There are numerous problems that surround our very existence on the planet now. One of them certainly is the advancement of the so-called Artificial Intelligence (AI). It brews in particularly deceptive moment when the mankind is at a breaking point; seeking for the moral triumph and the (generally tolerated if not universally acceptable) winning narrative.
Individuals and world institutions see AI systems as the solutions to their problems, from automating tasks to simplifying hard algorithmic structures into simpler forms through machine-driven intelligence systems. Most people believe that AI technology is a modern hero for generating internet-structured information. Based on some research articles, AI started in the 1950s, and it was built as a subset of computer science by some computer scientists to perform automated algorithms for the machines to help them function as a non-human intelligent system to automatically help solve machine-generated issues.
People behind it must have thought that AI would revolutionize the world in the future [and it did] and would help industries easily commercialize mass-produced products, goods, and services. Humans created AI, but now AI is creating cloned humans, such as from AI-related technologies like genetic cloning, artificial brain chips, artificial medicine, and 3D technologies that are used for manufacturing artificially made foods, like lab-grown products. But one should understand that AI technology has many downsides. We should widen our knowledge of this technology, as having less knowledge of it can be dangerous. It might put us in risky situations that we may regret in the future. Analytically, AI can be used by anyone for good or bad, and it can also be categorized as a light system or a dark system.
There are many articles, blogs, published books, and papers talking about the modern world and how it will shape the future. We are already in the future. We will shape the future, in which our descendants will either live or die. Now, the public officials who have the money, fame, authority, and power and who are making uninformed and illegal decisions are imposing bills to put control on each of us. We must allow ourselves to act like humans and not their slaves. We all know that government systems are important in each nation as they help our nations get organized and collaborate for global interests. We all come from diverse backgrounds, and having a system like the government would easily help us connect.
All meant by Govern-ment
But governments nowadays cannot easily be trusted because they are part of global depopulation programs, and most of these government officials are taking orders from the elites and following the orders of the black sun or the dragon families. The world’s powerful authorities always fund these governments, and they can decide whether they will be on the good side or the bad side. Hence, there are only a few hundred thousand people who understand how the world works, and these are the ones who are always seeking the truth and are always trying to uncover the hidden facts of the world’s economic events. Technically speaking, governments cannot protect us against the dangers of world-created issues like greed, corruption, terrorism, and war because they are part of them.
In addition, a government is a system that connects all the institutions like the United Nations, WHO, WTO, World Bank, EU, IMF, WEC, Red Cross, BIS, Interpol, ICC, CDC, NIH, NSF, FDA, and others. These institutions play a significant role in changing our daily engagement with the world. Many world institutions are mandating misinformation and manipulative media campaigns for the public. We should never let ourselves be programmed by the media. One should understand his or her value. That is why learning and understanding the law is necessary to protect yourself if no one else will, since everybody else has their own agenda in life.
Our communities should be more focused on assisting their citizens and giving them the right information, but it seems that it is not likely going to happen because the control from the highest officials is holding back the good people providing public service from doing good, which makes our current situation more difficult. History is repeating itself.
Technologists have now categorized our world into two categories: we can either live and interact in the real world with a real universe, or we can be part of the current wave of living in a virtual world with a virtual universe under the technological advances of AI and its other similar technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality. Everything is programmed and simulated. Also, the robotics industry is increasing enormously, and we must prepare ourselves. It has never been like that before. Technology is increasing, and the world’s natural resources and reserves are depleting.
Do you still see a future for yourself and your future family? Or you will let the technologies decide how your future will look, how you will suffer and be a slave to the dramatic changes in technologies, and how you will struggle financially as the current technologies, especially artificial intelligence, are changing the status quo of the current working space. Major companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon are laying off their employees to cut costs. More than 11,000 employees from the biggest technology companies have been laid off, and small and medium companies are doing the same to restructure their corporate systems to stay competitive and generate more revenue.
This happens because companies around the world are afraid of bankruptcy and falling behind technological trends since everything is advancing every single day. These established companies want to stay ahead of their competitors, especially newly emerging businesses and hyper-competitive entrepreneurs. Manufacturers and production facilities are creating millions of products and services every day. The modern world’s biggest players are in the fields of finance, biology and technology, energy, healthcare, medicine, clothing, food, fashion, transportation, e-commerce, outsourcing, remote work, automation, and sales and marketing. The employees will be dramatically affected by these changes, and those who study and learn will easily find ways to protect themselves physically and financially.
