not just the latest tunes either
where's that textual rick-rolling guy when you need him?
Picture this. Deep in the incalculable vastness of space, sparse clouds of gas and dust coalesce over uncounted millions of years. At the centre of the resulting disc, gravity rams matter together with such force that a fusion flame is kindled: a small yellow star - a tiny pinprick of light against the black and infinite void - …
Particularly as mathematics and the arts are rather intertwined - both music and visual arts.
Indeed, Oxford and Cambridge award a BA to their mathematics undergraduates:
http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/prospective_students (Maths & Stats)
They do indeed, but that may tell you rather more about their history than about mathematics.
(actually Oxford prefer you to take an MMath, which is 4 years; I don't know about Cambridge).
In fact many universities offer maths as both a BA and a BSc; this may be the outcome of deep philosophical debate between academic giants, or may be down to a turf war between faculties fighting for every penny they can get..
"For decades there is stagnation.... "
Well, I thought of listing all the space-probes, orbiting telescopes and science related satellites launched since the 1970s, but I looked at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Solar_System_probes and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_space_telescopes
and realised my fingers would get rather tired.
What's so bad about getting a bit of publicity for the rover and what NASA has achieved? I know it sounds incredible to readers of The Register, but some people will only have heard about the latest Mars rover due to little publicity stunts like these. And it is NASA's toy, as far as I understand they can do whatever they feel like with it. It is not up to you or me to approve every little thing that they use it for. I don't think the science aspect of the mission suffered.
Quite right. For this mission to have any lasting cultural impact all attempts should be made to include those who are not impressed by the mere thought of a robot tooling around on the surface of Mars. The first broadcast of recorded music from another planet is an outstanding achievement that should not be so easily dismissed by puritanical "science enthusiasts". This combination of boffinry and creativity appeals to a wider audience, and gives the mission meaning to many who would otherwise perhaps not have even heard about it. Those art fans get to vote/lobby and thus shape NASA's budget. If this mission is widely popular then cutting NASA's budget would be politically unthinkable.
I personally have a deep appreciation for both theoretical physics AND blues slide guitar. Are you suggesting the one is somehow superior to the other? Get a clue. I don't much care for his music, but Will.i.am seems to be a stand-up guy. A geeky kid who went to a science magnet school and seems genuinely interested in kids attitudes about science and even themselves. He also did a song for PBS' Sesame Street encouraging kids to be persistent, work to be their best, and keep a positive attitude. My 2 year old daughter absolutely loves it. Are you going to say that's garbage as well because it doesn't teach anything about science?
STEAM? Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, of course.
Not Science, Technology, Engineering AND Mathematics, then? Just to be sure we're not doing anyone a disservice for the sake of a good strop, because in your quote will.i.am doesn't seem to mention art and talks of the relationship between humanity and technology, so perhaps he just fluffs the acronym rather than tries to cram the arts in there as you imply.
i guess the arts need to be in there...
sure, science and maths etc are fundamental to how we live but its the arts that give our lives that richness.
be it music, movies or videogames. its what makes life worth living.
then again, why choose Will.i.am? surely there was a decent musician who might have wanted to do it? why not the beatles or the stones... you know, the people that will still be remembered in 20 years and might not scare off any aliens with bloody autotune
Ou are correct, arts are just as important as STEM, but it isn't a matter of importance. Just look at the number of MA Art history graduates vs # of new jon openings requiring an MA in Art History vs say the same for an MSc in Biotechnology or Genetics or Maths.
