Exploration, an Essential of Life.


There is not a single chapter in the history of humankind that we do not find some episode of exploration.  When we look at it in its broadest perspective we see it as the driving force that has moved us continuously forward.  Even those expeditions that floundered or failed taught us important lessons that we then applied in future ventures.

Friends of William Shakespeare should already know that during his lifetime, England and its European neighbors were engaged in an era of exploration. Here is an excerpt from an essay about those times:

  • “By way of illustration, between 1606 and 1612, Shakespeare’s productions included King Lear, MacBeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Pericles and The Tempest (Bloom, 1985, p. 191). During that same short period the English founded Virginia (1607), the French founded Quebec (1608), the Spanish founded Santa Fe (1609), and the Dutch founded New Amsterdam/New York (1612) (Palmer and Colton, 1978, p. 948). Ultimately, global expansion was a key aspect of political developments during this period.”

Just that simple settlement in Virginia, although a struggle, laid the foundation for what was to become these United States.

Now early life forms left no written records, but evolutionary biologists and astrobiologists along with their colleagues in anthropology clearly see from their research evidence of the exploratory drive in the earliest life forms on this planet.  In fact,  those exploratory efforts and the associated evolutionary process that followed most likely produced our earliest humanoid ancestors. Part of this is attributed to “evolutionary dispersal” which is a sort of reactive and natural process of a life form dispersing to a better and safer environment.

Yes, there are life forms, including humans, that pick a dormancy state where they rarely move from a place and exist in a very restricted environment. It also is a protective process that allows the life form to “wait” until things get better.  Don’t we see this in our own life histories?

So is there a genetic link that drives us to explore? An acquaintance and a noted New York Times journalist, John Schwartz, expresses the idea as follows: “The urge to go beyond might actually be ingrained in the helical curves of our genes as one of the many behavioral traits now being linked to genetic propensities, said Jeffrey M. Friedman, director of the Starr Center for Human Genetics at the Rockefeller University.”

So, we may very well be both driven and dependent upon exploration to insure that humankind continues and in the process extends well beyond any given planetary confines.  Yes, there are others out there is a variety of life forms, including, I believe, humanoid form, that have the same genetic drive. Following that genetic urge then, makes it extremely likely that somewhere in the future, generations from this and other planetary bodies will eventually meet as has already happened in the history of this planet. To be ready for that magnificent “meet up”, we must begin now to extend ourselves into our own solar system as the next step in our urge to explore, discover and explain all that surrounds us.

CREDITS:

Image: Public Domain: Queen Elizabeth I knighting Walter Raleigh for his exploration of this continent.

Essay quote:  From “Essay Academy.com” ( http://bit.ly/awHlwn)

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Explore posts in the same categories: Deep Space Explorations, Humankind and Exploration

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