EP-125 WHY MAN EXPLORES

 

 

[67] OPEN DISCUSSION

 

Cousins:

In just a minute or two, all of you will be invited to recite verse to the panel. But before we turn this meeting open to general discussion, I wonder whether any members of the panel would like to comment on what has been said so far.

 

Michener:

We have been discussing exploration as if it were always the product of individual action . . . an individual responsibility. I wonder what responsibility society at large has for the sponsorship of exploration.

 

Morrison:

Well, isn't it clear it is really a social exploration? The men who stood on the Moon were the point of a tremendous company of people who thrust them there. Now we send our instruments out. Here locally there are 1000 persons, more or [68] less, who must read and mark what the instruments see and feel. That makes a world very different from the time when a ship's band circumnavigated the globe. True, they too were mounted by the yards who supplied ships and stores. But it seems to me the imagination has not yet succeeded in conveying to people in general what kind of role one can have in today's complex exploration. Very many are the indispensable porters, and only very few are the intrepid mountaineers.

 

Cousins:

In the brief exchange we had before we came out, Ray Bradbury had a comment on just that point. Ray, would you care to talk about your pyramid.

 

Bradbury:

Yes. Well, again we are talking about making the metaphor to show to ourselves what we are doing. We have already led up to it here. NASA should make a 3-minute film showing the base of the pyramid, 100,000 workers. This would be a giant rocket structure. Actually build a rocket as your metaphor. The bottom of it is 100,000 people that have been active in building the Apollo rockets or the [69] spaceships that have taken the Lander off to Mars, and the second level of that rocket is 50,000 people. The next one is 25,000 people, the next is 10,000, then it is 1000, then it is 2 dozen, and then it is 1/2 dozen. Finally, it gets to the three men who landed on the Moon. You take that whole metaphor, build it in a structure, and shoot it up into space. Thus, you create the metaphor of all the men and all the women in our society who built the Apollos and fired them off. I have never seen this done by NASA. Again, we are so data-oriented that we have not bothered to find the metaphor.

 

Cousins:

Captain Cousteau, can that pyramid ever take shape and the people inside it ever be inspired to do something except as the result of a few words from a single individual to start the process?

 

Cousteau:

I'm a true believer of two contradictory things, the importance of the inspiration from a leader and the necessity of a collective enthusiasm. They seem contradictory because inspiration cannot come from the mass-it has never come [70] from the mass-but inspiration can do nothing without the mass. Thus, the types of things that we were talking about today in flight explorations have to be inspired and triggered by a leader, but they have to meet with the acceptance and the enthusiasm of all the crowd. That was the case for the first years of space exploration. One of the reasons why it cooled off a little was a certain amount of poor public relations. There was nobody like Ray Bradbury to force NASA to make really striking films; 3-minute films would be enough, and they-my friends at NASA, I can criticize them very gently-were turning out 3-minute films. But all the films that have appeared as public service spots were terrible. I mean they are boring to death, and this is partly due to what I called organization and red tape and all the enemies of exploration that are there immediately as soon as a big exploration tries to organize. I am strongly against organization charts. I think that people have to build their own rectangle in the chart by depth qualities and this rectangle moves; it does not stay there. As soon as you begin to organize something, it is dead. An exploration cannot die; it has to be alive.

[71] There is one phrase that we use that I don't like: whose responsibility is it. I hate the word "responsibility" on exploration. But I don't think that there is a social responsibility for exploration. I think that there must be social enthusiasm for exploration. It is very different.

 

Cousins:

Jim, do you agree . . . ?

 

Michener:

No, I don't agree at all. Not at all. I think that society goes forward not only with the bright insights of individuals but with a general consensus among the population that great things are afoot and that they will support it. I find this in most of the great exploring societies: Portugal in the 1450's, Spain in the 1490's, England in the age of Elizabeth, and the United States for the past 15 or 20 years. I don't want to see this base eroded in any way. I am fully convinced that in exploration as in so much else society progresses only with good leadership supported by a vital, committed public.

 

Cousins:

Questions from the floor please.

 

[72] Cousteau:

That's exactly what I said. We don't disagree.

 

Floor:

Captain Cousteau.

Cousins:

Could you identify yourself please?

 

Floor:

I am Gerry Soffen, the Project Scientist. Your concept of vertical deductions and horizontal scanning is very new and very provocative to me. We are about to embark on this marvelous adventure in Viking. How can I sensitize myself and the other Viking workers to take advantage of those concepts?

