There are days when we all feel that the World is a pretty bad place, that nobody cares about other people and that it's only getting worse. Some people might have extreme-left or extreme-right tendencies and when days like these strike them, they are willing to blame "globalization", or immigrants which in turn does make the world a worse place. So, it is basically a paradox > thinking the world is bad can lead to making the world bad.
But is the World really, objectively bad? Is it possible that the World is objectively getting better, only people are getting more sensitive to the problems that might bother them, so thanks to the Internet which enables communication to others like themselves, they project their imaginary problems on the entire World? Of course, much more must be done, but in this post, I want to argue that compared to the past, we actually live in better times, but are somehow unaware of it.
As there are many factors which can influence view of the World – we’ll split this theme in a number of posts.
First: a DISCLAIMER: this post series will in absolutely NO WAY argue that since things are getting better, we should stop helping the poor, or curing diseases or giving animals more rights or being even more intolerant of rapists. Just because things are getting better, this does not mean that the work is done. Far from it. Actually, the only point this series tries to say is that things are indeed moving in the right direction and that forces behind these changes ("globalization", democracy, science, vaccines) are in fact improving the world and not hurting it.
So, let's begin. In this first post, let's try and tackle the biggest argument about the World being bad. This argument you can hear almost every day, probably even from your friends – people are dying of hunger and malnutrition, people are living in extreme poverty.
Yes, people are living in extreme poverty. It is not eliminated. Yet. But the World is getting there. Seriously.
Humanity has invented conflict, war and Religion. But not all achievements of society are bad. Quite the contrary, some of them are so magnificent they can actually restore your faith in Humanity and make you feel special to be a member of the Human family.
The Hubble Space Telescope is one of those achievements.
Image by NASA, Public Domain
The problem with observing the universe using telescopes and observatories stationed on Earth is a bit difficult because Earth’s atmosphere gets in the way. When looking at objects through Earth’s atmosphere, so-called twinkling occurs. What apparently happens is: the light which comes from distant sources passes through different densities of the atmosphere and the path of light is diverted and you don’t get precise readings.
In addition to that, atmosphere blocks ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma-rays, so if humanity wants to observe them it cannot do so through the atmosphere.
The Hubble Space Telescope as seen from the departing Space Shuttle Atlantis.
We all have ambivalent and contradictory feelings, sometimes about the tiniest, most irrelevant things. And when it comes to the human condition, to the status and development of humanity … well, what can be a greater source of contradiction that development of human society in general? For example, I’ll be the first one to say that we as a species are not doing nearly enough when it comes to Space Exploration and Science, but at other times I take a look what humanity has achieved and I’m filled with inspiration and almost moved to tears.
The International Space Station as photographed by a crew member on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis, By NASA/Crew of STS-132 - Public Domain (Source)
This time we’re talking about The International Space Station. This is one major human achievement and not only because it’s a technological wonder, but also because it’s a monument to what humanity can achieve once it pulls together to work on a common goal. It’s material evidence that our petty little differences don’t matter so much, because when humanity wants a common goal it will pull it’s resources together to make that happen.
Just as a wonderful piece of music or transcendental work of poetry, Science can also be an endless source of inspiration and wonder. Just think about the vastness of Deep Space, or the miniscule of quanta, and try not to be inspired. Imagine the expanding universe, the galaxies running away from us, at an ever increasing speed and try not to feel amazed. You are a part of Human species, the only species known so far that is able to understand these facts about the Universe we live in.
Today we are talking about one Human Endeavor that makes it possible for our species to do just that – gain an increased understanding of the Universe, the Large Hadron Collider.
LHC tunnel / Photograph Copyright CERN / Maximilien Brice
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator and a largest machine in the World. It was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).