REDBRICK 1307 / 2nd MARCH 11
Weird Science A day in the life of...
on how curiosi- A Facebook addict
by Anya Court
back to Earth
ty saved the
European Space Agency.
IT is very easy to get car- Damien Cheema takes us into Some might claim this
ried away, to pursue wise, as the money saved
something so far and so Space and asks, ‘what’s in it for is put to better use in
passionately that you improving the health
forget the goal you were us?’ service and education,
aiming for, or the out- but others campaign that
sider becomes con- WHAT exactly is the point the Global Positioning we should be funding
cerned with your inten- of space exploration? System. Advances have manned exploration.
tions, fervour and This question may or may occurred in medicine too, After all, if we can
motives. Much of sci- not have crossed your examples of which afford to pay for parks
ence has been about mind, but it is likely to be include: digital imagery and museums then we IT is hard to believe, but status. I then write on
pushing the boundaries, something most people integral to now routine can also afford to pay for when I arrived at univer- my flatmate’s wall,
delving into topics pre- pay little attention to diagnostic scanning tech- space. It is about more sity in September, I had whose door is opposite
viously unthinkable or because it seldom affects niques, cochlear implants than just the practical, it never heard of mine, to tell her that I
unquestionable, raising their lives. It could, how- for the deaf and the preci- is about the inspirational Facebook. My flatmate am looking forward to
ethical or economic ever, be argued that it is sion lasers used in cor- too. There is surely no asked me whether I had our night out later.
objections. I need only one of the most impor- rective eye surgery. better way to encourage a profile, and I asked As I make my way
mention the word tant endeavours that Quite possibly the the much-needed next her to help me register. on to campus again for
‘cloning’ as a current mankind has ever most important gain of all generation of scientists, Within a week I was an afternoon seminar, I
example. The fact embarked upon. was in catalysing the crucial to the future pros- hooked. In fact, my pre- wave at a boy I vaguely
remains, however, that if The Space Race was environmental move- perity of this country. Facebook life now recognise, before realis-
historically science had- borne of the Cold War ment. The iconic photo- The feat of sending seems like a blur. How ing I have seen his
n’t been pushing those battle for supremacy graph of the Earthrise man to touch the surface did I fill my time before photo on one of my
boundaries we simply I became absorbed in friend’s Facebook pro-
couldn’t be in the fortu- this social network that files. He is not actually
itous position we are is now a worldwide phe- someone I know in real
now, with cures and nomenon? life.
answers for a good deal Most mornings One of my flatmates
of the major questions. before I am even out of described Facebook as
Long shall inquisitive- my pyjamas, I log onto an ‘online dating
ness prevail to tackle the Facebook in the hope agency’ and he is not
questions remaining. that I will have a new wrong. Yes, that is right,
This topic comes to message, wall post or apparently we no longer
mind because of Geoff perhaps an event invita- have to date or speak to
Thomas, a former tion. When logging on, I people if we like them.
England footballer who cannot resist looking at We simply log onto
was diagnosed with the home page and read- Facebook and poke
chronic myeloid ing full wall to wall mes- them, and maybe
leukaemia in July 2003. sages if it only displays around Valentine’s Day,
Having gone to his doc- half, even if the mes- send a virtual gift.
tor with stomach sages have nothing to It is hard over holi-
cramps, he was diag- do with me or my wall days and weekends at
nosed with cancer of the and are between two of home to keep off
blood and given three my Facebook friends. Facebook. If I am away
years to live. I met him This is the begin- from university friends,
two weeks ago. Geoff has ning of what has been it seems even more cru-
received a bone marrow coined ‘Facebook stalk- cial to log on and see
stem cell transplant with ing’. Once on someone’s what everyone else has
cells taken from his sis- profile, I often decide to been up to.