 

Cousteau:

There are books about lateral thinking. The best ones I know are by a British author called De Bono, and I recommend them to you. He gives a very striking example of lateral thinking: There is a doge in Venice who, like all doges, too old and ugly, falls in love with a 16-year old beautiful maid-a classic story-and he proposes himself to the maid. The maid [73] laughs it off, "How could I get married to a man of your age?" The doge is furious and pleases to follow the maid, the story continues. Finally, after enough adventures he offers to make a deal with the maid. He said, "Look, okay, let's put in a bag two spheres, two little spheres, one white and one black. We will shake the bag. You'll pick up one of the balls. If it is white, I free your father and you are free. If it is black, you marry me." The maid thinks a little while, and says, "okay," and she gets close to the window over the canal in Venice. The doge hands over the bag to her. She picks up one ball and without looking at it throws it quickly into the canal. "What did you do? asked the doge. "Why, it's so easy. Look at the ball that remains in the bag; it's black." So that's lateral thinking. She had anticipated that the doge would have put two black balls in the bag.

 

Cousins:

Next question, please.

 

Floor:

I have a question for anyone, I can't select between all of you. What do you think or dream or hope will be the effect on all of [74] us if, perchance, we find any form of life on Mars or elsewhere?

 

Cousins:

Phil, would you like to begin?

 

Morrison:

Well, I'll begin. The enthusiasm for Viking is an old one, of course, it began with that particular dream. I remember the days before it was quite well established that it would happen, and we were all saying that all we really needed to reduce our presence here from what it now appears to be-an interventionist miracle of the most extraordinary kind-was any kind of counterpart, however faltering, however tenuous or incomplete. Given one new start of life, we could say at least we had become a statistic. (I don't know whether statistical thinking is not the third kind, besides vertical and horizontal; probably it is.) If I have to argue vertically, I would say, mind you, we will probably not find it. We will find some fascinating things that we will be worrying about for another 5 years. Still there's a chance, a real chance. I hate to speculate so late in the voyage; we ought to wait for a month or two until we see [75] these pictures. The donkey has almost caught the end of the stick. Surely he should get to taste the carrots before we speculate whether they are real or false! If there were life in any way, it would release a great deal of imaginative force. For me, at least, it would assure another kind of search we can make, another kind of exploration, staying here physically, but looking for signals, hoping to find somewhere out there our own venerable counterparts. They are much beyond us, modifying their world, making signals, making their stars shine up brightly in some unknown frequency in some unknown directions. Maybe we should start looking for that too, I am sure that the best possible support for that would be finding a strange Martian clam shell in the old delta that we are going to explore. Even if it is not there, that isn't going to end my enthusiasm for the next exploration. But I admit it will slow me down!

 

Cousins:

Jim Michener.

Michener:

In my comments I didn't speculate about [76] finding life on Mars; that's beyond my capacity. I did speculate upon finding evidence of riverine action of some magnitude in past times. Well, obviously, I'm dodging the question, because if you have riverine action, what was in the river? And we know enough about the action of water to realize it carries a presupposition of burgeoning life. However, at this moment I don't require life on Mars to excite me. All I require is a knowledge that Mars at one time had the capacity for it. Because if Mars had that capacity, and we have the capacity, we've become not guesswork but a statistic, a sample of two! We can project that statistic out to the infinity of the universe, and my mind dwells on life out there, not on Mars.

 

Morrison:

I must say that an hour and a half ago at a little gathering here, I asked a very well-informed person what was flowing long ago in that river, and he said, "Well, perhaps it was hydrochloric acid!"

 

Cousins:

Captain Cousteau.

 

[77] Cousteau:

Well, if there were oceans, apparently they are dried out. So I'll. . .

 

Cousins:

No place for you to go?

 

Cousteau:

It's not my cup of tea. But if there is life, it is extremely different from life on Earth. So if there is any life, then we know that it will be worthwhile going there to study seriously. And at that time it will raise all the problems of preventing the astronauts and the ships, when they come back, from contaminating the Earth from unknown germ. But, learning from entirely new forms of life would be, for biology, I think, something entirely fascinating, very fruitful, and would accelerate the sure drive that we are making the world's immortality.

 

Cousins:

Ray Bradbury

 

Bradbury:

I would like to turn to someone like Nicholas Kazantzakis, and remind you of his writings at this opportunity. He wrote [78] a remarkable book called The Saviors of God-It's available in paperback. It's unusual for one writer to plug another on an evening like this.

 

Cousins:

He's dead.

