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Why You Should Be More Interested In Mars Than the Olympics 409

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-mars-is-awesome dept.
New submitter hugeinc sends this quote from an article by author Andrew Kessler: "Next week, while we're all watching NBC, a nuclear-powered, MINI-Cooper-sized super rover will land on Mars. We accurately guided this monster from 200 million miles away (that's 7.6 million marathons). It requires better accuracy than an Olympic golfer teeing off in London and hitting a hole-in-one in Auckland, New Zealand. It will use a laser to blast rocks, a chemical nose to sniff out the potential for life, and hundreds of other feats of near-magic. Will these discoveries lead us down a path to confirming life on other planets? Wouldn't that be a good story that might make people care about science?"
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Why You Should Be More Interested In Mars Than the Olympics

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  • Yea but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Osgeld (1900440) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:12PM (#40805259)

    Running fast and bouncing a ball in a bikini is much more important

    • they're athletes, of course they're in shape (okay, some athletes and/or some sports are an exception).
      Minimal clothing is appropriate for exercising in the heat. Tight clothing won't get in the way (whether other players or inanimate objects on the field of play)/

      Is is played up beyond that, though?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah that explains why the rules for beach volleyball require men to wear speedo's (don't know the non-Australian term for this kind of swimwear :-) )

    • Re:Yea but (Score:5, Insightful)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:16PM (#40805613)

      Running fast and bouncing a ball in a bikini is much more important

      It's not more important. The Olympics is science, in the sense that we get together periodically to empirically test our understanding of the limits of the (unaltered) human body. The results have practical application. For example: A convict escaped 96 minutes ago from an overturned van. Uninjured, what is the maximum distance he could have travelled? That's science; although someone who double majored in physics is right now spitting at his computer and yelling something about it being as scientific as an etch-a-sketch is to art, but there it is.

      Secondly, it's a meaningless comparison: Space exploration tests a very different human quality than the Olympics does. The Olympics tests human physical attributes. Outer space tests human intellectual attributes. In a sense, NASA is our entry into the intellectual Olympics.

      But let's be honest: Most of the time, watching science is very boring. It's not a spectator sport -- it's something you do. MythBusters is one of the few examples of where science can be portrayed in a format that is entertaining. Most of the time, it's arduous, painfully slow, occasionally expensive, and often humbling. As well, people don't get excited when the game is over and the announcer says "I don't know." People get very angry when their spectator sport doesn't have a definite outcome. Scientists, on the other hand, get excited by "I don't know." In fact, it's one of the only professions where "I don't know" gets you the respect and admiration of your peers... assuming they have to admit the same.

      And you know what, watching bouncing, sweaty boobies, or a beautifully sculped man moving about is okay too. It'd be like me asking you to stop watching Heroes and watch Battlestar Galactica instead. You don't want BSG, you want fucking Heroes. So okay, watch your Heroes, and I'll watch my BSG, and let us both be happy, instead of arguing over which is better.

      • Not fully correct (Score:5, Insightful)

        by aepervius (535155) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @12:09AM (#40805841)
        For many discipline (all?) we already have known for a long time the limit of the human body. We don't test for that anymore. What we test nowadays, are two factors : how far can we push materials to get an advantage, and, to a thankfully lesser extent, how far can we push human modification/doping and get away with it without getting caught.
        • For many discipline (all?) we already have known for a long time the limit of the human body. We don't test for that anymore.

          Yeah, because we all know that, unlike every other form of life on this planet, the human being is not subject to the theory of evolution. Or not [latimes.com]. In fact, the Olympics is a veritable cornucopia of genetic mutations, and it is well worth our time to learn from these athletes; not just their DNA, but training regiments, diet, environment. Every Olympic event unlocks a little bit more understanding of what it means to be human, scientifically, philosophically, and spiritually.

      • Re:Yea but (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 29, 2012 @12:49AM (#40805969)

        I stopped reading at "unaltered". If you think anyone in the Olympics is "unaltered", you don't understand competitive sports. Having been a fitness professional for well over a decade, I can tell you there are at least 40 different types of performance enhancing drugs (including certain types of steroids) that can not be tested for. Being trained how to fool a lie detector test is also very easy.

