NASA Is Not Just a Propaganda Apparatus

Earlier this month, The New York Times Magazine ran a profile piece on someone who, I predict, will someday become another savior-cum-killer. Sara Seager is a brilliant astrophysicist at M.I.T. who is dedicated to discovering more earthlike planets in the universe. Her life’s work has been committed to finding habitable planets light-years away from our own lowly blue home in the Milky Way.

One of Seager’s many goals is to get in contact with extraterrestrial life. She’s a leading advocate for a project called “starshade,” a sunflower-shaped, shield-like device that is designed to block out the sun’s light so that other telescopes can better spot life-sustaining planets like our own. A more aesthetically pleasing version of Mr. Burns’ contraption, the starshade will not only blacken the sun for us to see deeper in the universe but also make the earth more visible for anyone looking in.

The unasked but pertinent question here is: More visible to whom? Seager seems to be operating under the assumption that any contact with aliens is a good thing. Her optimism is untempered with caution. Has she not seen Independence Day, Mars Attacks!, or The Day the Earth Stood Still? If we can’t count on foreigners on our own terrestrial rock to be peaceful, what chance…

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