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Thursday, October 08, 2009
My 2 Satangs: Moonraker
Some human endeavours are completely justifiable and in some, but not all cases, entirely necessary. Cures for cancer and plans for world peace are generally thought of as necessities towards the betterment of mankind – unless you believe in the ills of over-population.
On the other hand, research on the effects of fast food (err, it’s bad for you) or monumental, US$27million statues erected in Senegal may be, forgive me if I am making assumptions, a waste of money.
In most instances the research aspect of these endeavours has little effect outside of the micro environment that any given study is conducted in. Because of this many of us don’t think too much about the millions dollars of privately owned capital invested in discovering the effects of using butter to power mechanical manservants.
However, a recent announcement made by NASA has got the whole world wondering what effects one country’s space agency will have on all of us.
Following the recent discovery of water on Luna’s surface NASA has decided to shoot the moon with a missile to see if any more of the precious liquid can be found. It is still not one hundred per cent certain what moon water will help achieve, although it will supposedly mean that astronauts won’t have to transport hundreds of bottles of Evian every time they go exploring.
The question of what to do with this water once it is discovered is best left to giant soft drinks corporations and theme park companies. A more prudent question would be, “What the hell do you mean you’re shooting the moon?”
Before you start thinking that this act of violence will wreck the movement of the tides, or resemble scenes from Star Wars, hundreds of sciencey types maintain that there is no need to panic. This is because the moon’s surface is regularly bombarded by passing meteorites, which produce the same effect as NASA’s missile.
So why not just wait for one of these space rocks to do the job for them? I failed high-school science so I can’t answer that. I’m sure there’s a good reason though. What I really want to know is what would people think if it were another country conducting this test?
Think about it. It sounds like something out of a James Bond movie. What if it were Iran or North Korea who were planning to blow up the moon? No doubt the media and Western governments would vilify such an action. But when NASA – with their fancy acronym and frequently updated Twitter account – do it, it’s all fun and games.
Regardless of who is doing the shooting the question remains on the importance of blowing craters on that big hunk of cheese in the sky. It’s like CERN’s Large Hadron Collider experiment. No doubt we (mankind) will learn something new. But will that something be worth it? Does the potential for adverse effects outweigh the potential benefits? Will the universe implode? What if the moon shoots back?
These may sound like the ramblings of an insane journalist, and they most probably are. But with the global economy the way it is, global warming (don’t get me started), international relations stretched to breaking point, famine, disease, natural disasters, lack of health care, a lack of cooperation in relocating refugees, terrorism, the disappearance of hundreds of local cultures to globalisation, an over-reliance on technology, deforestation, the extinction of countless species and millions of people with broken hearts slowly crying to themselves, is blowing up the moon really our main priority right now?
NASA’s mission to bomb the moon will be broadcast live on NASA TV, starting at 6.15am EDT (5.15pm here in Thailand) on October 9, 2009.
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