The current world situation is disturbing. Humankind has produced thousands, if not millions, of new products and services in the past few years, ranging from clothing to fashion-related inventions, plastic-related products, and other nonsense inventions that are unhelpful to the earth. Our relationship with technology is so strong – tends to create stronger psychologized bond. And it inclines to be highly addictive.
We put ourselves in a critical condition by being obsessed with newly invented technologies, and 50 percent of these technologies are very harmful to us. Not everyone is interested in studying the advantages and disadvantages of technology consumption. It is significant to reflect on whatever we do, especially with the use of modern technologies, as it would give us a clear idea of how we can overcome the changes we are facing presently.
Health and cognitivity – two sides of a same coin
In healthcare, COVID has been the main topic since the year 2020. There are still billions of people who are unaware of what is really behind the COVID (which actually means Certificate of Vaccine Identification) thing. It is all about the depopulation program that was set up by several people—operatives, agencies, governments, politicians, and elites—to decrease the human population by 90 percent. It is a biological weapon and a weapon for mass destruction. Health institutions are using media agencies and systems to play along with their games and propose bills to control humanity. Illegal health mandates such as taking a vaccine and booster, wearing a mask, and being locked down are all considered acts of global mass genocide. It is critically important to understand theoretically the essence of breathing the natural air and why wearing a mask can cause several respiratory illnesses that may lead to the production of spike protein in someone who’s vaccinated. Scientifically, based on some validated research and scientific papers and articles written by the people who are part of the restoration program, even if you are not vaccinated but are exposed to those who were vaccinated, you can still be subject to a spike protein infection. The vaccines can systematically and electronically transfer or send programmed computer viruses to those vaccinated with the use of AI, computer systems, and radio frequency towers. This global pandemic was planned many years ago as a lock-step operation to spread a programmed virus to kill humanity. Everyone who’s vaccinated is subject to early death syndrome, famously called “SDS” (Sudden Death Syndrome) by researchers, scientists, and medical doctors who are helping to restore humanity and encouraging everyone to act for their health and seek justice if their family members were vaccinated and oppressed.
The pandemic has created new forms of businesses relating to remote work setups, virtual jobs, telehealth, telemedicine, and many more that are operating electronically without the need for a physical governing body. The use of AI and other modern and advanced technologies has had a horrible impact on the lives of billions of people, not only physically but also mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and neurologically. There are hundreds of startups in the industries of biology and technology that are already in progress, and many people are still blind to the truth about who is funding these types of companies. Several published papers showed information about the mere intention of several known vaccine companies like Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and others. These biology and technology companies are still at the first stage of global mass destruction, and this is just the start of their game. This is just the beginning, and the next wave of pandemics is nearly coming. While vaccinating billions of people from six continents, these major players have profited billions of dollars and made themselves wealthy, of course, with the help of media agencies and systems, journalists, reporters, researchers, AI systems, scientists, fake doctors, the film and movie industry [motion pictures], the internet, global tech companies, search engine companies, politicians, governments, actors, marketing and advertising, and health institutions, who were all part of this, and most of them were bribed or paid under the table for these global pandemic operations. Some of them are just following orders and not even aware of the truth about coronaviruses and how this was well planned several years ago. It is a crime against humanity. The laboratory in Wuhan, China, was used as propaganda to manipulate the people into believing that it was only China who made it, but China is part of this global depopulation agenda. We must understand that politicians are paid actors. Anyone who is part of this depopulation plan is being handled by the people above. They follow orders from those who are higher than they are.
