So much has advanced during the past 50 years of technology. Throughout the summer there have been many television shows and news articles harkening back to July of 1969 when America lived up to President Kennedy's commitment to be the first to put a man on the moon.
Later that same year we witnessed the birth of the internet, when at around 10:20 p.m. the first communications between two computers, one at UCLA and the other at Stanford, "talked" to each other over the 'net.
These, of course, were two landmark technological events that were expressly tied to the United States and our abilities. Many others have followed.
In the Tri-County, as I've written about here and there, we have a most interesting, albeit incremental, connection to the Republic of India. Two of our area's most valuable institutions, the University of the Cumberlands and the Goldbug-based U.S. Department of State's Visa Support Services shop, are right here, your neighbors.
The former in recent years has grown its student body immensely, and in great part due to the thousands of Indian nationals who've elected to advance their studies by enrolling at UC. A few times every year, Williamsburg may better be known as Hyderabad West when these talented scholars bring their intellects, and commerce, to the Tri-County for orientations and then for graduation.
At State, there aren't visitors dropping in from Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Chennai, or Kolkata. Those are major cities in India where the U.S. has a consulate or embassy facility. There is where hundreds of thousands of Indians have visited to be interviewed toward getting a visa to visit America, but in Goldbug first their files and applications arrive. So, by the extension of …you guessed it … the internet a few hundred of your neighbors deal, in a way, with Indians every day. It's a paper connection, but a service to our friends from afar nonetheless.
So, after a half-century of growth in American technology, and since India gained its independence from, as we did centuries earlier, Great Britain in 1947 it, too, has embarked on space exploration by sending its Chandrayaan-2 rocket flying to the moon. The word chandrayaan can be translated from ancient Sanskrit as "moon craft."
This is not the first time that India's endeavored to get to the moon. Its Chandrayaan-1 blasted away 11 years ago. It was unable to touch down, which makes this week's venture distinct, but it did attempt to map the moon's surface through radar, and thus discovered signs of water deposits. In addition to locating water, a resource that we will never appreciate like Indians do, this launch will help inform scientists about the solar system's formation some billions of years ago.
In a Tweet (go figure) by India's Prime Minister I read some familiar verbiage. He celebrated with 1.3 billion citizens their vision to "scale new frontiers." "New frontiers." Some may dispute that we, and others, already experienced the lunar frontier, yet his point in the grander scale of modern exploration is valid. For one, Chandrayaan-2 is aimed to land on the south pole of the moon, where others haven't ventured (that we know of…).
But besides that practical point, I'd say that for the rest of our lifetimes, likely, any exploration of the moon, or of Mars, will never have accomplished the status of old hat. We have lifetimes of knowledge to gain from these celestial bodies. At this moment, we can't even be sure that Chandrayaan-2 will land. It's set-down, if successful, won't occur for many weeks.
If it does, it joins an elite few, including us. Now, if we can so mightily overcome our earthly differences with as much determination and zeal as we've overcome the limitations of gravity and space, perhaps all of we frontiersmen-and-women will richly collaborate and share our collective knowledge toward even greater technological feats.
Getting there is the first step, and only taking a step every 10, 20, or 50 years just doesn't seem to inspire one's exploratory nature, nor importantly the more practical ends of aspiring to discover valuable resources for humanity. At the moment, I celebrate with Modi and our Indian friends. After all, they represent close to one-fifth of the humans, and they've achieved this historical accomplishment in kind.
Ed is a professor of cybersecurity, an attorney, and a trained ethicist. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.