Thursday, March 21, 2013

Now, Voyager

Voyager 1 has crossed over into a medium that is not the Solar System and not quite interstellar space, NASA announced yesterday.


Launched 35 years ago, Voyager 1 and her sister craft, Voyager 2 were intended as emissaries from earth to whatever civilization it encounters over the course of millions of years.


The most interesting thing is to compare the changes to earth and to humanity since their 1977 launches:


1)    The first personal computer, the Commodore PET, was introduced on January 1, 1977. It came with an 8 bit chipset, and up to 96 kB on its hard drive. By comparison, the Voyagers launced with 68 kB hard drives. The iPod nano ships with 16 GB (16,384,000kB).


2)    Elvis was still alive and still recording. In fact, he was top of the charts in the UK with his song, “Way Down”.


3)    Apple Computer, Inc. was incorporated.


4)    Jimmy Carter was inaugurated. That was six presidents ago, if you’re counting.


5)    Fleetwood Mac released the best selling album of all time, Rumours.


6)    The first successful Atari game system, the 2600, is released.


7)    The Hobbit premiered. Well, maybe we haven’t come quite that far after all. Orlando Bloom, Legolas, was born.


Long time readers of my blog know I’m a sucker for interstellar space and manned exploration of the cosmos. We have a legacy, it’s in our genes, to explore. Many may say that it’s not worth the money, but when you look back at how far we’ve come and how we’ve progressed since, it comes into sharp focus how vital exploration is to our world.