Why do We Explore?

by Nathalie A. Cabrol

I realize how immodest the title of this first blog may sound and it is certainly not my intention to convince anybody that I will answer this question in the limited space allowed here or even in a lifetime. My hope is, instead, to stir thoughts and invite an exchange of diverse perspectives to make this a thread that we can all pull from time to time. It is an immense subject debated in an abundant literature, but discussing it is certainly not the exclusive privilege of those called explorers. All beings, from the greatest minds to the simplest forms of life on this planet and possibly others, are explorers. All are, thus, without exception, competent to contribute to this discussion in one form or another.

Exploring may mean a number of different things for each of us but I argue that we all do it for the same reasons, whether those are reasoned or subconscious, and that the fundamentals of why we do explore have been the same since the dawn of life on our planet. My perspective stems from a passion for exploration, for living, breathing and imagining it every day of my life and dreaming about it at night. It is fueled by a fascination for the possibility of finding life on other planets and observing life's ability to adapt on ours no matter what is thrown at it. It is also sustained by the exceptional environment of the SETI Institute where I belong. Walking down the Institute's hallways, posters and photographs take residents and visitors alike from Is there anybody out there? to Do you sincerely believe that anything can survive down here? and everywhere in between. The sky is not even the limit. It is our starting point.

There is a very large universe out there and according to the String Theory, it could be only one out of an infinity of universes. Even better for us curious minds since that's more real estate to explore! Cosmology theories and quantum physics possibly epitomize, at least to me, the human mind's ability to play with what we know of our universe and to project it into the unknown. These explorations take us beyond the limits of where, directly or indirectly, our hands can touch, our eyes can see, and our bodies can travel, to look at all the angles our imaginations can reveal. There, we embrace an addictive freedom, while still clinging to the laws of physics with which we have come to evolve. One day these laws might fall but for now, they are still what make our universe go round. We explore at microscopic to macroscopic scale but this is not a human privilege. All species that made the journey thus far with us are still here because they were greater explorers than those that did not. This takes me to what I feel strongly is the most fundamental, primeval essence of exploration: survival.

While we are seeking brethren in the universe, our own beginnings remain unclear. Life on Earth may have developed and gone extinct many times before finally taking roots on a planet heavily bombarded by asteroids and comets for hundreds of millions of years, a planet ravaged by volcanic eruptions the likes of which we do not know anymore, and by many more countless deadly threats. In such an environment, immobility and scarcity were not the name of the game. Survival resided in the diversification of environments that life could make available to itself by multiplying when it could, and by colonizing the next crack in the rock, the next rock in the field, and finally all the fields in the continent, the next continent and the next ocean in the planet, and soon (at geological scale), the next planet. This is our journey so far.

Each species goes as far and as fast as its evolutionary path can take it. This path is dictated by that species' exposure to the environment and to other species. We (as in life in general) are all trying to constantly expand our horizon, for there is gain in doing so. At the most primary level the gain is physical survival through a greater range of environments, which provide additional resources to supply a greater number of individuals of the same group. The curiosity and awe that we humans associate with exploration is a late comer. Understanding when this driving force developed is by itself a fascinating subject. I do not believe the first bacteria were curious about their environment; they simply tried to adapt to it.

Curiosity requires first questioning, which is the attribute of a number of superior species who do not simply react but rather interact with their environment. Those species also show creativity and imagination, which are both signs that they are exploring their mental and cerebral abilities. I am now going much too far outside my area of expertise and will hope that others will comment farther on this. But as far as humans go, beyond survival, exploration is certainly associated with physical, mental, and spiritual questioning that fuel each other by changing our perception of all the dimensions we know of, and give to the universe. Iterative questioning and exploring expands our imagination, thus our ability to further question and explore. The curiosity we apply to exploration is also one way for us to stimulate our imagination and gauge its validity in understanding our universe and its endless diversity. To some extent, it is the way each generation has to create its own universe.

