2005: A Space Odyssey
RANDOM SPACE FACT: 86% of the accidents which occur in the home occur in space
The dawn of a new year is upon us. This is an ideal time to dream about what the future may hold, and nothing says "the future" like outer space (with the possible exception of a futuristic robot that says "THE FUTURE!" in a booming voice when you try to take his hover-purse). I'm always thinking about space. From a very early age people have been yelling things at me like "Dennis, get your head out of that book about space!" or "Get your head out of that astronaut helmet that you found in the back yard!" or "Get your head out of that honey pot!", but they don't understand me the way you do. I'm something of an authority on the topic because I made a little badge out of cardboard that says "space chief" right on it in undeniable red crayon. Or maybe it's burnt sienna, I don't know. I'm not as good with colors as I am with space.
It really bothers me when other people think they know about space. Well let me tell you, brother, the version of space portrayed in such landmark films as the Sci Fi channel's Giant Crocodile In Space, Giant Crocodile In Space 2: Gianter Crocodiles As In More Than One Crocodile, and Wing Commander is way off. For one thing, ship engines and explosions always seem to have impressive sound effects in these movies, but sound doesn't carry in space. The reason for this is that space is a vacuum, and if you've ever tried to watch tv while your girlfriend vacuums then you know that you can't hear shit. Many false impressions have been propagated by films such as these and by poorly managed public schools, so allow me to quickly go over some misconceptions and correct them before we continue.
The Earth's atmosphere extends 435 miles from the planet's surface, at which point outer space begins
The truth: Our atmosphere actually ends at a height of roughly ten feet. This is the only logical explanation for the Harlem Globetrotters, who literally trotted across the globe by jumping via trampoline from one game to another. No form of terran travel could possibly be fast enough to account for transport to all of these games in addition to the team's numerous appearances on Scooby-Doo, the A-Team, and Dallas. This also explains why once you let go of a balloon, it is gone forever.
Airplane pilots are best suited to becoming astronauts
The truth: Space travel is completely different from air travel because there are three dimensions to worry about: up, down, left, and right. Although some pilots are indeed able to grasp this concept, a large percent are rendered mad and given jobs as fluffers in the porn industry.
The temperature in outer space can reach -270 centigrade
The truth: In winter it does get pretty cold, but it's not all that bad for the most part. I'd suggest a sweater and an undershirt.
There is no oxygen in outer space
The truth: There is plenty of oxygen. Our sun is essentially an enormous ball of fire, correct? Last I checked, fire needs oxygen. This myth was most probably spread by NASA in order to scare private citizens away from space travel, and was later co-opted by astronaut suit/oxygen tank conglomerates to make more money.
RANDOM SPACE FACT: Brett Favre is 35 years old
What I like most about space is that it's a pretty big place where your dreams can come true as long as you dream of looking at a lot of darkness. You can do whatever you want in space without being mocked, even pee your pants. I'm not saying I pee my pants, but it's a personal decision and we shouldn't judge people who decide to do it. How can we call ourselves an advanced society if we persecute those who are different from ourselves? What sort of sick world is it when I have to go to outer space to wet myself without fear of reprisal?
You also never know what you're going to discover in space. Some people speculate that there are wormholes, essentially very large warp pipes from Super Mario Brothers that take you to another dimension instead of a room full of coins. Come to think of it, the room full of coins sounds pretty sweet. I wouldn't be too disappointed with a wormhole since you'd surely come across coins on Alternate Earth, only they might feature Whoopi Goldberg's face on them. If you decided to make Alternate Earth your home you'd try to sell your Earth currency on eBay, only it'd be called eBuy or something slightly different, and the whole thing would just be a hassle. I guess I changed my stance on wormholes.
Beyond all of that, I understand that space travel is essential to our very survival. Eventually our sun will die and mankind will be forced to seek out another planet or create a space vessel to act as a permanent home. I don't know about you, but 12 billion years from now I plan to be safely on board a space cruiser instead of stranded on a floating chunk of the earth's crust. How close are we to having such a self-sustaining environment? The closest project we have is the "international" space station, a habitat run by a measly 5 countries. If the Iraq Coalition had 32 countries and was branded as unilateral, then it's crystal clear that the U.S. is going it alone in space. I hope that in 2005 this crucial project will expand and key countries such as Djibouti and Scandinavia will get involved.
I hope you've taken something meaningful from my article today. The universe which lies just ten feet above our feet is an exciting and potentially annoying one, and with any luck your resolution in this new year will be to learn all you can about this big huge thing we live in.