November 07, 2004

Genius I (Morons II)

Earlier this year I blogged the publicly available software that lets us all view and analyze data from the Mars rovers on pretty much the same terms as NASA, though (tantalizingly? mercifully?) not letting us take actual command of the rovers for our own pleasure rides or misbegotten investigations. I even named a rock MemeFirst, albeit just within the confines of my Mac:


Fast forward to one of the coolest NYT articles, ever.

One of the rovers' most talked-about tools is the Rock Abrasion Tool, RAT, which drills holes in rocks. Among other things, it helped gather the evidence for water in Mars's past. It turns out that RAT was built by a Nolita outfit, Honeybee Robotics, but the clincher is that they actually get to play out my fantasy of commanding farflung spacecraft from a tenement walkup by day, going for good sushi by night — they get to write the commands for the drilling operations on Martian rocks, and get naming rights to boot, as exemplified by this rather excellent geek joke:

Earlier in the mission, true to the New York twist on this mission, the Honeybee engineers were able to assign the name New York to a grinding site on a rock named Mazatzal.
When the scientists wanted a deeper look into the rock, they changed the orientation of the grinding tool and renamed the site Brooklyn. "Somebody said it was the same target as New York but with an attitude adjustment," Mr. Bartlett said. (This being a scientific joke, it required a footnote: " 'attitude,' " Mr. Bartlett said, "can mean angle or spacecraft pointing.") On another rock, six targets were named TriBeCa, Little Italy, SoHo, Chelsea, Chinatown and West Village.

Although I am a little hurt that neither the East Village nor LES have been immortalized thus yet, somebody please make Stephen Gorevan a media darling, or at least a local hero. Additionally, I'd like to lobby for having MemeFirst become the first blog to have something named after it on Mars, for real. Please?

(News nugget buried in the story: A piece of the WTC wreckage is on Mars, as part of the RAT, in memory of 9/11.)

Meanwhile, beyond the outer boroughs, a Wisconsin district school board saw fit to reintroduce creationism teaching into the curriculum; the eruptions of Mount Saint Helens apparently prove God created the world in 7 days, and the recently discovered Flores people confound evolutionists, according to expert creationists:

"The interesting thing is that, really, from a creationist perspective, we have no trouble at all explaining variation within human kind like this," [Answers in Genesis founder Dr. Ken Ham] explains.

Ken, you utter moron, that's the whole point. Is it just me, or does the latest issue of National Geographic betray not a little exasperation at their lack of success in educating the American public over the past 100 years? Perhaps they haven't been blunt enough?

Posted by Stefan at 04:16 PM GMT

If only we had a way to send Eurof to that rock.

Posted by: Sterling on November 7, 2004 04:34 PM

If only we could send you both there and have one of the robots film it in reality TV fashion. Where's the popcorn?

Posted by: michelle on November 7, 2004 04:46 PM

And, of course, one unfortunate chap in Michigan was killed because he didn't believe in god.

Posted by: Felix on November 7, 2004 05:06 PM

Felix, he died because he associated with violent, crazy ex-convicts. If it happened three days later, the pretext might have been that the victim drank the last beer.

Posted by: Sterling on November 7, 2004 05:14 PM

Hmm, I wonder if anyone's checked for this ex-con's gun permit.

Posted by: michelle on November 7, 2004 05:24 PM

Sterling: is this the level of twisted post hoc justification we can expect from you for Dubya's messaniac visions for the next four years?

And I bet the SDS would have kidnapped Patty Hearst a couple days later because she was wearing ugly boots.

Posted by: Mr. 99th Percentile on November 7, 2004 06:22 PM

Felix is trying to indict all evangelicals because one loon blew a guy's head off, and I'm the one dabbling in "twisted post hoc justifications"?

Posted by: Sterling on November 7, 2004 08:28 PM