The world is packet full of budding artists in on form or another, the current fad is photography, videography will be next. Arts are usually fun, sciences are rewarding, there is a difference (I may not have expressed it well enough, but as a former research scientist turned photographer I do experience a difference, trust me nailing a shot at a wedding has nothing on catalyst design). As our generation has pretty much done FA to inspire kids towards STEM (no concorde 2, no walking on Mars, no moonbase etc) and as you acknowledge STEM is vitally important unless we want a future working in mines for our Chinese overlords, we need an initiative to get kids inspired and supported in learning science etc. So yes, whilst some areas of the arts are underfunded such as operas and are vital to a vibrant society, I am a little pissed off to see arts pushing its way into a scheme thats extremely important to solve problems it doesn't have. To get kids learning maths and sciences they need to see and experience the applications and society needs to change its values away from worshipping footballers and this seasons idle american winner and towards people who are actually making fundamental leaps forward in the quality of our lives. People like Barre-Sinoussi working towards a cure for aids (and they are pretty damn close) or Roy Taylor whose team look like they have a cure for type two diabetes, something that plagues the lives of 2.5 million people in the UK alone. Just ask those people would you trade a cure for diabetes for will.i.am? These should be the people our kids aspire to emulate but the media barely mention them yet some tit of a football player crashes his car or gets in a fight and its all we hear for a week. The next antibiotic to fight cdiff or mrsa or whatevers next isn't likely to come from an xfactor winner yet thats what the majority of kids want to be.
> s our generation has pretty much done FA to inspire kids towards STEM (no concorde 2, no walking on Mars, no moonbase etc)
Most children want to be a fireman, train driver, a ballet dancer or pop star. Though when they grow up they almost certainly won't be. The point is not to inspire someone when they're 6 years old, but to give them opportunities, a scientific education and a well defined career path. That's what will get the practically minded kids studying the "right" subjects at university, not a song that was played to them 10 or 15 years before they left school.
So if you want a new generation of programmers, bio-technologists, DNA hackers or nuclear physicists, forget about "catching them while they're young". Instead make sure there are jobs available that will use their expertise when they graduate.
Very true, but there is a lot more to it then just a job, there are jobs even now.
It's only my opinion, but I think there are many factors, starting with parents inspiring their kids and opening their minds. Challenge them to think. Theres nothing wrong with supporting a football team, but theres also nothing wrong with teaching your kids about engineers like brunel, or surgeons and scientists who save and improve millions of lives. Kids are like sponges for information, even at 3-4 years old. Then school plays a part, having teachers that recognise (and teachers that are supported to do this) talent and nuture it. Teachers that inspire kids by showing them how a 'boring' equation or process relates to the real world. Then support them at university and in post grad with loans etc. Start removing barriers and have kids do more practical experiments (which requires more money).
I grew up in a science orientated household, my parents had a huge impact on me, but even bigger than that was a college chemistry tutor with a phd who taught very little of the syllabus and a lot about chemistry in the real world. Also an oppertunity to work in industry at a relatively young age helped. It switched me from biology which I found easier to chemistry which I found a lot harder.
STEM is a start but parents, government and schools all need to step up. Even more jobs will come when the talent is here. Maybe even the government funding more research directly.
So true. I don't understand why people are so interested. For me, the process goes: "Do I like this music? Yes/no. Do I want to hear more of it? Yes/no. Do I care at all about the musician's background/tastes/sexuality/convictions? No, not at all." A similar process works with films, applied to actors/directors usually, and authors. In fact, it applies to almost everything except polititics, where a bit of background information is often very useful.
Agree with your point that it is the arts that give our life a bit of richness, but taste in music is way too individual to even agree on what makes a decent musician. Take your Beatles example. Popular yes, wrote a few well known tunes that have stood the test of time and therefore are considered classics, but decent musicians, that's debatable. It's often quoted that when asked by a journo if Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world, John Lennon replied that he wasn't even the best drummer in the Beatles. Yet other bands which are far more technically able and have written some great tunes (take Rush for example) are virtually ignored by the mainstream. I'm not a will.I.am fan but I bet there are plenty out there. My point is no matter what song you choose, there will be someone out there saying 'why the hell did they pick that?, They should have choose something else'. So by that token why not will.I.am? Admittedly though, wouldn't have been my choice either.
Are you seriously calling Mr I.Am's electronically retuned waveform "Art"?
Why did they have to use a new track (apart from the publicity Mr Am gets)? There are plenty of far more musical pieces which could have been played.
Personally I rather like the idea of the rover trundling over the Martian surface with "Ride of the Valkyries" blasting out.
Or maybe Monty Python's universe song with a few re-edits to allow for the different orbital and rotational speed of Mars.
