Who Are The Priests Of Today?
Who Is Leading Us All?

who are the priests

As I read H.G. Wells’ A Short History Of The World this morning, a particular section grabbed my attention and made me draw correlations with our modern times.

In the 12th chapter Primitive Thought, he speculates how power and religion must have sprung in primitive times:

What Wells has tried to say in this is that the primitive men were unable to form sound judgment on the important things that were happening around them. Those things spanned from the availability of their foods to illness and death. Although they tried to make guesses, they weren’t able to discover the proper cause-effect. This made them prone to fear and panic.

It was then that the older and steadier minds among them took lead and began advising, teaching and eventually commanding the multitudes. Those leaders were priests, which then gave birth to religion.

The Correlation

I am the proof that our modern time with computers, internet and now Artificial Intelligence, Space-Travels, Medical science, etc. is taking us into the great unknown which is making us fearful and anxious.

If the information overload — which has given us more confusion than wisdom — was not enough, the thought of machines taking our jobs, megalomaniacs stepping into moons, diseases taking our lives, have guaranteed almost nothing as we are unable to form sound judgment on what will happen tomorrow, let alone in five years time. We are confused about our livelihood and health — important things — just like the primitive men. The only thing that has changed is the tools. For example, anxiety about the availability of foods has been replaced by anxiety about the quality of foods. And in some places, quantity of it.

Although we try to make guesses, we aren’t being able to discover the proper cause-effect of all this. A quick scroll on Medium will prove this. This has made us fearful.

Once again, as per Wells’ narrative, this problem in primitive days led to older and steadier minds among them to take lead in advising, teaching and eventually commanding the multitudes. Those leaders then became priests, which then gave birth to religion.

Although the tools and mediums have changed today, we have seen an uprising of religious and spiritual pursuits on a global scale. We saw that in the mid 20th century due to bombs and we see that today due to computers, AIs, medicine, as mentioned above. The 20th century crisis had limited sources of threat from what we have today.

But a big part of us isn’t satisfied with the religious and spiritual doctrines that have its roots in spears and stones. We are today dealing with machines that threaten to be more intelligent than us. The ones that threaten to even eradicate us! We do have the option of deeming them ‘devil’ and ‘monsters’, otherwise those teachings don’t touch us in the regions we want to be touched.

If history does indeed repeat itself, what that leaves us with is to identify the older and steadier minds among us that are taking lead. Who are advising, teaching and commanding the multitudes.

In the ancient times, those leaders were called priests who gave birth to religion as we know today. Who is doing that today and what new religion is being formed from all this? Should we not be skeptical of what forms from all this?

Once again, if history repeats, they are here. They have to be here by now. So, Who are they? Is it me? Is it you? Is it us? Or is it a billionaire?

Laxmi Prasad Devkota
What was Devkota all about?

In Nepal, it is difficult to find an intellectual unstained by Hindu/Buddhist or some sort of political ideology. This tendency might be a global phenomenon, yet, in Nepal, it stretches to a nauseating degree, so much so that you can correctly guess an intellectual’s entire idea-set by merely knowing his/hers religious/political inclination. The person I am writing about today is Laxmi Prasad Devkota.

He struggled with both those elements and yet managed to live and create in a way that included and transcended them.

You can’t predict him, you can’t guess him and you get both annoyed and exalted by his spontaneity and randomness: in other words, by his poetic genius.

There’s a lot of myth surrounding the man.

Stories of him giving away his coat to the poor; writing lengthy poems in cigarette packs; struggling immensely with money; being sent to Ranchi (a city in India known for mental treatment) — are abound. It was in this context that he was called a geographical mistake by a Brit whose name I cannot recall.

Yet some had enough sense to recognize him and call him a Nepali Mahakavi (Great Poet). But apart from that, his works and ideas aren’t popular in a folk sense and his presence is mostly limited within dull school-books.

Yes, such is the society of Nepal and such was the man born here: ahead of his time, inappropriately in space!

He mostly wrote poems (epic, short, metered, unmetered) spanning from Nepali Shakuntala to Prometheus. His seminal work Munamadan is still considered to be the greatest work of Nepali Literature. It is a tragedy about a man who leaves his wife and mother to go to Lhasa for a better financial life.

He wrote songs. He also wrote a lot of short stories and a novel.

His essays are brilliant and it is in this context that I would like to introduce his ideas to people who aren’t familiar with him.

A few years ago I published a collection of poetry in English named PARANOIA:

When I reached to the final stages the work — set to publish — I had the idea of using my work as a medium to interpret a couple of Nepali writers — in English. I translated certain lines I liked from Devkota’s essay collection and placed it in.

The translations include his thoughts on a wide array of things: creativity, art, science, philosophy, spirituality, education, life, god, etc.

I now want to quit this rambling of mine and insert those translations/interpretations so that you can judge and hopefully enjoy his ideas on your own.


Truth shines through feelings…

In the heart lies the luminosity of God.

Feelings or emotions are primary

Desiring and thinking come later.


Eyes identify

Brain understands

Ears listen

Heart feels.

To be devoid of these four is the sign of being a beast.


Difficulty doesn’t imply depth.

Difficulty doesn’t mean Art,

Incomprehensibility doesn’t have any value.

Schools are:


To manufacture machines.

Education system

And the soul desires a thing,

education provides something else.

All I’ve learned till B.A

in three years

I believe,

I can put into little children’s minds better,

reciting stories…


That we usually call Education

is making man stupid.

