What’s 21 billion kilometres away, 40 years old and carries a record featuring both Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”?
No it’s not your reclusive uncle with the strange taste in music who lives in the middle of nowhere. It’s the Voyager 1 spacecraft.
Last Friday Voyager fired its thrusters for the first time in 37 years, which is all the more remarkable considering it involved sending a signal that took 19 hours and 35 minutes to travel outside of our own solar system to a radio antenna just 3.7m wide.
Now you may be thinking (much like your hypothetical uncle) why on Earth should I care about some random spacecraft? Why are we spending all this time, money and effort on some trivial pursuit?
Well I believe it’s far from trivial. In my opinion exploring the universe is one of the greatest uses of time, money and effort that exists. Hopefully after reading the rest of this post, you’ll understand why.
Let me tell you three simple facts about the tobacco industry.
- Roughly 5.8 trillion cigarettes are smoked worldwide every year, which equates to two per-person per-day.
- In the previous century, tobacco use killed 100 million people, more than all deaths in World Wars I and II combined.
- The world’s top six tobacco companies make a profit of over $44 billion every year.
There’s no place on Earth like the Great Barrier Reef. And Australians know it.
I’m a big fan of computer games.
Trust me, I’ve played more than my fair share. Ever since my friend gave me a copy of Age of Empires out of a cereal box, I’ve been somewhat addicted to both games and cereal.
But for an industry worth an estimated $93 billion worldwide and projected to grow to over $100 billion in the next two years, it’s high time game manufacturers became more responsible for their actions.
I think the gaming industry is irresponsible for three reasons. Firstly, for such an immersive medium it often fails to adequately educate us. Secondly, it seems indifferent about influencing the minds of younger generations. And thirdly, it fails it disclose information that is of vital importance to its consumers.
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain
I’ve often quoted Mark Twain in jest. Now I’m realising his words are worryingly applicable. Never before have we been so economically and culturally invested in education… and never before has it been failing at the rate it is today.
Source: Data from Board of Studies NSW