"Are you seriously calling Mr I.Am's electronically retuned waveform "Art"?", I have to admit that I don't know the song in question. But I'm sure that if Tracy Emin's unmade bed or Damien Hurst's dead animals exhibits can be considered art, then someone somewhere will view it as such. I like both of your alternate suggestions though!
I guess we are. Just because I don't like it doesn't make it 'not art'. There is a huge amount of 'art' that is in fact to the majority of people complete bollocks. Apparently art is happy for this to be considered art so I am happy to leave them to it. The real test will be that of time, will future generations consider turfing the inside of a church art or simply a lazy talentless twat trying to get some coin. Probably the latter, but for now that isn't the case. In the present the art 'community' is the judge.
As for what song to send, I am a little shocked they didn't pick the most obvious one, Bowie's 'Life on Mars'.
Well done. Very poetic article. But you're arguing against something that is getting lots of people who otherwise would pay no attention to this Mars mission to notice it and maybe get interested in it. Or is the author of this article an elitist who thinks that unless someone is already hanging in out in the channels that discuss this stuff, that they don't deserve to be made aware of it.
How long is the will.i.am track? A few minutes? We can't spare a few minutes out of the entire length of the mission to get a lot of people who wouldn't have seen much coverage of the mission to be made more aware of it? Or to see that a popular celebrity and musician thinks its cool and maybe therefore it is cool? Or does the author dislike the idea that science could be cool and mainstream popular because it threatens their feeling of being better in some way?
Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame did a great speech at this years MakerFaire, all about adding in the A to STEM, and it isn't just about promoting the latest tunes! Art is the creative side, and without that life is boring. Check out the speech on youtube
Gerry Anderson and H.G Wells never guessed that the war between Mars and Earth would be started because of some nobhead rapper who can't spell his name correctly broadcasting shite from a car on mars!
Shame on you NASA for bringing space exploration and the engineering marvel that is Curiosity down to this. If you wanted to blast out some tunes on Mars, then it could at least be Wyld Stallions, or Jeff Wayne's Eve of the War
.... Remember what happened in "Mars Attacks" ?
Also, could this be the start of chav-like behaviour on another planet? ... It'll be drag-racing of mars rovers and donut-burning next!
Can you smoke the tyres in the martian atmosphere?
It does make some of us despair but NASA are being pushed hard and fighting for their existence. They play expensive games and have to indulge in such spectacular nonsense - and ever increasing sensationalist claims of evidence of extraterrestrial life being discovered - to keep the public interested to pay the bills.
It's a great shame NASA have to be such publicity whores but if that's the price they have to pay then good luck to them. I'd rather have a debate driven by criticism of NASA than simply see them fade into oblivion. NASA's greatest problem is that neither she nor anyone else has a vision that inspires beyond the "what's the point?" of everyone's depressing lives in the 21st century.
I agree. Darpa gets away with building air conditioned hangers for dolphins, yet NASA has to beg for every last cent. NASA used to employ 400000 people, send astronauts to the moon, operate a fleet of shuttles and inspire countless kids to actually pay attention in school. Now they thumb rides of the Russians. For the same reasons art enriches life, NASA's old ways of doing crazy shiznit just because theres a chance it might be possible enriches us.
So it wasted a bit of bandwidth, well it's a stupid stunt but it plays to the concentration span of the majority of people.
Just wait for the follow up. The rover is covered in QR codes for future NASA social meeja inspired japes.
Why does every marketing eejit think I want to be involved in the 'journey' via some pointless app on a device most of us don't own. Just do the work get the data and show me something I've never seen before or tell me something interesting I didn't know.
The fewer fuckwit 'celebrities' it involves the better.
Just wait for the follow up. The rover is covered in QR codes for future NASA social meeja inspired japes.
They'd probably be pretty good as camera calibration targets!
After all, if Beagle 2 had survived, its cameras would have be colour calibrated with a Damien Hurst painting
So your alternative is that we stop living for the next 10 years, crowded around computer screens 24/7 in the hope that NASA might post a story on it's website about alien life being found - while the economy collapses beyond any recovery around us? No thanks - I'll just stick to watching Revenge on E4, playing with gadgets and reading all the latest tech news.....
Am I right in thinking that Curiosity was originally going to have a microphone?