Today, we still strive to survive but now life has also reached the point where its exploration path has come to question its own origin. Indeed, we do explore to understand where we came from and define the meaning, if any, of this wonderful universal journey of ours. It is fascinating to realize how, as we walk the Earth, the surface of other planets, soon the Milky Way and beyond, that this journey gives greater depth to our consciousness, for exploration is also very much an inward voyage. We are made of all the bricks of this universe. There is, therefore, a chance that part of this answer that we have set out to seek so far away in the unknown confines of the universe, might be within us, waiting for the time when exploration will take us back home.

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It is an ability granted to us by the Cubensis mushrooms. The mischievous little aliens which dwell with in each spore are in place as guides, granting knowledge to all who partake in its adventure.
The birth of art, language, song and dance all come from this species.
We seek out or friends in the cosmos but they are already in our backyard.
They are proof enough of the existence of life elsewhere.
You can flame this all you want, I know it doesn't appeal to everyone, especially those who fear the unknown.
"Mushrooms are a drug that capable of causing psychotic behaviors in people who have not taken it"

By MckennaMeme (not verified) on 24 Jun 2010 #permalink

KuruluÅundan istihbarat yaratılması olacaÄından senaryoda da, Evrenin tasarım öneriyorum. Bana göre, mantıksal olarak, bu zaten bu tasarım kavramsallaÅtırma ve gerçekleÅmesi için öne düÅünüyorum yere istihbarat olduÄunu varsayar. Onu baÅtan bir düÅünce evreni ve yerine hiçliÄin Evrenin baÅlangıcından önce's, zaten belli bir düzeyde bilinç vardır. Bu bizim dinlerin çoÄu bir amaç ile bu evren yaratmak için etkili olma kavramını açıklamak yerdir.

yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yesyes yes yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By ben dover (not verified) on 10 Apr 2012 #permalink

Why do we explore? Diamonds! Rubies, emeralds, lapis lazuli and jade! Ornaments of Gold! Spices from the island of Java!

Oh, and knowledge... Ultimately a more precious commodity than any gemstone.

(Curious: this out-of-the-box spell checker flags "lapis" but not "lazuli.")

Forgive the flippancy; it won't be a pattern. I just wanted to get the first message in. It's good to see the SETI Institute here on scienceblogs.

By Chris Winter (not verified) on 23 Jun 2010 #permalink

One might say curiosity is an inherent trait for the species (in a more fundamental way than, say, the curiosity of cats and other predators for whom curiosity is part of the hunting strategy).
-In regard to other "high-level" behaviours, other species (grey parrots, caledonian crows) use tools. Some even pass the "mirror test" of self-recognition. Humans appear to simply be the first to have evolved their mental toolbox in such a way as to permit what we call intelligence (but we cannot take the evolution of intelligence in every biosphere for granted -I would recommend the final chapter of Stephen Jay Gould's "Its a Wonderful Life"). We simply have no statistical sample of the probability of the emergence of intelligence even for one world -a sample of one is useless.
That does not mean we should dismiss the search for other "samples", but I admit I am skeptic about finding another psychozooicum in the same galaxy :-)

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 23 Jun 2010 #permalink

There is a special kind of pleasure we get from exploration. When we are confronted with a situation where we do not know the rules we are forced to shut down the day to day parts of brain that usually govern our behavior and thoughts. You need to know the way home from work so well that you can navigate it easily without any real creative intelligence. But when we are faced with the unknown a different area of our brain guides us. It is slower in some ways because it does not use the predefined rule sets, but it is much more creative.

Yet another well-meaning scientist with a fundamental misunderstanding of the theory of natural selection:

"I do not believe the first bacteria were curious about their environment; they simply tried to adapt to it."

In the immortal words of Peter Tosh: "Get that out of your mind, girl. You must be crazy." Organisms simply do not TRY to adapt to their environments.

By CherryBomb (not verified) on 23 Jun 2010 #permalink

Sorry about that, but that is my button, and you pushed it. Welcome to ScienceBlogs, and most of your post was an enjoyable read.

