Monday, July 09, 2012

WTF Happend?

          What I am referring to is the blasé attitude towards scientific advancement, and the attempts at back yard science wizardry that so many of us grew up with, and were a part of.  I was born in 63, as a reference to what I mean with all the popular science magazines etc. 
            A bunch of us back then were doing strange things with whatever we could find to wire or mix or put together. 
In 1969 I like 6-7 hundred million other people watched history begin.  
            Higgs Boson particle possibly found and we get what? Lackluster interest from the basic population at large, very limited tv news coverage, and an immediate fight from what seems to be a new interest in returning us to the dark ages as fast as is humanly possible.
            I remember the release of star wars, after they made more copies of the film once they realized that the few theaters they released it in were filling up faster than tickets could be sold and people were waiting in lines. 
            Now all the fanatics I knew back then have turned into something else. Kind of like those people that once insisted that comic books would rot your brain. All interest in the fun and excitement of science and sci-fi seems to have gone from them, and thereby none to be passed on to their kids. 
           Kids seem more concerned about the latest piece of hardware to be pushed on them, than about how it all came to be, or the exploration that aided in the creation of their easy life. I don't remember the last kid I met that said he wanted to be an astronaut, or to go into space. Apparently there isn't enough cash or fame in that. 
          Maybe I got lost somewhere, but i'll take my magic of science and sci-fi any day, to living a life of the constant same thing, and no wonder of what is out there. I do admit, that kind seems to be a dying breed these days. All intelligent thought seems to have taken a back seat to what color is someones underwear, or someone getting divorced. And most kids seem to think a book should be in a museum. I'll take them, np.
         So, I will ask once again.
         WTF happened?

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was born in 1956.I remember having posters of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space capsules hanging on my walls throughout the 60's.
I agree whole heartedly with WTF happened. I do not know of any kids that even have an inkling of the space program or what happened in the 60's era of great exploration of space!

As for the Higgs Bosan or Higgs Field I can not name a single friend of mine that knows about it.

This is why we are 26th rated in science and math education in this world. What has happened to the wonderment we had as kids? Who can we blame? My kids have a nonchalant attitude, if not hatred, for science! I've tried to show them the awe of this universe we live in. No matter what I try I can't compete with music/rap stars and the like.

I agree again, WTF

Beam Me Up said...

I guess that is what has left me baffled! The 60s were full of the get it done attitude and in a lot of ways national pride was a pride in all man kind for an effort that would take us to the stars. Now you can't even get people excited about LEO....

kallamis said...

Just saw something on Tosh.0. Don't judge. Anyway, this kid I am guessing about 15 or so had never even put a 9 volt battery on his tongue. That was just amazing to me. Feck, when I grew up, parents and grandparents made sure we knew all that stuff. Usually by way of causing immense laughter on their part.

Homer said...

I cannot agree more! I was born in '58 and like Anon stated I had models of the early spacecraft all over my bedroom as well as books about the Mercury, Gemini and Saturn projects. Several friends and I were in a model rocket club and I was the kid in my Dad's workshop with a 12 volt battery, lights, switches and wires trying to discover how circuits work. Testing chemical reactions using stuff from Mom's kitchen. That's how I learned that mixing bleach and ammonia is a no-no. My Dad subscribed to Popular Science and Popular Mechanix and I could hardly wait for the next issue to arrive to see what 'wonders' were to be in our future. Like you I was glued to the TV in 1969 to see what I was hoping to be mankind's first step into great frontier. I truly believed that by now we would have a base on the moon and we would have developed something better that chemical rockets to get us into space. Somewhere in the 90's things started going to pot. NASA became so burdened with red tape and political bullshit that they could not accomplish what independent builders have accomplished in the last 10 years (read SpaceX and Virgin Galactic). I applaud the ISS as being great achievement. Too bad it's not the jump-off point for large interplanetary craft that were were led to believe it would be in our childhood. I applaud the Chinese for successfully sending astronauts into space and returning them safely to Earth (even though they are using Russian technology to do it). I hope that the independents can pull off what NASA was unable to accomplish for whatever the reason.

As far as kids today go... Hell, most of them can't even name the vice president or even their other government leaders. Come to think of it, a lot of adults can't either!! All they seem to care about is having a better phone than all of their friends, who has the Hollywood clothes or what the latest is that's going on with Katy Perry, Justin Beiber or Lady Gaga. Give me an f#$%ing break. So called celebrities have take the focus away from the things that made this country great. They think we are all dinosaurs. You didn't have a remote control or cable? Hell, the remote will be a thing of the past soon thanks to voice recognition. What's a VHS tape? What's an album? Pretty soon it will be what's a CD or a DVD? It's all about instant gratification today!!

I just hope it doesn't take another World War or an assassination to light a fire under America's collective ass and jump start the same technological revolutions we saw after WWII and the Kennedy assassination.

Phanriver said...

I was not around in the 60's and have little memory of latter part of 70's that I was around for so I can not compare from personal experience the different eras but surely there were plenty of people back than much more interested in sports or favorite music group or other celebrity than science, have we changed as species so much?