        Personally, I don't get it. Olypmics doesn't actually test anything other than how obsessive someone can be about one particular thing their entire lives. They contribute nothing to society other than entertaining those with nothing else better to do than to watch others do things most of them could never do in their wildest dreams. Science contributes to our society, Olympics don't.

    • Imagine, someone on a geek website slagging activities where people get together for enjoyment and to socialize.
      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        In all fairness, most of these sports are individualistic and competitive in nature.
        Sports nor it's audience, is by definition enjoying itself more or socializing more than science and it's audience.
        I wasn't there at the time, but from what I understand the moonlanding was rather enjoyable and quite a social experience for everybody who watched it.

  • Oh for the love of.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:13PM (#40805269)

    There’s insanely amazing stuff happening every day. Marvels of human achievement and technology all around us. And for each, there is usually a group of people around it who:

    a) lives and breaths the stuff
    b) can’t fathom why everyone else doesn’t feel the same way

    It doesn’t work like this. Even if you could some how identify the one absolute “top of the pile” thing that everyone should be focusing on, it’s completely impractical for everyone to do so. It’s the same reason we can’t have every scientist in the world working on say, cancer research. You need some of them to be trying to figure out how to get rid of wrinkles.

    Some people don’t care about space. A lot of people don’t care about space. Arguing that they should care about space because it’s a more “worthy” thing to care about than whatever they do care about is just ridiculous.

    As to trying to frame the story so it’s more in-line with the stuff they are interested in... even more ridiculous. You can’t trick someone into caring about technology by turning it into a human interest story.

    • Yeah, this was a blatant failed attempt to tie together two disparate news stories, however interesting they may be to certain people on their own.

    • by mosb1000 (710161)

      I agree with the general sentiment, but I still don't think we need scientists figuring out how to get rid of wrinkles.

      • by Anrego (830717) *

        I generally think having people working on the thing that interests them is important, even if there are better things they could be doing that don't. Mainly for two reasons:

        a) Someone working on something they are passionate about is going to achive way more.

        b) I tend to subscribe to James Burkes school of thought when it comes to progress. If you haven't read is work (or seen the amazing Connections series) the basic idea is that what drives change is largely unpredictable. Advances in one area lead to ad

    • by Xest (935314)

      To be fair, people would be interested, but...

      On one hand you have live HD/3D streaming of a bunch of different sports events running solidly for a few weeks.

      On the other you have something that sure, sounds interesting, but the only access to information on it is the odd article in a newspaper/on the internet about it.

      I'm sure if they also had video of the event which they could broadcast in HD/3D then people really would flock to the TV to watch it, but you can't realistically expect people to spend more

  • by Scutter (18425) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:13PM (#40805273) Journal

    People don't care about it because it's not lip-synching an over-produced pop song, it doesn't have actors trying to pawn things, it's not trying to sleep with a housemate, and it doesn't carry crab traps.

  • Also because (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohath (38547) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:15PM (#40805279)

    The Olympics are self-important beyond their entertainment (or any other) value. Not interested.

    • What entertainment value?
    • Re:Also because (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mfwitten (1906728) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:24PM (#40805343)

      A quick googling shows that about 10960 athletes from 204 countries have come together in competition within one city. If you can't find the value in that, then I feel sorry for you.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by rhyder128k (1051042)

        But only a few will have the honour of serving the Tripods inside the city of gold.

      • Re:Also because (Score:5, Insightful)

        by viperidaenz (2515578) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:51PM (#40805473)
        a billion people from all over the world have all come together to join Facebook. I still find no value in it though.
      • by bmo (77928)

        I can ignore it because NBC has ruined it.

        The last time I saw good Olympics coverage was when I was in Canada and watching the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano via the CBC.

        I'm skipping this one.

        --
        BMO

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What is the value? Did the Olympic Games bring peace like the 6th and 12th Olympic Games? Did the Olympic Games bring happiness like forced evictions or hormone therapy to 'manly' women? How about the massacres and bombs? Or propaganda campaigns?