By CherryBomb (not verified) on 23 Jun 2010 #permalink

Hi CherryBomb,
I am just like the bug I study, I have a thick skin and I would not be writing online if I was afraid of debate. So, your comment is most welcome. Maybe you are right, maybe it is a matter of semantic. Organisms do not try to adapt, they simply succeeded in making it through or die but how do they make it through. They develop solutions. We see that all the times in the lakes we study. You should see their DNA tree and the speed at which they mutate when environment changes. It's amazing. So, maybe "try" had too much of a "design" feel about it but selection indeed is a critical part of the process. This is what was meant by "try"

Exploration provides purpose, seeks purpose and defines it. With exploration we become, and we are always becoming. We are hard wired to explore, therefore it is instinctive--We are all seekers.

Hi Nathalie,

The title is quite simple yet intriguing. Personally, i feel exploration is the way to live - whether we accept it or we dont.
Survival of any species is based on exploration. For instance the mutation was forced upon the microorganisms (though its creative) ...one has to change slow or fast, but it has to...i guess its an inherent mechanism of change, if one adheres he/she grows faster...

The author, Dr. Cabrol, hopes that we all would wish to be explorers since that is what she is paid to do. However, I doubt if more than a few thousand people in this world are actual explorers of the earth or the universe. Creating a mystique about life beyond earth is more of a childish, science fiction fantasy. The Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence is an open ended proposition which will never be completed. It is a black hole down which money could disappear forever. And although I understand there is no longer any government money being used for SETI, the unwarranted hype created by it and NASA are behind the fatuous plans for sending men to Mars because you have created an expectation of life there and no amount of ingenious robot probes will make you desist until a human being digs into that planet and says, "Nope, there's no life here." For that answer to be uttered would cost humanity a large amount of it's collective wealth.

"Because what you don't know can harm you."

By Ian Kemmish (not verified) on 23 Jun 2010 #permalink

Iâd like to take a moment to respond to Tom. First, Tom, if only you knew how little we are paid âºâ¦ If we were doing this for the money, then we would be so wrong. We are okay with it and this is a lifeâs choice and we accept the consequences.

To respond to your other points, yes, we do not know if there is life elsewhere, on Mars as microbial life, or as an intelligent civilization. It is not a question of mystique; it is a question of growth. First, it is a genuine question but I personally do not think that the answer matters as much as the quest itself we have embarked on to seek out this answer. The journey is what will make our civilization grow and make progress. Confrontation with the unknown is what develops our intelligence and ability to respond to new situations. Donât get me wrong: I am convinced that we will find both microbial and technologically advanced life. It might not be our generation or the next but we will.

Exploration is this ability we have to see beyond our horizon and beyond ourselves to ensure a future for our civilization. Stagnation is death. Just look back at history: If the Queen of Spain had not found in herself the ability to believe that Columbus might be right, then America as you know it would not be here. And if pioneers had not been explorers, you would not be where you are today. Seeking life is just one aspect of exploration. The truth is exploration is in our genes and our civilization will one day live on Mars and beyond. Our rovers are the ships of Columbus from another time, less the people, but they will soon follow.

Now, it is also fair to acknowledge that some of the clothes you are wearing, the mattress you are sleeping on, and some of the prescriptions you are taking have greatly benefited from space exploration and some of them are simply resulting from it: new minerals, new applications, techniques and technologies that are everywhere in your life in, making it better a little bit at a time. What (space) exploration costs is next to nothing when you look at the numbers. The cost of a rover mission would be transparent and laughable for any big industry quarterly review. I can go on with so many examples but the return is considerable. Another aspect of science that you might not see is scientistsâ everyday involvement in schools and education, helping to bring up children who will be able to take over the leadership of a wonderful nation born, living, and dreaming of exploration.

It´s as simple as that: survival.

Basic instinct to survive. If you stay in 1 area, your going to run out of resources if you keep populating. So you have to explore to find new areas that are suitable to live in.
If one goes out into space and finds a world capable of supporting life greater than earth, chances are they are going to stay there, as opposed to going to a desert planet where you cant even breathe.

