(You can download the image above and enlarge it hugely and rotate it. You can also download a high-resolution and interactive version of the photo above via this [link] — highest resolution via right side panel.)
Historian: Wandering to see what is beyond might be one of the defining qualities of our species. So far humankind wandered over our whole globe and to our Moon. Is Mars next?
Physicist: I wonder if we can see a robotic mission be more of an achievement for humanity then a crewed mission. What can persons in spacesuits do which robots can not do? Our robots can see in many more wavelengths than humans can. Our robots can explore in many more ways than humans can. I suspect that humans going to Mars will return with changes making for short lives with great suffering. Would that be an achievement for humanity?
ESA robotic exploration of Mars home page [link]
ESA ExoMars home page [link]
ESA European service module for NASA's Orion crewed spacecraft home page [link]
ESA cosmic vision [link]
Historian: I have nothing to add.
Physicist: Nor I.
Historian: The International Space Station is a very big mission in many ways. The mission is international. The mission has mountains of parts — there might not be a full list of all the parts. The missions takes teams of teams of teams sharing the work — there might not be a full list of all of the teams.
Physicist: There are things we want to learn which we can not learn except via the ISS mission. If we want to wander beyond our Moon, then we will need knowledge which we can only gather via the ISS mission.
Historian: The ISS mission contributes to sustaining Earth by showing us views of Earth by ISS mission astronauts. The ISS mission astronauts contribute to sustaining Earth by inspiring young persons to pursue science.
Physicist: The ISS mission — and other of our missions off Earth — inspire us by examples. The ISS mission — and other of our missions off Earth — change the meaning of "humanity" and, we can hope, help make us better. The NASA and ESA ISS mission pages give us great substance to fuel our hopes.
NASA ISS mission page [link]
ESA ISS mission page [link]
Tour ISS by ESA [link]
Building the International Space Station [link]
ISS 2015 highlights [link]
Historian: We often talk about scientists with differing points of view and differing skills sets sharing the work. We should talk a bit about kinds of "sharing the work" which can be both informal sharing and formal sharing.
Physicist: Informal sharing can happen in casual conversations with others in the lab. Slightly more formal sharing happens when scientists describe their work at scheduled meetings at a lab or institution with many labs. Working in a team is formal sharing when the team must make a decision about the way forward. The most formal and most basic sharing is publication in a peer reviewed science journal.
Historian: Early in the 19th century Michael Faraday worked alone. Late in the 19th century JJ Thomson worked at the Cavendish laboratory in Cambridge with many fellow scientists and staff especially Mr. Everett his instrument maker [link]. For a long time now scientists work together with all sorts of informal sharing.
Physicist: A bit more formal sharing happens when scientists from one institution visit another to describe their work. I remember seeing a list of talks by an eminent researcher. His first talk was titled "Evidence for A" and his next was titled "Evidence for A or B" then "Evidence for A or B or C" and so on. At each of the talks persons with different points of view and different skills sets would suggest alternative explanations for his data. (There still is no good evidence for A.)
Historian: The evidence is strong that teams comprising persons with differing points of view and differing skills sets do the best work [link]. This is the most basic and challenging sharing: differences must be aired and embraced and the team members must understand that the team work is about the work and not about the persons. This is not easy. It is successful.
Physicist: I take a hard line on this: Science is what is published in peer reviewed science journals or shared in some equivalent way. Without this public sharing there is no science — there is something else which I will leave for others to ponder.
When a result is shared:
then the result can be ignoredby persons with different points of view and different skills sets which sometimes happens,
then the result can be refutedby persons with different points of view and different skills sets which sometimes happens,
then the result can be built uponby persons with different points of view and different skills sets which sometimes happens.
This is science.
Historian: Just days before spacecraft Rosetta is scheduled to "soft land" on her comet, Rosetta found the lander Philae. On landing on the comet Philae bounced several times [link]. We did not know where Philae came to rest. You can see more about finding Philae and follow Rosetta's last days via this [link].
Physicist: Meanwhile spacecraft Juno is sending back data from her first close return past Jupiter. So far we have photos of the poles and infrared scans. You can see more about this and the surprises, and follow Juno via this [link].
Historian: Spacecraft New Horizons did a successful flyby of Pluto, sending back fascinating views, and continued on into the mysterious Kuiper belt. On the way New Horizons just spied a large inhabitant of the belt. You can see more about this and follow New Horizons via this [link].
Physicist: Not to be outdone spacecraft Dawn studying dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt, recently spied what the Dawn mission science team calls an ice volcano. You can see how this can be and keep up with Dawn via this [link].