Creation Love Art

And love is the chief element of creation

Whilst Art is the chief action of love


I yearn to see:

What lies there in the heart!

Natural curiosity!


I want to bow my head

As if the all pervading God is scolding me.

I know that I am a sinner.


The beautifully illustrated Truth is Art

Which springeth from the creative imagination.

The truth lies in our life

and unless it comes from the formlessness to the form:

we do not realize it.


Civilization hasn’t yet started.

We haven’t learned to respect life.

Real progress will start

The day our sentiment of brotherhood gets firm


As long as we aspire to become great in this world

or hold feelings to do things

and show our pride,

Vairagya is impossible.


To doubt is better,

as it helps understand,

assists searching.

Question is everything, answer is maturity.


It is cowardice to not move forward in opportunity.

We cannot live in a life devoid of danger.

What Science does not

Science cannot satisfy man’s curiosity

and he searches for glimpses

beyond the Sciences

through the magic of emotional and imaginative world,

where man feels self-satisfied as if he is near the truth.

What Art not

The works done by mathematical formulas,

even though are the works of brain,

do not deserve to be called Art.

Painting is Art, Photography is not.

Where Art springs

When the creative imagination sees new dreams

Rising from imitation

And maneuvers its works in its own manner,

Art springs.

Let’s get small

There is fun in being small

We can see others’ significance dance around.

There is pleasure in the peacefulness of ego;

We can see others’ pretense.

Subtle Conscience

The energy to manufacture Art

Doesn’t come from the mere superficial darshan of objects

nor does it comes from mere intellect and knowledge;

It comes from those subtle consciences,

Which find emotional caressing from divine experience

rising above bestial eyes.

The beast merely looks and remains satisfied,

but man tries to touch the heart of everything.

Teacher and teaching

Science cannot locate everything

and our psychological studies end

within the darkness of the intellect.

This is why no teacher can teach.


In the divine talent of the Creator

The word was born

And we,

studying this creation

attain clear messages of

Divine Conscience,

Divine Truth,

Divine Beauty and

Divine knowledge.

In the creative imagination of God,

Totality works and provides beautiful

lines and colors and forms

to the Truth of God.

We realize the ‘beautiful’ through the sensing of Truth

and where there is no Truth there isn’t beauty.

This Self-Illustrating form of God

manifests in artistic creativity such that

truth becoming beautiful descends to the outer forms of the senses.

Imaginative Truth

For me,

practicality is limited and

philosophy, intellect is blind.

I enjoy imaginative truth the most

and through it find the glimpses of God


I enjoy gambling,

As I find ample opportunities there

To engage my mind and study.

Why is God silent?

It is the consequence of the

Western Civilization that,

God doesn’t speak in

Wind and Water.


I speak with the shadows

For me,

The optical world is merely

The manifestation of the inside

And all solid objects are liquid.

The Poet

In the heart of the poet

The rocks speak

And the leaves have tongue.


Those who say,

The world doesn’t speak

Are Deaf

Those who say,

There isn’t life in the hills and the trees and the stars

Are cadavers.

Human Beings

If anything

Elucidates the affinity

Between man and God

It is Human-Heart and Imagination

In Art

Man seeks to


His identification with the unknown

And in the world of the known

Seeks for the kingdom of the unknown

True Study

For studying the life of any culture

There’s nothing more enlightening

Then the Arts of that culture.


We feel we’ve reached near to the Creator

When that eye in our inner world opens


Can bring to form the unavailable and the irregular

And fill it with colours.


A small spark of

The fundamental creative dream energy of God

In humans:

Is Imagination.


He tries to create

Embrace nature

Runs after fresh magic to improve the world

Listens to the call of the unknown,

Ascending beyond sights and sounds

Seeks for the inner sparks and sounds

He turns forms into sounds and words into pictures

He dislikes boundaries

He wants to fly and pluck

Peek from darkness and

Steal the fire from heaven.

Work and Art

In a simple table,

The work of carpentry is done

Not Art.


If a carpenter

Creates a table as if a beautiful dream

Art it becomes.


We call those creations Art

Which are within the boundaries of truth and beauty

If they’ve got the natural affect

For the heart of life.

Empty dreams aren’t Art

As long as they don’t get published.

Truth and Beauty

Beauty arises from the prodigious consciousness of truth

As if truth,

Melting into life

Descends to the forms alive.

The Edgar Allan Poe Way
Poe's Method To Knowledge

I think Edgar Allan Poe’s Eureka is one of the most underrated works of speculative philosophy:

Books in Brief — Edgar Allan Poe: Eureka | by Adesh Acharya | Medium

Published in 1848, this short work is where Poe searches for the sweetest-spot of wisdom to look into scientific and philosophical questions.

In his own words, he wanted it to be considered as a work of poetry:

To the few who love me and whom I love, to those who feel rather than think, to the dreamers and those who put their faith in dreams as in the only realities, I offer this book of truths, not in its character of truth-teller, but for the beauty that abounds in its truth, constituting it true. (Preface)

Apart from physical, cosmological, and spiritual implications, Poe in this work provides us with his epistemology. By that I mean — he provides us the method/way he believes in and has used to observe what he has observed and conclude what he has concluded. In doing so he has also provided us with his own brief interpretation of the history of philosophy.

