Pushing the barriers of what’s possible, the purpose of humanity?

I’m writing this after watching the movie “first man” about Neil Armstrong as he, NASA and his fellow pioneers in space travel take the first steps from experimental flight at the edge of the atmosphere, through the beginnings of the US astronaut program up to the moon landings.

As I watched the movie and still one afterwards as both just a normal person and as an engineer I’m simply in awe of the boundaries they pushed, the technological leaps they made to allow space flight and exploration to become a reality along with the courage and sacrifices of those who knew the risks they were taking to push the human race forward and unfortunately lost their lives in the process.

It also made me consider what life would be like for us today, if humanity was simply content to know what we know and live a life where we had just enough in terms of food, social interaction etc. Life would be profoundly different for the majority of us for sure.

It’s that curiosity for what’s out there beyond our understanding that drives us forward and help us continue evolving as a species.

Always asking questions, striving to improve, while we could argue that we don’t always get it right as a species. I think that we have a pretty good balance between what we get wrong, the lessons we learn and the things we get right. In terms of quality of living, educational levels and ability to fight disease we are certainly far better off than we were 100 years ago.

Today we face the COVID 19 pandemic and through the use of technology, collective education and knowledge, the ability to fail fast, learn the lessons and move on, there are teams of medical pioneers around the world right now working to push the barriers of what’s possible to build a defence against this pandemic.

200 or so years ago we would have relied on a handful of people working in isolation around the world, taking years to understand the disease, its effects and the possible remedies. Then our species developed the telegram and telephone and the world slowly started to become connected allowing these people to work together and develop vaccines in a much faster time scale.

Today that pioneering spirit we have 5g internet and people can connect with each other sharing, information and data faster than we can think, working globally but completely interconnected, through the internet to quickly develop a vaccine.

We have literal armies of medical staff, all interconnected by the same systems sharing data and learning how to deal with patients who are suffering the disease all while exposing themselves to risk, imagine the courage involved in that line of work. In the past almost all of the symptoms would have proved deadly, and sadly for some they are still proving so today.

Sometimes when we look at our collective situation today and feel fed up with the lockdown, especially as the weather turns and we want to be outside with our friends and family. It’s worth taking five minutes to think about the age we live in and the possibilities technology and humanities constant quest to improve have provided us.

It’s this collective knowledge, connected world through technology and the armies of medical staff working tirelessly to beat this that will keep us going and let us succeed in the end.

And yes the movie is well worth watching, I’d go as far as to say it may just be life changing and certainly its deeply profound


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