Historian: If all of that is not enough to amaze you, spacecraft OSIRIS-REx leaves this Thursday for its mission to asteroid Bennu and back. You can follow OSIRIS-REx via the mission page at this [link]. You can also view a new video about the mission (not yet included at the mission page) via this [link].
Physicist: It is amazing. Many teams of teams with all sorts of people embracing differences and sharing the work to do amazing things. Let's all follow the example and also do amazing things
Historian: We were asked if our change of name to "Science and Humanity" means that we are less interested in human rights.
Physicist: We are not less interested in human rights. We do want to focus more on embracing difference which is not generally seen as a human right.
Historian: We were also asked if embracing difference is not the same as treating all persons equally.
Physicist: Strong ideas about treating all persons equally and strong ideas about inclusion do not include embracing the positive value of difference. Learning from our differences is super important. At the least learning from differences can save us from groupthink and the dismal swamp groupthink takes us to.
Historian: We show examples of amazing things done by spacecraft created by many teams of teams embracing differences and sharing the work. Meanwhile too many members of our species are teaching hate and killing because of the most trivial differences. We are asked how both can be part of humanity.
Physicist: Don't ask me. I'm just a simple minded physicist. I understand learning from differences. I do not understand hate. Never did. Never will.
Historian: It appears that embracing difference, as we understand this, does not come naturally to humanity.
Physicist: Plenty of work to do.
Historian: We did some reorganizing to more clearly focus on our primary goals. We changed the name of the blog to more clearly indicate that we want to show ways science flows from our humanity and ways science supports our humanity.
Physicist: We especially want to show science doing amazing things by embracing differences. We hope that this can enhance our humanity.
Historian: For example, from our earliest as a species and as persons we wonder about what is beyond us. We especially wonder about the stuff above us. What is that stuff? What can that stuff tell us about us. When Galileo looked at that stuff through his telescope to see moons orbiting Jupiter and phases of Venus as it orbited our sun, he gave us a new view of what is beyond us and put us on a path to trustworthy science
Physicist: That trustworthy science and our telescopes here on Earth and on spacecraft give us ever better views. This takes more than trustworthy science; this takes teams — teams of teams — teams from many nations — teams with members from many nations. The secret is: embrace differences and share the work.
Historian: Also from our earliest as a species and as persons we wander to see what is beyond us. Galileo — and the rest of us — could only see the orbits of those moons of Jupiter edge-on until July 2016 when spacecraft Juno approaching Jupiter from above Jupiter's pole showed us those moons circling Jupiter.
Physicist: I find that view from spacecraft Juno deeply thrilling. For me it is spilling over with meanings — meanings about science and meanings about humanity. We do amazing things in science when we fully embrace differences and fully share the work. We can do all sorts of amazing things if we can come to fully embrace differences and fully share the work.
Historian: For example, we now have plenty of trustworthy science which we can use to sustain Earth. We can watch over Earth from space. We can continue to improve sources of energy which do not cause our environment to deteriorate. Everything we do we can do smarter.
Physicist: We can if we work together. Oligarchs, super wealthy by exploiting fossil fuels, and their policy-maker henchmen, work to feed fear of difference to keep us from working together. You and I work to show that difference is not something to fear, rather we should embrace difference and work together.
Historian: When we work with, live with, or just chat with persons having points of view different from ours and having skills sets different from ours, and we embrace difference, then we can learn things which can help us be more successful, help us enjoy more of life, help us better help others.
Physicist: And, then we can do all sorts of amazing things together.
Historian: The ESA audacious Rosetta comet mission ends 30 September with spacecraft Rosetta making a slow descent and "soft landing" on the comet which Rosetta followed for over two years.
Physicist: With many instruments collecting data for all that time, there is a hoard of priceless data to be analyzed for many years hence. What a great achievement, with more to come.
Rosetta's last act [link]
Historian: This story in Science about the OSIRIS-REx mission to Bennu is very nice. It gives a good account of whys and hows of the mission and helps us see real persons behind the adventure.
Physicist: There will be plenty of science done in the two years OSIRIS-REx will survey Bennu before grabbing a sample to return to Earth.
The Science story [link]
Physicist: We also have the example Oak Ridge helping with the 3D car printing demonstrating a few years ago [link]. Now Oak Ridge, building on that large 3D printing effort, has the Guinness world record for the largest 3D printed object, and has plenty to show off. A great resource for helping sustain Earth.
World's largest 3D printed single object (so far) [link]