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Mars NASA Space Science

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

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 @11:12PM (#40805259)

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

  • Re:Mars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan541 ( 1032000 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:12PM (#40805263) Homepage

    Because Mars IS more interesting than some boneheads chasing each other around a dirt track. Humanity needs to move on.

  • by Scutter ( 18425 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:13PM (#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 @11:15PM (#40805279)

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

  • Not exclusive... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sackbut ( 1922510 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:15PM (#40805281)
    I'm pretty sure I can follow both. And be interested in both.
  • by mfwitten ( 1906728 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:15PM (#40805283)

    Join me in celebrating the wonders of our world.

  • People should (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:21PM (#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:Also because (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mfwitten ( 1906728 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:24PM (#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.

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:41PM (#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 @11:43PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:48PM (#40805459)


    We are sending a full size remote control car to another planet, and its just somebodies *opinion* that its news worthy and amazing.

    You know what? It doesn't matter what people "care" about. Most of them are idiots who care about going to heaven.

    This IS a more worthy thing to "care" about than whatever else it is that interests your idiot mind.

    Though you wouldn't understand, being the drooling idiot you are. At least you are "normal" and "care" about the right things - TV, sports, religion, whatever other thing it is that you "care" about that is bullshit.

  • by The Wooden Badger ( 540258 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:50PM (#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...

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

    by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:51PM (#40805473)
    a billion people from all over the world have all come together to join Facebook. I still find no value in it though.
  • Re:People should (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:51PM (#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.

  • Re:Also because (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 29, 2012 @12:14AM (#40805607)

    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 community coming together, it is the world community of the 1%.

  • Re:Yea but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @12:16AM (#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.

  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @12:40AM (#40805727) Homepage Journal

    They're also in the top one millionth of the population in terms of physical genetics (at least, for individual performers, team sports is less physically selective and more mental/socially selective).
    The brain is very, very good at determining positive physical traits, and labels them accordingly as attractive. Then there's also the whole celebrity angle.

  • Re:Mars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonTHC ( 208439 ) <Dragon.gamerslastwill@com> on Sunday July 29, 2012 @12:41AM (#40805729) Homepage Journal

    I see your point, but there's something to be said for being the pinnacle of human physical fitness.

    It's exciting to see the fastest person alive.

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

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @12:52AM (#40805769)

    Business is peaceful. People from any different countries come together for business every day. Only they do it without the self-important hype.

  • Re:Ah, well no.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Sunday July 29, 2012 @01:08AM (#40805835)

    Diplomacy and international politics are also both important for our continued survival. For that matter so is the global economy.

    All the science in the world isn't going to help us if we blow ourselves up, or our system of managing resources and man power falls apart. You ask someone who works in either of these areas.. I mean who is really involved.. and they will pretty much parrot _exactly_ what you said, with appropriate fields replaced.

    Everyone wants to put their area of interest in a special category. Everyone can make a case that the thing _they_ care about is really the most critical and anyone who doesn't get that just doesn't understand reality.

  • Not fully correct (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @01:09AM (#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.
  • Re:Mars (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @01:20AM (#40805869)

    I see your point, but there's something to be said for being the pinnacle of human physical fitness.

    Pinnacle for a specific purpose/sport/activity perhaps. Track, swimming, gymnastic, archery, etc... fitness (and skills) are not interchangeable. You want to see the pinnacle of human fitness, try something like the US Navy SEALs. [ Any other better examples /. ? ]

  • Re:Mars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @01:28AM (#40805897) Journal

    1 - Organized sport has largely supplanted war as a means of getting one over one one's rivals. Imperial pissing contests now involve athletic achievement, not who can build the biggest battleship with the biggest phallic symbol guns. I think humanity has moved on quite a bit in many ways, and organized sport is one tool that has helped.

    2 - The opening ceremony of the Olympics gave pride of place to honouring two engineers who changed the world: Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Tim Berners Lee. (If I were directing I would have tried to add Frank Whittle in there, but I'm not griping, I thought it was a powerful show and I found it very moving. Probably helped that I watched the BBC's coverage, anyone who watched it on NBC seemed to complain about it.)

    Yes the Curiosity mission is exciting and I'll be following it with great interest. But I'll also be watching sports. Hell I'm even going to watch tomorrow's Formula 1 Grand Prix. It is possible to do two things at once, especially when there's about 7 billion of us.

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @01:58AM (#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.

