The world we live in is truly astounding.
Consider that using a common Bic lighter, would have likely brought charges of witchcraft in Salem Mass, just a couple of centuries ago.
The common cell phone, which seems permanently attached to most people's ear, would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago. (The First cell phone went on sale 30 years ago for $4,000.)
The Furbie (talking bird toy from the 90s) had more RAM than the Lunar Module (1969) and the Command Service Module put together.
(NASA put a man on the moon with a computer that had 1/6th the computing power of today's TI-83 calculator.)
We take these things, and others, for granted and few stop to think how truly advanced they are.
We accept even our relatively recent past as 'archaic', 'old fashioned' or 'ancient', and pay little attention to the tremendous leaps of knowledge and technology they represent. With a 'ho-hum' attitude, we chalk it all up to 'progress', which we regard as inevitable.
Yet when presented with ideas or theories which seem improbable with today's technology, we often dismiss them as 'pipe-dreams' or fantasies.
It would be wise to remember the words of Ernest Renan, who said, “The simplest schoolboy is now familiar with truths for which Archimedes would have sacrificed his life.”
Perhaps one of man's oldest dreams is to visit other celestial bodies.
We have succeeded in putting men on the moon, but now our sights are set on far more distant destinations.
Because of the distances involved, the moon is akin to our next-door neighbor, but even the closest star, (and it's possible planetary system), seem impossibly distant.
We presently possess the hardware and the technology to reach these exoplanets, but it would take thousands of human lifetimes to do so. That makes the project seem almost impossible.
But, true to the human spirit, "The difficult we can do today, the impossible takes a little longer."
Working in the realms of string theory, M Theory and beyond, scientists are discovering new 'detours' to help us achieve the goal of inter-stellar travel.
Einstein postulate the existence of a 'space-time continuum', which seems to offer the possibility of, not only travel within our known universe, but possible alternate universes.
Time, and it's 'cousin', the space-time continuum are extremely complicated, and when you add gravity to the equation it becomes mind-boggling to most of us.
Luckily, we don't need to understand all the intricacies in order to gain a pretty good picture of the basics involved and how it affects our effort to learn more about our universe.
This week in TIME, SPACE-TIME and GRAVITY, we examine some of these ideas, and try to project their impact.
“It is by no means an irrational fancy that, in a future existence, we shall look upon what we think our present existence, as a dream.” ― Edgar Allan Poe