Hello, Nathalie, it is good to see you again. As an alien from the Tarazedian star system, I can give you some insight as to why we explore. Long ago, we no longer had a need to explore for survival or material wealth. We are able to continue on forever without leaving any of the many planets we inhabit; however, we do have a need to expand our intellectual horizons. We have virtually unlimited intellectual capacity, and with that intelligence is a need to feed it. Although, our intelligence compared to humans is much like comparing humans to ants, it still is not unlimited. We feed our intelligence by exploring the Universe, searching out other worlds and civilizations, continually expanding our knowledge of all that was, is, and will be. We will be WATCHING YOU.

By Algol Tarazed (not verified) on 24 Jun 2010 #permalink

Tom, if you had asked me, way back when I first got plugged in to Geology in 1975, what were the odds of life having evolved on Mars; I would have guesstimated somewhere near zero. If you asked me today, I would take a deep breath and venture maybe 50/50. Those are not bad odds. We really need to get some of that stuff back to the lab and start checking the isotope ratios.

By CherryBomb (not verified) on 24 Jun 2010 #permalink

People explore to help sustain within themselves the belief that there is something worth looking for. They explore to give themselves hope.

It was good to hear all your comments. Many of the common rationales for space exploration (particularly manned exploration) are easy to debunk. The rationale that many new products came as a byproduct of the space program could be said about any investment in technology. The idea that manned space exploration would open new opportunities for human populations to expand to other worlds is illusory. If it costs one human space tourist $20,000,000 to spend a week on the space station, think how much it would cost to put one percent of the worlds population on Mars. And it's not like Columbus arriving on an already populated and hospitable, resource rich continent. The moon and Mars are deficient in almost everything required for life.
I have nothing against exploration and the expansion of knowledge. I am an evolutionary biologist, interested in molecular evolution. There are plenty of things to explore and understand without having to go into outer space.
A note to CherryBomb: probability can only be estimated based on a knowledge of the distribution of events. So far we know of only one case of life in the universe. If after maybe a century we have eliminated the existence of life on all the planets and large moons in the solar system (say 20 'worlds') that would leave a preliminary estimate of 5 percent for the existence of life in the universe. Any further estimates are essentially impossible due to the distance to other planetary systems.

It is not illusionary. It is like to say that there is enough to live well in the village we are and there is no need to go explore the next hill. Of course, by not going we are only certain of one thing: We will not know what we are missing. Each generation modifies its environment to make it better and broader. Now we have the possibility to engineer environments (for better or for worst, I concur) and to make them habitable for us. We are getting closer to being able to do that for other planets. Also, you should not compare space tourism and space exploration: Right now, itâs preposterously expensive but just because this is the first attempt. Remember the cost of the first car or the first plane. Itâs always the same story. The good thing about space tourism is that it bear in itself the mechanisms thereby space travel will become one day affordable. That wonât be for you and me but down the road, it will. Because private space industry wants to make money, they will ask engineers to make it easier, faster, and cheaper to get more people into space. There too, this is the same process all the time. Beyond all the arguments pros and cons that everybody is entitled to have, Tom, the usual misconception is to think the future with the present. America had riches that could be harvested more easily than those of Mars or the Moon but those planets have definitely enough to get us started, the ongoing missions have told us that much. Our technology is also very different from that of Columbus. Both those planets, and others, will have their role to play in our space civilization. Now, to go back to your comments of what is to be explored on Earthâ¦I could not agree more. My eyes are turned toward the sky but my feet are very much on the ground. I explore this planet and continue to find new ecosystems, new environments and new species. But you know what is really cool, is that the discoveries I made, I made them because I thought about exploring Earth as if I was exploring Mars. The research I made both âthere and hereâ are synergistically working together, and those discoveries, I made them trying to understand how life could survive over time and over incredibly harsh, extreme environments, such as those of other planets. Of course, one day we might have also stumbled into those new ecosystems without space exploration but diversifying an approach gives your mind more possibilities of asking questions and finding answers a lot faster. Itâs speeding the path of progress.

