Links for 21 July 2008 through 25 July 2008

Stilgherrian’s links for 21 July 2008 through 25 July 2008, gathered by a small, well-trained pig, washed by hand and exposed to cool, dry air:

The Space Age is Dead

Photograph of Sputnik 1What has happened to our sense of adventure? 50 years ago today that Russian metal thing (left) went “Beep, beep, beep” and we were thrust into the Space Age. But now the Space Age is dead.

On 4 October 1957, it was a beach ball with a beeper inside. A month later, 3 November, it was a differently-shaped Russian metal thing with a dog inside.

“Jay-zus,” thought America, collectively. “Those goddam Commies have gotten into space! And they’ve got The Bomb.” They called it “the Sputnik Crisis” and the US created ARPA (which eventually developed the Internet) and New Math (which created a huge market in hula hoops for primary schools).

The first human in space was in 1961. And only eight years later people were walking on the moon.

But now, in 2007, it’s been 35 years since anyone’s been to the moon. Indeed, it’s been 35 years since anyone’s been more than 480km from Earth.

Continue reading “The Space Age is Dead”