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Thoughts on Curiosity

I watched the live stream of Curiosity’s landing on Mars last night. For those of you unlucky enough to miss it, it showed the NASA Personnel at the Jet Propulsion Lab following the lander’s progress. It was incredible.

The tension as the people who’d put years of work into a daring project—throwing a complex, fragile, car-sized machine at a planet—finally waited to see if they had done every single thing right.

The small bursts of joy as preliminary stages went off without a hitch.

The final celebration when it landed perfectly.

The satisfaction on their faces as they allowed themselves to realize that they had done something nobody had ever done before. That they had done something for all of us.

And I thought: Are we really trying to cut the budget for things like this? Why?

Oh, right, we can’t afford it. Our society needs to save its resources for other things.

Things like private jets, so that rich people don’t have to go through the hell of flying first class.

Things like pills that turn your poop gold.

Things like 100,000 varieties of shampoo. (I’m not exaggerating. A search on “shampoo” on Amazon gives more than 100,000 results.)

And of course, the ads that make us care about 100,000 varieties of shampoo in the first place. God forbid we should go without those.

Seriously, when did we decide that our highest, our noblest, our only possible task is producing more consumer products?

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