With respect to "try": Of course it's semantic, which is to say it's about what words mean. When one writes

So, maybe "try" had too much of a "design" feel about it but selection indeed is a critical part of the process. This is what was meant by "try"

one is conflating purposeful (whether conscious or unconscious) teleological striving with unpurposeful blind selection. I've been blogging the tribulations of a creationist science teacher in Ohio, and one of his misconceptions about evolution, misconceptions he taught his middle school students, is that organisms decide that they have to try to adapt by developing certain traits. Your phrasing, and your use of "develop," reflects that same basic misconception. I know you know better, but your rhetoric doesn't reflect that.


I welcome the time when we all be communicating pure thoughts through telepathy so that there won't be any more of these misconception issues :D Actually, that will be the end of blogging, which will be really sad and boring.

Nathalie-I think you underestimate the cost of traveling into space. The amount of energy required to make one kilo reach escape velocity will never change. Calculate the energy required to put a person and all of the necessary life support systems on the moon or Mars and it will be obvious that robotic probes will always be the cheapest way to explore outer space.
All of the manned space programs have merely been expensive, nationalistic, flag waving enterprises. The first two moon landings produced almost no scientific information other than pictures of Americans waving (not really waving since there is no atmosphere there) the US flag. Likewise, although being promoted as a research project, the International Space Station has been a scientific flop. In all of the fabulous space exploration issues of Science magazine that I have eagerly read in the last twenty years, I don't believe that a single research article has included data from the International Space Station. If one tenth of the money for the manned space program had been spent instead on robotic probes, we would know ten times more about the universe than we do now.

Hi Tom, I really enjoy reading your comments in the morning, and for all the right reasons. I am not being facetious here, especially since I do really agree with you on the space station. And beside, people are entitled to their opinion and to voice them. I believe that progress comes from open discussions like the one we have. I respect your point of view and I am not trying to convince you. I am just expressing my own view and what leads me to think that way. To go back to your point, I am not convinced either that the space station is the best way we can learn how to travel to planets and, as a simple R&D scientist, I often wondered if that money could not have been used differently. But once again, life is about choices and all lead to different roads. There are apparently reasons that the space station avenue as a strategy was chosen. Others do exist and with time we will see. Maybe this is a good choice and maybe others will appear in the next future. However, no matter what my personal opinion is on this particular point, I still believe deeply that we should not be thinking the future with the present. The way we are going about space right now reminds me very much about the very first trials at airplanes, remember those big flappy wings? It sounds so funny now when we look at those very old films but yet, this was the beginning. This was us, humans, making our first, cumbersome attempt at flying. Those people did not know yet that jet would be invented, that airplanes would be crisscrossing the sky, and airport traffic would become a nightmare. They just knew of a potential somewhere out there and they wanted to fly! Who knows what this century will bring. In truth, it would not take much (relatively) to make space travel affordable and a lot easier. I am hoping that the solution will come from physics and how we can use and transform the energy. Fuel and time are really the issues. Physics, quantum, and how we use atoms and plasma might provide some answers to those issues. I am not at all an expert in this. I just read physics books but I am sure the answer is somewhere out there.

Nathalie-It has been modern civilization's hope that there would be some means of obtaining unlimited, cheap energy that could power society with enough left over to power space exploration. When I was younger, fusion energy seemed like the magic bullet for cheap power but all attempts so far are hugely expensive.
I share your interest in extremophiles. It was reading Lynn Margulis' book The Origins of Life that got me interested in molecular evolution. The idea that there were so many different kinds of microbial metabolism using substrates from hydrogen sulfide or even manganese ions to sustain life opened my eyes to the diversity of the chemistry of life.
I think that we have made our ideas clear in these exchanges so probably not much more has to be said.
Good luck in your explorations.

