The phrase “head in the clouds” is one with a highly negative connotation. The implication is that you are dreaming of things outside of the realm of possibility. That might mean that you are dreaming to big or that you are dreaming about worlds that do not exist. In the case of astronomy, looking to the clouds is just the beginning, as you are going to look far beyond in the end. Working with private astronomy tutors is a great way to focus in on the aspect of space that interests you most and look to the future of innovation.
I used to argue with a friend of mine over the merits of space exploration. My argument is that there is a certain hubris to believe that we are ready to have a place among the stars. The process of getting to space requires lots of different expensive processes that can seem frivolous in the grand scheme of things. For example, the average cost per launch over the lifetime of the NASA shuttle program was $1.5 billion in 2010. Whereas a normal air flight has the obvious benefit of taking people where they need to go in a hurry, the benefits of space travel are much more mercurial, pun intended. You never know what you might find or what discoveries could come as a result of space exploration. When the first picture of a black hole was taken, my reaction was “okay.” It is hard to see the immediate benefit of something that is such a distant concept. In my way of thinking, there are enough terrestrial problems with the planet that it is hard to see how extraterrestrial worries are more important. This was mostly the same thought as the US government, as they stopped launching shuttles in 2004.
On my friend’s side, which has become a lot more convincing to me over time, is the belief that there are more indirect benefits from the space program than direct. Part of any war is a competition to be the best. During the Cold War, the Space Race was a key contributor to advancing technology forward and was driven by the competition between the US and USSR to reach the moon fastest. Over the course of the program, different new inventions that we use in civilian life were developed off of what was used in the space program. For example, NASA needed to find a way to replenish the supply of drinking water for astronauts, as there is less water in space than in the driest desert. To combat this problem, engineers designed a water purification system that could turn wastewater from respiration, sweat, and urine into water that you can drink. This technology was brought to the third world (still on earth), as many undeveloped countries have water that is heavily contaminated. From that technology, we also got the all-in-one Coke machines that let you have hundreds of flavor combinations in one dispenser. Some might say one technology was more important than the other, but I would say the Coke machine is as vital as giving water to third world countries.
The 1999 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, Ahmed Zewali, put it best in his quote about the importance of exploration. To paraphrase, he said that preserving knowledge and transferring knowledge are easy. The benefits are clear. But making new knowledge is not easy or profitable in the short term. The benefit of research comes over the long term and enriches culture with basic truth. You may not see the direct benefit of space exploration now, but one day, you will see the rewards of your work. If you believe in making a difference for future generations, go beyond just mechanical engineering tutors and search for astronomy tutoring near me.