They don’t care whether the orders they take harm or benefit the people. We should stick it in our thick skulls that one of the main reasons for this pandemic is to kill all the organic humans and replace the planet with inorganic humans. That’s what they are planning to accomplish. There are only a very few people who are very intelligent and well informed about the truth in our world’s situations. These people are well-educated and are working on the good side for the betterment and restoration of the planet Earth. They are doing work behind the scenes without the use of the media, and 90 percent of the population doesn’t know anything about these people or how they are fighting against the demonic authorities who are working on the dark side. We need to be wise enough to not be slaves to the governments that are imposing illegal laws and manipulative narratives. As you go through their lies and agendas, you are putting yourself in a dire situation and staking your life. Some sources are stating that our birth certificates are under the control of our government. We are considered corporations and financiers of government officials. We are the ones who chose them to serve our nation. And if you act against them, you will be considered a threat. We have the freedom to choose our path in life. So, you must wake up and always seek the truth. Nothing good is going to happen on our planet unless we start within ourselves.
We are the driving force of our future. Whatever we do in the present time will shape the earth. Our minds are so aggressive and curious about everything. We need to hold our thoughts before executing them. We must always remember that our actions are our liability. We, as humans, must practice building a good mindset to allow us to think better and be compassionate with everyone and anything we have in our surroundings. Our minds can easily change things. We must be careful with what we create and build, as this will either help us to better our lives or it could destroy our human civilization. Innovation and invention are the catalysts of our future, and these are also the foundations of our current economic, political, governmental, environmental, and social developments.
Future full of Empty Choices?
There are already many established inventions that can be used to restore the planet, and we need to use them. But inventions related to AI will make everything in the world more complex and competitive. This technology is also wildly used by companies that manufacture smart cameras for global monitoring and tracking, and this honestly violates our privacy, safety, and security. Many speculations are going on about AI and chatbots and how these technologies are creating a hyper-competitive world between employers and employees. There is an AI tool that is widely used nowadays because of its features and characteristics. It is creating a dramatic change in the field of media. This AI tool is known as ChatGPT from OpenAI. The structure of its system is like a search engine, but the difference is its ability to respond within seconds in a non-human-like conversation. The first step that you must take is to input your commands or prompts in the box section, and then this AI system will respond to you as if it is a friend who is talking to you virtually. Other bloggers, influencers, and media journalists have tried some ways to use the system and experiment with it. They even published their tutorials through articles and videos to give their feedback about how this new chatbot system works. Most of them were amazed at how the system provided information in a fast-paced setting. Some have also commented that the AI system has no human tone. It does not sound like a human. This AI system is built with billions or trillions of pieces of data from the whole internet. And the interesting thing about it is that it has a high probability of attracting writers, authors, influencers, publishers, and the media to produce misinformation, disinformation, and manipulative narratives. It will create a new industry where misinformation can easily be written, and this will destroy humanity and spread manipulative narratives for money, fame, power, and control. People should understand that consuming any information on the web and the whole internet would change how we view things, especially facts. The media publication agencies and systems want us to fear their narratives. So, we get brainwashed to do what they want us to do. Even if they ask us to get vaccinated, many people will still believe their lies. The world is still running the slave trade program, and it happens every day in any part of the globe. It is profoundly important to do a study about anything that we see and hear before letting our minds conclude; otherwise, we may face the consequences. The world is changing too fast, and most of us are still behind the global agenda. If you allow these officials who are trying their best to enslave you, this could be the end of your freedom—your freedom to feel that you are a human.
But there is nothing to be afraid of—we are all co-creators. We can invent. The future of the world starts with us. This power within requires our comprehension that we manage our lives and our future through intrinsic mindfulness. Having the right thoughts will allow us to reflect on our own actions and wrongdoings. That’s the first step in the earth’s restoration. (Healing as a cognitive event.) Let’s show love, care, honesty, and compassion to our planet. Lastly, at every step on this path, the Supreme is within us. Let’s work together and restore our habitat!
Artificial Intelligence and Advances in Chemistry (II)
As previously seen, chemical representation types have developed several sub-types over recent years. Unfortunately, however, there is no clear answer as to which representation is the most efficient for a particular problem. For example, matrix representations are often the first choice for attribute prediction but, in recent years, graphs have also emerged as strong alternatives. It is also important to note that we can combine several types of representations depending on the problem.
Hence how (and which) representations can be used to explore chemical space? We have already said that string representations are suitable for generative modelling. Initially, graphical representations were not easy to model by using generative models, but more recently their combination with the Varational Autoencoder (VAE) has made them a very attractive factor.
