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     In this season of holidays, when we celebrate the past with tradition, and good wishes and a glass or two, we all hope that you and yours have a delightful holiday season. We would like you to look forward…

To Explore our Universe

     Five hundred and eleven years ago a short, fat Italian con man loaded up three small boats with prison inmates and aristocrats and set sail to find the edge of the world. He discovered the West Indies, opening the American hemisphere for exploration and colonization. (When he landed on San Salvador, the first man to step onto a hostile shore was not Christopher Columbus but an Irishman, Patrick McGuire).
     Our ancestors have proven our inquisitive nature. They boarded ‘prairie schooners’ and sailed across the Great Plains in search of Oregon and California. They found cures for Polio and Small Pox. They tamed electricity and nuclear energy. They fought to bring Freedom to downtrodden and oppressed people. They built rockets that touch the edge of space and shot a monkey into space to prove we could survive.
      We (that’s you and I) have lived in a century when intrepid explorers faced the vastness of a black ocean where there are no edges. Our scientists have boarded their ships and set sail into space, navigating not by astrolabe but by computer, pushed by rocket fuel instead of wind, drawn by scientific curiosity to the high frontier. Our explorers, from whatever country, have captured our imagination and lit our curiosity when they represented all mankind on the last frontier.
      We explore because we must. Our space program is the highest of our dreams. Thousands of Americans are using their skills to build tomorrow’s Enterprise. Our space program is the best combined efforts and dreams of an American society.
       We explore because we must. Some day we will encounter other intelligent explorers in the heavens. We will hold up an open hand in friendship. We will share our knowledge and they will share theirs. Our universe will become more familiar and our grandchildren will step off our planet and head out into the blackness of space.
         In early January we will
see some astounding results from current scientific missions. The spacecraft Stardust will encounter a comet on January 2nd and bring back particles of that comet in 2006. Mars Express (launched on June 3rd ) landed on Mars during December. On January 4th the Mars2003 Rover mission will deliver Rover A to the surface with Rover B to be delivered sometime later. We will see Mars’ surface.
         
Why does man explore his universe? We are inquisitive animals that want to see what is beyond the horizon. We take what we learn and provide our children with the opportunities to deal with valid and invalid information and opportunities to learn how to apply the information and skills they gain.
         
We explore our universe to help our students gain an appreciation of the beauty, truth and law of our society while acquiring the moral and ethical values upon which the society of man is founded.
         
If each of us, today and tomorrow, could make one gesture, shake one hand, meet someone new, tell our government that we demand cooperation …and do something similar the next day …what an amazing world this could be.


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© Marty Duncan 11/10/03

   
   

  
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