By Grant Morris
The day where we as people will be able to take to the stars may not be too far off. This was the prospect discussed at a Texas State Symposium this Saturday. Put on as a joint venture from members of both the philosophy and physics departments, this discussion presented a variety of enticing ideas from diverse speakers. Among the topics discussed were the importance of education for the future of space research, the moral implications of colonizing space, cutting edge methods of possible space travel, and the necessity of resource utilization while in space.
Dr. Araceli Ortiz is a Texas State Faculty member in the college of education and executive director of the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research. She and the organization are dedicated to furthering student growth in many of the fields necessary to creating a future in Space.
“STEM fields in general are areas that always hold innovation, so the space field in particular is one that requires a lot of creativity and thinking about different ways to explore, generate new technologies…so as they say, the sky’s the limit in terms of STEM field growth for space exploration.”
The prospect of space exploration and colonization is one fraught with many ethical concerns in a wide variety of areas. One of those to weigh in on the importance of discussing such issues before we leave Earth was Texas State Philosophy Faculty member Dr. Isaac Wiegman.
“I think this stage is absolutely vital. Especially as we look at planets that have oxygen in their environment or harbor intelligent life. I think that we have a moral obligation to find out a lot about those planets before we even think about what it would take to go there. I think that it’s essential that we avoid harming indigenous life forms on other planets, avoid the possibility of indigenous species to extinction… We need to make very sure that if we were to pursue colonization of that planet, we wouldn’t be taking that planet from the sentient beings or rational beings that depend on that planet.”
Key to the study of space and future space travel is an active imagination, one often stimulated by works of science fiction. Visiting professor of Philosophy at St. Mary’s University, Andrew Brei is well aware of such merits that fiction has on proponents of space exploration.
“They’ve had an immense impact on people as far as their goals and their dreams go. They’re reflective of aspirations that have probably always been with us. What these things do: these films or books or whatever they allow us to better picture the goals that we set for ourselves.”
They Keynote speaker for the event was Texas State Alum Jacob Grimes. A research scientist in the Space Science and Engineering division of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Mr. Grimes is dedicated to making the ideals of science fiction into realities. A key point of his message focuses on education for young people to create these new realities.
“Science, especially, I’m a physicist, teaches you how to think and solve problems and the rest of it, teaches you how to communicate your solutions to the problems so it’s very much hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. But at the same time STEM degrees are going to be driving the advancement.”