In machine learning a variational autoencododer is an artificial neural network architecture introduced by Diederik P. Kingma e Max Welling. It is part of the families of probabilistic graphical models and variational Baysenian methods (i.e. family of methods for the approximation of integrals).
VAEs have proved particularly useful since they enable us to have a more machine-readable continuous representation. A study used VAEs to show that both string and graph representations can be encoded and decoded in a space where molecules are no longer discrete, but can be decoded into continuous vectors with real values of molecule representations. The Euclidean distance between different vectors will correspond to chemical similarity. Another model is added between the encoder and the decoder to predict the attribute to be reached at any point in space.
But while generating molecules per se is a simple task – we can take any generative model and apply it to the representation we desire – generating structures that are chemically valid and display the properties we desire is a much more challenging issue.
The initial approaches to achieve this goal imply models on existing data sets and their subsequent use for transfer to learning. The model is fine-tuned through a calibration data set to enable the generation of structures oriented towards specific properties, which can then be further calibrated using various algorithms. Many examples of this imply the use of string representations or graphs. However, difficulties are encountered with respect to the chemical validity or desired properties when these are not successfully obtained. Furthermore, the fact of relying on data sets limits the search space and introduces potentially undesirable biases.
An attempt at improvement is to use Markov Decision Process (MDP) to ensure the validity of chemical structures and optimise the MDP itself to achieve the desired properties through deep Q-learning (a model-free reinforcement learning algorithm to derive the value of an action in a particular state). In mathematics, an MDP is a discrete-time stochastic control process (a function or signal, with values given at a chosen set of times in the integer domain). It provides a mathematical framework for modelling the decision-making process in situations where outcomes are partly random and partly under the control of a decision-maker. MDPs are useful for studying optimisation problems solved by means of programming. They are used in many disciplines, including robotics, automatic control, economics and manufacturing. The MDP is named after the Russian mathematician Andrej Andreevič Markov (1856-1922).
A particular advantage of this model is that it enables users to visualise the preference of different actions: (a) to visualise the degree of preference for certain actions (1 being the highest preference, 0 the least preferred); and (b) take steps to maximise the quantitative estimation of the drug similarity to the starting molecule.
Although still in its infancy, the use of Artificial Intelligence to explore the chemical space is already showing great promise. It provides us with a new paradigm to explore the chemical space and a new way to test theories and hypotheses. Although empiricism is not as accurate as experimental research, computationally-based methods will remain an active research area for the foreseeable future and will already be part of any research group.
So far we have seen how Artificial Intelligence can help discover new chemicals more quickly by exploiting generative algorithms to search the chemical space. Although this is one of the most noteworthy use cases, there are also others. Artificial Intelligence is being applied to many other problems in chemistry, including:
1. Automated work in laboratory. Machine learning techniques can be used to speed up synthesis workflows. An approach uses self-driving laboratories to automate routine tasks, optimise resource expenditure and save time. A relatively new but noteworthy example is the use of the Ada robotic platform to automate the synthesis, processing and characterisation of materials. Ada tools are developed to provide predictions and models to automate repetitive processes, using machine learning and AI technologies to collect, understand and process data, so that resources can be dedicated to more value-added activities.
Ada is basically a laboratory that discovers and develops new organic thin-film materials without any human supervision. Its productivity is making most recent graduates uncomfortable. The entire thin-film fabrication cycle, from the mixing of chemical precursors, through deposition and thermal annealing, to the final electrical and optical characterisation, takes only twenty minutes. An additional aid is the use of a mobile chemical robot that can operate tools and perform measurements on 688 experiments over eight days.
2. Chemical reaction prediction. Classification models can be used to predict the type of reaction that will occur, or simplify the problem and predict whether a certain chemical reaction will occur.
3. Chemical data mining. Chemistry, like many other disciplines, has an extensive scientific literature for the study of trends and correlations. A notable example is the data mining of the vast amounts of information provided by the Human Genome Project to identify trends in genomic data.