 

Bradbury:

And a bestseller. But he goes into many of the things we've been discussing tonight. I hope that a lot of you will leave here and go and get Kazantzakis' book Saviors of God, because he speaks again of the Life Force. If we find even the smallest bacilli or green forms on Mars, that means life in the Universe, one more part of ourselves, no matter how small. It's very important that we discover this.

But I would like to shift gears here for a moment. I wanted to say something earlier on this. People are always saying-and I am tired of hearing this-I'm going to strike the next person that asks me this, "With so much to be done in the world, why are we spending all this money on space exploration?" If I hear it once again! Heavens! It's still being asked!

I did some research down at Cape [79] Canaveral. I got out the figures on what we've actually spent on Space. It is so small! You wouldn't believe the small amounts! In any one year in the last 15 years, we've spent 1/50 of 1 percent of the military budget-l/50 of 1 percent! In the biggest year when we spent $500 million, that is only about 1/2 of 1 percent of the military budget for that year. This year we are going to spend $118 billion on weapons we cannot use, do not dare to use. Next year it is going to be up to $140 billion. There's where the money is! For Pete's sake, stop asking me about Space money, and go to the Pentagon with me and grab all that money! O.K.?

 

Cousins:

I find it difficult to resist getting into the act here. I would say that I would hope that the certain knowledge that life exists elsewhere in the universe, would produce a desire to make life on Earth safe and fit for human habitation. I'd also hope that out of it might come increased respect for the fragility of life right here. Are there any other questions?

It's hard for us to see you, but perhaps you can step forward to the microphone.

 

[80] Is anyone saying anything? One more.

 

Floor:

I wonder what your predictions are at the Tricentennial. Are we likely to be celebrated, we Vikings, or are we likely to be forgotten? Does it depend on our discoveries, or does it depend on our energy?

 

Cousins:

Will there be anyone left to celebrate, sir? Jim, would you like to respond to this question?

 

Michener:

Well, as a member of the commission responsible for the celebration of the Bicentennial-we accomplished so little-I can only say that I have thought for some time that the United States has enough kinetic energy to carry it through the next 75 years successfully . . . and conspicuously successfully. I think we have enough educated people, I think we have enough intellectual leaders, I think we have enough raw materials. I think we have an absolutely stunning system of tripartite government which most of the nations of the world either don't have or [81] are not able to operate. So I would think that our energy and being will carry us through another 75 years. I do not foresee the collapse of the United States in any conceivable form. I can see the loss of cities through enemy action, a hydrogen bomb here or there, but even then I do not see the end of American civilization. I cannot conceive of this within the next 75 years.

Beyond that, I am apprehensive. I think that we are a fragile society. I think we have the capacity for self-destruction. For example, I would expect to see Canada fragmented in the next hundred years, part of it coming with the United States, part elsewhere. I am very apprehensive about Central America, because of their extreme growth of population. And I think this sort of inevitability might overtake us by the Tricentennial, and we might by then be in very serious trouble. How we would look back upon this period I don't know because I would suppose that coincident with our troubles, there would be other great forces coming up in the world; there would be other hegemonies and we would be forced to operate in relation to them.

[82] I have every confidence that as long as this planet stays warm, there will be sentient human beings who will be fighting the kinds of battles that we are fighting tonight . . . with greater or less success. I think the knowing people in those days will have to look back upon our generation as one of great exploration, the way we look back upon the Portuguese, the Spaniards, and the British. In their days of intellectual adventure, we were not a craven society.

 

Morrison:

Could I add a remark appropriate to your last sentence? It is true and amply documented, but very little known. It has to do with the time of the discoverer, the hero of Camoens, Vasco da Gama. When Vasco da Gama sailed around the Cape and up the coast of East Africa, he landed finally in Malindi, a little port, rather sleepy now and partly in ruin, but still a working place, a small town not far from the big port, Mombasa. There he negotiated to find a skillful Muslim pilot who would take him to the ports on the coast of India where he was bound. Having made the Cape, he knew he could get there. But he wanted local pilotage.

