Monday, 12 December 2016

Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko

The following is the unedited version of an abstract currently featured in the 20th revised edition of Malleus Maleficus'  [title withheld]. If you wish to report intrusiveness, defamation or inaccuracies, please email  To make a formal complaint under IPSO rules please contact IPSO directly at .  

Belinda Blew-James was known in academic circles for being light-hearted and vivacious, as well as
supportive of Professor von Donnersborn, with whom she had become close as his head of media relations at a time when he attracted a good deal of flak with the fMRI-Ganzfeld controversy. But the combination worked. Donnersborn, like Belinda, was a charismatic iconoclast and, like her, he had an extravagant disregard for predictable conventions.  Her exquisite appearance  and her devotion to a mission, which for her own reasons she found totally engrossing, had helped her to gain a first-rate reputation.  As one of Donnersborn’s representatives she was, moreover,  on terms of personal acquaintance with a fair number of the physicists on the rostrum. One of the first Belinda recollected meeting was none other than Dr. Chris Lintott, professor of astrophysics at OxfordAs she said later: “The moment we met I was taken. His warm personality and beautiful eyes; they just held you.” Plainly, if not smitten, she was stirred by his fresh-faced appeal - a look of flawless affability combined with a babyish charm. Though I’m less sure that his motives were
equally benign. Casting back upon my time of undergraduate and graduate work, and the twenty odd years I spent lecturing  at various American colleges and UK institutions, I do not believe that anything with a PhD  in its name can ever be truly benign.
            With meticulously perfect timing, and crucially in this context, V.H. Ironside, the visionary apologist of an anthropoid Superspecies,[1] claimed that Nasa needed a spectacular mission to rally public support behind the agency after successive administrations had happened to be sleepwalking through the world’s greatest opportunity to return to the Moon - a landmark in America’s spiritual decline. “There is no period in the entire history of civilization that is as close as ours is to either death or immortality,”  he exclaimed.  “Why has progress stalled, when all the indications are that  economic and demographic growth is loading this planet with billions more people.”  There was now but  Rosetta, he added, and its gallant little lander Philae, the sustaining visionary hope of the ESA, clinging to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko it had chased across space for 4bn miles.
And this was the existential question – why bother with space when the planet Earth had such unrelenting problems? With hope and trepidation, but always with infinite courage - he instantly replied - the Third Dimension  was  the long-term solution to man’s evolutionary challenge, the great alma mater of our future.  As for the heartbreaks  and tragedies of the Challenger program, its very termination implied a wrongful comprehension of the mission.  The simple fact of the matter was, he said, that rather than assigning large numbers of people to the predetermined conflict between demographic growth and global capacity, the conquest of Space, too, ought to be viewed as a continuation of the great era of geographical discoveries, as an outlet in effect  which might have been invented with demographic expansion in mind, or as a fresh pioneering adventure even, as well as of profitable commercial enterprise. And certainly, if such an agenda prevailed, he could perceive, not the death of a species, but the forthcoming establishment, by multinational consortia, of commercial foundations in space, indeed, of commercial empires – and once again there was a close parallel with the systematic expansion of corporate enterprise in past geographical history – powerful enough to rival the future even of the planet Earth itself.
          He was totally persuasive, to the point of exhibiting flashes of genuine prophecy. He was also totally incredulous that the Apollo program, after six lunar landings between 1969 and 1972, should simply have been discarded and “forgotten.”  Had it never been terminated, man might have been on Mars by now.[2] And for all its breathtaking scientific scope and technological innovation, he said,  the planet Earth was an evolutionary cul-de-sac. He thoroughly detested what might be called cosmological indifference, “the Great Stagnation of our time,” in his own words, and  emphasized that the repudiation of the conquest of space in favour of a sustained existence on Earth, would at once demoralize the very idea of human beings creating value with their minds. It would also mean – if not its actual disintegration  - a decline in the expected lifetime of a scientific civilization, not to mention a refutation of its virtual and mathematical imagination, an essential impoverishment in human comprehension; “a decay”, as he called it, foregoing the equations and contingent configurations essential for compound neuro-scientific thinking, or in truth, a conceptual failure to develop highly anthropomorphous constructions - the entire raison d’être of scientific evolution as well as the foundation of man’s cosmological identity...

[1] Behold! I Teach You Superman. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2010.
[2] “Had the momentum of the Apollo programme been maintained for another 10 or 15 years, there’d be footprints on Mars by now.” The Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees.


No comments: