“Here on Earth we live on a planet that is in orbit around the Sun. The Sun itself is a star that is on fire and will someday burn up, leaving our solar system uninhabitable. Therefore we must build a bridge to the stars, because as far as we know, we are the only sentient creatures in the entire universe. When do we start building that bridge to the stars? We begin as soon as we are able, and this is that time. We must not fail in this obligation we have to keep alive the only meaningful life we know of.”—
Wernher von Braun, pioneering rocket scientist and architect of America’s pioneering manned space program, as recalled by Tom Wolfe.
This passage opens the book Five Billion Years of Solitude, a reminder that life on Earth has an expiration date, but the duration our existence is in our own hands … nay, our brains, certainly here on Earth, and perhaps beyond.
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”—Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom (1995)
The Central African Republic is a former French colony that gained its independence in 1960. Since then it has been plagued by political instability and misrule, often under military governments. In 2003, François Bozizé took power in a military coup.
I realize that a lot of the people who watch and read It’s Okay To Be Smart might not regularly tune into the NPR show Marketplace, because one is about stock markets and economics and one is about science (mine’s the one about science). If you did tune in, though, then you got to hear me and Henry from MinutePhysics tonight, talking about the explosive rise of educational YouTube channels!
If you didn’t listen, that’s okay. I gotcha covered. Listen to it above!
“That’s what the ISS means to me: a permanent human presence in space. The orbital perspective open to all of us, through the eyes, the words, the hearts of fellow men and women… it’s all of us turning step-by-step into a space-faring civilization.”—ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti (x)
“Hemingway knew the secret. I mean, he was a lush and a bad man in many ways, but he knew the secret. You get up and, first thing in the morning, you do your 500 words. Do it every day and you’ve got a book in eight or nine months.”—