The show Fringe is ending tonight. It's been a five year run, so starting about two weeks ago Kate and I have been watching from the beginning again. We're near the end of season two, and Walter Bishop made a comment about how most of Magellan's crew died circumnavigating the planet. Of course, many died from scurvy.
Scurvy is pretty easy to fix of course - it's just caused by a nutritional deficiency. But that wasn't decisively known until over two hundred years after Magellan.
In the meantime long voyages continued. And they continued to be dangerous. And eventually we figured it out. This made me think about complaints about interplanetary travel because of things like solar radiation. Yes, this is a problem. And yes, space exploration is probably going to be a lot more dangerous than the extreme safety consciousness of exploration to date. More people are going to die, perhaps terribly. But the idea that it's going to keep us Earth-bound or that it will always be a problem seems to me to be incredibly myopic.