Sunday, 25 September 2011
Not too long ago, I retweeted some info about the comparison of time it takes to send a data transmission off-planet or back to earth vs what us non-NASA humans have to put up with from telcos on planet earth. Then, coincidentally, there was a film on this evening that showed the moon landing during the opening credits and I remembered being dragged next door - we didn't have a TV till I was in my teens - and then the garden, to comprehend a) the TV and b) who was walking where that night. I was, as I recall, more impressed by the red and gold furry flock wallpaper than the box in the corner or the moon.....
This blog post can be read at 5tth.blogspot.com
It seems NASA have reached the limits of their data technology as it now takes 90 mins to send an HD photo from Mars to Earth. Obviously, my heart bleeds for them as it took me all weekend to send a few non HD photos to Flickr after Fibrewalk and as for being able to upload a video - Pah!
So, they are upping the ante.
However, maybe this is a lesson we can share with those who need to comprehend why higher capacity Internet is required. When my grandparents were born and started work at 14, there were few cars around, no tractors, and definitely no computers. For many, getting to market was an arduous task that did not involve Chelsea Tractors or the luxury of private travel. Working from home meant taking in menial sewing tasks and ironing. (Men could not work from home, as I recall from both my grandmothers, and had to be seen to be out there: earning, or fighting.)
NASA is going for 10Gbps between earth and a distant planet because that is what is required to do its job. Whilst you or I may not feel entitled to such speeds, the reality is that 10Gbps is feasible today on earth. To anyone. It's just that the telcos don't want to offer it or invest in it.
Far be it for me to once again suggest that our telcos are preventing each of us of achieving our dreams of becoming astronauts (or interior designers with aspirations for expensive wall paper, or...or....or.....), but whatever NASA (think bigger: science, R&D, research, academia etc) does, inevitably works its way back into our lives.
I'm sure Velcro was treated with the same "You'll never need it, no-one will ever use it" etc approach that gigabit broadband for the masses is now.......................Meanwhile, I don't feel that reaching for the stars for community and rural broadband is any less attainable than a furry, 3D wallpaper.
P.S. My next door neighbour was, and remains, one of the best lace designers in Europe. Nottingham has almost completely lost the distinction it previously held for the manufacture of lace, and the trade has been altered hugely from my childhood where colouring in her patterns was the highlight of every single day. Altair and every other colouring book had nothing on being part of Nottingham's lace industry 'waste' that I, as the only girl in the street, had full and unfettered access to with my crayons.
So, next time you buy lingerie or a lace tablecloth, look at the lace and see it as I do! An absolutely integral part of my childhood. What made you who you are? What are your childhood dreams? How will *you* reach the stars?