Don’t know if you’ve heard (of course you’ve heard), but last night the human race (led by NASA and JPL) did something remarkable.

Not only that, but they timed it out to get a picture of it from an orbiting Mars satellite.

Chew on that for a second – they lobbed a marble from Chicago to, say, a very specific parking spot in Manhattan, and set a moving camera up to be exactly right there when it happened. To impress you even more, they did this having never been to Manhattan personally, and setting the timing on the camera sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas of the previous year. If that weren’t enough, they did it with less-advanced technology than, say, an iPhone 3G.

The human race is capable of some terrible, terrible things (we were reminded of that yesterday as well), but when we channel our energies and resources, we can transcend our limitations in astounding and awe-inspiring ways.


Following the suggestion of my friend Neil Laferty, I purchased Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier.


The book is a collection of speeches, interviews, essays, etc. on various aspects of space exploration: why we did it, why we should keep doing it, what problems we have doing it, and the like. It reads well – Tyson never uses science jargon as a way of keeping the hoi polloi at the gates, and even a non-scientist like me could understand the concepts. He looks at all the arguments with a sympathetic eye, while simultaneously maintaining a healthy scientific skepticism. This is no mean feat, and he nails it.

Make sure you read the appendices, which include the legislation creating NASA and other bits of space-related legislation as well as budget comparisons and data for space exploration.