We live in amazing times and most of us don't even notice. Take for example yesterday's space walk by the crew of STS-126. Here we have an astronaut working on a piece of machinery 250 or so miles above the Earth and traveling at several thousand miles per hours in relation to the ground. Something happened on the spacewalk that I find jaw dropping, the astronaut drops a tool bag. Here's a video from her camera and you can see it happening
Ok, you say, what's the big deal? She just let go of the bag, I've done that a thousand times! You're right, you and I have both dropped countless items in the course of our work days. Ask yourself this though, did it take a team of NASA scientists to help you pick it up again? Didn't think so.
We take things like microwave dinners (I know I'm dating myself but I still call em T.V. dinners), vitamin supplements, battery and fuel cell technology for granted. These things and countless others are the direct result of solving problems of humans and their machines operating in space. How many things on Star Trek are common, everyday things today...your cell phone/PDA/MP3 player perhaps? 80 years ago, things like electric cars and space travel were the stuff in funny papers and Flash Gordon serials. Now, they are so everyday that people are actually bored with them.
It was only 70 years ago on Halloween Eve 1938 that Orson Wells and the Mercury Theatre broadcast one of the most famous radio shows in history, H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. Invaders from Mars landed and started to conquer the world starting in New Jersey (Tony Soprano would be proud). Now, a mere 70 years later...think about that, a span of a single person's lifetime, we are landing our own three legged machines on the planet Mars. We didn't come to invade like those fictional martians but to look and, most amazing of all, to taste! We tasted Mars! How cool is that?
Take a moment the next time you make a cell call or unwrap that Hot Pocket and dump it in the micro and reflect upon the incredible and amazing future that we live in. A future where an astronaut can drop a tool bag and nobody thinks anything about it.
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