Thursday, October 23, 2003


The Concorde, coming in for landing at London's Heathrow Airport.

The Concorde jet, which travels at supersonic speeds, will cease to do so after tomorrow's last departure from JFK Airport in New York, and nothing is replacing it, mainly because companies that make and use such planes now believe no such plane can recoup its costs. The era of the Concorde is over.

The picture links to an MSC article by Michael Moran, who wonders: "Have we humans peaked as a species?" He writes:

Slave galleys, paddlewheels, stagecoaches, ocean liners and trans-continental rail service all had their day. Yet in none of those cases did humanity settle for something less when their day had past. In that, Concorde’s retirement may be unique.

In my more cynical moments, I tend to agree with George Carlin in that we were once a promising species, but now we're basically playing out the string. This isn't quite what Moran's getting at here, but I think this way too, more often than I should. I see science fiction authors and aficionadoes turning their back on space travel, at the very most consenting to robotic probes but that's it. I see us basically throwing up our hands and consenting to being screwed with our pants on, simply because "the market" and "the bottom line" demand it. And so on.

Most of all, though, I think we've lost our sense of wonder. That's a hell of a thing to lose, and I want it back.

No comments: