A letter from Astronaut
Commander of the Apollo 16 Lunar Landing Mission:
National Aeronautics and
Lyndon B. Johnson Space
Houston, Texas 77058
Aug. 31, 1993
Dear Dr. Lederman:
For more than 30 years, I have
been privileged to participate in exploration and discovery in space. In
our training for exploration, we learned of the fundamental discovery questions
that were being asked by the scientists relating to space exploration.
As a result of the great progress that has been made in those 3 decades,
we now know more about ourselves, our solar system, and our place in it
than we ever imagined.
Space is home for all the particles
of particle physics; however, it was particle accelerators that showed
us what cause the "light flashes" that we see in space and particle accelerators
will better define the allowable radiation damage that humans exploring
space can tolerate.
In early 1991, I learned about
the Superconducting Supercollider (SSC) as a result of a talk I made at
Waxahachie, Texas. I found that just like the machines that allow us to
investigate space, the SSC is a tool for scientific discovery. We can all
think of the many obvious benefits from the SSC discoveries and how those
benefits might change our lives. However, if my space exploration experience
is any gauge, we will probably be surprised by the particle physicists'
The greatest nation on this planet
cannot afford to "ho-hum" its way into the next century with respect to
its support of fundamental research. We must challenge our innovative,
creative, and talented men and women. When these folks make scientific
discoveries, those discoveries, as you know, are just the beginning. If
humanity is going to be successful in this world, this solar system, and
this galaxy, we must get smarter, faster, and apply what we learn to help
us solve our present and future problems. We are lucky to live in this
time where our capable people are accelerating history. When fundamental
research discoveries in particle physics are made, our talented scientists
and engineers will achieve the follow-on applied scientific and engineering
technical advances far more swiftly than any of us might dream now.
Mr. H.G. Wells once said, "The
future is a race between education and catastrophe." Everyday we see many
examples of how right he was. SSC scientific results will surely help us
win that race. It is the one race we dare not lose---our race to tomorrow.
All the best for bringing the
Special Assistant for Engineering
Operations and Safety