SpaceShipTwo

Yesterday The New York Times published a story about Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipTwo:

Burt Rutan took the cloak off of his new spacecraft on Wednesday.

Mr. Rutan, the creator of SpaceShipOne, the first privately financed craft to carry a human into space, traveled to New York to show detailed models of the bigger SpaceShipTwo and its carrier airplane, WhiteKnightTwo. …

Officials at the press conference said that the WhiteKnight aircraft is 70 percent complete and that SpaceShipTwo is 60 percent complete. Test flights of the planes could occur this year. Passenger flights are not expected to begin before late 2009 or 2010.

This is a modest step toward commercial space exploration, but it is an important step. While I probably won’t be able to afford a seat on any of Rutan’s crafts, I’ll cheer on those who can. “You can’t take the sky from me.”

Shift Happens

Thanks to an article from the Rocky Mountain News, I found a short video created by Karl Fisch of Arapahoe High School in Centennial.

Fisch’s first video was so popular that he created a second version. Both videos summarize various trends in education and the advance of technology. These videos brought tears to my eyes. Human achievements in the computer age are astounding.

I have two minor criticisms. First, the videos do not distinguish between “new information” and universal truths. It remains the job of philosophy to teach us how to organize information conceptually and hierarchically. Second, the videos make it seem as though the advance of technology is inevitable. It is not. Human productivity is inextricably linked to political freedom. Technology can be smashed much more easily than it can be created. A socialized economy will grind to a halt and then deteriorate. A virulent theocracy will systematically destroy the freedom of the mind and the technology that flows from it.

What Fisch’s videos demonstrate is how much we humans have achieved — and how much there is worth fighting for.