4. Finally, although the new data-driven trend is developing rapidly and has had a great impact, it also entails many new challenges, including the gap between computation and experiment. Although computational methods aim to help achieve the experiment goals, the results of the former are not always transferable to the latter. For example, when using machine learning to find candidate molecules, we have to bear in mind that molecules are rarely unique in their synthetic pathways, and it is often difficult to know whether an unexplored chemical reaction will work in practice. Even if it works, there are problems with the yield, purity and isolation of the compound under study.
5. The gap between computational and experimental work becomes even wider, as computational methods use metrics that are not always transferable to the latter, such as Quantum Electrodynamics (QED), which describes all phenomena involving charged particles interacting by means of the electromagnetic force, so that its experimental verification may not be feasible. There is also the need for a better database. However, the problem of the lack of benchmarks arises. Since the entire chemical space is infinite, it is hoped to have a sufficiently large sample which may help in subsequent generalisation. Nevertheless, most of today’s databases are designed for different purposes and often use different file formats. Some of them have no validation procedures for submissions or are not designed for AI tasks. It should also be said that most of the databases available have a limited scope of chemical data: they only contain certain types of molecules. Furthermore, most tasks involving the use of Artificial Intelligence for chemical predictions have no reference platform, thus making the comparisons between many different studies impracticable.
One of the main reasons for the success of AlphaFold – which, as already seen, is an AI programme developed by DeepMind (Alphabet/Google) to predict the 3D structure of proteins – lies in the fact that it has provided all of the above as part of the critical evaluation of Protein Structure Prediction, i.e. the inference of a protein 3D structure from its amino acid sequence, e.g. the prediction of its secondary and tertiary structure from its primary structure. This evaluation demonstrates the need for organised efforts to streamline, simplify and improve other tasks involving chemical prediction.
In conclusion, as we continue to advance in the digital age, new algorithms and more powerful hardware will continue to lift the veil on previously intractable problems. The integration of Artificial Intelligence into chemical discovery is still in its infancy, but it is already a commonplace to hear the term “data-driven discovery”.
Many companies, whether pharmaceutical giants or newly founded start-ups, have adopted many of the above technologies and brought greater automation, efficiency and reproducibility to chemistry. Artificial Intelligence enables us to conduct science on an unprecedented scale and in recent years this has generated many initiatives and attracted funding that will continue to lead us further into an era of autonomous scientific discovery. (2. continued).
From rockets to spider silk, young scientists wow the jury – and each other!
The 34th annual edition of an EU contest for teenage researchers wrapped up this past week with participants from Canada, Denmark, Poland and Portugal claiming the top prize.
By Sofía Manzanaro
Inês Alves Cerqueira of Portugal just spent five days in Brussels and left with a top EU prize for young scientists.
But ask 17-year-old Cerqueira what she remembers most about the event, which featured 136 contestants from three dozen countries in Europe and beyond, and the much-coveted award gets hardly any mention.
‘I loved listening to all the projects and having conversations about science without having to worry about people judging me or anything like that,’ she said as the 34th annual EU Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) drew to a close in the Belgian capital.
Worries or not, Cerqueira and the other contestants aged 14 to 20 years were judged by a jury of 22 distinguished scientists and engineers from across Europe as part of the official competition. It featured 85 science projects in the running for first, second and third awards that shared a total of €62 000 in prize money.
The rewards also include scholarships and visits to institutions such as the European Space Agency, nuclear-research organisation CERN and a forum that brings together eight of the largest research bodies in Europe.
All the participants had already won first prizes in national science competitions. At EUCYS, four projects won the top prize and received €7 000 each.
Cerqueira claimed hers with two teammates: Afonso Jorge Soares Nunes and Mário Covas Onofre. The three Portuguese, who come from the northern coastal city of Porto, are exploring the potential of spider silk to treat bone diseases including osteoporosis.
The EUCYS projects, which ranged from rocket science and chronic-pain drugs to climate demographics and river pollution, were as varied as the backgrounds of the participants, who came from as far away as Canada and South Korea.
Canadian Elizabeth Chen was another first-prize winner for a project on a cancer therapy. The two other top-award recipients were Maksymilian Gozdur of Poland for an entry on judicial institutions and Martin Stengaard Sørensen of Denmark for an initiative on rocket propulsion systems.
