The European Space Agency’s Philae probe, launched 10 years ago, has landed, or possibly bounced, on to a comet called 67P. This is a phenomenal feat, requiring nearly everything we know about astronomical science and math to work out nearly perfectly. Just how amazing is this?

1. It’s like throwing a baseball from home plate to the outfield, landing it perfectly in a pitching machine, which then tosses the baseball a few hundred yards more to land in the payload of a lit cannon, which fires the baseball a few miles away, allowing it to strike out Cal Ripken, Jr.

2. It’s like firing the final kill shot in a Call of Duty match, by throwing a cleaver all the way across the field to kill a terrorist controlled by the AI, after coding the cleaver into a game via a mod while the server is running live.

3. It’s like going to your favorite restaurant and having them serve the perfect meal, including a perfectly poached egg laid by a species of bird only recently discovered in the Amazonian rainforest, all of which you actually ordered and specified online eight months ago, when you were living overseas in Europe before you moved to the city where the restaurant is. Also, the chef turns out to be your long-lost brother.

4. It’s like rain on your wedding day. Which you accurately predicted six months ahead of time by tracking weather patterns and annual rainfall, picking the exact right location at the exact altitude so that the rain would stop just a few minutes before the ceremony and your beautiful wife-to-be could walk down the aisle to you with her father and see a perfect double rainbow overhead.

5. It’s like having such a progressive and educated population that they agree it’s very important to invest in science, technology, and mathematics education, not just for military applications, but for civilian research and space travel innovations. It’s like getting a widespread, voting population to understand that no matter what you think about climate change, our time on the planet as a species is limited, and we’re only going to fix that if we put a lot of work into figuring out a bigger and more sustainable way to travel to, and eventually live on other worlds. It’s like getting a critical mass of people who would rather support a bloated military to realize that bigger bombs and better weapons are examples of how to end the human race, rather than save it. In other words, it’s super, super awesome, extremely impressive, and, let’s be honest, awfully unlikely.



Posted on Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 at 10:37 pm. Filed under general.
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