This is a wonderful, beautiful interview about West Africa’s first female astrophysicist, Marie Korsaga, from Burkina Faso. This young woman breaks all the stereotypes. Much of our western culture does not appreciate science. Science, discoveries by the human mind, the power of hypothesis, is the driver of civilization’s growth. Science, not money, is the underlying source of economic value. Science demonstrates, and celebrates our uniquely human powers, which no other living creature possesses, or could ever posses. We are truly in the image of the Creator when we are exercising the higher scientific powers of our creative mind. I strongly believe that the world would be better off if we had more of youth becoming scientists (and engineers).
Excerpted questions and answers:
Where does your passion for astrophysics stem from?
From an early age, I have always been interested in the phenomena of the universe, such as the appearance of life on earth and shooting stars. I also enjoyed watching documentary films on astronomy, especially on the Apollo missions. But at the time, I never imagined that I would become an astrophysicist, because astronomy was an unknown domain in Burkina Faso. Besides, I had never met — let alone talked to — an astronomer in real life before my doing my degree.
Growing up, I intended to become a civil engineer because I also like construction. When I did my degree, astronomy had just been integrated as an optional subject in physics in Burkina Faso, and I seized this opportunity. My interest in scientific subjects allowed me to excel more easily in the subject and to pursue my postgraduate studies in astrophysics.
In a continent where there is a lack of water, electricity and even food, does opting for astrophysics ignore the fundamental problems facing the region?
Since astronomy is a science that requires a vast field of knowledge, it enables skills to be developed at the local level. For example, if you take the telescope construction project in South Africa, which is one of the biggest projects in astronomy, it was established by engineers, computer scientists, technicians. So, in addition to strict astronomy, skills are developed that can be used effectively in other sectors.
An astrophysicist is someone who is almost a complete all-rounder in science — someone who has skills in physics, engineering, programming. All this is what makes people describe astronomy as the mother of all sciences. As well as being fascinating as a science, astronomy can be used as a development tool through, for example, education and tourism. The International Astronomical Union understands this and is trying hard to address the development component in developing countries, working to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The typical example in Africa is the case of South Africa where the installation of telescopes has not only popularised science and created jobs for young people, but also boosted the local economy and infrastructure. Burkina Faso could well draw inspiration from these success stories and position itself as a centre of excellence in West Africa.
Below is an article whose central polemic I concur with. Today’s culture-society is being bombarded with propaganda that all stems from the Malthusian mantra, that the world has limited resources and therefore we must reduce the number of people living on this planet. Malthus’ ideological driven, anti-scientific ideas were wrong when he presented them over 200 years ago, they are wrong today, and they will always be wrong. The most powerful force that the human species possesses is; the mind. More explicitly, the power of the creative imagination to hypothesize previously unknown principles of the universe. There are no fixed resources. Human beings, the only creative species, is the source of all new discoveries that create new resources, as the history of our species demonstrate over millions of years on this planet earth. Do not succumb to “group think” and do not submit to so called authorities. The pathetic level of discussion in our society today, reflected in the 2020 US election for example, indicates how much the dialogue of profound ideas has deteriorated over the last half century. The most effective way to inspire humans beings and excite their imagination is to explore our solar system, and the universe with all its galaxies. By looking up to the stars in the sky to discover the laws of our universe, we can eliminate human suffering on earth.
The Age of Reason Is in the Stars!
There is really good news: Man is capable of reason and therefore of limitless intellectual and moral perfectibility! We can do something that neither the donkeys nor the monkeys can do: We can discover new scientific principles of the universe in which we live, without limits! And these qualitative discoveries mean that, unlike donkeys and monkeys, we are constantly able to redefine even what we consider to be resources, therefore making resources unlimited. We can continue to improve the livelihoods of humanity!
We are experiencing unprecedented, fascinating scientific revolutions: the Chinese are exploring the far side of the Moon with their Chang’e Moon missions, planning to mine helium-3 as fuel for the coming fusion economy on Earth, and next year a Mars mission will investigate the conditions for terraforming the red planet. With their Chandrayaan 2 mission to the south pole of the Moon, Indians will explore the ice in the craters there, which are always in the shade—water is one of the essential prerequisites for life on the Moon. The European Space Agency is working on concrete plans for international cooperation on a permanent Moon village! The U.S. is building upon the Kennedy Apollo program with its Artemis program, and Russia, the U.S., and China all see nuclear-powered spaceships as the right choice for future flights to Mars and deep into space!
The great thing about space travel is that it proves that we are not living in a closed system in which raw materials are limited and the murderous views of Thomas Malthus, Julian Huxley, Bertrand Russell, and Prince Philip would be correct, but on the contrary, we live in an anti-entropic universe. Space travel is the irrefutable proof that the universe “obeys” an adequate hypothesis of the human mind, and that there is therefore absolute coherence between the immaterial ideas produced by reason, and the physical laws of this universe, and that these ideas are the spearhead of the anti-entropic dynamics of the universe.
