Redefining Remote In The Modern Age

04/09/2012 08:05 am ET | Updated Jun 09, 2012

Our perception of what constitutes a remote destination is constantly changing. A century ago this year the South Pole was first conquered. Though it is still a desolate and windblown place, back then it was considered about the most daunting and inaccessible destination for man to fathom. Many perished in the quest to reach this elusive spot where planes now land, depositing researchers at a permanent research center.

The moon, a familiar player in the earth's nocturnal panarama, was once considered so distant that even today certain expressions and figures of speech in our language reflect the immeasurability or inconceivable distance that this body represented. Yet there are individuals who have walked on its surface, samples of which are displayed in museums. In recent times with the help of massive telescopes and scientific theory, we are able to peer well beyond the moon, towards a seemingly endless number of stars, planets and solar systems.

Such capabilities have inevitably engendered a revolutionary transformation of what might be termed remote.

Each new technological shift or scientific breakthrough offers the potential to readjust and redefine the paradigm of what previously may have been considered inaccessible, far-off or far-flung. Today the exploration realm is thriving with a wide and ever growing technological and scientific array of tools. Such technological advancements have not only enabled us to venture to places previously inaccessible, they have allowed for acquisition of new information relating to regions previously considered as "explored." Not only has technology permitted us to readily canvas the earth's crust, it increasingly enables us to probe the inner workings of what lies beneath.

While the murky depths of the world ocean's formerly considered off limits are now squarely in site, the moon once the poles and Everest were conquered, deemed man's ultimate conquest, today appears almost intimately proximate as science and technology allow us to contemplate Mars and elsewhere. Scientific achievement has tendered humankind extended capabilities causing us not only to reevaluate categorizations of destinations once considered unattainable but also facilitating innovative and increasingly efficient forms and ways of discovery along the way. At times it is the technology itself that takes the place of the explorer, venturing forth in our stead to where it is as yet physically impossible to prevail. Such technological forays do not serve to diminish the role of the explorer but allow for the gathering of realms of new information and material that may provide insight for other pursuits or help determine how to overcome obstacles so that we may someday undertake a similar journey.

Today the concept of remote is evaluated less and less in terms of distance, isolation and time and increasingly in terms of one's perspective, experience and objective. One might suggest that the true definition of remote is only limited by the boundaries of an individual's imagination.