ter, which proliferated between the world’s two taken from the Moon of our celestial compan- have a look at their I was wondering the
and replaced Geoff’s superpowers, USA and allowed us to view this ion firmly established interests, maybe a quick other day; how old is
own blood cells Soviet Russia. It is planet in a context like America as the world’s scroll through their too old to have a
destroyed by the disease remarkable that every- never before, as both leading power. It is no Birmingham friends to Facebook profile? I
and radiotherapy. The thing that was accom- fragile and finite. Never coincidence that China see if there is anyone I mean, when I graduate I
key point is that had the plished took place with again could the need to has now joined the select know who I have forgot- would like to keep in
potential of stem cells less computer power than preserve our home be band of nations that ten to add. If I am really touch with university
not been explored since sits in the average games ignored. sends its citizens into trying to avoid a partic- friends and Facebook is
their discovery in the console today. Its legacy Projects such as the space. However, it will ular piece of work, I may a great way to keep in
1960s, had scientists in was to kick start a level of International Space not have escaped atten- have a look at some of touch with people who
the field given in to the technological achieve- Station (ISS) have also tion that the real value of their photos too. are a long distance from
ethical outcry and ment that otherwise shown what can be space exploration would I get excited when I you.
entered stem cells into would not have occurred achieved when the inter- be proven if and when the am invited to events, I still message gap
the encyclopaedia of life so rapidly. Necessity real- national, albeit scientific, Earth’s resources have especially if it is a pri- year friends in America
simply as “exist, but not ly was the mother of community works togeth- ultimately been depleted. vate party, and eagerly and Australia, and I love
worth the effort” then, invention, the repercus- er. The ISS may ultimately NASA has recently scrawl the date down in to hear what my friends
put simply, this humble sions of which are still prove to be a flop, but announced its intentions my diary, although this at other universities
and fascinating man - being experienced today. something like $100 mil- to return to the Moon, is unnecessary as have been up to.
who is using his time in So what was gained lion dollars has been nearly half a century Facebook will dutifully When I have my first
remission to raise aware- for the average person on spent on it to date, mak- after the last footprints remind me nearer the child, will my status be
ness and money for the street? The most com- ing it the most expensive were laid, by 2020. This time anyway. set to ‘on maternity
leukaemia charities – monly cited example is shared venture in history. will serve as a base from On returning to my leave’? I think not. Yet,
would be dead. probably Teflon, Many of the advan- which further missions room after a morning it is quite a frightening
Sometimes it is although ironically this is tages outlined could, can be launched to as yet lecture, I turn on my thought to think how
worth taking the risk. actually a myth. There however, have been untouched parts of our laptop to check my pro- much spare time I may
Knowledge is worth pur- exists an organisation gained without the huge Solar System. file. I find it hard to drag have on my hands when
suing, for the benefits called the Space additional effort needed The next port of call myself away, knowing Facebook is no longer a
years down the line will Technology Hall of Fame, to send humans into will certainly be Mars, but that I should really be part of my life.
be worth it, albeit which each year honours space. The lunar pro- there are numerous other cracking on with an For now though, I
unforeseen. With this in folks who provide useful gramme alone consumed potential targets with the essay, but I will check will remain a faithful
mind let us turn our spin-offs for the benefit a massive 10% of moons of Jupiter and Facebook every now and Facebook addict, along
heads to the skies as of us Earthlings. Amongst America’s economic Saturn looking the most then, just to see if any- with many other stu-
Damien Cheema, MSc, the most evident and budget in the 1960s. promising. Future genera- thing has changed. dents. In the knowledge,
tells us why the multibil- widespread innovations Britain does not have a tions may therefore have But wait…before I although it is a sad fact,
lion-dollar world of are those derived from manned space pro- to put in to practice what begin writing I must let that I do not even have
space exploration bene- satellite technology, such gramme itself, although it was once only dreamed of my Facebook friends to leave my desk to find
fits little old you. as advanced communica- does contribute to robot- in science fiction. know I am writing an out how my friends are.
tions, broadcasting and ic missions as part of the essay via my current