10/11/2012 04:32 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Quest

2012-10-11-Erika.Wagner.pngBy Erika Wagner
Erika Wagner served as Senior Director, Exploration Prize Group at X PRIZE for many years.

As a species, we have scaled the Earth's highest mountains, dived to the bottom of her deepest seas, and crossed her most inhospitable desserts, jungles, and icy wastelands. There are but a handful of spots on the surface of our planet that we have yet to visit.

And yet, even with a map scrawled throughout with notes of "Kilroy was here", the promise of exploration is clearly not dead. The hunt for the unknown, the full court press against our own human limitations, and the revelations that seemingly sound out most loudly as we strain against these boundaries are still a vital undercurrent in today's increasingly globalized world.


In fact, I think the quest for new frontiers is an absolutely critical part of what it means to be human. In an era where we are growing faster than ever as a species, expanding our knowledge of our world and our universe is critical to our survival. Continuing exploration is a modern-day imperative.

For me, at least, exploration is about more than exotic locales and heady rushes of adrenaline. It is about the ways in which frontiers reveal new things about our world and ourselves. It's about the ways in which standing at the edge of all we know forces us to innovate in ways that the safety of our own couches never will.

In the words of JFK: "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills."

That's why I prize exploration.

Why do you?

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This blog post is brought to you by Shell, our Exploration Prize Group sponsor.