Friday, May 10, 2013

You cannot tell me that this does not seem like an episode of the Twilight Zone

78,000 to live on Mars: Have you signed up?

Sooooo this article pretty much speaks for itself but apparently several thousand people have signed up to potentially be picked to colonize Mars (which I believe is probably a good thing, as Stephen Hawking recently advised colonization of other planets so we've got somewhere to go when we ruin ours, and like, he's pretty smart). But how have they actually signed up for this noble and important scientific project? Through a non-profit which plans to film a reality show about the trip. And only 4 people will make it. And they won't be able to come back. And seriously, they have to be in a reality show.
I'm sorry, but this all sounds like the set-up to an episode of The Twilight Zone to me. I always think that in the 1960s they imagined that so much more was possible, especially in regards to space travel, than we've actually been able to actually manifest. It's a shame. Big portions of money that could be spent on scientific experiments and space exploration are wasted on the stupidest things, and no one seems to understand that these were the things that used to make America great. We wanted more than we could ever see, or even imagine. Now where is that adventurous spirit? We're lucky that we've got rich wackos like Rickard Branson and that dude from N'Sync to carry it on, at least in part. And you know what they say (at least they said it on Mad Men this week), "everybody loves an astronaut." But not so much anymore, I suppose. People would rather de-fund NASA cut defense spending even a tiny bit (the US does spend more than the next dozen or so countries combined on this one thing, which is obviously important but come on.) Science fiction writers used to be on the forefront of actual science, because they could imagine things that were later found to be possible (despite the "fictional" origins of their ideas). Now I don't know if fewer people have the imagination to dream these things up, or perhaps we're just less ambitious? Maybe our priorities are just out of whack. 
I just feel like we should be so much further than this, have discovered so much more by now, but it's almost as if we don't even have the chance anymore without some gimmick attached (often, unfortunately, for funding purposes). I know that there are people who don't believe in science. I think it's crazy, but I know that they exist. Climate change deniers, people who think the Earth was made like 4000 years ago and that dinosaurs and man existed together, people who say that there is no life in space despite clear evidence to the contrary, these are all people who actually walk among us, who are given voice in our society. Do I think that they are detrimental to society as a whole? Oh, most definitely. But honestly, we can't silence them. They have rights. They have the right to ignore science and factual information. But without them, we as a country would be a whole lot further, and we maybe wouldn't have to do it with the spectre of reality TV as a source of funding for a significant scientific event. And I shudder to think how this show will end.

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