I have summarized in this manner:

It was the metaphysicians who first came up with singular fancy that there exist but two practicable roads to Truth. Aristotle was the founder and popularizer of the deductive or the apriori method. He started with axioms, or self-evident truths and from axioms he proceeded logically, to results. His most illustrious disciples were one Euclid and Kant. Aristotle and his method reigned supreme until James Hogg preached an entirely different system, which he called the à posteriori or inductive method.

His plan referred altogether to sensation. He proceeded by observing, analyzing, and classifying facts — instantiæ Naturæ, as they were somewhat affectedly called — and arranging them into general laws.

While the mode of Aristotle rested on noumena, that of Hogg depend on phenomena; and so great was the admiration excited by this latter system that, at its first introduction, Aristotle fell into general disrepute.

But he recovered ground, and was permitted to divide the empire of Philosophy:

…the Aristotelian and Baconian roads are, and of right ought to be, the solo possible avenues to knowledge: — ‘Baconian,’ you must know, my dear friend,” adds the letter-writer at this point, “was an adjective invented as equivalent to Hog-ian, and at the same time more dignified and euphonious.

But these method retarded the progress of true Science, which makes its most important advances by seemingly intuitive leaps.

This way, investigation was similar to crawling and for many centuries,

…so great was the infatuation, about Hog especially, that a virtual stop was put to all thinking, properly so called. No man dared utter a truth for which he felt himself indebted to his soul alone.

For many years, it didn’t matter whether the truth was even demonstrably such, for the dogmatizing philosophers of that epoch regarded only the road by which it professed to have been attained. It all ended with the scrutiny of the means, where it was found that the mean fit neither under Hog, nor under Aristotle.

If the crawling system was exclusively adopted, men wouldn’t have arrived at the maximum amount of truth because the repression of imagination was an evil not to be counterbalanced even by absolute certainty in the snail processes. Nor was that certainty absolute. Their method was like holding something close to the eyes to see it better. Which in turn blinded the seers.

The major taint in Baconianism lay in its tendency to throw power and consideration into the hands of merely perceptive men who mostly dug for minute facts, especially in physical science. All they did was depended on facts and closed their eyes to everything else. They gave hard time to those who wanted to evolve from facts through generalization. They called them ‘theoretical,’ ‘theory,’ ‘theorist’ in a degrading manner.

On the other hand, the Aristotleians were blind as they had:

erected their castles upon a basis far less reliable than air; for no such things as axioms ever existed or can possibly exist at all.

The focus was a lot on Logic. A certain Mill said that the ability or inability to conceive is in no case to be received as a criterion of axiomatic truth.

But their logic was baseless, worthless and fantastic altogether. The two narrow and crooked paths then — the one of creeping and the other of crawling —is where they confined the Soul:

the Soul which loves nothing so well as to soar in those regions of illimitable intuition which are utterly incognizant of ‘path.’

This way, none of them came — even by accident — to the broadest, the straightest and most available of all mere roads — the majestic highway of the Consistent. They failed to deduce from the works of God the vitally momentous consideration that a perfect consistency can be nothing but an absolute truth?

After that proposition, the process of truth investigation was taken out of the hands of the ground-moles and given to the only true thinkers — to the generally-educated men of ardent imagination:

The speculators and the theorizers. The Keplers, The Laplaces, whose theories are corrected/reduced/sifted/cleared of their chaff of inconsistency —

until at length there stands apparent an unencumbered Consistency — a consistency which the most stolid admit — because it is a consistency — to be an absolute and an unquestionable Truth.

This new method is powerful and it is proved by the fact that Newton’ s gravitation was deduced from Kepler and Kepler being a speculator/theorizer had merely guessed it.

Yes! — these vital laws Kepler guessed — that is to say, he imagined them. Had he been asked to point out either the deductive or inductive route by which he attained them, his reply might have been — ‘I know nothing about routes — but I do know the machinery of the Universe. Here it is. I grasped it with my soul — I reached it through mere dint of intuition.’ Alas, poor ignorant old man! Could not any metaphysician have told him that what he called ‘intuition’ was but the conviction resulting from deductions or inductions of which the processes were so shadowy as to have escaped his consciousness, eluded his reason, or bidden defiance to his capacity of expression?

A conviction resulting from shadowy deductions or inductions.

Elsewhere, he describes an artist as someone with an exquisite sense of beauty which affords him not only a rapturous enjoyment but also a sense of deformity of disproportion (FIFTY SUGGESTIONS XXII).

Poets (who are artists) have the ability to sense the wrong and they can see injustice where the unpoetical see none. They have a clear-sightedness in respect to wrong which is nothing more than a corollary from the vivid sensation of right. Poets have an irritability towards the wrong.

Books in Brief — Edgar Allan Poe: Eureka

  • Read Duration: 2–3 days (It is short but requires attention.)


  1. ‘Now I do not quarrel with these ancients’, continues the letter-writer, ‘so much on account of the transparent frivolity of their logic — which, to be plain, was baseless, worthless, and fantastic altogether — as on account of their pompous and infatuate proscription of all other roads to Truth than the two narrow and crooked paths, the one of creeping and the other of crawling, to which, in their ignorant perversity, they have dared to confine the soul — the soul which loves nothing so well as to soar in those regions of illimitable intuition which are utterly incognisant of “path”.

My Blurb:

Poe searches for the sweetest-spot of Wisdom to look into philosophical questions and he almost does it!