‘EUCYS is about rewarding the enthusiasm, passion and curiosity of Europe’s next generation of bright minds finding new solutions to our most pressing challenges,’ said Marc Lemaître, the European Commission’s director-general for research and innovation.
Eagerness and spirit were on general display at the event. So was camaraderie.
Noemi Marianna Pia, Pietro Ciceri and Davide Lolla, all 17 year olds from Italy, said they felt themselves winners by having earned spots at EUCYS for a project on sustainable food and described the event as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to mix with fellow young scientists from around the world.
The three Italians want to develop plant-based alternatives to animal proteins. At their exhibition stand, they talked with contagious excitement about their research while holding dry chickpeas and soybeans.
Lolla said that, while his pleasures include tucking into a juicy steak, he feels a pressing need to reduce meat consumption to combat climate change and preserve biodiversity.
On the other side of the venue, 16-year-old Eleni Makri from Cyprus recalled how a classroom chat about summer plans sparked an idea to use seagrass on many of the island’s beaches to produce fertiliser.
Her project partner, Themis Themistocleous, eagerly joined the conversation to explain how seagrass can recover phosphate from wastewater. The process involves thermal treatment of the seagrass.
Themistocleous also expressed pride at having been chosen by Makri as her teammate for the competition.
‘There were a thousand people, but she chose me!’ he said with a wide grin as Makri playfully shook her head in response.
Science can also be the outcome of a partnership rather than its trigger. Metka Supej and Brina Poropat of Slovenia were brought together by sports, particularly rowing.
After years of training on the same team, they decided to research the impact of energy drinks on heart-rate recovery.
As they cheered for one another while preparing to say goodbye, the participants at EUCYS 2023 offered a glimpse of the combination of qualities – personal, intellectual, social and even professional – that turn young people into pioneering researchers.
Gozdur, the Polish top-prize winner, discovered his passion for judicial matters while working at a law firm. Before that, he wanted to study medicine and even dabbled in the film industry.
His EUCYS project drew on French and Polish criminal-procedure codes to examine the prospects for “restorative justice” – a central element of which is rehabilitation of the convict. The conclusion reached was that ‘penal populism is not beneficial to any party, especially to the victim’s,’ according to a description.
Now 19 years old and a law student in Warsaw, Gozdur said he would like international institutions to take up his work so that it influences ‘real-life’ legal norms in the future.
‘EUCYS showed me that my idea is actually relevant and that it may help societies,’ he said. ‘I would like to fight more for my project.’
For Sørensen, the Danish recipient of the top prize, venturing into rocket science as a teenager was no surprise. From the city of Odense, he began computer programming at the age of 10 and was inspired by his father – an electrical engineer – to look into engineering.
Now 19 years old, Sørensen is striving in his research to create cheaper rocket engines. His project, entitled “Development of small regeneratively cooled rocket propulsion systems”, demonstrated how small rocket engines can be cooled by using a fuel that is a mixture of ethanol and nitrous oxide.
Sørensen said he’s unsure what his future path will be while expressing interest in pursuing his rocket research.
‘I would like to continue working on this project,’ he said. ‘And I would like to do something that matters in the world.’
Chen, the top-award winner from Canada, has long had a passion for cancer research.
From childhood, she became involved in fundraisers for a Canadian cancer association and was puzzled about why significant donations had produced no cure. Now 17 years old and in high school, Chen is seeking a therapy that would avoid the often-considerable side effects of conventional treatments.
Her project focuses on a novel form of immunotherapy based on “CAR-T cells”, which are genetically altered so they can fight cancer more effectively.
‘I am really interested in going into university right away and then hopefully getting involved in some cancer research because that is just so interesting to me,’ said Chen, who comes from Edmonton.
The three Portuguese winners – Cerqueira, Nunes and Onofre – said they have developed a partnership as strong as their spider silk and plan to pursue their research while at university with the hope – one day – of conducting clinical studies.
Called “SPIDER-BACH2”, their project reflects an awareness that osteoporosis will become a growing health challenge worldwide as people live longer. It aims for in vitro production of bone-building cells known as osteoblasts.
‘The future is bright for us,’ said Nunes. This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine.