It is not really fair comparison the space race to current scientific advances like Higg's boson particle. From what I heard much of the fervor of the space race had to do more with political positioning than true love of science (think masses watching football game "go team beat the russkies"). It was a very clear and easy to follow scientific endeavor for the masses too. I do remember as a child getting freeze dried ice cream at the national air and space museum or watching shuttle takeoff from the stands with the noise and light and earth shaking. What tactile experiences like that does theoretical particle physics offer children today?

Different issue the masses interest vs. those already "into" science and as for their blase attitude well we are by nature a bit skeptical. Tendency to question everything and a fear of being proven wrong or looking foolish or gullible. Some even question still something so clear as the moon landing.

Though I suspect looking more for agreement than explanation with the "WTF Happened". I do want to say I do totally agree that passion and wonderment for science is and always will be essential to our species. We can never lose that. I do not believe it has been lost though just hard to see from others sometimes.

Beam Me Up said...

right there with you Homer. I had the models, and flew the model rockets. I never could afford it, but a friend had a two stage Saturn. I built a multi-launcher that would check to make sure the igniteters were wired properly. We all enjoyed music and the ilk, but the sport stars or the rock musicians but they were not heroes.

Beam Me Up said...

Just a short personal comment Phanriver. By the time the 60s rolled around I was in my late teens. I really didn't get into sports85/ until the 80s me generation hit full force, so that gives you a guide to go by. People that did not live though the 60s and early 70s really find it hard to imagine the nationalistic fervor that these years brought with them. Take 9.11 and times it times 10. Neal could have been a hands down winner of a presidential run. What passes for a "hero" after that wasn't worthy of breathing the air in the same room as Armstrong. Good - bad or indifferent, this was the level on which the Eagle's crew was viewed. To be honest, I can't say I have seen that level of honest national pride well....since Carpenter flew and Glenn shortly there after.

kallamis said...

Well, I see I started an interesting conversation here. And I agree, National pride went away as the population became lazier.
And it will be more than TV's that have no remote. I predict soon even our house doors and most electronics will all be voice command.
I was going to add something to this, but think I'll put it in another blog. It could start another interesting conversation.

Beam Me Up said...

Kall, ya think?! It is going to be oh so much worse than you think...Try this, ask ANY genration Xer who they call the most then ask them what their number is.....see how long it takes for the hinderbrain to come out of the pocket....

kallamis said...

LOL, exactly.
Working on that now actually. Thanks for that one though, I like how you put that.

Beam Me Up said...

bitte

Bob said...

Good post! You have many interesting thoughts here.

I think one of the reasons people are less interested in science, in particular space exploration, is that the element of human achievement has been essentially removed. People cared about the first man in space, first man to orbit the Earth, and the first man to walk on the moon, just as they cared about the first to reach the poles, climb Everest, etc.

We have exponentially expanded our knowledge of the cosmos since the first moon landing, but without the human element, only a few a few of us care. Until a human steps on Mars, expect blasé attitudes toward all but the most staggeringly important discoveries.

The Higgs Bosen confirmation has even more going against it. It is only a probable confirmation of what was generally believed. Important yes, but not nearly as exciting as it would have been if they had proven that it didn't exist.

I also remember the excitement of Star Wars, but do you think the success of Avatar was that different? Plus the popularity of genres tends to be somewhat faddish. We are definitely in an are era where fantasy and superhero films dominate the box office and have the most rabid fans.

As for books, I'm not so certain. The YA section is one of the larger ones in the book stores I frequent and I think there were more children reading Harry Potter not long ago than the the total number of children reading for fun thirty or forty years ago. My friends read when I was a child, but almost none of our peers did. And solid, Gutenberg technology, books probably do belong in a museum alongside VHS tapes. E-books are the future.

Beam Me Up said...

Good post Bob, I would like to address one aspect however - removal of the human element. Every aspect of the lead up to the Moon landing was virtually ignored after the first couple of missions even though those missions became fantastically more technical and dangerous (Almost losing Armstrong TWICE on various aspects of preparing for the Moon)no one even cared about 13 until it had a crater sized hole in it and that was only TWO missions from 11! Today no one but a space nerd can even tell you how many Apollo missions flew! An no that stripped down public relation nightmare was NOT an Apollo, sue me. Then the Shuttles were ALL manned, but other than the Enterprise and the after the fact Challenger the whole project was ignored! No the major malfunction is indifference and just plain blase. There seems to be a consensus that because it's being done, it has to be easy to do! Any of us that just few model rockets know what a crapshot launching them were and the big boys launch the same way! The last maneuver for the newest Mars rover burned for only 40 SECONDS and they know where it is by dopler radio?!!!! That's nigh on to black magic in my mind and what do I get for my enthusiastic retelling this afternoon? Doe eyed indifference! Is it going to fill my belly? Keep me warm tonight? You be the judge of what the REAL problem is.

Phanriver said...