Nathalie, I like what you wrote. Thinking it over (momentarily) I do see like you how the fight for survival must have been the first instict. Without jumping ahead we must however first analise the Instict of survvival. How did living species got it. To me the seed of 'Survival instict' and the Seed of 'Intelligence' is of Cosmic origin. THe vector of Intelligence is an integral part of the Universe. The physical dimensions and the physical laws alone do not make a universe. There has to be a inner drectional vector towards achivement of which all of physics is tuned. This vector is that of Intelligence. Creation of Intelligence as of now appers to be the motive of our universe. Whether it is a component of a greater scheme, we do not know yet with our limited understanding. Perhaps as our horizon of understanding expands, we will have greater insight. Survival Instict is essential for progress of Intelligence.
The creation of the Atom, from atom to molequles, to complex compounds and endowing a property that we call 'Life" to these molecules are due to the inner vector pushing for creation of intelligence. Though it would look like philosophy, but it appears that the universe is endowed with "Latent Intelligence', which is being converted into 'Active Intelligence' through the use of physical laws.
I would like to hear some reactiom from you; does not matter whether you agree or disagree.

By PRADEEP GOSWAMI (not verified) on 30 Jun 2010 #permalink

Radeep, these are profound thoughts and I am not sure that I have all the tools necessary to make an educated response to you. But let me try to tell you my personal view about such hypothesis and bear with me because I am not a cosmologist and/or a philosopher who would be so much more the right persons to respond to you right now. I will just try to look at diverse perspectives with my (here not so scientific) personal path and questionning. But first, do you know this fantastic book of Jacques Monod âChance and Necessityâ (French title: Le Hasard et la Nécessité, 1966). You should read it. I am sure you will enjoy it.

In the scenario your propose, the design of the Universe since inception would be the creation of intelligence. To me, logically, this assumes that there is already intelligence somewhere to conceptualize this design and think forward to its realization. Itâs a thinking universe from the start and instead of nothingness before the inception of the Universe, there is already consciousness to some level. This is where most of our religions introduce the notion of a being acting to create this universe with a purpose.

If you are not religious, you contemplate the universe also as a creation but without divine intervention. Now the question is: Does this universe has a purpose from the start (as in your scenario) or none. If it does, then science and religion meet half-way because they tell the same story. For instance was there a conscience/intelligent âuniversalâ force (for lack of a better word) at work from the beginning, present in all the elements that were created? That means that consciousness would be, like gravity, electromagnetism, one of the forces of the universe. It also means that since we are made of all these elements, we are also made in this forceâs image and it flows through us. It means that everything in this universe is connected to each other; It might also possibly mean that we are not passive observers of the universe but we do actually have the power to shape it through this consciousness and are, in fact, creators ourselves. Then, there is the Universe without any meaning at all. This is to me the greatest intellectual, physical, and spiritual abyss. There was no reason for anything and then, the question is why all of this? If you read again the last paragraph of my blog, you will see where my path at this stage of my life took me.

Now, that's going to be two aspirins and a coffee for Nathalie :D

Nathalie, thanks for your fine response and sorry for the aspirins. I am glad to find that your thoughts are so similar to mine. I am not a religious person nor can I be called a knolegebale person of cosmology, though I read and think (not necessarily accept everything), whatever morsel comes my way, when I can.
I believe that there cannot be anything in us that is not there in some form in the universe. That incudes our consciousness. I also feel that we are an integral part of the universe and part of the total intelligence and consciousness content of universe. In the ultimate analysis as you have written so well, we are not only moulding the universe but also part of the creative force of the universe. You write so well, so cogently and analytically, that I cannot add anything more to it.
Thanks for the book suggestion, I will try to get a copy from somewhere.

By PRADEEP GOSWAMI (not verified) on 30 Jun 2010 #permalink

I cannot think of anything from prior to inception of the universe. There at least must have been a potent pregant situation which led to the reality of the universe. We are ceatures of space and therefore cannot think of a location where that pregnant condition or latent consciousness existed. I also sometimes think that since absolute nothingness is the only natural state, there must be multiple universes, whose some total in all the dimentions- e.g. energy, consciousness everything shold be absolue zero. Or perhaps there are other facets of our universe itself, of which we are yet unware, whose sum total will be equivalent to non-existence.

