Monday, October 12, 2009


5 for Language Arts results in emo.

What else can you expect?

At least I got 7 for Geog.

Friday, October 2, 2009


The Space Race was between the two greatest superpowers of their time - the ever-present USA and the now-defunct USSR. The race between them catalyzed some of the greatest endeavors in the history of mankind, and within the short period of 1957 - 1975 made great leaps of into the realm of space exploration. It really is quite remarkable - the achievements accomplished by these two superpowers is laudable. Indeed, look at the short time in which the human race managed to accomplish the seemingly impossible.

Oct 4, 1957 - First satellite (Sputnik 1) into space
Nov 3, 1957 - First animal into space (the dog Laika)
Dec 18, 1958 - First communications satellite
Jan 2, 1959 - First rocket to achieve escape velocity + detection of the solar winds
Aug 7, 1959 - First photograph of Earth from orbit
Sep 13, 1959 - First impact on another celestial body (Luna 2 on the Moon)
Oct 4, 1959 - First pictures from the far side of the Moon
Aug 16, 1960 - First plants/animals to return alive from space (Sputnik 5)

Within the span of three short years, scientists from both countries had, together, had managed to progress from spaceflight into the ability to sustain life in orbit - note that this period is shorter than our Secondary School life. It is the advancements in the next decade or so, however, that truly amazes me.

Apr 21, 1961 - First man into space (Yuri Gagarin)
Dec 14, 1962 - Interplanetary flight (Mariner 2 flyby of Venus)
Jun 16, 1963 - First woman into space
Aug 19, 1964 - First geostationary satellite
Mar 18, 1965 - First extra-vehicular activity
Jul 14, 1965 - First flyby of Mars by Mariner 4

Within the next 5 years, we somehow managed to achieve interplanetary flight - that's shorter than my entire life in a particular institution known as ACS. Our ability to traverse space, of course, did not stop there - 1969 saw the famous lunar landing, while the USSR still kept sending probes such as the Venera and Vega missions to Venus as well as improving space station technology. The USA, on the other hand, concentrated on designing re-usable launch vehicles and manned flights.


So what does this have to do with anything? Well, just take a look at the 2000 - 2009 period. Virtually nothing has gone into space since the start of the new millenia. NASA has only been in the news for things such as the 2004 disaster and whenever they get budget cuts to fund the Afghan Wars.

Okay, so what am I trying to say? Perhaps I am just a little bitter about having my dreams of space travel and space flight fade into nothingness before my very eyes. What happened to our desire to cross the stars? What happened to our drive to explore new worlds, to break through the final frontier? Alas, the people around me do not share these desires. They are more interested in the latest winner of American Idol and books such as Twilight, or about studying for their IB Exams. Indeed, the people I feel sorry for the most are those who study to answer questions - those who refuse to move beyond the syllabus. Where is their desire for knowledge? Though I try, I cannot answer that question.

"Some look at the things that are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?" - George Bernard Shaw

Clearly, priorities need to be set out clearly here. Note that I am not condemning activities other than space travel - indeed, I have great respect for some of the professions that my friends are aspiring to - Psychology, Particle Physics, Doctors - all are noble professions - perhaps even more so than my own. Indeed, I have great respect for doctors and those who help the poor and needy - human geography has taught me that much. Of biologists and researchers in the laboratory I am a little more cautious - but I still respect them for what they do. Even students of literature, which I find a most detestable subject...I like to think that I feel something for them as well.

"I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he is not fit to live" - Martin Luther King Jr.

Unfortunately, there are quite a number who do not share the same ideals. Indeed, I find that people have a chronic lack of knowledge - almost a crime in this world were knowledge is so easily accessible. It leaves me greatly disheartened, and perhaps slightly worried about the state of the world in the generations to come. Some people have never heard of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov or Greg Bear (although this I can a certain extent). Some people don't know where Cairo is. Some people question why we should go to other planets in the first place...and perhaps what worries me the most is that people ask me why I read stories - after all, they aren't true.

"Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air: they are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." - Henry David Thoreau

Admittedly, I am being biased. Perhaps I am forcing my own principles upon others. After all, I am not well-versed in pop culture today - if someone were to ask me, I wouldn't be able to tell you who Ellen Degeneres is, who last won American Idol, or what the latest trend in fashion is. Indeed, I have often been mocked for my taste in music, which can only be described as "My Dad's Generation". I confess that much of the supposedly "good music" holds no attraction for me. I admit that I do not see why anyone would want to know whether Adam Lambert is gay, or about Ris Low and status of her beauty pageant. The thought, in fact, disgusts me.

"Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real." - Tupac Shakur

But truly...I feel that our world has forgotten how to dream. People do not see the need to explore, do not find satisfaction in doing more than they ought to. Perhaps it is just this small little city, on this small little island. Perhaps the strains of a capitalist lifestyle has crushed our dreams underfoot - smothered them in a world were results, power and money trump all. Indeed, how many people dreamed of becoming astronauts? How many people have dreamed of being writers, marine biologists or other bombastic professions that one must have harbored in their youth? How many people have dreamed of walking on the moon, of climbing the greatest heights, or exploring the deepest depths? How many still do that today?

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage the pursue them" - Walt Disney

I am truly thankful of the opportunities given to me. Though there is still much that I want, all my needs have been provided for - a good education, a world where information is easily accessible, and great friends who will forever encourage me in their own special ways. After all - great dreams mean nothing if there is no one to share them with. Let me end this with a quote from the author of one of my favorite books - a little gem called "The Little Prince". It is almost a children's story, and though you might have excuses about not having enough time to read Asimov, at least read this short story by Antoine de Saint Exupery.

"A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral." - Antoine de Saint Exupery