Hope For Humanity

21 Comments

We interrupt your regular programming with a post that is more than half serious.

2014 has been a weird year. For me personally its been OK  but for the world at large (to exercise a classic Aussie idiom) its been a Barry Crocker shocker.

2014 has been a Barry.

2014 has been a Barry.

 

There seems to be a pervasive sense of doom. On reflection a sense of trepidation has been part of the back drop of our lives. In the 70s and 80s we all fretted about the Cold War, nuclear annihilation, petrol prices and the generally screwed state of the economy. As the decades progressed we came to dread the terrorist threat, climate change, petrol prices and the generally screwed state of the economy.

This year’s unfortunate tsunami of bad shite seems to have heightened the public’s foreboding. Its not only my perception. Its a sentiment that has been echoed through the blogo/FB/Twitter-sphere and even the mainstream media. Case in point – this recent discussion on ABC 702

logs.abc.net.au/nsw/2014/08/good-news-challenge.

Over the past few months we’ve seen the humanitarian disasters in Gaza, Iraq and Syria, famine in South Sudan, the ebola outbreak (yikes) in West Africa and the MH17 incident. The tragic passing of Robin Williams was like the cherry on top of this shitey layer cake. Then when we all thought things really couldn’t get any worse, Michelle Bridge’s 12WBT started up again. Batten the hatches – It’s Fit-ageddon on Facebook people! (Woooooo, Woooooo, Woooooo – facetious remark alert)

All of this has led me (and the folk at 702) to wonder whether the world is getting worse. I think the truth of the matter is that the world has always been pretty crappy. I mean – put up your hand if you would like to journey back 100 years to 1914 when that orgy of death, destruction and general mayhem known as World War 1 was just kicking off. No takers?

Yet despite all the horror in our past and our present you don’t have to look to far to see what is good, uplifting and downright amazing in our species. I am an optimist when it comes to humanity. People’s ingenuity blows my mind on a daily basis.

Human beings have

  • Mapped what the universe looked like just after the big bang (I’m talking about the beginning of space/time not the TV comedy)
Its not a funky Easter Egg its the young universe.

Its not a funky Easter Egg its the young universe.

  • Broken the atom down into its smallest components ( the same people hired Prof Brian Cox – double thumbs up)
  • Sent a space craft beyond the solar system
  • Come close to ridding the world of scourges such as small pox and polio and are progressively kicking malaria in the butt.
  • Invented the Tim Tam and all the variations thereof.
Can a species who invented Tim Tams be completely without hope?

Can the species that invented Tim Tams be completely without hope?

Over the past month alone a few good news items have crossed my radar and they make my spirits soar.

Mind Walker

A team at the University of Brussels is currently testing an exoskeleton that allows completely paralyzed people to walk using the power of thought. It sounds like science fiction but the team have developed a way to read an individual’s brain activity using and EEG cap and translate these electronic signals into commands for the robotic suit. The device needs to be streamlined but is closer to being market ready than alternative therapies. It has the potential to give millions of people their lives back.

A graphic of what the mind walker will look like.

A graphic of what the mind walker will look like.

Smart Contact Lenses

Google and pharmaceutical giant Novartis have teamed up to create a futuristic contact lense which can help diabetics. The smart lense constantly monitors glucose levels in their tear fluid and transmits the information wirelessly back to a mobile device. When this goes mainstream diabetics wont have to endure several invasive and inconvenient blood prick tests each day.  Its a fantastic start but the smart lense has the potential to do much more. It is hoped that down the track the lense will be able to detect other illnesses – such as glaucoma and even cancer. Alternatively it is mooted as a method of drug delivery.

Ta dah! This contact lense is smarter than a 5th grader.

Ta dah! This contact lense is smarter than a 5th grader.

Moving into Sci-fi territory other research groups are looking into using the smart contact lense as a way of enhancing our natural vision. For instance to allow people to scan in on very small objects like a built in micro scope and to give us night vision. The Avengers may be out of a job if this keeps up.

Rosetta

The excitement which has been steadily building within the nerd herd will reach a crescendo this November when human kind is scheduled to land a craft on a comet for the first time. Whilst Bruce Willis made landing on a rogue asteroid look easy this has been a mammoth operation. The Rosetta probe was launched in 2004. It has traveled 6.4 billion kilometres (including 5 laps of the sun) to catch up with the comet.  Currently Rosetta is about 100 km from its prey and will sneak up gradually before hitting pay dirt in November. The achievement of the engineering involved can not be under estimated. It is not so much as looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack rather than “finding a speck of dust in a big city.”*

Rosetta swoops past Mars in 2006

Rosetta swoops past Mars in 2006

There’s a very valid argument that we shouldn’t be spending so much on space exploration when there’s so many serious issues to tackle here on earth. Nevertheless the mind boogles and the heart leaps at just what humans can achieve. Surely a species that can do all of this can’t be completely without hope?

Do you feel the world is getting worse? Where do you look for inspiration?

Love

Mumabulous

Gerhard Schwehm, scientist in a European project that launched a space probe that swung alongside a comet last week after a decade-long, 4 billion-mile chase (The Associated Press, Wednesday)

21 thoughts on “Hope For Humanity

  1. I think that the world is getting worse in certain areas, let’s say pollution for instance, yet we are improving in so many more ways. Our quality of life is so good that we often complain about the small things because it seems we haven’t evolutionised quite past having a good moan about something, anything.