There have been groundbreaking proofs recently: about 100 years after Einstein’s theses on the existence of gravitational waves and black holes, the change in space-time has now been proven, and shortly thereafter, with the help of eight radio telescopes distributed all over the world, images were made of the area around a black hole whose mass is 6.5 billion times larger than that of the Sun, 53.5 million light years away at the center of the M87 galaxy. There is still so much to discover in our universe, where, according to the Hubble Space Telescope, there are at least two trillion galaxies! Space exploration opens up a deeper insight into how the laws of our universe work, and what role we humans play in it!
This is the life-affirming cultural optimism that comes with the idea of humanity as a space-faring species, in complete contrast to the contrived doomsday atmosphere which is spread by the apostles of a coming apocalypse—such as Prince Charles and the hedge-fund cover girl Greta Thunberg. Behind the Greta hype are quite vile interests: the trans-Atlantic financial system is facing a more serious crash than in 2008, and the financial sharks and locusts of the City of London and Wall Street are trying one final big deal, to steer as much investment into “green” technology as possible, before the systemic crisis hits.
A closer look at the various sponsors of Greta’s extremely ambitious and well-funded agenda; of the Extinction Rebellion (XR); and of FridaysforFuture (F4F), reveals that this movement is funded by some of the richest people on Earth, including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, George Soros, and Ted Turner. The fact is that the beneficiaries of the climate hype and the Green New Deal are the banks and hedge funds.
A ‘Rebellion’ Funded by the Most Privileged
The target of this unprecedented manipulation is you, the young adults, the children and teenagers of this world! Shouldn’t it make you stop and think, when your alleged “rebellion” is supported by the whole spectrum of mainstream media and the entire liberal establishment? Yet the vile idea that manipulating the paradigm-shift of an entire society must begin with the indoctrination of children is nothing new. As early as 1951, Lord Bertrand Russell wrote in his book, The Impact of Science on Society:
“I think the subject which will be of most importance politically is mass psychology. . . . Its importance has been enormously increased by the growth of modern methods of propaganda. . . . It may be hoped that in time anybody will be able to persuade anybody of anything if he can catch the patient young and is provided by the State with money and equipment. The social psychologists of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. . . . not much can be done unless indoctrination begins before the age of ten.”
The goal of the apocalyptic scaremongering by people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (“We have only 12 years left!”) or the head of the British Commonwealth, Prince Charles (“We only have 18 months left!”), is an induced radical change in the way of life of mankind. Everything that we have understood as progress during the last 250 years should be abandoned, and we should return to the technological level that existed before the Industrial Revolution. But this also means that then the number of people who can be sustained at that level will drop to about a billion or less.
It would mean that developing countries would have no prospects for ever escaping poverty, hunger, epidemics and a shortened lifespan; it would be a genocide of an unimaginably large number of people! If “climate scientist” Mojib Latif thinks that the Western lifestyle can not be transmitted to all people in the world, and if Barack Obama is outraged that many young people in Africa want a car, air conditioning and a big house, then behind that lurks the inhuman arrogance of members of the totally privileged upper class. It is precisely this view by the colonial rulers that is responsible for the fact that Africa and much of Latin America are still underdeveloped, and many hundreds of millions of people have died early unnecessarily.
For the developing world, the pseudo-religion of anthropogenic climate change means genocide. For the souls of the young people of the world, the cultural pessimism it induces is a poison that destroys confidence in human creativity. When every activity becomes a problem and is suddenly laden with guilt—eating meat, or eating at all, driving a car, flying, home heating, clothing, and indeed life itself—it destroys any enthusiasm for discovery, any enthusiasm for that which is beautiful, and all hope for the future. And if every human being is just another parasite that destroys the environment, then quite a few come to the misanthropic conclusions of the mass shooters of Christchurch and El Paso who, in their “manifestos,” cited environmental reasons for their actions.
Conversely, the scientific and technological advances associated with space travel are the key to overcoming all apparent limitations of our present existence on Earth. “Terraforming”—the creation of human conditions—then becomes possible not only on the Moon and Mars, but also here on Earth, and in the future on many heavenly bodies in our Solar system and perhaps beyond.
In his “Anthropology of Astronautics,” the German-American space pioneer Krafft Ehricke writes:
“The concept of space travel carries with it enormous impact, because it challenges man on practically all fronts of his physical and spiritual existence. The idea of traveling to other celestial bodies reflects to the highest degree the independence and agility of the human mind. It lends ultimate dignity to man’s technical and scientific endeavors. Above all, it touches on the philosophy of his very existence. As a result, the concept of space travel disregards national borders, refuses to recognize differences of historical or ethnological origin, and penetrates the fiber of one sociological or political creed as fast as that of the next.”
Today, we need this culturally optimistic image of mankind, and the passionate love for humanity associated with it as the only creative species known to date! The fact that we can venture into space means that we can overcome the narrow, earth-bound mindset. “There, in the stars, lies mankind’s entry into the long-awaited Age of Reason, when our species sheds at last the cultural residue of the beast,” as Lyndon LaRouche put it.