We Humans Never Learn!

humans never learn

No matter how smart we think we are, we all are indeed fools.

Mind, life, life lessons, mindhack, articles about mind, articles about life, articles about life lesson, mind exploration, short articles about mind, english articles about mind, self improvement articles, Adesh Acharya, writings about mind

A short history of Cities- Part 1

Jericho, Uruk and Ur

A city can be defined as a geographical area which is compact, immensely interconnected and is urbanized. That is, it is modernly administered, uses and consumes advanced laws, systems, technology and infrastructure.

Our current crisis of Climate Change has some thinkers and even the United Nations proposing the idea that cities are the ideal construction that can help us overcome this crisis.

This makes it a perfect occasion to look at few of the great developments in cities in human history.

Ancient city is defined as such:

a large populated urban center of commerce and administration with a system of laws and, usually, regulated means of sanitation. 

Other characteristics to look out for in an ancient city being:

  • population of the settlement
  • height of buildings
  • density of buildings/population
  • presence of some kind of sewer system
  • level of administrative government
  • presence of walls and/or fortifications
  • geographical area of the settlement
  • or whether a `settlement’ was called a `city’ in antiquity and fits at least one of the above qualifications.

Source The Ancient City – World History Encyclopedia

The process of knowing the history of cities involves scientific processes that are ongoing in nature. Archaeology is the most vital tool available for us to understand and know things of the ancient world. Especially of the time-period which has no written work to tell.  It looks to unearth materials which are interpreted and placed in the most suitable time-period of its belonging. As new things get discovered, new light is thrown into the once unknown period and area.

With all this definition in mind. Let us see how cities have evolved.

The region of Levant is very important for archaeology. It was in Jericho of this region where the oldest known protective wall, the wall of Jericho, has been found. Along with this a stone tower has also been unearthed. 

Early Jericho – World History Encyclopedia:

Archaeological evidence reveals that by 8000 BCE, the site grew to 40,000 square meters (430,000 square feet) and was surrounded by a stone wall 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) high and 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) wide at the base. Inside the wall was a stone tower 8.5 meters (28 feet) high and 9 meters (30 feet) wide at the base. The tower had an internal staircase with 22 steps

The hypothesis behind the wall is that it may have been built to protect its settlement from flood waters. The tower may have served some kind of ceremonial purpose. Some are also of the idea that the tower served the function of motivating people into the communal lifestyle as there have been suggestions that a population of some 2,000–3,000 persons were living there. But this varies as some estimate the population to be as low as 300. But nonetheless, Jericho is a concrete evidence on the movement of the human race from a hunting way of life to a one of full settlement.

Jericho has also provided evidence of agriculture. It has to be noted that, although modern cities tend to detach from agricultural pursuits, during the time leading up to Jericho, humans were still in a nomadic state. Hence, Jericho signifies not only the most distant evidence of a city but also of an organized settled living system.

Wheat and barley is thought to have been cultivated. It is highly probable that irrigation had also been invented.

Jericho’s settlement occurred in two phases. The one mentioned above was followed by a second settlement at around 7000 BCE.  It too was a Pre-Pottery Neolithic in its nature. It expanded the range of domesticated plants and animals.  Its buildings were rectilinear in structure and were made of mudbricks. Each building had several rooms and a central courtyard. Terrazzo floors made of lime decorated the rooms while the courtyards had clay flooring. Dishes and bowls were used.  This phase of  settlement lasted until about 6000 BCE.  Towards the end of 5000 BCE, another urban settlement appeared in Jericho. It was walled yet again.

While Jericho ebbed-and-flowed, a massive city flourished in Mesopotamia where one of the earliest precursors to modern human life was found. It was where writing originated, and all kinds of technological, legal and moral basis of a collective urban life initiated. The city was Uruk.

It was located in the southern region of Sumer, northwest of Ur in Southeastern Iraq. It was known in the Aramaic language as Erech.  It was the location of the famous king Gilgamesh. Uruk was enclosed by walls of about 10 km circumference. It is considered the first true city in the world and also the first big city.

Uruk was inhabited from its inception until c. 300 CE. after which it was abandoned and buried. It was excavated in 1853 CE. It used cylinder seals for attesting personal property and documents. It had monumental mud-brick buildings. Large sculptures and metal casting was done. Pictographs on clay tablets were used to record the management of goods and workers.

5000 BP (before present), Uruk had ~50,000 people. At its peak, it may have had around 80,000 inhabitants.The Ubaid Period (c. 5000-4100 BCE) saw Ubaid people first inhabit the region. This period is followed by the Uruk Period (4100-2900 BCE) during which cities started developing in various regions of Mesopotamia. Among which, Uruk became the most important.

The Uruk Period is divided into 8 phases but it was most influential between 4100-c.3000 BCE. It was during this time that

Uruk was the largest urban center and the hub of trade and administration.

The city was divided into Eanna District and Anu District.

The Eanna District was walled off from the rest of the city. Anu district had a single massive terrace, called the Anu Ziggurat which was dedicated to the Sumerian sky god Anu. In the Uruk III period, a white temple was built on top of the ziggurat. From the Uruk VI period, a Stone Temple has been discovered.

Uruk continued to be relevant through the Ur III Period (2047-1750 BCE),

With the fall of the city of Ur in 1750 BCE and the invasion of Sumer by Elamites, along with the incursions of the Amorites, Uruk went into decline along with the rest of Sumer.

c. 4000 BCE  saw the establishment of the city called Ur.

