If those of us from the Apollo era sometimes look back with regret at the failure of our society to follow through on early lunar exploration, we can still acknowledge that the issue is far from settled. As Nick Nielsen points out in the essay below, we’re in an interesting period, one in which commercial interests are changing how we look at future space missions, and indeed, changing our view of what may be considered the central project of our civilization. With historical sweep that takes in the death of Socrates, paleolithic art and Arthurian mythology, Nick sees as the great monuments of civilization not just the Pyramids, the Parthenon and the Taj Mahal, but also the Large Hadron Collider and the International Space Station. Here’s a richly textured probe, then, into the mythologies that make us who we are and who we will be, and the forces that shape what a civilization chooses to do.
by J. N. Nielsen
There is a Tide in the affayres of men,
Which taken at the Flood, leades on to Fortune:
Omitted, all the voyage of their life,
Is bound in Shallowes, and in Miseries.
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act IV, scene iii, ...