It is an incredible privilege to be young now, to reach for the stars and help shape an epoch of humanity that, for the first time in history, can unleash the unlimited potential of our species!
Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Founder and President of the Schiller Institute
Below is my article on President Trump’s Non-African Strategy, January 1, 2019, that was published (abridged) in the African Union magazine: “Invest in Africa“-2019 vol 1. You can find it on page 109 (129 on the link to the magazine). There are many worth while articles to read in this volume of the AU magazine
January 1, 2019
After waiting almost two years for President Trump to articulate his policy for Africa, last month he unveiled his US-African Strategy, through the mouth of National Security Adviser John Bolton. It should be called the Non-Africa Strategy because it has little if anything to do with the continent of Africa itself. Rather, it is essentially a geo-political tactic aimed primarily at China and to a lesser extent Russia. President Trump has put his stamp of approval on the age-old British inspired geo-political ideology that views foreign policy as a “global zero-sum game”-a world with only winners and losers among the super-powers. All other (lesser) nations are treated simply as movable pieces in their fantasy game. In other words, in this administration’s policy, Africa is a pawn on their geo-political chess board. Sadly, this so-called African stratagem shows no concern for well-being of the African people, doing nothing to improve the conditions of life on the continent, nor does it enhance US security.
Bolton explicitly attacks China’s new paradigm in foreign policy-the Belt and Road Initiative-while threatening African nations who do not support the US position on China and Russia. Blinded by their geo-political world view, the Trump administration displays disdain for the fruitful collaboration of China (primarily) with Africa nations in building vitally needed infrastructure across the African continent. In many cases constructing new railroads for the first time since the days of imperialist-colonial domination.
The Trump/Bolton policy has already failed from the start. It is too late to stop Africa’s momentum for economic development with its allies. However, if the Trump administration were more thoughtful, it would formulate a strategy to assist African nations in reducing their massive deficits in crucial categories of infrastructure.
Return to a Real American Strategy for Africa
The promotion of human life should (must) be the most important goal of all foreign policy. Human beings uniquely possess the cognitive-creative mental capacity to transform the physical universe. Only through new scientific discoveries by a sovereign human mind, can we ensure the continued material-biological propagation of our human race. Thus, the promotion of physical (not financial) economic growth, which sustains human progress, is the core of any competent “good neighbor” foreign policy.
President John Kennedy was our last president who identified with and supported the development of the newly liberated African nations. His unique friendship with Ghanaian President, Kwame Nkrumah resulted in securing the funding for the Akosombo Dam on the Volta River which provided hydro-power for aluminum smelting and electricity for the people. This project stands as a monument today in Ghana (and Africa) in contradistinction to the El Mina slave dungeon, and other “slave castles” along Ghana’s coast. We should remember that it was the African liberator, President Nkrumah, who was the very first Head of State invited by President Kennedy to Washington DC on March 8, 1961. Four months later, the pro-African President invited Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister of the newly independent Republic of Nigeria to the White House.
Not one of the ten US Presidents following the death of Kennedy have emulated in practice his genuine concern for the advancement of the African people. However, President Kennedy was not original in his vision for Africa.
President Franklin Roosevelt famously scolded British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, during their war-time conferences, for Britain’s imperialist exploitation of Africa. He drove Churchill into an apoplectic fit, when he threatened to do away with British Imperialism and its eighteenth-century methods, after the war was won.
President Roosevelt expressed his vision for Africa’s development when told his son Elliott, that with the re-creation of a lake in the depressed flats in North Africa, “The Sahara would bloom for hundreds of miles.” He also reminded his son of the rivers which arise in Atlas Mountains and disappear under the Desert. “Divert this water flow for irrigation purposes? It’d make the Imperial Valley in California look like a cabbage patch!”
This is the way US leaders true to our American System of economic progress used to think.
Africa’s population is projected to expand to 2.5 billion people in 2050- a generation and a half generation from now. The continent is well situated to become the center of world commerce, with its expanding population, vast tracts of arable land, and its abundance of natural resources. To secure this future, Africa needs trillions of dollars invested in infrastructure. There is no “zero sum” competition. Africa’s friends should cooperate in promoting the limitless number of infrastructure projects that Africa desperately needs. If, Africa and its allies fail to fully develop its enormous potential, and African nations are unable to productively employ and instill hope for a better future to the continent’s projected 2050 population of a billion young people, then we should anticipate perilously new levels instability and insecurity.
It should be obvious to all, including President Trump and his advisers that there will be no security without economic development.
It would be best for both the US and Africa, for President Trump to jettison this terribly flawed policy and advance a real American vision for the continent. This should include collaboration with China on building transformative infrastructure such as the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project to refurbish the shrinking Lake Chad.
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, and Vice Chairman of the International Scientific Advisory Committee to the Lake Chad Basin Commission