Although technology can make us safer and help us to live longer, it also gives us the capacity for spectacular and devastating catastrophes. The Columbia disaster was one such example.
Science writer James R. Chiles' book, Inviting Disaster: Lessons from the Edge of Technology is especially relevant now. From Chernobyl to the Challenger, Inviting Disaster explains how breakdowns in systems result in some of the more dramatic technological catastrophes we have witnessed over the past several years.
But should we abandon technology? Obviously not. In fact, with regard to the space program, Jack Ganssle points out that just as Portugal's Prince Henry sent mission after failed mission on his quest to find an ocean route to the Orient, we as a people must be willing to take on grand, though problem-plagued, ventures.” Responses to the weekly poll indicate that a lot of readers' enthusiasm for space flight hasn't been dampened by the recent tragedy.