Why send a person to do a robot’s job?

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A few more thoughts on the Rosetta project:  no human being has ever been that far from the Earth, The farthest people have ever been was to the moon, about 234,000 miles away from the center of the Earth, or less than 1/1,000 of the distance which the Rosetta Mission is right now. At the moment, we only send people as far as International Space Station, which is about as far above the surface of the Earth as Washington is from New York.

Sending robot probes out has many advantages over sending people: you don’t have to include life support, you don’t have to get them back, you can build them for a tiny fraction of the cost of a manned mission.  It’s cheaper and safer, and you can send them on ten-year missions without having to worry about boredom or psychological problems.

So:  why didn’t the scientists in the movie Interstellar send out robot probes to explore beyond the wormhole?  Another advantage was made amply clear as the plot advanced: any given robot in that movie was much smarter than all of people in it.

An unrelated thought inspired by my colleague Kevin Emerson:  in the latest episode of the Flash, he grabs Iris and brings her up to the roof.  I won’t do the math again, but the acceleration should clearly kill her: he’d have to accelerate to his high speeds and decelerate from them over a distance comparable to several football fields for her to be safe when he grabs her.  (It strikes me that I’m blogging about the Flash just as much as she does in-show…  I’ll try to find a new topic next time, but the show just keeps on giving.)