Ur was located in Sumer, southern Mesopotamia, the modern-day Iraq.

In 1922 CE, during an excavation of the ruins in that region, ‘The Great Death’ was discovered, which was a grave complex. Further studies revealed that in its heyday, Ur was a city enormous in size.

It used Cuneiform tablets which has allowed us to know that Ur was a highly centralized, wealthy and bureaucratic state during the third millenium BCE. The Royal Tombs, from about the 25th century BCE, contained,

luxury items made out of precious metals and semi-precious stones, which would have required importation.

Ur may have been the largest city in the world from 2030-1980 BCE, with a population of about 65,000.

Probably founded by farmer settlers from northern Mesopotamia, from the very beginning, it became a location of importance as a trade center as it was located at a point where the Tigris and Euphrates run into the Persian Gulf.

Archaeological excavations have substantiated that, early on, Ur possessed great wealth and the citizens enjoyed a level of comfort unknown in other Mesopotamian cities. 

The city began to grow from a small village ruled by a priest or priest-king. There were two major dynasties: of Mesanneppada, the first king who was followed by three others: Mes-kiagnuna, Elulu, and Balulu. The Second Dynasty is not recorded and the history of which is not known.

When the Semitic leader Sargon (2334-2279 BCE) conquered the entire Sumerian land with his people the Akkadians, the Akkadian Empire ruled over the  regions of Mesopotamia until it was inundated by Amorites who made their capital in a small town called Babylon. Which began the first Babylonian Empire.

The ziggurat of Ur, the temple, was built in the 21st century BCE. The ruins were uncovered in the 1930s which covered an area of 3,900 feet by 2,600 feet. It was a part of a complex that was an administrative center for the city.

End of Part 1

In this first part of our series of Short History of Cities, we talked about Jericho, Uruk and Ur. Although there have been evidence of multiple cities in the course of time in Jericho and other smaller ones around Uruk and Ur; these three stand tall on the basis of evidence gathered and the impact made.

Each should have inspired the city that followed and they collectively must have been very influential in not just the developments of cities as greatest technological achievements, but also in the development and progress of human species as a whole.


A short history of Space Exploration
Let's see how it all started!

history of space exploration

I believe that the sky is greatly responsible for the birth of philosophy, religion and science – if not the most.  

The Sun and the clouds no doubt had immense practical implications so the ancients could not help but try to understand and interpret it in a utilitarian sense, but the dark night sky with specks of white lights must have triggered an even greater curiosity in man.

Hidden by the grandeur of the Sun, the sky at day time looks limited and practical, but at night the same sky looks monstrous and vague. Immense and vast. Beautiful and Impractical. Abstract. It must have been crucial to raising that elusive question for the first time:

Where are we?

Astronomy is the name given to the study of that vast expanse of space above our heads. It is one of the oldest sciences. Every advanced society we know of has had interest and works done on it. Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Indus-Valley, MesoAmerican, Chinese, Greek- all these civilizations have some kind of interpretation on the sky above and our positions relative to it. They all have questioned Space.

Space in the simplest of terms is the region beyond earth.

Exploration has a deep meaning:

an act or instance of exploring or investigating; examination.

It is not just limited to physically being available at the site of exploration. In that regard, every form of investigation or inquiry is an exploration. But what we will be concerned with here is only the physical exploration of the sky and space above us. That is the immediate developments leading to and activities in space. Let us begin.

As mentioned above, space is the region beyond the Earth. This immediately begs a question- Where does it begin?

For this, a system called Karman Line is used. Named after engineer and physicist Theodore Von Karman, this hypothetical line lies 100 kms above earth’s mean sea level.

Another approach taken towards determining the boundary is: The U.S. Armed Forces definition of an astronaut is a person who has flown higher than 50 miles (80 km) above mean sea level, approximately the line between the mesosphere and the thermosphere.

The first spacecraft to cross the Karman Line was the German A-4/V-2 rocket MW 18014 launched in June 1944. It was the first manmade object to cross the line and attained the apogee of 176 kms. It was a test launch as a follow up to multiple A-4 rockets which had managed to reach an altitude of 90 kms. But those rockets weren’t convincing enough. The MW 18014 was in fact a series of launches designed to monitor the rockets’ behavior in vacuum. This paved a way for post-war rockets and eventual satellites. But this was by no means the beginning of rockets. But it had the same use rockets’ conception had: Military.    

The transportation technology for space travels is called rockets. 

It was a British mathematician William Moore in 1813, who contributed significantly towards thrusting ourselves upwards seriously. He developed rocket theory and developed a rocket equation. Where he

...described the relevant dynamics for constant thrust and constant propellant consumption rate acting on a rocket with the varying mass. Moore however did not relate thrust and the exhaust velocity and, therefore, did not relate the rocket velocity increment and the exhaust velocity of the propellant flow. 

British inventor Henry Trengrouse then developed a rocket apparatus in 1818. It’s purpose was to project a lifeline from a wrecked ship to the shore. It was supposed to save lives for a change and not the other way around.   

The next few decades saw many developments and improvements on military rocketing. But it was a Russian-Soviet self-taught genius Konstantin Tsiolkovsky born in 1857 who was to focus and work on the space beyond in such a way that it changed rocketry and the possibilities of space exploration forever.  