        The Olympic Games are a joke. It is a capitalist system where the richest of the rich can watch elite athletes compete against each other and pretend that they are part of a world community while the local community is beaten into submission. It isn't the world comm

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        Finding value in that is not too hard.

        All I have to do is to look back at the battle over broadcasting rights in this city (the rights holder doesn't have a free-to-air channel, and is obliged to broadcast some footage on free channels).

        So yes, there's a lot of value in that. And no, I don' t care. I even completely missed the opening ceremony (the only one that I'd care to watch - it's usually a great spectacle) by completely forgetting when it was. If I remember I may try to hunt down a recording from TPB

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      It is pretty much the one time the entire planet gets together, to accomplish "something" We compete with countries we are at "war" with in friendly games. It may not be much fun to watch if you arent into the sports that make up the Olympics, I tend to watch the swimming due to my swimming backround but thats about all I personally care about but there is plenty of value in the Olympics, entertainment and otherwise.
  • Not exclusive... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sackbut (1922510) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:15PM (#40805281)
    I'm pretty sure I can follow both. And be interested in both.
    • Re:Not exclusive... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR (28044) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:40PM (#40805419) Homepage Journal

      Exactly, the Olympics is a story about people achieving, the rover landing is about humanity achieving. Both are worthy to watching. I mean the Olympics is not like the Kardashians, WWE, or any of the other mindless drivel on TV. Not only that but they are not a case of one or the other. The landing will be at 1:31 am which is 5:31 am UTC so unless they the Olympics have events at 5 am you will not have to miss anything but some sleep.
      In other words STUPID WASTE OF TIME FOR A SLASHDOT STORY. Maybe it would be better to spend time watching the Olympics and the rover landing than posting or reading junk like this.
         

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @12:58AM (#40806003)

        Exactly, the Olympics is a story about people achieving, the rover landing is about humanity achieving

        No. They're both about human achievement. I can't think of anything in modern history that was solely the work of a single person. Even these athletes, as impressive as their performances are, depend on large numbers of people to realize their potential. In this, our race around a rubberized track, and our reach for the stars stem from a universal truth: All human achievement comes from cooperation. We can achieve almost nothing, even our own survival, alone. But together, there is almost no limit to our potential, individually and collectively. This is the message of science, the message we brought with us to the moon, the message left on archaic recordings in the ships we've sent beyond the reach of our own sun.

        In other words STUPID WASTE OF TIME FOR A SLASHDOT STORY. Maybe it would be better to spend time watching the Olympics and the rover landing than posting or reading junk like this.

        Your time would be better spent thinking less about yourself. Our greatest failing as a people is in the value we place on individuality, to the point where many now compete for limited resources while few live in superfluous abundance. In so doing, our collective and individual potentials both are limited to far less than what we're capable of. If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that you (and everyone who reads this) needs to spend less time fighting each other, trying to prove themselves right, arguing, and to begin to work together. This requires that we sacrifice our individuality in order to become part of something far greater than ourselves. Of all the subcultures in western society, the scientists and engineers understand and practice this best. Learn from their example.

  • by mfwitten (1906728) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:15PM (#40805283)

    Join me in celebrating the wonders of our world.

    • I am with you. I really won't be too obsessed with the Mars rover because there aren't too many feeds from it. It's scope to the public is limited, unlike the Olympics.

      That being said, this is HUGE. The discoveries of this rover will be comparable to the Hubble Telescope (if successful of course) but like HST, it may have some hiccups and upsets; we shall see either way.

  • People should (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:21PM (#40805321)

    People should like what I like not what they like. Only my opinion matters and if you have any interests I don't have then you are wrong and should change that.

    How much of an asshole do you have to be to hold an opinion like this? Some people enjoy sports and some people like polishing rocks. The world is a diverse collection of people and just because you might not care for the Olympics doesn't mean its wrong for any one else to do so.

    • Re:People should (Score:4, Insightful)

      by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:51PM (#40805479)

      People should like what I like not what they like. Only my opinion matters and if you have any interests I don't have then you are wrong and should change that.

      How much of an asshole do you have to be to hold an opinion like this? Some people enjoy sports and some people like polishing rocks. The world is a diverse collection of people and just because you might not care for the Olympics doesn't mean its wrong for any one else to do so.

