from the outer edge of space. We are not worldly; none of us are. All of our scientific endeavours are a result of a certain longing to discover. We have discovered this rock–aside from its deepest oceans– and all there is left is to look outwards. Hopefully this realisation of our (un)importance can reflect back on the issues on our surface; perhaps in the face of infinity we can find the route to peace on our own planet.
We look to the sky and see one of two things: Lights which can predict our future, or the sum of human knowledge. In the night, we see our insignificance and our salvation all at once. The great unknown brings with it the urge of discovery.
As a race, we’ve used many different methods to make sense of the world around us. First, there was religion in its many forms. It served its purpose in giving some kind of order to an unknown that surrounded us at all times; the sky may be vast, but it is just a representation of the power of the god who put us here. While the world still very much feels the effect of these beliefs on a daily basis, science has long since taken over to reveal truths and dispelling falsities.
From harnessing fire to shooting particles at each other around a 17 mile long collider 175 metres underground, the human race has undoubtedly come a long way. As each century has passed, we have dug deeper and reached further into the universe, only for the sake of knowledge. Each step is heralded and celebrated, yet the prospect that we still have a long way to go remains cemented in our minds.
Science continues to save lives in new and incredible ways. Drugs like Kalydeco, for example, now help those with cystic fibrosis by improving their daily lives and life expectancy dramatically. Medical procedures become more and more complex, giving hope to those who would have been written off just some fifty years ago. The benefits that our intellectual progression have brought with it are innumerable.
Still, it would be foolish to ignore the pain that science has wrought on the world. We have improved weapons to kill and maim with more precision, devastation and destruction. Unmanned drones buzz through the air attacking human targets, while the pilot sits comfortably and safe from harm miles away. The atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were monstrous enough, and we have come along way since then. Less than 20 years later, The Soviet Union created the Tsar Bomba, which was 1,400 times more powerful than both of America’s 1945 bombs combined.
Science does indeed have a lot to answer for. But as any sane person may realize, the future of the human race rests solely in its hands. In the immediate future, science will continue to unlock molecular secrets that we can use toward combatting disease, however there are bigger responsibilities for the future. One day–a few billion years from now– our Sun will engulf the Earth. Our only hope of escaping the destruction of all our endeavors will depend on science alone and whether we have found a way to leave our home behind.
Perhaps its not too wild to suggest that our continuing space exploration may one day bring peace to our world. As we continue to discover more and our insignificance to the universe becomes harder to ignore, perhaps our issues with one another will congruously seem increasingly trivial. World peace is certainly something that seems possible in only a very distant future, but it is impossible to argue that the realms of science will not have some hand in bringing it closer.
The continuous development of human knowledge is our most invaluable feat. It may have its downsides, but they are massively outweighed by its benefits. Science is the greatest and most important tool we have and should be considered above all others. If there is any hope for earth’s future, then science should be it.