Monday, July 20, 2009

Returning to the Moon

The moon can be a haunting sight and yet, as this old painting suggests, thoroughly captivating.

The trailer for the film "In the Shadow of the Moon" neatly condenses many of the feelings that surrounded the extraordinary event that occurred 40 years ago today.

Those feelings have changed. Columnist Charles Krauthammer recently observed:

Michael Crichton once wrote that if you had told a physicist in 1899 that, within a hundred years, humankind would, among other wonders (nukes, commercial airlines), "travel to the moon, and then lose interest - the physicist would almost certainly pronounce you mad." In 2000, I quoted these lines expressing Crichton's incredulity at America's abandonment of the moon. It is now 2009, and the moon recedes ever further.

Despite the current economic challenges, President Obama should renew our commitment to manned exploration of the moon.To forsake possible projects such as a moon space station would, of course, produce a loss of scientific knowledge. The greater harm, however, may be to the human spirit.