Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It Is Rocket Science

Celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the moon landing over the past few weeks are a reminder that technology is relative. Forty years ago, walking on the moon was a big deal. Today, ironically, Michael Jackson's Moonwalk is maybe even a bigger deal and presents its own gravitational challenges.  (How did he move his legs one way and his body the other, and will anyone else ever be able to replicate?) Still, it was only ten years ago that the internet was barely launching, there was not yet any Facebook or Twitter, and social networking was 3-dimensional, and meant going to a party  or an event-- a real life situation, like in a room, at someone's house, with maybe some food and music. In other words, not virtual. Will the live handshake, flu viruses aside, become another thing of the past?

I am a product of the "moon generation." My team at grade school gym class was named after Buzz Aldrin. I knew by heart every episode of "Lost in Space," including such "isms" as: Danger, Will Robinson!, and I had an eerie familiarity with concepts such as matter and anti-matter, positive and negative universes, and spaceships like the Jupiter 2 that looked like the tops of Chinese food serving dishes and suffered endless atrocities like deteriorating forcefields and overly possessive space plants.

And who can forget "Star Trek," with its own indelible lexicon of Klingons and Volcan death grips and dilithium crystals and warp factors? Every episode introduction was and is a reminder that space is the final frontier, and that there is a calling to go where no man/woman has gone before, and seek out new....you know what's next.

Forty years from now, we may have space stations throughout the galaxy, or we may be getting our groceries on Jupiter and going to classes on Mars.  But we will still do the Time Warp again. We may look back at the space shuttle voyages and a thousand other scientific breakthoughs, and think they were a walk in the park -- I mean --on the moon. It's the inherent irony of rocket science.

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