Dedicated to scientific agendas from an early age, he had already begun to fantasize space travels.  Based on his vision of solar-system, galaxy colonization and a human controlled Universe, he studied motion of rocket apparatus, rocket propulsion and eventually derived the now famous Tsiolkovsky equation. The equation described motions of rocket-vehicles as:

a device that can apply acceleration to itself using thrust by expelling part of its mass with high velocity can thereby move due to the conservation of momentum 

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

His main technical contributions were in liquid fuels and staging. He also discussed space-suits. 

Along with him, Robert Esnault-Pelterie, Robert Goddard, Herman Oberth, others independently derived the equation too. All this paved way for seriously leaving the earth. Pelterie presented papers calculating energy required to reach moon and other planets.   Goddard built the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket. Oberth wrote, discovered and worked in many aspects of space travels.  

Rocket Scientist such as Wernher Von Braun, who was immensely influencial to the developments of rockets in both Nazi Germany (V2) and later in the US space program; and engineers/designers such Valetin Glushko and Sergey Korolev were influenced by Tsiolkovsky and the latter two may have even worked to realize his vision. 

In May of 1924 the Society for Studies of Interplanetary Travelwas founded in Moscow by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Friedrich Zander and 200 other space and rocket experts to discuss space travels majorly. 

1927 saw the amateur space organization Society for Space Travel established in Germany which helped push things there.

Around the same time Ukrainian/Soviet visionary Yuri Kondratyuk  circulated his book The Conquest of Interplanetary Spaces where he discussed many ideas on space travels among which he talked of lunar orbits and the concept of gravitational slingshots which were to be influential later.

Another key figure around this time was a Solvene engineer named Herman Potočnik. He published a book The Problems of Space Travels in 1928 where he discussed human settlements in space, space stations, use of space for communication, etc. He also expressed skepticism on the potential military use of space.

With all these technical, scientific and philosophical ideas, rockets started to blast off in 1928 with the Lippisch Ente (German for Lippisch duck). The struggling aircraft flew 4900 feet in its second attempt in its first flight and met with an accident in its second flight. This was a part of the Opel company’s program. 

Opel RAK.1, world’s first public flight of a rocket-powered aircraft.

The Opel-RAK program in Germany saw a series of rocket aircrafts. It helped advance rocket and aviation greatly.

EA-41 developed during 1931-1942 saw the development of the first French liquid fuelled rockets. It was a part of the French Space Program, the third national program after the USSR and US. There were multiple launches in 1941-42 with the fifth one reaching 60 kms.

Multiple experiments with JETO (Jet assisted Take Off)/RATO (Rocket Assisted Take Off) were conducted in the US in 1941. 

This takes us to the V2 rockets mentioned earlier. 

After the Second World-War,  the V2 systems came into the hands of the US and thus began the proper take-off of exploratory programs. In 1946 the first research flight took place from the US with V2 for cosmic radiation experiments. The same year also saw the flight of the Nike Missile. 

A landmark achievement saw V2 No. 13 take the first photograph of Earth from the Space. It was taken from 105 kms. The project was launched on 24th October 1946. 

First Photograph of Earth from Space

In 1949 the RTV-G-4 Bumper (Bumper-5), a combination of V2 and the American WAC Corporal sounding rocket attained the altitude of 392.68 kilometers. 

1949 also saw the publication of the influential book The Conquest of Space by William Ley. The book talked about the prospects of Solar System exploration. 

Wernher von Braun published The Mars Project in 1952 which highlighted the technical specification on the human expedition to Mars. It has often been deemed an influential and important book.  He talked about a scientific expedition of 10 spacecrafts, 70 crew members spending 443 days on the surface of Mars.  He also talked about nitric acid/hydrazine propellant and  reusable heavy-lift launch vehicles

In 1956 the American Jupiter-C program saw the first rocket to enter the Exosphere. It went to a height of 1097.57 kms and achieved Mach 18 velocity. von Braun was influential in the development of these vehicles. 

Jupiter C

The same year saw the first launch of PGM-17 Thor, a US ballistic missile which paved the way for Delta space launch rockets. 

21 August 1957 saw the launch of the first ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) through(8K71) or SS-6 Sapwood. These missiles have a minimum range of 5500 kms.

Thus the Cold War Space Race gathered serious momentum. While it had political motivations, it helped develop technologies and mechanisms that changed space travel and explorations forever. 

1957 saw the launch of USSR’s Sputnik-1, the first artificial satellite which also sent the first signals from space. It orbited for three weeks.  The same year in the month of November the first mammal -Laika the dog was sent to the orbit in Sputnik-2. A decade earlier fruit flies were sent as the first organisms in space in V2 by the US. 

1958 saw the US send its first artificial satellite in Explorer 1 mission. It confirmed the existence of Van Allen Radiation Belt which is a zone of charged particles held by Earth’s magnetosphere. The same year the US also launched its first ISBM in Atlas B. 

In 1959, the Luna 1 spacecraft reached the vicinity of the Moon as it missed its surface by only about 6000 kms. Luna 1 also became the first spacecraft to detect solar wind and reach Earth’s escape velocity. The same year American Satellite Explorer 6 took the first photograph of Earth from Orbit.

Explorer 6’s photograph

The same year also saw Luna 2 become the first human spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon. It has impacted the Moon at the speed of 3.3 kms per second. Next month Luna 3 brought the first photograph of the far side of the moon. 

