I sit here amidst a foray of over excited scientists talking too quickly down a mic on a live stream and this musing comes on the back of having to suffer 2 and a half hours of the awful film Interstellar the other day. To say I’m not “pro-space” at the moment is an understatement.
At time of writing the Rosetta probe has landed and I expect we will see images and further information soon.
But so what? What benefit will it bring to humanity? – This is where I start to lose interest in the probe after the initial feelings of “it was a hell of a good shot to be able to hit the comet”.
Lets say investigations of the probe conclude that its made entirely of custard. How will this forward any knowledge? All we will know from then on is that if you have an apple pie ready when a comet slams into the Earth, you’re in for a great dessert.
Of course I jest with the custard example, but it’s merely to highlight that the “wonderful” readings we are bound to receive are really rather useless. When you consider what it must of cost to get the probe there AND the fact that we haven’t even taken mankind past the Moon, what benefit does this have?
I suppose in many hundreds of years when mankind develops an interest in Comet surfing, the tech will be very useful, people can land on a comet and do whatever you do on a lump of ice travelling at 24 miles per second around our solar system. I’d suggest for now, the tech is at least, pretty useless.
There can be one lesson drawn from this exercise, Scientists should not be allowed near a mic when making public announcements. Over-excitement, lack of sleep and lack of public speaking experience make for uncomfortable viewing.
The icing on the cake will come from the conspiracy theorist, for whom this will not be a waste of money. The Icke supporters and Alien folk will all be able to offer their “unique” theories as to what is being covered up. You will get folk spending hours looking at the images and then pointing out one that has proof of alien civilisation. You’ll have others claiming the pictures are fake, or photoshopped.
For others – those who have romantic notions of a Star Trek future (that will never happen) and the conspiracy theorists looking for evidence of aliens, this Rosetta project will offer days of entertainment. I would expect there are quite a few people that will also think before we start chucking millions of pounds at large lumps of rock and ice, we look to the Earth first and try to solve some of the problems we have here.
Lets be realistic, evidence of mankind’s current behaviour lends more to suggest that our future is more likely to be Warhammer 40,000 than it is Star Trek and maybe that’s because rather than deal with problems that we have on Earth people would rather send millions of pounds up into space to look at rocks and ice.