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Space School Tokyo (February 1) Report

A total of 675 participants attended “Space School Tokyo” held at Komaba Campus, the University of Tokyo. About one third of the participants were children, including one 4th grader from Nagoya. They rained questions on the lecturers. Some asked such expert-level questions about planetary exploration such as, “What wavelength is used for observation: infrared, ultraviolet, or X-ray?“ The lecturers were delighted and enthusiastic to answer these questions. Someone else asked the question, “What was there before the big bang?” which also appears on the FAQ page of our website. The lecturers and their schoolmaster could only reply: “To questions about what we can never know, the only answer we can give is ‘We don’t know!’” It was a puzzling Q&A.


Typical audience questions were “Will space travel become real,” “What is a black hole,” and “What is the beginning of space?” The Space Shuttle Columbia accident happened the day after the event. I felt fearful to think that I would have not been able to manage the event as the schoolmaster if the accident had happened a little earlier. However, if the accident had taken place before the event, what would have been our answer to questions about safety and the direction of future space development? I think that all of us involved in the Japanese space project should prepare our own answers.

February 25, 2003