      I do care where my tax dollars go. I would vote zero dollars going to any sport beyond the level of entry level kids sports. It would be a great world where those who vote for more arenas and stadiums get discount tickets to those. But those who vote for more space exploration and science get the vaccines, safer cars, weather forecasts, and get to fly in airplanes built using modern technology.

  • by colsandurz45 (1314477) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:21PM (#40805325)

    I'll care when the Olympics are ON Mars.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:44PM (#40805443)

      On Olympus Mons no less!!

    • (Oblig. B5)

      Franklin: "Well, the patient is confused, delusional. Unable to separate his natural sense of loyalty for his home team from the reality that they stink, and only got to the playoffs on a technicality."
      Ramierez: "Yeah, what technicality? The Mars team hit more home runs than any other team on the books!"
      Franklin: "Only because Martian gravity is 40% less than Earth normal. Alright, the ball travels faster and further skewing the results. Now once they hit Earth gravity, Helen Keller could bat bet

  • by wzinc (612701) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:35PM (#40805389)
    ...the Olympics (and all sports) existed for the sole purpose of preempting my favorite TV shows.
  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:41PM (#40805429)
    The Olympics can teach us all kinds things about government corruption and inefficiencies. How the IOC is allowed to change the laws of a country ranging from IP to road laws. How the IOC gets a country verging on bankruptcy to spend around 20 billion dollars so that the 1%, the VIPs, and a token handful of us rif-raf can feel important. One the best examples of this is how the VIPs got so many tickets that the stands are half empty for venues that are "Sold out". Another is that the city with some of the worst traffic in the western world created lanes just like they had in Soviet Russia that were limited to well connected people.

    All this to watch various countries send their OCD athletes who have nearly destroyed themselves try for a medal.

    Bread and circuses.

    The only silver lining is that the company that was an inch away from privatizing the police in Britain has humiliated itself to a point where this won't happen. Another study in where a company that can't find its ass with its hands was able to schmooze its way into the corridors of power and milk this single schmoozing skill for billions.

    If the money and effort (considering what that many athletes working out for that many hours must also be worth) put into the Olympics were instead were to have been put into science and space exploration we wouldn't be watching a car sized robot touch down on Mars but would be watching the amateur Olympic team representing Mars participate in a scaled down Solar Olympics.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:43PM (#40805441)

    So, if the golf analogy is correct - the rover was launched from earth and, after that, has not made use of any sort of propulsion technology for steering, course correction, or braking? That IS pretty impressive...

    I'm a pretty pathetic golfer, but I bet my scores would improve dramatically if I had a team of people steering the ball after I hit it. Getting it to New Zealand might still be a bit of a reach, though.

    (The rover is darn cool, seriously. I'm more interested in it than in most of the Olympic events.)

    • by Ichijo (607641)

      Your scores would also improve if you didn't have to worry about air currents randomly altering the course of the ball.

      • Given the initial trajectory on a fair number of my golf shots, I would argue that air currents randomly altering the course of the ball can only help me.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That would be pretty damn amazing, since the last time golf was featured in the olympics was in 1904. I'm pretty sure they've all been dead for a long time.

  • by The Wooden Badger (540258) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:50PM (#40805469) Homepage Journal

    I reject the premise of the article.

    First, as has been said in a couple other posts, being interested in the Mars story and the Olympics are not mutually exclusive. I like space exploration stories, and I like sports. There is no reason to have to pick one over the other unless we are talking career choices. Recreational level interest is a completely different story.

    Second, the sports guy in me (exercise physiology degree, and I've coached a college sport) doesn't buy the idea that the accuracy or endurance is more important or impressive in the Mars mission. More impressive endurance based on raw miles is just silly. There wasn't constant acceleration during the whole voyage. Shooting from the hip, I would imagine it was a whole lot more like a lot of initial acceleration and then months of coasting. Similarly the accuracy comparison is almost laughable. Sure, if you just look at the amount of significant digits on what bearing you're hitting a golf ball the comparison is appropriate, but the Mars mission wasn't exactly launched by someone manually adjusting angles with the same amount of fine tuning as someone with sausage fingers playing Angry Birds on an iPhone. Never mind that the Mars mission wasn't likely to have any unexpected external forces altering its trajectory, and it most likely had some means of course correcting in transit.

