Space – The Final Fronteer

So, Space is the last real place that mankind is engaged in real pioneering exploration right. So does the idea of space inspire you enough to want to get involved in this exploration? Does the idea of being involved in the discovery of something new, unique and completely unknown make your juices flow enough to make you excited enough to want to take part in making some amazing discovery?

Meh

That all sounds too expensive, difficult, time consuming, and frankly Mr Yettie, I have no intention of joining the space program I hear you muttering.

:lol:

No Fear, I’m not asking you to expand on that childhood dream of becoming an astronaut or going out and buying some really expensive kit to explore the skies. No way Hosea! What I am talking about is taking part in a project that was started a few months ago, and promises to make 2013 a pretty special year in the exploration of the Red Planet, our next door neighbour Mars.

This is an image of fan like structures that have been observed on the face of Mars by a satellite in orbit of the Red Planet that has for the last few years been photographing every square foot of the planet over and over again. This has resulted in the production of literally millions of photographic images of the planet in various stages of the season, and it is now known that these fans appear every year in the Martian Spring, what scientists suspect are gaseous eruptions much like geysers here on earth. It is believed that there is a warming of ice below the surface in the spring as the planet warms, and this is what leads to the formation of these structures that can be seen on the planet.

The thing I found amazing about this discovery is that it was made by a Joe Blogs like you or me, who had registered on a website to take part in a project to help map and explore the pictures taken from the surface of the Martian surface. And this, spurred me to go and have a look, and suddenly become really enthused about taking part.

It is simple really. You visit www.planet4.org where you can join over 55,000 other every day explorers who are given a piece of Mars to explore and classify to help scientists catalogue abnormalities on the surface and discover new and interesting formations on the surface. In this way, over 2 million images have now been classified, helping scientists to zone in and focus on findings that are leading to new and exciting ideas, theories and discoveries about our next door neighbour. The amazing thing. You could be a part of all that, and from the comfort of your over stuffed chair.

It is not just Mars that these guys are exploring either. The main program, Zooinverse, located at www.zooniverse.org/projects has all manner of projects on the go, from exploring the moon, to helping to classify cyclones or explore the ocean floor. If you really want to, you can even help to classify cancer samples.

It’s nice to feel that in some small way, maybe something I did to help will be used to make some sort of breakthrough or fascinating discovery, and while maybe that is me being just a little bit delusional  it is still a good feeling to be a part of something that is charting the exploration of parts of our universe we know nothing about. It also felt pretty amazing in that while I was working on the pictures I helped to classify, I couldn’t help but think to myself that just maybe I was looking close at a portion of the Red Planet that had never been studies or looked at in such detail before. That is quite a remarkable feeling. I guess it’d be even better to be the first man to stand on the same spot and see it visually, but for now, this small effort on my part is as much as we can do, and yes, I can say that a Yettie was a part of that.

2013 will in many ways be a pretty remarkable year as spacial events go. On the 15th February 2013, the largest object of recent history will pass a mere 35,000 miles from our surface, the asteroid 2012 DA14 a chunk of rock 45 metres wide. Make sure your valentines day is a special one this year. :p

And then, come November December 2013 the mega comet Ison will come within 800,000 km of the surface of our sun, meaning we could have a feature in the sky that could be even brighter than a full moon in daylight hours. If that does indeed happen, surely it will be one of the most dazzlingly spectacular astronomical features of our night sky in our time. No wonder they are coining the term Comet of the Century for Ison’s pass through our system.

Two big events in a great year for star gazing if you are so inclined. Anyway, enough of me babbling on about something I’ve really enjoyed checking out, and I hope that in some ways, just maybe you’ll be able to get as much interest out of it as I did. Hugs to you all and hope January is not treating you too badly.

Thought for today – “Dream as if you will live forever, Live as if you will die today.” – James Dean

Song for today – Fill My Little World by the Feeling

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Extraordinary Measures

Extraordinary Measures tells the story of a fathers drive to help an idealistic old scientist perfect a drug to help his two severely disabled children. Apparently based on a true story, the film has one of my favourite all time actors in it, so I suspected it would be one I’d enjoy.

To be fair it’s a classic all American story of determination, sadness, hopelessness, with a happy ending, but I guess that it had to tell the story in a dramatically way in order to make it enjoyable to watch. In my own experience, dealing with illness, possible death and facing such unreal odds is no picnic and in some ways the feel good factor of the movie looses the impact of this as it tells the story.

The difficult, pedantic scientist who does things his way, to suit his time table, fighting the fight for his own reasons, but in so doing learning humanity and feelings along the way is heart warming and does touch the emotions. There are times in the film where you are very defiantly left feeling heart sour with tears in your eyes, and there are other times when you can’t help but chuckle as you are wowed by the bravery and steadfast belief of the kids in what their dad is doing.

It is extremely difficult to condense many years of a story into one short 90 minute film without losing the realism and profound effect that the subject matter has on people. Having said that, the team, actors and the director have done a pretty good job all the same. Brandon Fraser plays his part remarkably well, although in hindsight he is not the person I’d have chosen to play the role, as I am just not used to seeing him in this serious type of picture.

The two kids acting the parts of disabled kids were fantastic. I am not really sure if they were disabled kids or not, but either way they did their part proud, and you almost immediately build a kindred relationship with them, and want everything to work out for the best, even though at times you are really expecting the worst for them.

There are so many illnesses in the world, and so many you never hear of till they touch your life. It is amazing when you get to hear the stories of families and people that go through the tough times and fight the bravest of fights, it makes you feel good about life, the people that work so hard to do so much good for people’s lives, and it’s always good to reflect on the world and realise that no matter how bad it seems people out there have it worse and find a way through, so you can too. Defiantly one to watch.