Space Exploration: The Unification of Past, Present and Future
The enchanting realm of space exploration continues to unfold new wonders with every passing day, sparking a growing interest among individuals to embark on their own cosmic journeys. While exploring space with the aid of private companies that charge fortunes is a privilege usually reserved for billionaire adventurers, there are occasional exceptions that captivate our attention.
Just a few days ago on 8th September, Virgin Galactic’s third spaceflight set out on a brief mission that seized the spotlight due to some interesting details. Three private explorers, Ken Baxter, Timothy Nash, and Adrian Reynard, two pilots and one instructor, were onboard ‘VSS Unity’. However, the presence of two different and unique passengers added a twist to the journey: fossils of our ancient human ancestors. The fossil remains of two ancient species, two-million-years-old Australopithecus sediba and 250,000 years old Homo naledi, held in carbon fiber, emblazoned with the South African flag, were part of the Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft ‘crew’ for a one-hour ride, making them the oldest human species to visit space. Australopithecus sediba’s clavicle (collarbone) and Homo naledi’s thumb bone were chosen for the voyage. Both fossil remains were discovered in the Cradle of Humankind – home to human ancestral remains in South Africa.
The episode undoubtedly prompts questions regarding the underlying reason behind sending these fossil remains into the vast expanse of space in the first place. It profoundly underscores the immense power of symbols, speaking to us in ways words cannot. This voyage was not just a journey through space, but a soulful homage to our ancestors. Their invaluable contributions have sown the seeds of innovation and growth, propelling us to unimaginable heights. Now, as we stretch our hands towards the heavens, we remember them – and in this gesture, we symbolise our eternal gratitude and awe for the path they paved, allowing humanity to quite literally aim for the skies. As Timothy Nash said, ‘It was a moment to contemplate the enterprising spirit of our earliest ancestors, who had embarked on a journey toward exploration and innovation years ago.’
Moreover, the clavicle of the Australopithecus sediba was deliberately chosen given that it was discovered by nine-year-old Mathew Berger, son of Lee Berger, a National Geographic Society explorer, who played a major role in discovering both species and handed over the remains to Timothy Nash for the journey. This story serves as a touching testament to the boundless potential of youth, showing us that even the young can be torchbearers in the realm of science, lighting the path of discovery with their boundless curiosity. The unearthing of Homo naledi in 2013 wasn’t just about finding bones; it was a window into our past. This ancient ancestor, with its apelike shoulders and human-like feet, hands, and brain, wasn’t just a distant relative. They were artists and inventors, leaving behind symbols and tools in their cave homes as a silent testament to their legacy. This led to the discovery of more than 1,500 specimens from one of the biggest excavations in Africa’s history. It wasn’t just about digging up the past; it was about piecing together the jigsaw of our very essence, deepening our understanding of the roots and journey of our kind, especially in the heartland of South Africa. Each discovery, each bone, whispered tales of our shared journey, of beginnings, growth, and the undying spirit of exploration.
For those involved in the venture, the occasion was awe-inspiring as it connected our ancient roots to space exploration. However, not everyone is pleased. The event has sparked criticism from archaeologists and palaeoanthropologists, many of whom have called it a mere publicity stunt and raised serious concerns over such an act given that it poses risks to the care of the precious fossils. It was further argued that the act was ethically wrong, and lacked any concrete scientific justifications.
Setting aside this debate, the episode connects chronicles of our past with the boundless potential of humankind’s future. It celebrates the age-old quest for exploration shared across millennia. This journey, captivating in its essence, elevates space exploration to a sacred place where fossils, once cradled by the Earth’s soil, now dance among the stars. Just as with pivotal moments in space history, it is also a compelling cue to states that are currently lagging in this race to timely embrace the possibilities of this frontier. Countries, like Pakistan, should draw inspiration from such milestones to fervently chart their own celestial courses.
Upon their return to South Africa, the relics would be displayed in museums and other institutions, offering a chance to the public to view them and draw inspiration. As we witness the rise of commercial space travel, this unique journey provides glimpses of the multifaceted nature of space exploration – one that prompts us to reflect on our past, engage actively with the present and anticipate the future that awaits us. Something Pakistan’s national poet Allama Iqbal eloquently captured in one his verses, translated as: I see my tomorrow (future) in the mirror of my yesterday (past).
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