    Beyond those absurdities, it is the standard media treatment of space exploration stories. It's a brief mention of what is happening that leaves more questions about technical details than it answers. Please leave the unnecessary comparison and competition of two noncompeting, unrelated events. Now, if you want to talk about the technological dark ages the NBC executives call home...

  • by Yaztromo (655250) <yaztromo@mac. c o m> on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:51PM (#40805483) Homepage Journal

    ...is that golf isn't currently an Olympic sport (but has been added for 2016), and isn't being contested in London this year.

    And yes -- sometimes it is these little details that can cause the non-scientists to completely ignore you. Some will feel there isn't much use in hearing your message about space science if you can't even get the details right about what is happening here on Earth.

    Yaz

  • by bmo (77928) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:55PM (#40805503)

    After the disappointing, and frankly insulting performance put on by Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera (who I watched while growing up as local TV personalities) and the execrable Ryan Seacrest interviewing Michael Phelps instead of showing the 7/7 memorial, and the NOT EVEN 5 MINUTES BETWEEN COMMERCIALS, I'm done with the Olympics for this go-round.

    So much this: http://www.slate.com/blogs/five_ring_circus/2012/07/28/nbc_olympics_coverage_meredith_vieira_think_it_s_cool_to_be_ignorant_.html [slate.com]

    FUCK NBC. Fuck all of this crap.

    Yes, the Mars Landing is much more relevant. I would rather watch grass grow and paint dry than turn on NBC coverage of the Olympics.

    --
    BMO

    • I think you can find torrents from other sources.

      Also there is an NBC Olympics app that lets you watch live feeds (I think that will mean no commentary).

      I am with you in that I DETEST Matt Lauer and all of the same people you have been hearing for years utterly ruining the audio track for the whole Olympics.

      • by Macrat (638047)

        Also there is an NBC Olympics app that lets you watch live feeds (I think that will mean no commentary).

        So you are making recommendations you haven't tried.

    • Speaking as an American who lives reasonably close to Canada - the CBC's Olympic coverage runs circles around NBC's in terms of quality.

  • Silver? Bronze? All it can do is find life on another planet. And no guarantee the life it finds will taste good!
  • Murphy Lander (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tablizer (95088)

    This is a complicated landing scheme. It makes me nervous. Unlike the last mission, there is only one rover, so it's all or nothing.

  • by Grayhand (2610049) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @12:52AM (#40805979)
    Strap a skimpy bikini on the rover and they would have had ratings gold!
  • Caring about science (Score:5, Interesting)

    by djchristensen (472087) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @12:57AM (#40805997)

    Will these discoveries lead us down a path to confirming life on other planets? Wouldn't that be a good story that might make people care about science?

    Actually, I think the possibility of discovering life on other planets is exactly what drives a disappointingly large percentage of the population to *not* care about science. Might mess with their whole world view and all that. Some of them haven't fully accepted the round-earth-orbiting-the-sun thing, life eveloving on other planets would just lead to apoplexy.

    • Actually, I think the possibility of discovering life on other planets is exactly what drives a disappointingly large percentage of the population to *not* care about science. Might mess with their whole world view and all that. Some of them haven't fully accepted the round-earth-orbiting-the-sun thing, life eveloving on other planets would just lead to apoplexy.

      If a person believes God created humanity - why would you think they wouldn't believe that same God is capable of creating life on other planets?

  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @08:06AM (#40807233) Homepage Journal

    You don't have to convince me.

    I was more interested in the dry toast I had for breakfast than this orgy of corporate excess they call the "Olympics".

    There's nothing going on in London but product placement and exploitation. This is the first Olympics in which I have absolutely no interest. There is nothing in these games about human achievement or "sport" that has not been crushed under a blanket of ad revenue and messed up priorities.

    Even the athletes just make me sad for how badly they are being used.

There is no opinion so absurd that some philosopher will not express it. -- Marcus Tullius Cicero, "Ad familiares"

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