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Computers, Science, Thoughts

I am a computer science major. I have always loved computers - and science of any kind really. When I was little I wanted nothing more than to be an astronaut, a dream that carried on quite well until High School, when I realized I would never have the requisite math skills to obtain the PhD that would likely earn me a slot on the next space shuttle. And I was genuinely, deeply sad when the year 2010 passed with not only a manned mission to Jupiter, but the failure of said planet to turn into a second sun.


As returning reader may remember, I do have issues.

I've recently returned to this love of outer space (AOS fans may remember "Failure Is Not an Option," my stalled attempt to write an rogue!NASA AU, which I do want to return to one day if I can figure out how to make it work). The end result of which is that I'm reading Physics of the Future, which contains some very interesting ideas in the first hundred pages I've read.

One of which is:





By 2100, our destiny is to become like the gods we once worshipped and feared. But our tools will not be magic wands and potions but the science of computers, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and, most of all, the quantum theory, which is the foundation of the previous technologies





Which so beautifully sums up what I've been going for with the Ancients - minus the time limit - that I might have to borrow it somehow. The other I want to share is something I found shocking. I mean, I've always known that graphing calculators of today are more powerful than the computers that took men to the moon, but:




For example, when you receive a birthday card in the mail, it often has a chip that that sings "Happy Birthday" to you. Remarkably, that chip has more computer power than all the Allied Forces of 1945. Hitler, Churchill, or Roosevelt might have killed to get that chip. But what do we do with it? After the birthday, we throw the card and chip away.




Think about that. That stupid, annoying, singing birthday card sent back in time could possibly have changed the course of WW2. And that's a dizzying thought. I could go on about how computers have changed in my lifetime alone, but there's something dizzying about the fact that I have more computing power at my fingertips right now than military supercomputers had ten years ago. The total computing power in my house is greater then there was in the world, most likely, at the time of my birth. (Though my family does have a lot of tech gadgets. Including a few boxes in my Mom's office labeled gadgets, doodads, and thingies, I kid you not).

And where I'm going with this is not that we're on our way to some grand Type I civilization - though this is what I sincerely hope. Where I'm going is why haven't we been back to the moon? Twelve men in the entire history of mankind have walked on the moon, but it happened so long ago that one of them is dead of natural causes (ironically, almost exactly a year ago) and who knows how long before there is no one alive who has walked on the moon. It will be in my lifetime, certainly, unless we restart the program soon.

And what about Mars? What about the rest of the solar system? My mom has told me any number of times that when she was a girl she thought space travel would be as prevalent as air travel is now. The crowning SyFy movie, 2001, is about a future that is now twelve years in the past. I can stand on my back deck and see the international space station pass overhead but rare are those who actually get to go there.

I want to know what happened to the dream. Stars died to birth the atoms of our bodies, and yet...

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  • 6 comments
IKR? It's amazing. Astounding. IT COULD HAVE CHANGED THE COURSE OF WARS AND WE JUST THROW IT AWAY.
Indeed. But they're not looking at it right. The missions to the moon resulted in so many advancements being pumped into the world and the discovery of so much new science that the benefits far outweighed the costs. Not to mention the obvious "if something happens to Earth, where will we go?" and the one that's accomplished so much in this world, "because we can".
Just thinking about the impact of that chip,is incredible, just shows how far we have come, but at the same time. Free, why have we not progressed wit space travel, etc. when youmlookmatmhiw much advancement has been made in other areas come come we haven't progressed similarly with space travel?

You do leave us with some interesting thoughts to ponder over!
Well, it's partly economics. There's no money it it, not obviously. But partly its home. And dreams. I think we, as a species, have stopped dreaming. We may be waging a war on terror, but terror has won. We're afraid to dream big anymore. We're afraid to leave what is known. It's like why crime dramas are big now but there are virtually no syfy shows anymore. We've stopped dreaming. We live in fear.
  • 6 comments