Luna 3’s Image of Moon

The 1960s saw the most revolutionary decade in human Space-Exploration. First, the US mission Pioneer 5 launched a space probe to investigate the regions between the orbits of Earth and Venus. It confirmed the existence of interplanetary magnetic fields. In August, the Korabl-Sputnik 2 mission saw the USSR send two dogs, two rats, forty mice and plants to orbit and bring them back. 

Strelka. Made it into Space way before the billionaires!

October saw the failed attempt at first shot at Mars through USSR’s Mars 1M.  

1961 began with US sending the astrochimp, Ham in MR (Mercury Redstone) 2. A dozen days later USSRs Venera 1 achieved the first spin-stabilization of a space vehicle. Then a landmark moment in 12th April saw USSRs Vostok 1 send Yuri Gagarin to space in what was to become the first instance of a human orbiting the Earth. US followed with the first human-piloted space flight Freedom 7 with Alan Shepard becoming the 2nd man to reach space. The spacecraft was launched on a ballistic trajectory suborbital flight. A couple of weeks later USSRs Venera 1 reached within 100,000 kms of Venus. 

In 1962 USA with its OSA (Orbiting Solar Observatory)-1 initiated the first orbital solar observatory. The same year the US launched Mercury MA-6 (Friendship 7) where John Glenn put US in orbit. In August, Norway with Ferdinand 1 launched the first auroral research rocket into the ionosphere. USSRs Mars 1 reached 11,000 kms to Mars and in December, USs Mariner 2 reached 34,773 kms to Venus. 

In 1963, USSR launched Vostok 6 where Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman and first civilian to orbit earth. US X-15 Flight 90, the first reusable manned spacecraft (suborbital) reached space which pioneered reusability and carried out launch and glide landings.

In March of 1964, Alexei Leonov performed the first space walk. 

Ranger 8 in 1965 yielded over 7,000 photos of the lunar surface. The Soviet probe Venera 3 became the 1st artificial probe to impact on the surface of another planet, Venus. USSR Proton rocket, a highly successful launch vehicle was launched with notable payloads, Salyut 6 & Salyut 7, Mir & ISS components. US Mariner 4 took the first close-up photograph of Mars in July. 

Source – NASA

In 1966, the USSR Luna 9 made the first soft landing on the Moon. Later the USSR launched Soyuz spacecrafts. Vanera 3 in March made the first impact on Venus. In August, Lunar Orbita 1 became the first mission to map the moon. 

1967 saw Surveyor 3, scoop and test lunar soil. Mariner 5’s mission to Venus saw it reach solar orbit and achieved the closest Venus flyby which paved the way for obtaining readings of Venus atmosphere.

In 1968 the Apollo 8 became the first space mission to enter the gravitational influence of another celestial body (Moon). 

1969 saw Mariner 6 reach within ~ 3200 of Mars where it collected photos and other data. American mission Apollo 11, sent the first men on the Moon. It also brought the first sample from the moon. In August, Mariner 7 took the first photograph of Phobos, the moon of Mars. 

In 1970 Venera 7, the Soviet probe became the first to land safely on the surface of Venus. Earlier the American satellite Uhuru became the first X-ray orbital observatory

In 1971, the Soviet Salyut 1, the first Space Station was established. Mariner 9 in November became the first spacecraft to orbit Mars.  Later, Soviets with Mars 2 and 3 had the first impact on Mars and the first soft landing there with photographs of its surface, respectively. 

Pioneer 10 in 1972 passed Jupiter and it took readings on Jupiter’s composition finding that the planet is composed mostly of hydrogen. It also became the first craft to escape in a trajectory away from the Sun and also the first mission to escape the inner Solar System into the asteroid belt. American SAS 2 also became the first orbital gamma ray observatory. 

In 1973, Pioneer 11 passed Jupiter and then Saturn in 1979. It discovered an additional ring around Saturn and also 2 moons. The same year the Mariner 10 mission to Venus and Mercury began. It passed Venus in 1974 and arrived at Mercury in 1974. It also took readings of clouds and wind patterns of Venus’ atmosphere.

Viking 1 took off for Mars in 1975 and landed there in 1976. It was the first probe to land safely on Mars. There it performed chemical analysis of soil.

Panoramic photo of Mars from Viking 1 lander.

Viking 2, the sister probe of Viking 1 took off in 1975 and landed on Mars 1976. The year 1975 also saw the establishment of ESA, the European Space Agency. Soviet Venera 9 became the first to orbit Venus and took photographs of its surface. 

 1976 saw Helios 2, the joint venture between US (NASA) and West Germany’s DFVLR fly closest to the Sun at 43.432 million kilometers. It also recorded the highest speed by any aircraft at 252,792 km/h. Later, Viking Lander took photos and soil samples from the surface of Mars. 

The legendary Voyager 2 in 1977 left for Jupiter, Saturn,Uranus and Neptune. It eventually encountered Jupiter in 1979, Saturn in 1981, Uranus 1986 and Neptune in 1989. It provided evidence of  rings around Neptune and its great dark spot. It entered into the boundary area of the solar system in 2007.

Voyager 1 left for Jupiter and Saturn 16 days after Voyager 2. It had encountered Jupiter 1979, providing evidence of rings around it and passed Saturn in 1980. 

The Voyagers contain sounds and images portraying the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form who may find them. 

