Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday Science

Let's forget for a few moments Japan, Libya and Chavez destruction of science and education and remember what makes us humans.  For me,  science and the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake.  I will paste below the NYT editorial of today for your enjoyment.
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Mercury, the smallest one

Mission to Mercury

Late on St. Patrick’s Day, Eastern time, a spacecraft called Messenger, weighing a little more than a thousand pounds, slipped into an elliptical orbit around the planet Mercury, becoming the only manmade object to orbit the planet closest to the Sun.

Through the coming days, scientists from NASA and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory will check Messenger’s systems and begin turning on its instruments. On April 4, observations begin.

Messenger spent nearly seven years in transit and traveled about five billion miles. It will spend one Earth-year studying the mineralogy of Mercury, mapping its surface and magnetic and gravitational fields, and trying to identify the substance covering the planet’s north pole. All the while, a ceramic-fabric sunshade will be protecting Messenger from the ferocious heat of the nearby Sun and the solar reflection from Mercury. The craft will eventually plummet into the planet.

It really doesn’t matter how many space missions you’ve followed or how many Hubble photographs you’ve marveled over. There is still a sense of raw excitement about reaching a critical stage in an expedition like this, an excitement that will only grow as data begins to stream toward Earth.

Part of the thrill is knowing that this is the pure pursuit of knowledge, the scientific impulse — a human impulse — carried to a remarkable conclusion. It’s hard to know just what we will learn about Mercury. Like all scientific missions and experiments, this is a journey to a more refined sense of what we don’t yet know.

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I do not know about you but I still can feel the excitement and emotion of the previous of Voyager missions and how I was counting the minutes for the first pictures to reach us....

6 comments:

  1. Last Anonymous9:21 PM

    Dear Daniel,

    While you were counting the minutes to an orbit around Mercury, I was contemplating the several hundreds of thousands of lives that were shattered in Japan.

    I guess I must not have my priorities straight.

    ReplyDelete
  2. last anonymous

    one day, hopefully, you will be able to understand what i write. but i am not holding my breath.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Daniel,

    You are not alone. I get it. Wars, natural disasters, famines, etc., are all part of human history and will happen again and again. Every new scientific discovery happens once, and represents a permanent advance in human knowledge and understanding of the universe.

    Although I didn't participate directly, as a human being, I thrill to the advance of our entire species. One day, this may be far more important than the immediate concerns of mankind in the news today.

    It has been said that the people who forget their history have no past, and no future. Well, the people who forget to consider and dream of the future, have no need for either and reject the human legacy of striving to explore and understand the world we live in.

    I can only pity those who have lost their child-like capacity to wonder.

    ReplyDelete
  4. We must never consume poison without an antidote that will help all of us.

    We should not suffer uselessly.

    Suffering is only valuable to the degree we can use it to help ourselves and others.USEFULL suffering is not wallowing dramatically in our pain, it is the sorrow accompanied by the knowledge that all things pass, and that death is part of the human condition which gives a certain detachment.By detachment I do not mean not caring, but rather seeing ourselves in the scheme of things.Understanding that in this world of changes it will come to all of us, and is the flip side of joy and happiness.Without life, there is no death, and without death there is no life.They are integral parts of the same thing.

    Death and suffering are an everyday part of the human condition, shall we lie helplessly in useless sorrow everyday?Or shall we take care of our own psyches so that we can have the compassion to both help ourselves and serve others?This would be USEFUL suffering.

    You choose.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The last comment I made was directed with compassion to the last Anonymous

    ReplyDelete
  6. oso negro11:58 PM

    These are the endeavors that give me hope. Humans are capable of some really incredible things, and some really ridiculous and hideous things. This in the incredible realm.
    Yes to Messenger! And Yes to Science!

    ReplyDelete

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