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February 14th, 2013 at 6:00 am

Why Mankind Beyond Earth makes for Better Life on Earth: A little thing called “Spinoff”

Civilization is obliged to become spacefaring, not because of exploratory or romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable… staying alive.
– Carl Sagan

While Claude Piantadosi’s Mankind Beyond Earth exudes an obvious “romantic zeal” for space exploration, it is telling that the author chose the above quote as his epigraph. Like Sagan, Piantadosi has a talent for keeping his feet on the ground while he looks to the stars, and that includes a strong defense of exploratory science as a prolific source of what he calls “spinoff.” The steep learning curve associated with space exploration has indirectly led to vast improvements in many practical earth-side technologies, including:

• Air and Water Purification
• Aviation Efficiency and Safety
• Satellite Communication
• Small Size and High Resolution of Infrared Cameras
• Food Preservation Methods (for Soldiers and Refugees)
• Telemedicine
• Hazardous Gas Detectors
• Prosthetic Limbs
• Tools for Measuring Climate Change

We hope this tidbit will come in handy the next time you find yourself faced with a pragmatist who just can’t see the value in mankind’s stepping out into the cosmos. For more details, check out the book!

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