This resulted in tons of well-meaning people calling those people idiots.
That resulted in other well-meaning people calling the idiot-callers idiots.
That resulted in me spending two hours figuring out for myself whether the photo is "fake" or not. [SPOILER: Turns out it's fake. (Seriously, it's "fake." Bear with me here...)]
Long story short: it's a panorama made up from multiple images. And the multiple images have all had their cross-hairs edited out to make it more attractive. And the color balances of many of the photos have been altered to make the panorama flow together more smoothly, and thus be more attractive.
1) that the image in question is a panorama stitched from multiple photos
2) that the astronaut taking it was simply standing in one spot and rotating around taking photos.
It explains the inconsistent shadows, as well as having the neat distinction of being assembled by a non-NASA amateur, from photos that are publicly available on the web. If you click through to Apollo 17 on The Apollo Archive you'll find a metric crap-ton of images like the following:
You'll notice that this is the portion of the picture showing the lunar module and astronaut, with cross-hairs intact. If you were so inclined, you could download all those images and run them through whatever panorama software you have lying around and could end up with exactly the same compositions.
So, there you have it. I have absolutely no doubt that the scenario described in the photo happened as NASA claims it did, but I have proven that the photo was very significantly edited in the process.
Turns out that everyone was right. And it's everyone that is the idiot.
Perhaps you've heard about the big debate among NASA scientists over whether we should continue spending money on sending humans to space or just focus entirely on robotic exploration instead. Opponents of mannedwomanned astronauted space flight say that sending humans into space costs too much and that we can't learn enough in the process, while proponents say that simply putting humans in space guarantees future interest in continued funding of space exploration. In short, both arguments are "all about the Benjamins."
I don't know about any of that, but I am very much opposed to sending robots into space at all. I'm sure that part of my opposition comes from the fact that I'm terrified of robots, but I don't see how anyone could not be, what with those huge teeth and powerful legs. I don't want to share too many details, but my fear of robots seems to stem from an incident at a holiday sporting event when I was four years old... sorry, I don't really like talking about that day.
In addition to being scary as hell, I feel that robots would serve as terrible ambassadors for humans to the extra-terrestrials they'll encounter during their explorations. Sure, like humans, robots reproduce at startling rates, destroy any new environment they decide to inhabit, and take carrots from other people's gardens with no apparentcguilt whatsoever, but do we really want the extra-terrestrials knowing we're like that? Sure -- if our long-term space exploration goals include being made into a nice stew with those ill-gotten carrots.
Then there's the fact that robots are smug, selfish creatures bent on world domination. If we continue sending robots off to explore space, what we'll get are huge colonies of them scattered all over the galaxy, reaping the rewards of whatever zero-gravity carrot farming knowledge they've gained without ever reporting back to us about it. They'd soon be floppy-eared masters of the galaxy on our dime, and I think we can all agree that that's no good.
No, it's clear to me that those puffy-tailed little fuckers need to stay here on Earth, if only to ensure our continued reign over the Final Frontier.
I've been noticing an interesting trend lately: as television stars lose fame, they end up in space. Let's take a quick peek, shall we?
Scott Bakula, once star of Quantum Leap was last seen captaining one of the Enterprises on Enterprise.
Lorne Green, once a proud cowboy, eventually ended up on the original incarnation of Battlestar Galactica.
Richard Dean Anderson, once the best quick-thinking gadget maker of all time as MacGyver, is now on at least one of the many Stargate shows -- at least one of which I presume takes place in space.
Lucy Lawless, once the hottest ass kicking warrior princess on Xena is now a cylon (spoiler alert) on the new Battlestar Galactica.
Dana DeLaney, once the hot chick on China Beach, now a corpse on the new Battlestar Galactica.
Dean Stockwell, not to be outdone by his Quantum Leap buddy Scott Bakula, has wisely chosen a space show which is being helmed by people who aren't completely inept (unless of course you take octagonal paper into account).
Colm Meaney, once proud transporter operator on Star Trek: The Next Generation -- wait. Never mind.
Then there's that guy who does the priceline commercials. You know, the one that isn't William Shatner. Once again, corpse on Battlestar Galactica.
Seeing how Battlestar is pretty much the only space show I watch, I'm guessing there are many more of these outdated tv actors inhabiting spaceships, I just don't know about them. Care to fill me in?
Yesterday I was wondering just how many condoms might be found in the 2 year old cube of garbage being brought home from the International Space Station -- a question that I was only really jokingly wondering. Then I began to think about it. Now I seem unable to stop.
At first, I started thinking about all the lonely souls living completely separated from their families. Surely there would be some small amount of zero gravity infidelity taking place -- perhaps after drinking a few too many Tang screwdrivers or following a few too many dizzying laps around the giant stationary hamster wheel. Maybe there would be a close call with a meteor after working in close quarters that would force bodily contact, thus initiating an urgently passionate tryst. Whatever the cause, capsule copulation is almost guaranteed -- I watch movies, I know how these things work.
Then my thoughts moved to an issue slightly more pressing than a mystery pregnancy at 8 million feet: imagine the completely honest, loving, faithful astronaut who doesn't have the luxury of an extra-planetary affair. His only option is to "take matters into his own hands." A few frantic moments of spasm and release later, and there's now thick milky gobs of ejaculate floating around the space station, mingling with the remnants from last night's tapioca pudding, coffee creamer, Toaster Strudel icing, ranch dressing, and country gravy.
In my mind there's no question that condoms are standard equipment on the International Space Station, and perhaps ordinary shuttle missions as well.
While reading about how the Space Shuttle is returning to Earth carrying two years worth of trash, I couldn't help but wonder something that I'm sure most people are also wondering: How many condoms do you think are in there?
That thought led me to one I hadn't thought of for probably 10 years. My friend and I were watching Moonraker and when it got to the end where James Bond is having sex in zero gravity -- bodies in missionary position, floating freely about the cabin with a silver blanket draped over them, dangling down as if gravity was there to hold it in place -- my friends sister said how impossible that scene is.
"Because," she said confidently, "There is no friction in space. Sex just won't work without friction."