Towards the end of the decade the Pioneer Venus 1 in 1978 entered Venus’ orbit, studied its atmosphere, magnetic field, weather, and surface. Pioneer Venus 2 was a multiprobe which entered the Venus atmosphere, took its readings and impacted on its surface.

In 1981, US space shuttle STS 1 pioneered reusability and glide landings. 

The next year, Vanera 13 took sound recordings of Venus. 

This Is What The Surface Of Venus Sounds Like! Venera 14 Sound Recording 1982 (4K UHD) – YouTube

In 1983, IRAS became the first Infrared orbital observatory.

In 1986 USSRs Mir was the first constantly inhabited space station. The same year ESAs Giotto made a close observation of Halley’s Comet at a mere 596 kms. 

Giotto: Halley’s Comet Flyby Animation (1986.03.14) [720p] – YouTube

In 1989, ESAs Hipparcos became the first astrometric satellite in that its work was to precisely measure positions of celestial bodies in the sky. Magellan left for Venus the same year and landed in 1990. It then mapped over 99% of its surface. Observed volcanoes. Galileo used Earth’s gravity to propel itself toward Jupiter. The COBE launched in November was the orbital cosmic microwave observatory. 

1990 saw Voyager send the first Solar System image and the launch of the legendary Hubble Space Telescope as a joint venture of NASA (USA) and ESA. 

In 1991 USA Galileo experienced 951 Gaspra, which was the closest flyby to an asteroid at 1600 kms. 

In 1992 Ulysses, a joint venture of NASA and ESA began a journey to orbit around the Sun. It made scans of the Sun in 1995, 2005 and 2008. 

Mars Global Surveyor in 1996 began orbiting Mars. It began mapping its entire surface in 1999. Discovering a weak magnetic field on the planet and finding evidence of liquid water of sometime in the past. Mars Pathfinder took off and landed on Mars in 1997, it sent surface images. 

Cassini-Huygens headed for Saturn in 1997 and began orbiting in 2004. It was a mission to study the planet’s atmosphere, rings, and moons. It managed to spot a subterranean ocean and other astounding discoveries. Mars Pathfinder headed to Mars. 

In 1998, the first multinational space station ISS, was established as a joint venture of- Russia (FKA) USA (NASA)  Europe (ESA)  Japan (JAXA) and Canada (CSA). Russia launched the Zarya module as the first part of the ISS.  Lunar Prospector began orbiting and mapped 11 elements on its surface. It also  discovered evidence of water ice at both lunar poles. Deep Space 1 saw the comet Borrelly fly by within 2414 kms.  It used an ion thruster for propulsion. 

Deep Space 1 Encounters a Comet – Video File – Borrelly (AVC-2001-131) – YouTube

Stardust in 1999 headed for the comet Wild-2. It reached there in 2004 and gathered its dust samples. 

Taken by Stardust in 2004

The 21st Century began with NEAR Shoesmaker orbiting the asteroid 433 Eros first in 2000 then in 2001. 

2001 Mars Odyssey reached Mars and detected evidence of water ice near its South Pole. It also aimed to identify minerals on Mars.  Genesis in 2001 orbited The Sun and collected particles from solar wind. 

Mars Express/ Beagle 2 arrived at Mars in 2003 and performed remote sensing. 

Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars in 2004. There they found further evidence that water existed on its surface. 

2004 also saw Cassini-Huygens orbit Saturn. The following year it had the first soft landing on Titan

and then in the outer Solar System. MESSENGER in 2004 left for Mercury and flew by in 2008. It managed to provide images of 20% of Mercury’s surface. 

Deep Impact in 2005 headed for the Comet Tempel 1. It did reach and deployed an impact probe which slammed into the comet. Japan’s Hayabusa managed the first asteroid ascent on 25143 Itokawa.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launched in 2005 reached there in 2006. It took detailed images of the Martian surface. Later it discovered salt deposits. 

In 2006 India’s Chandrayaan -1 from ISRO discovered lunar water in ice-form. 

2009 saw the launch of the much anticipated Kepler telescope. It’s function being to search for Earth-like exoplanets. 

Hayabusa brought sample returns in 2010. 

MESSENGER had its orbit of Mercury in 2011. The same year the Dawn probe managed to orbit Vesta. It later went on to orbit the dwarf planet (Ceres).

In 2012 Voyager 1 reached Interstellar Space. 

2014 saw ESA Rosetta soft-land on the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

New Horizons flew by Pluto in 2015. 

In 2017 Hawaii Haleakalā Observatory detected Oumuamua, the first known interstellar object. 

This very deep combined image shows the interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua at the centre of the picture.

Hayabusa 2 in 2018 sent a rover on the asteroid Ryugu 162173.

2019 saw New Horizon exploring contact binary 486958 Arrokoth, the trans-Neptunian object in the Kuiper Belt. It also saw Chang’e 4 land on the far side of the moon. Event Horizon, the telescopic network provided the first direct photograph of Black Hole Sagittarius A*. 

In 2021, Ingenuity had aerodynamic flight on Mars. 

There are numerous missions today headed for the future. We can talk about it sometime later. 

The story of human success in space exploration is the story of the success of human will.

How do we measure how much of an influence the gaze, awe and curiosity of ancient wonderers have had on the present successful human venture into the vast unknown?

I also wonder what those ancient musers would be more surprised by:

  • The fact that their progenies have managed to physically reach to that vast, dark unknown above OR
  • How that vast, dark unknown turned out to be?