Okay, I’m a geek, but in slightly more than a day from now a small probe will sale past Pluto. The probe has been on the road, so to speak, since January 2006, racing at the solar system’s farthest known planet at an astounding 56,000mph, covering the distance between Chicago and Austin Texas every minute. It takes sunlight 5.5 hours to reach Pluto. When Pluto was last at this point in its orbit, George Washington was fighting in the French and Indian War. The probe, New Horizons, is streaming pictures, and scientific data, tracking its cameras on a ruddy planetoid and 5 mysterious moons. This is a testament to what mankind may achieve. These are still the first furtive steps of a tottering and curious species.
Humanity is still in its infancy, just learning to walk, grasping at the oddities of its surrounding universe. Everything is dangerous. Everything is amazing. Everything at once demands to be respected and to be explored. These are the fingers of the child reach up and beyond itself. Every new gesture and breath is always a fatal mixture of exploration and disaster. The two go hand in hand.
Scientists will likely discover a previously undreamed of world. The pale orange color doubtless a mix of frozen methane, nitrogen and water ice. The complex features seem to betray an active geology, driven by extraordinary tidal forces upon a body essentially comprised as a slush ball. There we will discover volcanoes and ice flows and a surface as dynamic and changing as Jupiter’s moon, Io, or Titan at Saturn. The moons, like Charon do not seem to mirror the composition of Pluto. They are rocky, their surfaces more stable. As our species approaches this distant world, little more than a smudge of light in even the strongest telescopes, Pluto and its moons, it would seem are a virtual junk yard of our solar system. In that simple realization it makes New Horizons’ Pluto mission even more important. It is a snapshot of humanity’s origins.
More than any of those monumental discoveries, New Horizons is less an American achievement at a Human one. From those first wonderings of the heavens from our murky beginnings to the charting of the star and planets, the Pole who should revealed to us that we are not the center of the universe, the invention of the telescope by an Italian, a German who pioneered the laws of planetary motion, the Muslim who crafted the Algebra, meticulous star catalogs of the Chinese, the Dutchman who confirmed them with meticulous calculations, the Italian who gave us radio that we might transmit those images back to the home planet. Look at the faces of the men and women the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and at NASA, as well as listening posts around this planet. They are a patchwork of a species that is astounding when it aspires and self destructing at its worst moment.
The media will obsess briefly over Pluto, gushing over strange and odd images from an unfathomable world at an unfathomable distance. It will return to the tribalism of party politics, of war, of unrest on our streets. It will return to the tantrums and failings of the child. That child has a chance, as New Horizons begs to teach us. It holds in its own hands the power for self determination or self destruction. Within its ever expanding consciousness lays the opportunity to ascend to the stars and beyond as it discovers its ultimate destiny; one anchored in hope, defined in peace and at once enthralled in its own innate human fallibility. The other is the child that refuses to learn as it stumbles and falls, that its future footsteps become more confident, wise and strident
Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com
The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting. Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers. .