science, technology

I’m a fucking weepy nerd, and I don’t care.

I just posted a comment over at Gizmodo—of all places—because they had the smarts to publicize JPL’s Mars Phoenix lander and the fantastically smart people who made it possible. One of these stupendous folks was Veronica McGregor, who was Mars Phoenix’s voice on Twitter. Her enthusiastic posts did the job of transforming a dry piece of science into something more.

This was possibly the best use of Twitter I’ve ever seen and a great way to get almost anyone with a heart involved in the farthest-reaching and most efficiently-run part of my space program that has ever existed: JPL’s unmanned robots. Twittering brief progress reports in the manner of an online acquaintance sucked me in almost immediately.

Ms. McGregor nailed me right in my 1960’s childhood with her wonderful personification of the hard-working, stalwart Mars Phoenix lander. Her bravely poetic words, cheerfully forecasting MP’s inevitable death while reminding us daily of all its accomplishments, personified the entire team of JPL and Arizona U’s wonderful engineers and scientists. Her first post about MP’s ultimate fate did make me cry for the same reasons that the end of the Apollo program did in 1972 (and its portrayal in HBO’s From the Earth to the Moon miniseries).

This is my space program. Doing heroic, pure research with tiny amounts of money and enormous ingenuity. And involving me emotionally in the enormity of what it discovers on my dime.

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10 thoughts on “I’m a fucking weepy nerd, and I don’t care.

  1. Tiny amounts of money spent almost entirely on a space station designed for American and Russian prestige rather than exploration…

    Which makes their accomplishments even more impressive in my humble opinion.

  2. moeskido says:

    Thanks, Jer. I saw this one last week when you sent out the email. Very nice.

    But I still miss seeing tv series’ main titles that last longer than fifteen seconds.

  3. “We need a couple of dozen Spirits and Cassinis to do due diligence before we ever send humans beyond our moon.”

    Um… well… there’s a bit of a snag there.

    Right now, our technology can only do so much so while we need orbital robots who can do a lot of research as they whiz around a planet and its moons, photographing and scanning just about everything they see, rovers are not nearly as effective or efficient as humans.

    Humans can do ten times the science in a day than a rover does in a month. No disrespect to Spirit or Opportunity, but they’re just slow. I mean it takes weeks to get them out of potholes and dunes where a human can just walk up a hill, collect some samples and be back to a home station in a few hours.

  4. moeskido says:

    Pardon my hyperbole. I know how much better humans are at on-the-spot judgment, insight, and agility. I just don’t want to put anyone in harm’s way before we know more about how to protect them from everything they’ll have to contend with in environments we’re still learning about.

  5. moeskido says:

    Don’t know what it has to do with the post, but you did some work on it. Very nice.

    The correlation works better on the longer bits. Shorter stuff is a bit less capable of sustaining the gag. Try trimming out the brief stuff and making all of it one big sequence. Try working in wipes to transition between scenes to see if that works.

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