  • Re:Mars (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NoSleepDemon ( 1521253 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @02:09AM (#40806045)
    I imagine you're going to need some fairly fit people to survive a trip to Mars without their bodies failing. So the art of physical fitness isn't wasted.
  • Re:Mars (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @03:45AM (#40806347) Homepage

    the pinnacle of human fitness, try something like the US Navy SEALs. [ Any other better examples /. ? ]

    Nah. If you want fitness try somebody from Cirque du Soleil .. or a Ballet dancer. They'll run rings around one of those Navy grunts.

  • Re:Mars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aryden ( 1872756 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @04:24AM (#40806455)
    The olympics have been around since the 8th century B.C. Exactly how many wars do you really think they have stopped? Probably none at all.
  • Re:Yea but (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 29, 2012 @04:52AM (#40806527)

    They're both the same, the achievements of some individuals. You learn something from both, but nothing interesting with short term results.

    If you do watch the events, then you're doing it for the entertainment value, and the Olympics win hands down.
    However, we're in 2012, you can watch ALL events at the same time. Hell, you can watch most of them at the same time using modest hardware and internet connection.

    It's not like the first step on the moon, when there were only a handful of TV channels in the ENTIRE world, and a TV in the house was a sign of wealth.
    No, you can even watch it from your phone, your tablet, while going home from work.

    Space exploration is not for humans, just robots, the truly exciting times HAVE passed.


  • Re:Mars (Score:4, Insightful)

    by happyhamster ( 134378 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @05:58AM (#40806701)

    >> pinnacle of human physical fitness

    It's more like extreme genetic freaks of nature pumped on top of that full of various performance enhancing drugs. A freak show.

  • sports stars (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @07:22AM (#40806899) Homepage Journal

    Nonesene, it's largely driven by fashion.

    Tell me how many straight males you know who subscribe to Vogue. Women care about what other women are wearing, but it's for social purposes, not reproductive.
    The number of anorexic 'heroin chic' Kate Moss types in the world are very few and far between, people have to pick and choose from the gene pool of reality, not whatever you're seeing on TV.

  • Re:Mars (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @08:59AM (#40807191) Homepage

    "but there's something to be said for being the pinnacle of human physical fitness."

    and it should be held in a lower value than the pinnacle of human intelligence. But we all know that intelligence is looked down upon and a useless trait of physical fitness is held up as the ultimate a human can be.

    Sorry, I don't need to chase down gazelles for food anymore. Highly physical fit is a useless trait to humanity nowdays.

  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @09:06AM (#40807233) 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.

  • Re:People should (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @10:09AM (#40807549) Homepage

    Publicly funded sports y and facilities can be a spur for economic growth...

    Nonsense. Commercial sports activitities such as the olympics are entertainment. They are fine for those who choose to expend their own resources on them but funding them with tax money forces people who get no value from them to pay for them and diverts resources away from productive uses. They no more "spur economic growth" than would hiring people to go around smashing windows in order to "create jobs" for glaziers.

  • by Snaller ( 147050 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @10:40AM (#40807743) Journal

    "Go back a few centuries and fat chicks were teh hotness."

    It usually depends on what is "easy" - when food was expensive and harder to get, being fat meant you were rich and special. Today the cheapest food is the most unhealthy crap that makes you fat.

    Just like once most people were outside working in the fields etc, and they all got suntanned - so the in thing was to be as pale as possible. That showed you were rich and powerful, because you could stay inside and didn't have to work.
    Today most people have to work inside, in their small offices and thus are very pale. So being tanned means you have time to be outside.

    History shows how odd these humans are

  • Re:Also because (Score:4, Insightful)

    by isorox ( 205688 ) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @05:41PM (#40811365) Homepage Journal

    that is the average American 12 Year Old has worse teeth than the average English 12 Year Old.

    But that's not fair.

    The average American doesn't care about the average American. Those that earn a decent wage, as long as they don't piss off their employer, can afford private healthcare (unless something goes seriously wrong).

    If you took the average 12 year old from a rich family, you'll find the figures are different. The poor don't count in America, they don't want to count. They'll happily vote for thing to cut any aid they already get, in the naive hope that working hard will eventually mean they can afford healthcare and a house in the suburbs.

    America is a piss-poor country unless you're rich. The USA spends 17.4% of it's GDP on health care thanks to the "free" market approach. The UK spends 9.8% of it's GDP.

    America could easily afford it's own version of the NHS, it would help the poor and unfortunate. It would mean people would spend more time looking after their kids rather than working 2 low-paid jobs to afford their dentist bills. It would also help the middle classes -- it would allow labour mobility. If you lose your job, you don't have to hope to hell that Lisa won't need braces.

    American's don't believe in community though, and would rather spend more money on getting less, as long as they think their neighbour isn't getting something for nothing.

Would you people stop playing these stupid games?!?!?!!!!