Daily Archives: November 15, 2014
I’ve been listening to the story of the comet mission with mild interest, and mild bemusement. Slightly surprised the comet has sufficient gravity to put a satellite into (presumably very slow) orbit around it or to land a craft.
Anyway, my past life working at ESA was completely unrelated to any of this, and I’m observing this story as a member of the general public. Like the rest of the world I can watch with awe the engineering triumph of getting to the comet. I can get mildly excited by the cliffhanger story of whether the landing would be successful. I can take a layman’s interest in scientific results from the mission.
I can even learn a lesson from it: if sending a scientific vehicle into space where it might end up in persistent shadow, the marginal extra cost (and, I imagine, weight) of equipping it with nuclear power is probably well spent. A technology that’s been standard in submarines since about 1950 is, after all, not exactly rocket science!
But it seems I’ve completely missed the real point of this mission. Indeed, I never even heard of it until it became top “news” story (in my defence, not having a telly I never even saw him). Who cares about a stupendous engineering feat and any scientific insights we might get, when some errant scientist appears on telly wearing a politically-incorrect shirt? Obviously that’s all that really matters: else why should it provoke such a storm in the meeja, and why should the scientist (like Galileo before him) be pushed into a grovelling apology to the Inquisition of his time?
BTW, anyone know where I could get a shirt like that? Wonder if it was given to him by a woman, as my three most outrageous shirts were?
Talking of the sartorial police, it’s not just the Strict Taliban wing of feminism that’s in the ascendant. In another recent story, the so-called Naked Rambler Stephen Gough has lost an appeal against being locked up. Whilst I have no wish to see Mr Gough doing his thing, I hope the powers-that-be who’ve arrested and locked him up over the years are not so hypocritical as to apply double-standards to other cultures, for example by criticising Saudi or Taliban dress codes for women. If (as I do) you support a woman’s right to dress as she chooses, how can you not support extending the same rights to Mr Gough? Or to a scientist who must’ve missed the Thought Police element of his media training?