LOL as Gen X'er let me try, ummmmm well I don't really call anyone, I email or IM or Facebook. Except my mom as she does not us a computer but than she still has same phone number as she did since beginning of the 80's and it was MY number for 20 some years so yup you are correct other than mom's number I could not give one from memory.

I don't know if there is any way we will reach that level interest in science as that era, nope I really can't imagine how it was.

What I did want to point out, the women I work with are poster children for current "pop" culture. Most conversation revolves around Jersey Shore cast or Jessica Simpsons weight gain. Yet they all never miss an episode of Big Bang Theory. Dr. Sheldon Cooper a fictional character yes, silly sitcom loved because he makes them laugh but a scientist and a hero no the less. Somewhere that love of science is still there.

Beam Me Up said...

You know, I am constantly amazed that Big Bang is renewed! But I think you hammered it, It is not his knowledge that they appreciate but the geekie nerdiness and antisocial behavior quirks. I can't say that I don't find them a bit endearing but the minute he comes up with something that I can't call him on, I hit the science pages....Who ever is doing the science for that show never misses a beat and I have had to recant a couple of bull shits. I don't watch it all the time, but when I do it almost feels like a subtle game of chess where the writer sees what he can sneak by. I might (read as probably am )be wrong, but it is fun none the less. Thus speakuth the arm chair scientist......

kallamis said...

When Big Bang first came out, i about rolled on the floor. My first words about it were watch it now, it'll go the way of Quark in about 4-6 episodes. Never been so glad to be wrong.
Quark they couldn't get back then because people didn't quite seem to get it. Mom and I loved that show.
But come on now, admit it. There's sometimes more of Sheldon in us than we'd like to admit. Now if I could just get my brain to work like his. Or preferably Reed's. (As in FF Reed Richards). For that brain I'd take both their hangups and social ineptitude.

Beam Me Up said...

Ok, I will admit it...I identify with him. His reactions are what I WISH I could do on a daily basis lol

kallamis said...

Here's another problem. Just saw an article on the 20 most powerful moments on TV.
It is all disasters. Every single thing there is a disaster, an assassination, etc.
1969. No home computers, no computers in cars. No internet. No cell phones. WE PUT A MAN ON THE FRACKING MOON.
Apparently that doesn't count. Only acts of violence are counted as powerful now I guess. And we wonder what happened to the kids. No wonder they're not right.

kallamis said...

Put this comment on number 2, but will put it here as well.

Maybe there's a simpler way to describe what is happening right now. Schrodinger's cat.
Seems like a pretty good description of our world right now. Now lets just hope the box opens soon.

Beam Me Up said...

yeah Kall, Richards without the stretchyness.. It seems like the fantastic Four's powers were all an after thought...except maybe for Storm's...and maybe the thing but stretch and invisibility, to politically incorrect statement...

Beam Me Up said...

see, now you get it! Its not that humanity has been taken out of the science, it is humanity taking too little interest and ANYTHING scientific. I had one of these whack job "explain" quantum mechanics. First thing that gave this away was quantum was interchanged with universe with impunity! How do you even start a conversation when the basis is so fundamentally wrong?

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to say that I have truly enjoyed this blog feed. I accidently found it while researching the ratings of "Snookies" pregnancy versus the Curiosity Mars rover and the Higgs Boson ratings. I'm doing the research for a paper, for a course I am involved in, in college.

I'd like you all to know that I was born in 1978. I had shuttle posters all over my walls as a child, and could recite entire rocket booster systems like the alphabet, at the age of 10. I am currently pursuing a double major in Engineering and Physical Sciences. I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. I am to old now, but my curiosity and fantasies of space and the universe are very active and healthy. I do not know many in my age bracket, or even close to my bracket, that have the same type of fascination with how the universe works. It is very disturbing, and the major reason I am writing this paper. It may be due to education. It may be due to gaming and the internet. I do know for sure that pursuing science often means you must pursue a great deal of math. We live in a culture of instant gratification. If it is not instant, it is deemed useless. The study of science and mathematics is very difficult. It takes an incredible amount of hard work to understand it and work it, in the physical world. There is very little instant gratification. When everything now is about convenience and "easy", it is no wonder why our values have tumbled. Thank you again for this thread. Not only did it help with my paper, but it also gave me a sense of not being alone in the universe, in these feelings. It was a pleasure meeting you all.
Cade Frost

Beam Me Up said...

Well Cade, as you can see by Kall's note, you are in like minded company. You struck a cord with me as with the Merc/redstone Gemini and apollo stacks, I could at the time tell you every separate rocket, at least in the Apollo/Saturn stack there were 3 discrete rockets. The Saturn 5 was only the first stage, then you had 1b saturns The 1b was able to lift the apollo into orbit, but if you wanted to break obit you needed the 5 to do the grunt work first to save the 1b for Luna insertion. And there I go. Glad to have you aboard. Don't be afraid to post, flames seemed to be frowned upon as a whole.

Paul

kallamis said...

Good to meet you Cade. And yeah, you'll fit right in here with us. Good to have you with us man. Glad you liked my article, post, thread, hell I can't keep up with what everything is called now days. Anyway, good to have you, and thanks man.