Let’s not be arrogant

I love science fiction. The possibility it shows us of a better world (and dangers that might come with it) I find inspiring. I especially like Star Trek the promise of a world free of racism, poverty, disease and hunger, peace not only on Earth but also with other worlds and alien races is something to strife for. (To avoid conflict I also enjoy Star Wars and other shows/movies/books etc.)

However when you watch documentaries or read about the future whether science fiction will ever come true scientists cannot help but to put you down. They like to use words like can’t won’t shan’t. I once heard a professor say that an antimatter propulsion system would be impossible because even if we would use every particle accelerator on earth and put it on full antimatter production it would still take an impossibly long time (he used a number but it’s been a while since I’ve seen it) to make enough antimatter to power a spaceship. I do not doubt he is right, at least at this moment. I do however think that we should not get too arrogant.

We are still at the beginning of the age of discovery. Modern science is only a few hundred years old, it is arrogant to think we know everything. Technology is progressing so fast that it is impossible to know where we will stand in one hundred years, even fifty is a long shot. If you look at computers you will see what I mean: the laptop I’m writing this post from is about as fast as the best super computer in 1993. It only took 20 years to get from a computer the size of a (small) building to something that is small and light enough to sit on my lap. Even if something is impossible by today’s standard we might find by tomorrow that it’s actually child’s play.

I think that scientists should use the word impossible sparingly, you never know what tomorrow holds. Even if a trip to the stars might be unlikely.