Over the school holidays we spent a few days with some friends in the Blue Mountains where over a few glasses of red wine the conversation inevitably turned to twerk-gate and Miley Cyrus’ disgraceful antics. When someone tut tutted that it was soft porn I chirped in with “I find it boring”. At this point Dadabulous called bull shit on me. “Crap. You are not bored by it. You are deliberately looking for it”. Don’t you hate it when your husband has a point?
I read my fair share of trash and am hardly in a position to lecture about the evils of celebrity gossip. Rather I’d like to point out that it is very easy to fill your head with more satisfying stuff. Here a few things that have crossed my radar recently. I find them considerably more interesting than Miley. I hope you will too.
Voyager 1 – The Interstellar Mission
On September 12th whilst we were all still dissecting the VMAs, slut shaming or shaming those who slut shame, the Voyager probe sneeked out the back door of our Solar System. NASA announced that the Voyager probe has escaped the heliosphere – or the bubble of charged particles blown out from our sun. It is officially in inter stellar space. Lets stop and reflect on that. Voyager, a 722kg craft launched in 1977 has traveled 17 billion kilometres and is still beaming back invaluable data. The instruments aboard the craft are expected to remain functional until 2025 which will mean almost 50 years of continuous operation. Voyager flying through matter from other stars and for the next 10 years will send back information about the nature of space beyond our back yard. Holy guacamole! I find that way more intriguing than Miley’s naked butt on a wrecking ball. In fact it kind of restores my faith in humanity.
The Space Economy
On the topic of sexy rockets we have a space economy now. NASAs resources are dwindling an private companies are filling the gap thanks to eccentric billionaires – like Richard Branson, Elon Musk of Pay Pal and Jeff Bezo of Amazon. Recently NASA engaged two private companies Musk’s SpaceX and Orbital Sciences to deliver supplies and (a little further down the track) astronauts to the International Space Station. You can see where this is going. Over the next decade people and stuff will be shunted back and forth between earth and the geostationary orbit with the regularity of the Manly Ferry (well not quite but there’ll be some traffic in the skies). Meanwhile Bigelow Aerospace are creating inflatable space habitats so that there’s somewhere to stash all those techies and their gear. These space tents will form the building blocks of future space stations and will eventually house people on the moon. Heck. Why stop at the moon? Elon Musk (who is said to the real life inspiration behind Iron Man’s Tony Stark) is pouring his considerable wealth into developing a rocket which could transport humans to Mars and back.
As for you asteroids – don’t think you can continue whizzing around the sun minding your own business. The human race is after you guys too. Planetary Resources is currently working on craft to explore and analyse near earth asteroids with a view to mining. It sounds like far fetched which is probably why heavy hitters such as James Cameron, Richard Branson (again) and Google’s Larry Pope and Eric Schmitt are bankrolling the project.
We’d better put Bruce Willis on ice. Human kind may be needing his unique asteroid busting skill set.
The Bone Factory
Meanwhile back on terra firma sciency types are exploring molecular frontiers of human body. Biotech is sexy. Hows this for amazing? A Seattle company called Immusoft is developing a method where an individuals immune cells are coaxed into producing antibodies against specific diseases – in this case HIV. The researchers extract immature immune cells from human blood and place a genetic code for a new protein in them using a virus as a delivery boy.The modified cells go back into the body and some of them head to the bone marrow where they set up a manufacturing base. Here they become like microscopic factories pumping out the protein they were engineered to make. The protein is the antibody which fights disease. This is not some futuristic fantasy. Immusoft have made the technique work in mice and they are about to start human trials.
Down the track it may be possible to use this method to fight just about any disease that bothers us from cancer to Alzheimer’s to the aging process itself (which is certainly bothering me). Far out brussel sprout!
So here’s a thought. Instead of publishing open letters to each other about who is prostituting whom lets change our focus just a little. Whilst I too have joined the chorus moaning abut pornographic music videos (http://mum-abulous.com/2013/07/14/i-know-you-want-it/) I’m ready to move on. What can I say? I’m ahead of the curve. Lets talk to our kids each other about more interesting stuff than Miley.
PPS: I have a question from a writers point of view. As blog readers do you like hearing about sciency stuff or would you prefer pop culture with a side of crumpet?