Sunday, January 6, 2013

'Gale Crater I Am in You!!!'

This image from a truly hilarious video: "We're Nasa and We Know it" which I have embedded below.

Regular readers of this blog, both of you, will know that I occasionally post information about science discoveries or topics I find to be cool.

Trend-setter that I am, apparently I'm not alone.

I'm not tech-savvy enough to know whether blog posts count as "social media," but according to a New Year's Eve article in The New York Times, science is hot on social media.

Now I take issue with the article's lead-off, which puts Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic, record-breaking jump from a balloon 24 miles above the New Mexico desert in the 'science' category.

I put it more in the 2012 version of Evel Knievel category, but why quibble?

More interesting, to me anyway, is how popular the Mars rover Curiosity's Twitter account has become.

Now I will confess I am one of the hordes which follow these tweets, as much because they have a sense of humor as because of their science value.

"The first Twitter message on Aug. 5 from @MarsCuriosity, NASA’s official rover handle — “Gale Crater I Am in You!!!” — was retweeted more than 72,000 times," the Times reported.

See what I mean? (BTW, this video is really good.)

Less heralded and, sadly, without their own Twitter accounts, the other two rovers on Mars have, Spirit and Opportunity, kept on chugging long after their warranties expired. Spirit finally stopped communicating with Earth in March 2010 and was declared dead a year later. Opportunity is still going strong, exploring clay deposits on the rim of Mars' Endeavour Crater, according to this article in the Huffington Post.

The post reported that "together, the two robots have covered 26.82 miles (43.16 kilometers) to date, with Opportunity racking up the lion's share (22.02 miles, or 35.44 km). While Opportunity is showing some signs of its advanced age, such as an arthritic arm, the rover remains in good health and continues to return interesting data to its handlers back on Earth."

Other hot science news involved the movement of the retired space shuttle Endeavor to its final home in Los Angeles, and James Cameron's "deepest tweet" from the Pacific Ocean's Marianas Trench.

"In an age of despair over math and science acuity, it appears that what was once considered uninteresting or unfathomable has become cool and exciting," reporter Mary Ann Giordano wrote sardonically.

No doubt, the numbers are impressive.

Curiosity's Facebook page is near to a half-million "likes" and its Twitter account hit one million shortly after the August landing.

I don't pretend to understand why this is happening, although my own personal theory is that it has something to with the popularity of the "Big Bang Theory," the "Seinfeld" of the aughts and now running in endless, and hilarious, re-runs on TBS.

If you haven't seen it, it's a comedy about some socially dysfunctional science geniuses who hang out together and try to figure out how to get girls when they are not postulating about string theory.

Despite hitting all the geek stereo-types -- comic books, Star Wars, Star Trek et al -- they still manage to be hip in their own way and occasionally even get the girl.

So I think maybe some people are watching this and thinking "yeah, why not science?"

In any case, its one of the few things in 2013 that gives me hope for our species.

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