In Praise of Stone Knives & Bearskins
No matter how interesting your current job may be -- or how important you know (or hope) it is – do you ever wonder about the longer-term impact of what you are doing? Well then, think of these groups of scientists working nearly 50 years ago in the early 1970’s:
Using computing capabilities that to us today would seem as the modern equivalent of “stone knives and bearskins” (an entire roomful of overheating computers had less power than your old iPhone 3), the fruition of their work was realized with the launching of Voyager 2 in 1977.
In November, 2018, 41 years later, Voyager 2 -- still going strong – reached another milestone, crossing our solar systems heliosphere [basically the edge of our solar system and our sun’s magnetic field] some 11 billion miles away -- about 3-4 times further than Pluto! (Which, by the way, ignore the Astronomers -- every Planetary Scientist worth their salt understands it really is a planet!). Last month (November 2019) a series of papers was released reporting upon what Voyager 2 observed at the boundary of the solar wind’s bubble and beyond. All five of Voyagers sensors are still in working order, submitting data to scientists such as solar ions, cosmic rays and plasma density in interstellar space.