Fest of Discovery and hope for tomorrow

by guest blogger Ken

Today was the Discovery Fest at the Science Place at Fair Park. Our chapter, NSS of North Texas, was given a small auditorium-type space in which to exhibit our wares, opposite the physical sciences displays. Inside on the stage was our Return to the Moon display in honor of this year’s Space Day theme: Return to the Moon.

(Raise your hand out there in the Selenian Boondocks if you knew that it was Space Day recently. Hmmm…)

We also had displays on asteroids and Space Stations, as well as the NSS’s 2007 International Space Development Conference, of which I have the (mis?)fortune to be co-chair. We handed out a lot of buttons today, so I have a feeling we’re going to start hearing from teachers pretty soon.

It was a good turnout this year, though there was less foot traffic since we weren’t right by the toilets like last year. This meant more quality time with the visitors, and the discussions were surprising. When you have the right materials and displays it’s very easy to explain some pretty complicated things. Things like cislunar development strategies, where we do the different things we do in space, and how the interplanetary superhighways work.

One thing that people were consistently talking about was how important business is going to be if we really want to do this. Sure, to some extent I laid out the case in such a way that it was obvious that space for commerce was the most workable solution, but nevertheless when people start throwing words like infrastructure at me I get a faint glimmer of hope that we’re not alone out here in the Selenian Boondocks.

It helps to keep the kids occupied in the interim, which is what we have the coloring pages, space legos and Snoopy Space Station video for. Over a thousand coloring pages were distributed today, over half of which were Moon specific. The new space marbles from Shasta Vision were very useful for showing the scales of the Earth, Moon and Mars, and I could drop the Earth and Moon into my 3-D gravipotential map to greater illustrative effect.

Just as the public seems to be becoming more sensitized to the idea of the importance of commerce in our future space endeavors, they are definitely sensitized to the idea of asteroids as a threat, less so to the idea of what a treasure trove of resources they represent.

There were some interesting demographic notes as well. There seemed to be less of a turn-out of hispanics than last year, and inversely a larger proportion of African-American youngsters, who expressed a much higher level of interest than I’ve seen previously. I’m tickled pink because the African-American community has frustratingly always been one of the most difficult demographics for me to communicate with. I of course don’t care about an individual’s melaninclination, because space is an equal-opportunity frontier on which to die, and it doesn’t care what color you are when it kills you for some stupid move you made.

Also notable was the sheer number of girls as opposed to boys, though the boys were more inclined to play with the rocket legos while I’m explaining the finer aspects of the genuine fake Moon rocks to the girls. I wonder if there’s some message in there. I am of course indifferent to the child’s gender inclination as space is an equal-opportunity blah, blah, blah.

As part of the civic responsibility I’ve undertaken to try to develop support for the technological edge that the U.S. has in the space field, and how we have to exploit that for the benefit of everyone, I have to develop -all- communities in the U.S. because ten to fifteen years from now I’m probably going to be managing them in some way, shape or form, and so it makes sense to make sure the best are well-inclined to things like the space field.

It’s part of my wacky Libertarian philosophy that my community is a good place to live in because -I- help to make it a good place in which to live, not some distant government bureaucracy. Companies will want to locate here because we turn out a competent and technically literate work force, which I’m helping to try and develop, and that increases our prosperity.

That’s what I love about Libertarianism, it’s such a selfish philosophy. And the warm fuzzy feeling I get from knowing that I’m doing good work in my community – priceless.

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