[83] He hired the best pilot. In fact, there was a family of persons who lived in that port, who were all great pilots up the coast to the Arabian Gulf, and down the coast of India. He hued a man, and that man's diary, his journal, is in our hands-an able and literate professional navigator and pilot. Now the remarkable thing that I want to tell is not that fact; that's just the context. But that pilot's grandfather, that very man's grandfather, had been hired in the same port 50 years before as a pilot, by a Chinese fleet that had come the other way bound for the unknown Cape of Good Hope, but never quite got there. The Chinese admiral was making successive voyages just as Henry did later, until the political situation back home in China changed. We cannot find great treasure fleets of the Chinese farther down the coast than somewhere around Mombasa. But there's a feeling that maybe one junk tried it. On the famous Fra Mauro map, it actually says that-"A junk of the Indies crossed the Cape in 1460-something." But that's still conjectural. We don't have the documents. Both in Lisbon and in Peking the succeeding bureaucrats in large part destroyed the files. We have a very hard [84] time reconstructing those times. All this is to say in the first place that we of the West have no monopoly on discovery. Ours is the discovery that happened to remain continuous; it doesn't really depend so much upon what you do but depends on what happens afterwards, whether what you do is part of a visible continuous stream, or is looked at only by the scholars later on who try to put the unfamiliar pieces together.

 

Cousins:

You'll have to forgive us if we can't see your hands because of the lights, so if you would just stand up and speak, we'd be grateful. Are there questions, please? Yes, sir.

 

Floor:

I'd like to ask the members of the panel. In the past, exploration has usually been followed by other members of society following in the paths of the explorers; for example, Captain Cousteau started people underwater swimming and diving and now it's a very popular pastime. I would like to ask a kind of two-folded question here: What do you think in the future, in the same kind of time period we are [85] discussing toward the next centennial of the United States, might be the role of the widest section of society in following the footsteps of the explorers into the solar system? And then a second question. How far do you think our exploration might range? Also: Are there any limits? Can we reach the stars? Can we colonize the galaxy? Can we travel between the galaxies?

 

Cousins:

Thank you very much sir. The words that stand out from that question, of course, are "the future" and "What do you think?" That points to Ray Bradbury, first of all.

 

Bradbury:

Do you want the 10-minute or 2-hour response? First of all on the earlier question I'll tell you a fascinating thing that is going on right now that I'm helping out on. One of the reasons that I am optimistic is that there are lots of people in the world, including all of us here on the platform tonight, who are doing things to try to change the future. We really care about that future. So during the last several months I've become involved with the Disney [86] organization that is going to build a small city of the future in Florida during the next 10 or 12 years, a prototype which will hold about 50,000 people and will bring in students from all over the world. It will be a college community, actually. And if the city works, if we can look at it, we can put in 12 kinds of transportation instead of being locked into the automobile. We can put in solar energy. We can put in hydrogen energy. We can use all the energy sources we haven't yet used. That prototype city will be one more of what Schweitzer called the Example. Set an example, point to it. Then between now and the end of the century, build 300 more small towns across your country and save the people. We would begin to airlift people out of New York City, airlift them out of Detroit, airlift them out of Chicago! The poor things are dying there! We are busy airlifting people out of other countries, but we haven't begun to do it here!

Now this is a practical thing in which many large groups of people will be involved. If we do it right, it will be a true example and we can change the fates of our world. I think we can do it. I'm sure going to try! Now, what was the other [87] question? Oh the future? Well, yes! We are going out into the universe, of course. We go there because we love life. We go there because we are terrified of death. We go there because as Ahab said, "This was rehearsed by thee and me a billion years before the oceans rolled." It's in our genetics. We are set by genetics to do this thing. So we are going out. I'm essentially optimistic about it, and we will make it. I don't know how far out into the galaxy we will make it, but indeed we will.

 

Cousins:

One more question, please.

 

Floor:

Gentleman, my name is Richard Rody. I'm from Palm Springs. It took all the exploratory energy I could muster to get myself from there to here. But aside from that I was wondering what do you think the significance will be of the findings of next week-not three hundred years from now, but next week-as far as the future extension of the space program is concerned? You feel that if we find life on Mars that this is going to inspire our country to do more or accelerate the rate of exploration?

 

[88] Cousins:

Any volunteers?

 

Michener:

I would like to reiterate that for me it does not all depend upon finding life on Mars. I think that we can explore whatever is there and then build from it and go on and on; I see no diminution of this exercise. I think we may have a drop in public support for the time being. That's why I'm so excited, so interested, about public support, because I don't want to see it drop. But if you go back to 1960 and counterlog everything that has happened since 1960, the rate is so tremendous that I can't see stopping it. We may stop it in the United States, but then China will pick it up; there are very bright people over there. If they drop it in China, Russia will pick it up. We are not bound to one group in the Los Angeles area at all.

 

Cousins:

Captain Cousteau . . .