By PRADEEP GOSWAMI (not verified) on 30 Jun 2010 #permalink

Hi Nathalie

As a fellow explorer I find your original blog both fascinating and challenging. Likewise all the great comments. It is great to live in a big world.

My favorite post is #14 by Matthew. It seems obvious to me that curiosity is a survival trait. Homo sapiens is going to need a whole lot of it to continue surviving for millennia, not to mention billennia! (Ha ha, I know that's not a word.)

Knowledge is power, and only the curious generate new knowledge. Curious people are the reason (ha) for our existence. I may be conflating curiosity and creativity, though the latter is the product of the former.

Allow me to say thanks for getting this blog off to such a great start!

Gerry Harp

Hi Gerry, Thanks for participating and thank you for the kind words. You know, when I started writing this, I was wondering what I was getting myself into because there are generations of libraries and books on this subject. But I am glad I did, knowing that this represents only my personal vision of exploration. I really enjoy reading other opinions because that forces me to reflect deeper and question myself and my responses and/or vision. To go back to curiosity, yes, this is the essence of it all. I do not know which part of science one day will be able to tell what curiosity really is. When does it express itself as curiosity as we know. Maybe that can be a great subject for a blog! I can understand how curiosity helps survival (in general, although we all know it killed the cat, right? :D) but if it is so, I would assume that all living being should have it. Or, does it become curiosity only when a species becomes aware of its environment and not simply react to it. I really do not know but this is fascinating.

Can we really seperate curiosity from intelligence. Would intelligence have a meaning witout curiosity. Intelligence by its very nature is looking out for meaning.

By PRADEEP GOSWAMI (not verified) on 02 Jul 2010 #permalink

Whatever or whoever created the COSMOS, put the SEEDS of INTELLIGENCE on plnet Earth, and everywhere else. Seeds must be planted. We have to use INTELLIGENCE to explore for the reasons mentioned in many comments right here.

By Helga Helemendic (not verified) on 03 Jul 2010 #permalink

True, Pradeep. The question to me is when is this happening at the conscious level? Every species is "intelligent" in its own right, even the smallest, more modest speck of life. I am going to be very provocative here but, isn't natural selection nature's intelligence to diversity its ability to survive? However, most people think that there is no cognitive part to that, just physical and chemical reactions...and statistics. Lots of trials, lots of errors, most disappear but still a lot survive.

No I donot think that all emergence and progress of Intelligence in species is out of trial and error only. Ok it is trial and error; but what leads it to choose the path, which gives it a better chance of survival? Where does the instict for survival come from? Who sets that direction? The answer has to be 'Nature'. That means that a survival vector is inherent in Nature. That is why we have to say that evolution of Intelligence is of Cosmic origin. Nature's real motive is establishing Active Intelligence, the survival instict is there for Preservation and Progression of the Inteligence created. The question 'why Nature requires Intelligence is a different question, to be argued seperately.

why do we need to explore the universe for the benefit of the society

Hi Gerry, Thanks for participating and thank you for the kind words. You know, when I started writing this, I was wondering what I was getting myself into because there are generations of libraries and books on this subject. But I am glad I did, knowing that this represents only my personal vision of exploration. I really enjoy reading other opinions because that forces me to reflect deeper and question myself and my responses and/or vision. To go back to curiosity, yes, this is the essence of it all. I do not know which part of science one day will be able to tell what curiosity really is. When does it express itself as curiosity as we know. Maybe that can be a great subject for a blog! I can understand how curiosity helps survival (in general, although we all know it killed the cat, right? :D) but if it is so, I would assume that all living being should have it. Or, does it become curiosity only when a species becomes aware of its environment and not simply react to it. I really do not know but this is fascinating.

Maybe that can be a great subject for a blog! I can understand how curiosity helps survival (in general, although we all know it killed the cat, right? but if it is so, I would assume that all living being should have it. thanxs