I would rather have liked to hear the sound of the Martian wind blowing.
You might even hear in the background a soft voice saying, "If you don't stop making that noise, I will come over there with my Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator..."
"Good day, gentlemen. This is a pre-recorded briefing made prior to your departure and which, for security reasons of the highest importance, has been known on board during the mission only by your H-A-L 9000 computer. Now that you are in Jupiter space and the entire crew is revived, it can be told to you. Eighteen months ago, the first evidence of intelligent life off the Earth was discovered. It was buried forty feet below the lunar surface, near the crater Tycho. Except for a single, very powerful radio emission aimed at Jupiter, the four million-year-old black monolith has remained completely inert, its origin and purpose still a total mystery. However, we finally have managed to put it to good use as a prop and projection area in the upcoming "Moon Madonna" concert to be held at Crater Tycho today at 1245 your time. Gentlemen, with the permission of RIAA and MPAA, we are pleased to transmit you this important event in ... 2 minutes exactly. Enjoy!"
... Lewis Page grumbles that a publicity stunt designed to generate more interest in the mission from children is not serious enough. How dare such important work be complimented with frivolity.
It immediately reminded me of an experience of 19th century-born Russian-American writer/trouble-maker Emma Goldman detailed in her autobiography:
At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause.
From what I've read of his writing, I wouldn't realistically expect Lewis to be amongst the "most untiring and gayest" at the dance, but even so, let others have their fun, no?
@Platelet - Yeah, I know.
But, and I'm guessing here, people who have no awareness of science often just can't fathom how amazing achievements in all sorts of areas are, just because they feel they have no hope of understanding the basics and are bombarded with "breakthroughs" all the time.
I think it's why the area of a supertanker is often described in terms of "number of football pitches" rather than m^2.
Or why many people really can't wrap their head around the loss of life when some unfortunate disaster/incident strikes - simply because they can't imagine thousands of individual people.
If there were some sort of vague survey comparing if the average punter on the street was more impressed by the fact some guys landed on the moon almost 50 years ago or the latest basic voice recognition tat they were just shown on a smart phone for the first time, I don't think I'd like to see the results.
Which is why pointless stunts like this for certain - and quite likely large sections of the population - may well be a good thing. It's a bit more real; much more simple in comparison to the real deal, but easy to wrap your head around.
I like this clip from the comedian Lois CK observing the average person's ability to take for granted how awesome technology is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpUNA2nutbk <-- Likely not safe for work - not sure, since I haven't previewed it. But there are likely naughty words.
It's ok Lewis, I thought that this was naff as well.
They've made an attempt to be down with the kids and get them interested in Mars and robots and science etc by using this pop star, and the pop star had to be current and not somebody like David Bowie singing about Mars in order that the kids would look and talk about it at school with each other.
However the first thing I thought when I watched an article about it on TV and heard the music was that it was a naff publicity stunt, and I didn't like the music they'd picked.
Well, one of my technical teachers at high-school used to always warn us about Accountants thusly:-
Early UK V-Bomber doing flight tests had no chain guard on chain drive to generator from turbine (or suchlike)-due to demands from accountants-
Wing full of fuel - in fact plane is one big wing-
Chain of course breaks and flies off while flying-hits wing-
introduce the Monkees' latest single.
That privilege went belatedly to the crew of Shuttle flight STS-112 on 10th October 2002.
Musical crew wakeup calls go back to about 1965 (Lovell and Aldrin were woken on Gemini 12 with songs from The Sound of Music). Somehow Apollo 11 seems to have escaped the music wakeup, receiving news and sports instead.
http://history.nasa.gov/wakeup%20calls.pdf documents the wake-up calls for almost every manned NASA mission.
I think this is all too high and mighty. Science and exploration NEED to be re-integrated into popular culture if we're going to move forward. The Military Industrial Complex can't continue to be the sole reason for developing these programs. This article is narrow-minded, elitist in tone and wrong from the perspective of social marketing. Hooks into pop culture are a great idea, as the seven minutes of terror video proved. This entire Curiosity programme is a great success for NASA and for science and exploration. STEAM is the right configuration and always has. The isolation of Science from cultural influence or connection is a big mistake.
