Showing 1 - 5 of 5 posts found matching keyword: space

It was 40 years ago today that man first landed on the moon. Now the generation that supported that amazing scientific achievement is more concerned with universal health care than they are with exploring the universe.

I suspect that I will not see a man on the moon in my lifetime. Even though it was essentially accomplished in a decade the first time around, it took a drive that seems to be completely lacking in the post-Cold War era. Say what you will about competition, but it gets things done. (Yes, I'm talking to you, socialists!)

I suppose I'll have to content myself with cheering for machines that are designed to do a man's job, such as the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, each of which continues to do a stellar job of investigating an alien environment over 5 years after their original mission was scheduled to end. Certainly no human would be willing to do that.

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NASA has recently announced that they finally have definitive proof of water on Mars. (It melts at 0° Celsius, releasing twice as much hydrogen as oxygen. And added to noodles, it makes a mean soup. It must be water!) Though finding water isn't exactly the same as finding life, this is an indication that life may be much more common throughout the universe than previously assumed.

Despite this assurance that "we are (probably) not alone," America's general reaction to this news seems to be a collective, "so what?" I keep hearing the repeated complaints that our endeavors should be limited to correcting the social and economic inequalities on Earth rather than waste time looking to the stars. At first, I found this lack of curiosity appalling until I realized that they have a point: since the root cause of humanity's problems are generated by the greed and insecurities of humanity, should we really be excited about discovering more like us among the heavens?

Would we be comforted to discover a distant planet of humanoid creatures who had learned to tap into their own minds for power, allowing them to create a civilization free from physical limitations? Only, that civilization, like ours, had failed to account for its own subconscious self-destructive tendencies, and their newfound powers led directly to the unintentional division and destruction of their own race?

Wait, wait. That was the story of Forbidden Planet, wasn't it? Sorry. I must still be a little worked up over the whole Keanu/Klaatu thing from the other day. I'll try to contain myself in the future.

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The past week has seen three of the most interesting news stories I've ever read.

  1. Guerilla advertising in 10 major US cities generated a bomb scare after they had been in place for several days. Did no one notice them before, or did that one person, out of touch with the product advertised, manage to mobilize the entire country against one innocuous advertiser? The ensuing hoopla is the best thing that could have happened for the advertised product, and it only costs Turner Broadcasting $2 million to the involved city governments, less than the cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad. Is there any chance that the person who started the bomb scare was a Turner employee?
  2. A NASA astronaut attempted to torture another woman in order to scare her away from the male astronaut with whom both women were romantically involved. Mind you, she passed NASA screening and qualified to fly in space. Space Cowboys plus Fatal Attraction: someone call Warner Brothers and tell them to get their lawyers working on readying this story for the big screen!
  3. An Italian police officer was killed in a riot outside a soccer game, resulting in Italy's decision to close a majority of its premier league soccer games to the public while stadia security is improved. Note that the spectator sport for mass entertainment will continue to be played, but spectators will be prohibited. Italy's solution to rioting after games is to remove the fans from the game, but hold the game anyway. At least they won't need police officers at the stadia anymore. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: stay away from Italy.

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Pluto is not a planet. So sayeth the International Astronomical Union. ("International Astronomical"? Are they inclusive enough with their title? "Can everybody find a seat?")

As of yesterday, the World Scientists, in a very 1984 scenario, voted to re-define the term "planet." Because of the new definition, Pluto got the cold shoulder. Feeling sorry for the old bean, they created a new category of "dwarf planet" for Pluto and it's solar-system neighbors. I think most people will agree that the tag "dwarf" is not much of a consolation prize.

I'm not really against this decision. Pluto has never quite gotten along with the gang. (Think of the dweeb that used to hang around with your clique in high school just so that you & your friends would have someone to stuff into trashcans: that's Pluto to the other planets.) I suppose it's more surprising that it took scientists several thousand years to define the word "planet," a word with a vestigial tail lingering from ancient Greek and a concept strongly tied to ancient pagan polytheistic deity worship. Confusion of the nature of planets has lingered for years; in the past, even large asteroids have been considered planets, if only temporarily. It's nice to finally have some closure on the issue, at least for a few hundred years or so, when they'll no doubt redefine it again.

On the other hand, this redefinition of Pluto may have long lasting and drastic implications on modern culture. Disney will have to put down Mickey's dog. Whole planetariums will have to be razed and rebuilt from scratch. On my Solarquest game board, Pluto property values will plummet. Galactus, the Eater of Planets, will have to tighten his belt. Millions of textbooks will have to have stickers added that say, "See? Scientists are fickle and can't decide on anything so evolution must be bullshit." The last four generations of humans will begin to question everything that they've ever been taught by The Man. (Wisely, the prescient Gustav Holst refused to compose an amended Pluto movement for his masterpiece suite The Planets, saving his artistic legacy from scientific destruction.) In short, this nearsighted redefinition has the potential to DESTROY THE WORLD.

And then again, when was the last time that you really thought about Pluto, anyway? Maybe this is just a PR move on the part of a washed-up attention-hound long discarded. Perhaps Pluto, which could really never make up its mind if it was the 8th or 9th planet, simply decided it was time for a new crowd and finally moved out of it's parents' basement. Good for you, Pluto! Go be somebody! This is the 21st century; if a dwarf can't make it here, there's always next century.

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This afternoon I unraveled one of the great conspiracies of the 20th century: The Faked Moon Landings. For years I've heard the rumors that the Apollo missions were filmed in a hidden studio somewhere: the lunar landscapes simply sets, the spaceships merely props, and the astronauts just actors. But this afternoon, while reading about NASA's gift of a moon rock to Neil Armstrong, I was able to finally pierce the veil: Neil Armstrong is really Adam West.

Batman or Astronaut?

Think about it. First, they look a lot alike. Coincidence? Science says no. Clearly, they could never appear together since they are the same man. ("Clark Kent, meet Superman.") Neil Armstrong and Adam West have never publicly appeared together. (Go ahead and type both of their names into Google. You'll see.) Armstrong claims to have long guarded his privacy and is rarely seen outside of publicity events. West, on the other hand, has been in the public eye as a star of stage and screen for years. He is an accomplished actor who would have little difficiulty in donning the character of "Neil Armstrong" for the right paycheck and the promise of a global audience.

I must say that I do believe that Adam West was a great choice to portray an astronaut. He was handsome, strong, and athletic. His earlier portrayal of an astronaut (a Colonel, no less!) in Robinson Crusoe on Mars, billed as "scientifically authentic," proves that he had what it took to be the first man to walk on the moon. Adam's portrayal of Batman in the years immediately prior to the landing demonstrated that he could be the man who lives with a secret identity. Bravo, I say, to the man who entranced the world.

No doubt NASA, the United States Government, and Adam West will all deny this as the truth. But this does answer a lot of lingering questions. Personally, I think that knowing the truth makes the world a little bit better place to live in, even if we haven't landed on the moon yet.

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To be continued...

 

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