I recently discovered the good Doctor and his time-traveling ways. I never saw any of the “classic” series previously, although I have always been aware of it. I shan’t even consider the debate over the doctors, but suffice to say I am rather enjoying Mr. Eccleston in the role.
Ah, but what fun would it be to travel by TARDIS? In the first few episodes, they’ve been to the 1870s, the year five billion, 2012, and just now the year 200,000. It is curious to ponder the ebb and flow of time, so of course I have.
I am one of the shrinking number of folks who have first-hand memories of man walking on the moon. We’ve had this discussion before; my earliest dated memory is indeed Mr. Armstrong’s little walk, and I had actual family members that helped make that happen. Something my now deceased Uncle Ray built with his own hands is on the moon forever. (An accelerometer, not sure what they used it for), and Jim Lovell even mentions him in his book “Lost Moon”, which is a story for another blog.
Bob recently wrote about “the next big thing
” and it’s one of those blogs that has turned me all retrospective. It seems unlikely with the course that humanity is on these days that we’ll ever achieve that next leap forward. Your mileage may vary, but ending world hunger, curing disease, finding a peaceful solution to the Middle East, Fulfilling our energy needs…all these things seem insurmountable, so something like spaceflight and exploration are necessarily going to take a back seat.
Getting back to our TARDIS, and even aboard something as ordinary as the good ship USS Enterprise, our future has always been portrayed as worth living for. All the troubles we have now will eventually be solved (albeit mostly after a devastating nuclear World War). Seeing the episode with the year 200,000 in it just made me think – imagine having that power. What was going on here 200,000 years ago? Those numbers are so vast, it may be easier to think in more human terms. Most of us probably have a relative that wore the uniform during the titanic conflict of the 20th century, or have older relatives that remember what it was like to live through those times. It seems inescapable to us now, but will WWII still matter a thousand years from now?
Let’s go back before we go forward. 1,000 years ago was 1014
. Thanks to our friends at Wiki, I can take a quick tour and see what was going on. Curiously enough, there is something. Given the recent elections in Scotland over their possible secession, we see that a thousand years ago, the monarchy was still not quite settled.
March – Æthelred the Unready returns from exile in Normandy to reclaim the throne of England at the invitation of English nobles.
But more to the point, let’s look at the year 945
, a thousand years before WWII. Astonishingly, a couple of places from today's headlines were prominent a millenia ago. It seems like some things never change.
The Buyid dynasty takes control of Baghdad (it does not supplant the local caliphate).
The Hamdanid Sayf al-Dawla secures recognition of his rule over northern Syria from the Ikhshidids, founding the Emirate of Aleppo.
Edmund I of England conquers Strathclyde, forms an alliance with Malcolm I of Scotland and cedes Cumberland and Westmorland to him.
Leaping forward those thousand years, we’d be looking at the year 3014. It’s difficult to even ponder what might be happening. Humanity will likely be unchanged, since a thousand years is not even an instant on the evolutionary timescale. But what might our humble planet look like?
Or perhaps some future alien society might look over our charred, radioactive planet and wonder what calamity befell us?
It’s that alien society that always makes me think. On the next clear night, take a moment to look up. You’ll see light pollution, and maybe a bright star or two. But buried in that background is the vast expanse of what is and was, and might be. Some of those pricks of light are entire galaxies, too far away to even truly be seen by the Hubble.
Even our lowly Milky Way galaxy is a vast expanse. Our fictitious Star Trek universe uses faster-than-light travel as a crucial indicator of technological advancement in a society, and is one of the indicators that a planet may be ready for “first contact”.
But alas, our TARDIS has deposited us here in 2014.
I turned 48 this past summer. Which means I likely already have more years behind me than ahead, especially as a cancer survivor. I’ve said for years that I should like to live to see the 100th anniversary of V-J day (08/14/2045), at which point I will be 79 years old. It looks like an impossibly long way away, but it’s only another 31 years. “The Next Big Thing”….what might it be in our lifetimes? As for me…I hope I do live to see First Contact, but it seems increasingly unlikely that will come to pass during our time on this mote of dust.