archive: SETI Re: [ASTRO] Kathie L. Olsen Selected As NASA Chief Scientist

SETI Re: [ASTRO] Kathie L. Olsen Selected As NASA Chief Scientist

Larry Klaes ( )
Thu, 20 May 1999 13:53:54 -0400

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>Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 07:22:35 -0400
>To: "Roger Herzler" <>,
> "astro list" <>
>From: CVA <>
>Subject: Re: [ASTRO] Kathie L. Olsen Selected As NASA Chief Scientist
>Reply-To: CVA <>
>At 08:32 PM 5/19/99 -0700, Roger Herzler wrote:
>>LOL! You've got me rolling here. I've wondered why NASA is getting into
>>the Origins business myself, except that it does go a long way in justifying
>>their existence to a lot of people. I might also continue to point out, as
>>previously mentioned by another Astro netizen, the goal of getting to and
>>maintaining a longish presence on Mars would also benefit by having biology
>>on the forefront. Lets also not forget the wealth of expected biological
>>research such a mission might allow. I see the boosting of the NASA bio
>>program as anticipation for that in large respect. Frankly it excites me,
>>and I am one of those religious fanatics that you and Claudio love to hate
> Science, unlike other fields of human thought - and, more to the point,
>imagination - requiring little or no substantiation, is based, in its
>ideal, on evidence; no tickie? no washie; no evidence? no claim. This point
>is especially acute in my mind at the moment as I - and 11 other people -
>may be sending someone to live in a jail for the rest of their life...or
>not; I am on jury duty.
> As Jega, and many others on this list know, I am a casual optimist
>regarding life out there. That optimism is based on a desire for excitement
>and discovery. That's *my* unsubstantiated faith, I suppose. But what
>little strict 'scientist' in me there is, is curious about this rush to
>find biological stuff out there when the best indicator we have of such
>existence is the work of Edgar Rice Burrows. Yes, biology should be a
>consideration, but it should be in line somewhere after 'leftover cafeteria
> More appropriately, if an administrative statement is to be made that is
>consistent with the workings of investigative science, perhaps a more
>appropriate title would have been that of a geologist. Even a meteorologist
>would have been more to the point. It will be interesting to see what
>NASA's actions will be as the years - maybe decades, though I hope not - of
>non-biological-findings pile up.
> On the tele (Public Television) last night there was a rather interesting
>interview on a special about colonizing space. Though I don't recall the
>one individual's name, he was from the San Francisco Chronicle and was one
>of the most articulate speakers on any subject, let alone science, I'd
>heard in some time. He made an analogy of the creativity of human
>imagination, faith and other made-up elements of our thought as applies to
>space colonization with our actions of the past. When the exo-European
>oceans were being explored and distant lands discovered, cartographers
>filled their constantly up-dating charts with indications of "City of
>Gold", and "Lagoon of Monsters" and so on.
> He went on to take the point that faith and imagination are critical to
>human survival. Not because what faith and imagination describe has
>substance, but rather because it is what drives our little bodies to go
>places and do things we would otherwise not engage in. He suggested that
>our focus on Martian biology is important, not because there may really be
>any living creatures - "Lagoon of Monsters" - out there, but because if our
>faith and imaginations can be fed sufficiently with exciting images, we're
>more likely to go and feel a sense of purpose to life at a grander scale.
>The alternative is to remain mere custodians of the stock market and our
>bedrooms for the next million years.
> So, in the end, maybe NASA is doing its homework. This, of course, is mere
>speculation...okay, faith.
>"Now consider Kubrick's famous use of Richard
> Strauss' ``Thus Spake Zarathustra.'' Inspired by
> the words of Nietzsche, its five bold opening
> notes embody the ascension of man into
> spheres reserved for the gods. It is cold,
> frightening, magnificent."
> Roger Ebert discussing the musical score in "2001 - A Space Odyssey"
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