Why Bieber's Boondoggle in Space is a Good Thing

Just as business travelers essentially subsidize other travelers by paying the highest rates for commercial airfare, these celebrity boondoggles in space are funding the growth of NewSpace. And all humanity could benefit. 

The contents of the Voyager Golden Record -- a collection of natural sounds, spoken greetings from 55 languages, and musical recordings ranging from Senegalese percussion to Chuck Berry to Bach -- is a carefully-curated representation of human culture and the human environment that was sent to space in 1977.


And yet, our first encounter with intelligent life in space might be Justin Bieber, the latest celebrity to sign up for a trip on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic. Back in February, Bieber Tweeted that he wants to perform a concert in space. And why not?

Here's the big idea: There are a number of motivations to go to space. For national defense. For wealth accumulation. There is also the "pure" motivation to explore. In today's commercial space race, however, space tourism is becoming an increasingly important driver. We should embrace that. Just as business travelers essentially subsidize other travelers by paying the highest rates for commercial airfare, these celebrity boondoggles in space are funding the growth of NewSpace. And all humanity could benefit. 

Let's just hope that the Voyager makes first contact, not Bieber. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

Videos
  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Keep reading Show less

Why modern men are losing their testosterone

Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?

Flickr user Tom Simpson
Sex & Relationships
  • Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
  • While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
  • The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
Keep reading Show less

Health care: Information tech must catch up to medical marvels

Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.

Photo: Tom Werner / Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
  • Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
  • As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
Keep reading Show less