Cousteau:

There was one question of the previous inquirer that has not been answered. He [89] specifically asked if we would be capable of going far out into the universe. Ray Bradbury has said, "Yes" without saying how. I'm sure he has thousands of solutions. But let me tell you what my solution is. I believe very much that in the course of three billion years of evolution, some species, a great number of species, have been created immortal because the aging process and death are the only way yet that the species could adjust to changes in our environment. Those species that were born immortal disappeared at the first changes in our environment. So I believe that biological immortality is possible and I think that we are going to learn soon how to achieve it for ourselves. When I say very soon, of course, it may be several hundred years. But biology is now in full throttle and is already beginning to manipulate genes with very great care. In a number of hundred years we will be able to create immortal man. That doesn't mean that he will not die, because there will always be accidents. He could be crushed and destroyed. He will not age and he will not die. For that reason he will be able to travel for thousands of years, if necessary, to reach other galaxies.

 

[90] Cousins:

We will make an exception. I believe you want to ask a question, sir.

 

Floor:

Okay, my name is Mike Van Ness. I'm a student and I was wondering about the theological implications of, well not only the results that will come back from Viking, but also behind the spirit of this question of why man explores about challenging absolutes. What is this going to do for man's future?

 

Cousins:

In theological terms?

 

Van Ness:

Yes.

 

Bradbury:

May I try that?

 

Cousins:

Certainly.

 

Bradbury:

Happen to have another poem with me. I wrote about a robot priest in a play several years ago. This electronic priest [91] stands up before the starship men before they go out into space. He makes a speech similar to that of Father Mapple in Moby Dick. And the robot priest says:

 

"'Is God dead?' An old question now,
But once hearing it I laughed and said,
'No, not dead, but simply sleeping until
you chattering bores shut up!
 
"A better question is, 'Are you dead?
Does the blood move in your hand?
Does that hand move to touch metal?
Does that metal move to touch Space?
Do wild thoughts of travel and migration
move behind your flesh?' They do.
You live. Therefore, God lives.
You are the thin skin of life upon an
unsensing Earth.
You are that growing edge of God which
manifests itself in hungers for Space.
 
"So much of God lies vibrantly asleep.
The very stuffs of worlds and galaxies,
they know not themselves.
But here God stirs in His sleep. You
are that stirring. He wakes.
You are that wakening.
God reaches for the stars. You are His hand.
Creation manifest, You go in search. He goes
to find. You go to find Himself:
Everything you find along the way, therefore,
will be holy.
 
"On far worlds you will meet your own flesh,
terrifying and strange, but still your own.

[92] Treat it well. Beneath the shape you share the Godhead.

You Jonahs travelling in the belly of a new-made whale,
You swimmers in the far sea of Space,
Blaspheme not against yourself or the frightening
twins of yourself you find amongst the stars.
But ask to understand the miracle which is
Space, Time, and Life in the high attics and lost
birthing places of eternity.
 
"Woe to you if you do not find all life most holy
And coming to lay yourself down cannot say,
'Oh, Father God, you waken me, I waken thee.
Immortal We then walk upon the waters
of Deep Space in the new morn which
Names itself Forever.'"

 

Cousins:

To the gentleman who asked the question: I don't think that, when Viking goes to Mars, it will be on a collision course with theology. Science at its best provides us with better questions, not absolute answers. The more we know, the more informed we are in our speculations; but the speculations will continue. Tonight we have attempted to ask ourselves, "Why explore?" I think we have attempted to express the view that the liberation of human beings from Earth gravity has enabled the species to become less theoretical about and less detached from [93] the universe. As a result of these explorations, we have been able to perceive larger relationships. I think we will have an increased sense of human uniqueness.

The effect is philosophical. To be able to rise from the Earth; to be able, from a station in outer space, to see the relationship of the planet Earth to other planets; to be able to contemplate the gift; of life unencumbered by proximity; to be able to meditate on journeying through an infinity of galaxies; to be able to dwell on the encounter of the human brain and spirit with the universe-all this enlarges the human horizon. It also offers proof that technology is subordinate to human imagination. We went to Mars not because of our technology, but because of our imagination.

So long as human beings do not persuade themselves that they are creatures of failure, so long as they have a vision of life as it ought to be, so long as they can comprehend the full meaning and power of the unfettered mind, so long as they can do all these things, they can look at the world and, beyond that, the universe with the sense that they can be unafraid [94] of their fellow humans and can face choices not with dread but with great expectations. Don Hearth.

 

Hearth:

It is very hard to conclude this evening, but we must. I would just like to express to Norman and to the rest of the panel my appreciation for their coming this evening and sharing their thoughts on a very difficult question. Thank you very much. That concludes the program.

 


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