When Apollo 11 Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to land on the moon forty years ago, on July 20, 1969, the United States achieved an early first. Armstrong’s now famous words, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” fulfilled the challenge set out nearly a decade before by President John F. Kennedy to land a man on the moon.
America’s race to the moon launched a generation of scientists. They were motivated by a sense of patriotism and the marvels of space and enabled by the nation’s newfound commitment to science after the Soviets’ successful launch of the Sputnik satellite. The; enterprise, built to encourage America ambitions and based on research conducted at universities across the country, has had a remarkable effect on society and the market. It has produced innovations in health. It has helped fuel the country’s economic growth. And, it’s trained and educated new generations of physicians, engineers and scientists.
In spite of the anniversary of the first moon walk, The Science Coalition asked college researchers throughout the country to reflect on that event and discuss their thoughts and what America has to do in order to make sure that these technological frontiers are reached. While each reply is reflective and unique of their history of the respondent they create clear that there are lots of exciting new horizons in mathematics. Research in such areas as climate and energy change, answering questions regarding the Universe, understanding that the human genome, and curing disease are, indeed, leading us into new frontiers.
“Like putting a man on the moon, answering these huge questions would be a part of a trip to locate our place in the Universe as well as preparing to extend our existence beyond earth. Few investments would leave a greater legacy to future generations or state more about our species,” said Michael Turner, Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Chicago and former Chief Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory.
With the push to send missions to other planets such as Mars, these advances will be necessary to develop the robotic and scientific precursors required to research and prepare for trips to other planets.