The need to dream

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on

Prospero, The Tempest, William Shakespeare

 

In the video above Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist and science communicator, gets very angry about the death of manned space exploration. He was born in 1958, just 5 years after I was. We are both children of the sixties who sat and gawped at the wonders shown to us when a man (Neil Armstrong) placed his one small step for a man and one giant leap for mankind on the dusty surface of our one and only Moon.

It was a time of excitement and innovation, caused, as he states in the video, not by desire to enhance man’s scientific knowledge but for political and military reasons at a time of Cold War with the  U.S.S.R.

It allowed us to dream of the future though and for a young child growing up it opened up so many possibilities. We know that the sixties was an era of ultimately  broken dreams  and it ended in the sterility and revisionism of the seventies and eighties… but Tyson shows that it allowed us to think about possible futures.

His concern is that we are now living in age where we have given up on dreaming about possibilities and this is reflected in our approach towards education, especially in science and engineering. For a child of the sixties (such as Steve Jobs) there was a feeling that the future had a multitude of possibilities that technology could help provide… what does the child of today look forward to?

We are such stuff as dreams are made on and we have a real need to dream about where we can go in the future. The progression that we have made as a species has come about because we have allowed ourselves to dream. Tyson is right when he says that the consequences of not allowing organisations such as NASA to exist is to go backwards towards the caves. It is so refreshing to hear an academic get angry and fight his corner.

Can we really afford to stop dreaming?

 

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