  2. I honestly have to censor myself from a lot of news-related media, because i’s too overwhelming. I hate having to disengage, but I just don’t cope very well with all the negativity.

  3. The negativity of the news can really get you down if you let it, and make you feel there is no hope for the planet or the people on it. Like hugzilla said, I have to disengage sometimes in order to cope. I certainly don’t let my six year old anywhere near the TV news. I don’t think the world is getting worse though, I think it’s just that there is so much media available now, we just hear more about things. Some years are worse than others. And things that weren’t spoken of in the past are now being revealed. The older I get I find myself more and more disillusioned by the state of the world, and the things people do. Still, I do believe that most people are basically decent and want to see a better world. We all have to keep trying as a species to get it right! The examples you’ve given above about human achievement are fabulous and very inspiring. I try to focus on the positives such as these things and seek out good news stories wherever I can.

  4. Everytime I think the world’s going to shit I see something beautiful or an act of kindness etc and it gives me hope. (Momentarily at least!)

    PS. I don’t watch the news or read the newspaper. I just glance at the online news each day. (Oh, and use Twitter!) ;-)

  5. I have to cling to some hope, however delusional. Otherwise it just makes me far to anxious about everything and especially my boys future. Those are definitely some amazing things that you’ve posted. Very inspiring. Plus, I absolutely concur with your Tim Tam theory. Great post. xo

  6. PS. Love the make-over. xo

  7. ooh looks good around here!

    So many everyday modern conveniences, items, and knowledge are because someone somewhere sunk some cash into the Space Program. I’m a fan!

  8. haha I mean *exist, not *are. knowledge are because someone! I good English!

  9. Given that you listen to the radio, you are probably already familiar with Steven Pinker and his book that suggests we are actually living in one of the least violent times in human history.

    (If not, this Wikipedia link gives a summary – and saves you reading the book! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Better_Angels_of_Our_Nature )

    Our problem, it goes without saying, is that technological advances mean we are more aware of all the bad stuff going on in the world. Thus, we feel pessimistic even though the bulk of the people we interact with on a daily basis are honest, decent individuals. I guess we need to be mindful of that – and appreciate the Tim Tams when they come our way.

  10. I love the things that science is developing! So exciting.

  11. Humanity is equal parts wonderful and frightening. Great post. I have no idea what’s going on in the world of science most of the time. Except in regards to Tim Tam flavours. My MIL just bought me choc orange Tim Tams. She is hereby forgiven for all past transgressions.

  12. That Mind Walker looks amazing, those horrible contacts NOT SO MUCH! I can’t stand the thought of having something in my eye, okay if it would save lives yes so maybe I’m being a drama queen. You are right about how the world isn’t all shitburgers… thanks for linking x

  13. Wow! Check out the walking device – that would be so amazing for people.
    In other news – things are different over here on your site…Barbie in her teacup is gone? :D

  14. It’s nice to see some good news for a change! Hubster thinks we shouldn’t give all the wars so much news coverage, it’s almost like publicity for them and encourages them to be even more atrocious. He may just have a point, though the lack of internet, TV and newspapers certainly didn’t put a dampener on the wars of the past few thousand years …

    Visiting today from TeamIBOT xxx

  15. If they invent a contact lens that means I don’t have to force tablets down my delicate throat anymore… I’m in! Yes! I’m loving the new top of the post/header! I loved the old one but this is very dynamic.

  16. The world is not getting worse – it has always been full of evil, stupidity and arrogance. The difference now is people don’t seem to care as much for other people and their suffering. So for me, I have decided it is my responsibility to start making some changes, for my self and to help others. There are 2 quotes I am trying to follow as a mantra “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little”. Edmund Burke (he is also of the “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” fame) and “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Muhammad Ali (or the variation ‘There are no passengers on spaceship Earth. we are all crew” Marshall McLuhan. There are things I want to change, and I’m working on it, and I challenge anyone who is unhappy with the state of play to do the same….

  17. I have had to limit the amount of news time I take in these days. Not because I don’t care but it is just so overwhelming (especially as my baby is dealing with some health issues at the moment). I am fortunate to have a community of wonderful, caring people around me who make me know that we are not a lost cause.. as for the contact lenses for diabetics.. AMAZING!

  18. I think the news has seemed even more depressing lately, however you are probably right! We just feel what we feel when we are feeling it; probably exactly the same as people before us living through wars, disease famine etc. Maybe it’s actually more the fact that information is at our fingertips now; we don’t just hear about issues, we see photos, videos, terrorists are tweeting now FFS!
    On a much brighter note, I am a type 1 diabetic, AND I wear contacts! I have not heard of these new developments, so that is super exciting! Thanks for sharing xx

  19. The world is getting worse, but this week has given me hope. What a terribly sad week, the man who has lived in our community for over ten years (but homeless), has passed away, a heart attack. His name was Andy. People here, including myself, are devastated. He did not want a home, people tried to help, he wanted to be here on his bench. People took him good and clothing and watched out for him. Since his passing there have been over a dozen bunches of flowers left, notes, drawings and tributes and there is a memorial being organised. He was the ‘best known and least known’ here as we still don’t know his last name or if he has family. The community this week has renewed my faith in mankind, the love and caring everyone felt for him, he touched all of our lives in some way.

  20. I often wonder this – is the world getting worse or was it always as you say crappy but we have more news coverage so we hear about more of the crappy stuff. When it gets too much I escape to sites like HONY although I love these awesome things you shared with us. We need to hear more of the good stuff on the news at night dont you think? xx

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