In this week’s episode of Sciency Words, the Moon would like to ask a question, the same question it’s been asking since 1972:

The answer is we humans may be returning to the Moon fairly soon, perhaps within the next decade, but this time we’ll be bringing a far more diverse set of flags to add to the Moon’s collection.

The European Space Agency, also known as the E.S.A., is taking the lead on the next round of Moon missions. For the last few years, Johann-Dietrich “Jan” Wörner, the current E.S.A. director-general, has been talking up the idea of building a Moon village near the Moon’s south pole, a region where large quantities of water ice have been detected.

Apparently interest in Wörner’s Moon village has been growing steadily to the point that Wörner has been quoted saying the village is already “more or less a fact.” I have a feeling the recent successful test of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket will accelerate that growth in interest.

But my biggest question about this, and the reason I felt this was worthy of a Sciency Words post, is this: why aren’t we talking about a Moon base? Why is it a village? Apparently the terminology was a very deliberate choice. On the E.S.A. website, Wörner writes:

By ‘Moon Village’ we do not mean a development planned around houses, some shops and a community centre. Rather, the term ‘village’ in this context refers this: a community created when groups join forces without first sorting out every detail, instead simply coming together with a view to sharing interests and capabilities.

I remember in first or second grade painting a mural as a class project. Each student was free to paint whatever he or she liked within the guidelines set by the teacher. The Moon village sounds like a similar concept to me, with every participating country or company or other privately funded group doing their own thing within the broader guidelines set by the E.S.A.

I just hope the end result is not quite the eyesore that that mural was when I was a kid.

9 responses »

  1. debscarey says:

    Oh but you’re being restrained. I would be raging!

    What is the point of language if people purposefully choose to mis-use it? Specialist vocabulary is already hard enough for mere mortals (or non-specialists) to understand, so subverting entirely normal words for no good reason at all … Why? Just why?

    I’ve taken a leaf out of your book (of restraint) and I’m not swearing. But I want to. I really really want to. And I do realise it’s not the scientists doing this, more likely to be the spin merchants.

    Liked by 2 people

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      To be honest, I’m not too upset about this one. I think calling it a Moon village sounds a little odd, and I’d really rather call it a Moon base, but I’ll probably get used to it. And given that it was the European Space Agency that came up with the idea, I kind of wonder if maybe it sounds better in Dutch or French or something.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi J.S. Pailly and debscarey,

      I wonder whether they call it “Moon base” in Space 1999, which was reputedly the most expensive TV series of its time.

      Just letting you know, in case you are a fan of Space 1999, that most of the people involved in the TV series have left us:

      Here is the note of the following video:

      To honor the late Actors and Production staff of the TV series Space:1999, this video was created for the closing ceremonies of the Alpha:2012 convention held September 2012 in Burbank, California.

      Liked by 1 person

      • J.S. Pailly says:

        I believe they did call it a moon base in Space 1999. It’s been a long while since I watched that show. I have a DVD box set of it somewhere. Sad to hear so many of the people involved have passed away.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s a snowball’s chance on Venus that a Moon village will just “come together” on its own.

    Liked by 2 people

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