A New Horizon?

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There is in the world now an international body of knowledge—imperfect, confused, possibly in the end impractical—which, without too great an effort, can be equated with the knowledge that existed nearly five centuries ago regarding the exploration of this globe: the knowledge of the road to outer space. There are the experts, who have learned a little more than the rest of us know—scientists who can be pulled away from their own countries to work for any nation that has the money, the determination, and the basic sense of insecurity to demand the enlisting of their services. (Much of the exploration of this earth was done by countries which feared that their neighbors had got the bulge on them.) Ventures are being made; the open sea, once again, seems to be a gateway to the undreamed-of, and the fact that this sea is the perilous void of interstellar space, instead of the equally perilous void of intercontinental salt water, makes very little difference.

The caravels are out, and nobody can be sure where they may eventually go. Instead of being at the end of a great era, it is just possible that we are approaching the beginning of an infinitely greater one. Any teenager addicted to science fiction can testify that the sense of wonder is being regained. Can we, really, be certain that a new upsurge of energy and a feeling of confidence will not some day come back with it?