Mars Phoenix RIP
Identity Creation Through Character Limitation
Further to my post on the Mars Phoenix lander and the personification of technology:
The spacecraft is nearly at the end of its useful life: the coming winter has meant reduced power getting to its solar cells and as a consequence NASA are starting to shut down particular elements, such as some of the sensors and the remote digging arm. It is still communicating atmospheric data to the orbiter, but by the end of November there won’t be enough power left to run the heaters that stop the electronics from freezing. It is not expected that the microprocessors will survive the low temperatures until the Martian spring (sometime in 2010). Read about it here.
But for the purposes of this posting, I am more interested in the cultural effects of the mission, and in particular the public interaction through Twitter.
The Science Wars
I’ve been following the lively (are there ever any other sort?) debate on John Quiggin’s blog about the Science Wars. What strikes me is that not only have the scientists apparantly won the war with the culturalists, but that the straw figure of the “left-wing relativist” with their nonsensical pomo theories is no longer even questioned. Even the esteemed professor refers to “leftwing relativism and pseudoscience”.
Mad scientist's disease
Scientists have genetically engineered a dozen cows to be free from the proteins that cause mad cow disease, a breakthrough that may make the animals immune to the brain-wasting disease.
Maybe I’m missing something, but wouldn’t it be easier just to stop feeding them cow’s brains?
Why doesn't somebody study the Internet?
The British scientist who developed the world wide web says that he is concerned the internet could be misused as it grows and is advocating a research project to study its future.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist who is credited with creating the internet, said in an interview with the BBC that the way the web is used should be examined by a broad spectrum of experts.
Berners-Lee wants to convene scientists from various disciplines – including biology, political science and sociology – to study the web and the way it affects society.
Hey, what a great idea! Pity no one in the humanities ever thought about studying the Internet!
There are countless researchers in the humanities and social sciences looking at the Internet, digital technologies, and issues in the philosopy of science, and if any one of them ever made a public comment that demonstrated such a fundamental lack of knowledge about an important field of scientific research, there would be outcry about the discipline’s lack of relevance. But Sir Tim can get away with parading his ignorance with impunity.
Seems like the Two Cultures are alive and well.
Mark at Larvatus Prodeo has been doing a sterling job blogging about the upcoming Queensland State Election.
I have only to add that I’ve been disappointed—if not actually particularly surprised—that Beattie has been touting ethanol as an alternative fuel source so heavily, despite its own substantial environmental costs. It would be nice to see Labor offer sane energy policy that’s not simply beholden to a different set of corporate lobby groups than those in the Liberal camp. But I’m not holding my breath.
edit: fixed final link.