(Note: Vernon Gerard, author of With Hillary at Scott Base: A Kiwi Among the Penguins, and owner of the Old Antarctic Days blog, visited the Philippines recently. The following blog post was written by Vernon himself. It was digitized from his handwritten notes and uploaded by his niece, Bhex.)
Things happen when they will. A life-time ago I was at school. I’m 92 now. The casual scientific talk was then of going to the moon for we had all seen or heard of the V2 rockets in the war that had just ended. No one said it would be easy. Now, 2016, the talk is of going to the stars, especially a planet of one of the α Cent. stars. By comparison, going to planets would be easy. The mood of the people is like it was before the Moon landing, way back. Even my university proff laughed at the idea. But Von-Braun didn’t. The same mood is felt when going to the planets of α Cent. is discussed. Will it happen?
The moon landing did. We are in an optimistic age but we better soon get the hang of climate control or our luck is out. The Manhattan Project which produced at least two approximately similar types of A bombs did, this was during WWII. Then both need and optimism were high.
When did the present age of optimism start and is it still around? Lots would say it started with the steam operated machines invented in the late 17th century. But this was followed early the next century by Faraday’s discoveries and then Clerk-Maxwell’s mathematical equations formulating the system of the electromagnetic field. This was IMPORTANT, leading, as it did, to radio, television & the rest, like radar, GPS etc. etc.
Now we await something similar to embrace the details of the gravity fields & quantum mechanics. In these we can’t remotely conceive of faster than light travel (this is when we can’t even remotely reach the speed of light with a solid object).
A corollary of this is that if this can be done, why don’t we see advanced civilizations travell around our galaxy. Why don’t they contact us? Or indeed, do they? And are smart enough not to reveal themselves. An old S.F. theme, but this needs answering.