Never mind about pop songs, what we want is a remote-controlled model Curiosity with all the bits, including a laser zapper !
Or, slightly more boringly, maybe a remote-controlled model linked to your tablet/smart phone of choice(*) with the various experimental packages mostly modelled in software.
Or, an app that tracks the rover, updates you with which experiment(s) are active, and provides a close-to-realtime view from the cameras (and maybe sound if it has a decent microphone); oh, and a current map of the local terrain.
(*) as determined by your local jurisdiction
You could make one out of Lego (sadly not remote controlled)...
See http://rebrickable.com/files/instructions/MOC-0271/LEGO-MSL-Instructions-20120723.pdf for brick-by-brick instructions.
Great science requires an artistic appreciation of the elegant solution or hypothesis simplifying a mess of data which previously didn't have recognisable pattern. Great art doesn't stand still in terms of technique or subject matter. Art which excludes science or technology is as mediocre as science persued without art.
What does this even mean?
I am reminded of my old language high school teacher pleading with us cold mathematicians to appreciate some poor sod writing german sonnets back in the 17th century. Okay, one may appreciate it, but so what? That differential equation ain't gonna solve itself!
Well-written and funny article. While I kind of agree and cringe at the contrast of a pinnacle of sceintific and technological endeavour being whored out to pander to popular culture, I can also see why they might do this - presumably to hook in as many folks as possible behind the cause and get some momentum in the bank for years to come. It'd be interesting to actually measure how effective that exercise is though.
Having gone from a state school to studying science(albeit badly) at a uni with a lot of history in sciences, I think I know the fundamental problem they're attempting(albeit badly) to address. I quickly developed a huge dislike for the kind of people my course and that place in general seemed to attract. I felt I had next to nothing in common with them and I didn't enjoy being there or around them. Always exceptions to that obviously, but I'm talking about the real hardcore bescarved, bespectacled, blue peter badge owning, chess/robot/choir club alumni in duffle coats who didn't exactly revel in the social aspects of uni life and seemed to have grown up on a different planet to me. Now those guys *tended* to be the best students and I was in awe at some of their abilities, but unfortunately I will forever associate science/technology with that place and those people. I guess the question remains - so what? If those people are good at science and they naturally gravitate toward it, then what's the problem here? Well, at a guess "no bucks, no Buck Rogers" to quote The Right Stuff. Maybe the PR guys at NASA are trying to erode those negative perceptions and get as many *other* people on board as possible, most probably resulting in a series of very tense and awkward meetings where the technical guys were in a Jets/Sharks style stand-off the PR guys over this issue and what song to play etc. As usual looks like the bl00dy Marketing crowd won again!
Surprisingly that title isnt me being sarcastic, whilst Apple are not the great innovators people think they are. They may be really good at patent whoring! There is however one place Apple do excel at and that is marketing, making people who had no idea what a smartphone was and convinced them that they needed one!
So why not get them involved in the marketing of this project, obviously keeping all Apple logos off of it. Will.i.am was probably a very short sighted choice by some NASA project managers child, I mean for christ sake this is the same Will.i.am who honestly believes Cheryl (Cole) has singing talent outside of the auto tuning!!
STEM should definitly be STEAM as the arts are a big part of who we are. (however I see a lawsuit with Valve on the horizon lol) If more people get behind NASA maybe we can actually start reaching for the stars again. The ISS seems to be stagnating, the next logical step would be to start a new moon project. Sod landing them there and bringing them straight back, send them there for a few months lets get an IMS (International Moon Station (Copyrighted, Trademarked and Patented lol)) on the go and get people interested in space exploration again.
Why not play life on Mars? More appropriate methinks.
Why did they fit speakers to the thing though. When every gram costs money to get to space they put speakers on the think.
Is it in case they meet some Martians and need to say hello.
With the delay the locals would get bored and wander off.
The problem as I see it is keeping the public interested in the project, which much like the vaunted Apollo missions people soon began to lose interest in the mundane live broadcasts.Yes it was a bit naff but it hooks public interest not just in this robot which which to all intense and purposes is trundling around firing lasers at rock after rock for the next year or so.Hardly headline hitting news of interest to the masses now is it?