Guest Post: Jamey Erickson // @jameyerickson
Its easy to get caught up in the internet age of gloom and doom. Someone's always trying to fleece your life savings, some TSA agent is strip searching a blind nun, whoever you're voting for is going to make the entire world an economic ruin run by homosexuals giving everyone free birth control, or even how Facebook is auto-liking things for you based on robots reading through your personal messages. You know, the stuff that really bums you out. Its easy to get caught up in that, and I'll be the first to admit I get drug down from time to time, too. But if we take a second and step back, look around us, see what's really happening, we're living in one of the most amazing times the human generation has ever seen. Think about that for a second, because its actually true. While the internet nay-sayers will have us believe the new iPhone is a piece of shit, or that as a society we're in decline, I beg to differ for a million reasons… only one of which I'll rant about right now.
Right now as we piss and moan about how the iPhone 5 isn't everything we'd hoped it'd be, think about the phone you had 4 years ago… not that great, huh? Well think about how that phone you had even 3 years ago was significantly more powerful than the entire NASA Apollo program combined. Yes, I mean combined. Your phone was more powerful than all the computers they had put together, and they landed human beings on the Moon. Well lets fast forward a few years to right now, if you've been living in a cave, you haven't noticed we landed a robot the size of of a small SUV (or maybe CRV sized, since that's a thing), completely automated, with a giant jetpack & crane lowering mechanism that had never been attempted before. We sling shot a 2.5 billion dollar robot 350 million miles through space to another planet, landed within a half mile of our anticipated touchdown location, and did it automatically with systems never used ever before. Think about that for a second.
Now, we started building this robot in 2007, and NASA gets approximately just shy of half a penny of every tax dollar for their budget. That's not a lot of money when you consider how much money is brought in every year, hence the need to take 4 years to build (yes, that math is correct, I know its 2012 and 2007 was 5 years ago, but they launched in 2011 and it took almost a year to get to Mars). Additionally, because their budget is so small, the actual computing power is not all THAT impressive. For example, there are two identical on-board computers that each have 256MB of RAM and 2GB of Flash Memory. Your iPhone has approximately 1GB of RAM and 32GB of Flash Memory. Again, think about that. Your phone is theoretically more powerful than our robot on Mars. Yet, despite hardware and budget limitations, the geniuses at NASA have still created one of the most amazing pieces of equipment humanity has ever seen. Its armed with multiple types of cameras that capture not only beautiful imagery, but also capture heat imagery and infrared imagery. Its got a giant drilling arm for taking actual rock samples that it can then analyze in its on-board chemistry kit. Its got a laser that can heat rock and analyze if the object behaves as an organically compounded object on Earth would behave. Its got a big ol' shovel for digging up dirt and dumping that in the chemistry kit for analysis as well. Oh, and its also got six giant monster-truck style wheels on it so it can't get stuck like rovers in the past (also, nerd fact, the tread of the tires leave a morse code pattern for JPL or Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the partner who helped develop the rover for NASA. They also use this to determine whether the wheels are slipping at all or how the terrain is impacting the movement of the rover).
All of this is used to beam back via radio signal some of the most breathtaking images we've ever seen of a world very very far away. All this data takes approximately 15 minutes to beam back to us (you know, 350 million miles and all) and with the power of today's internet, NASA posts these images to Twitter approximately 20-30 minutes after they're taken. Again, think about that. A photo is taken 350 million miles away, and within the hour its on Twitter, in between a couple photos of other people's lunch and your mom's adorable cat taking a nap on in the sun.
So what I'm trying to say, is every once in awhile, take a step back from the gloom machine and look at what humanity is actually accomplishing. There's some pretty unbelievable stuff happening out there (like astronauts on the International Space Station using Twitter and checking into "space" via foursquare… no big deal).
Guest Post: Jamey Erickson // @jameyerickson
One of the things that inspires me the most is that tiny moment of fear before stepping into the unknown. Its easy to get comfortable in life, especially as you get older. We buy cars, houses, travel in cushy hotels and watch our favorite Thursday night comedies on our TiVo when its most convenient for us (aka: Monday evening when there's literally nothing else worth watching). So its easy to lose touch with the little spark of fear. That fear that grounds you and opens an entirely new world of possibility at the same time.
It may seem incredibly timely and cliche, but its a message that we literally saw pay off last night. There are no shortcuts in life, there are no easy answers. Hard work, determination and passion are what make the difference in the long run. I know this isn't a fancy piece of design, a lovely piece of furniture, but I think its something we can all relate to, sports fan or not. These guys came a long way, no one thought they could do it, but they believed in themselves and stayed true to who they are and in the end... well, they're the NBA Champions.
Guest Post: Jamey Erickson // @JameyErickson
Being a kid, growing up in rural Minnesota, I spent many nights staring up into the skies wondering that its really like out there, envying astronauts at their exclusive view of the world(s) above. Today, I'm a 30 year man living in one of the greatest ages of discovery we've ever known, and I get to literally witness it happening right in front of me. Volumes of astronauts have joined Twitter as of late, and thanks to the magic of technology, they have internet access from the ISS (International Space Station). To see Tweets like this bring a bit of a tear to my eye, as not only is it a deeply profound feeling to somewhat share a beautiful moment like this with someone literally in space, but to take a step back from all the garbage and spin we're constantly bombarded with in our day to day lives and say "Holy shit, look at what we've done as a race." That's pretty damned inspiring if you ask me!