Dr Funderlik's Regular Grunt

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On the possibilities of interstellar space travel.

Space. It calls to us. We humans look up at the night sky and dream, like chimps staring at a huge peanut or a banana factory that is somehow miles away behind a big sheet of thick bullet-proof glass. Perhaps it is coded into our genetic information, but the urge to explore does seem to be a peculiarly human trait. Fish don't seem to be too curious about their surroundings, and earthworms simply aren't interested.

So, what is it about space that fascinates us so? Well, for one thing it is really big, and for another, it is shiny. Humans have always been attracted to big shiny things and space must be the biggest and the shiniest thing there is. Space is the wide screen TV of the new millennium, except it is millions of kilometres across, and doesn't need a Christmas special featuring Cliff Richard dressed as Santa, surrounded by elves, singing 'Millennium Prayer'. In fact, wide
screen TV's don't need this either, but Mr. Richard insists, so I suppose we have to put up with it.

Given the human urge to go into space and look around, it is surprising that the first being in space was not a human, but a dog. Of course, dogs have been trying to beat us to orbit for centuries, and they finally succeeded when 'Leica', an Alsatian, managed to go into orbit in the 1950's. A consortium of Russian dogs had spent a decade building the rocket from stuff they found in bins. Furious, the Americans retaliated by launching their own dog, 'Nikon', also named after a camera, from the desert in New Mexico. 'Nikon', a brave Chihuahua, only made it about ten feet or so, before exploding. Many of the researchers gathered on that day stared on in silence. Some, however, applauded. Frankie Valley released a dance record, called
'Doing the Nikon', but no one bought it.

The moon landing is one of those events, like the shooting of J.R. or the launch of the C5 electric car, when everyone who witnessed it can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing. I certainly can, though I wish I couldn't. I have tried to forget that incident for years, but, it had to happen, right then - out pops Neil Armstrong with his 'One Small Step for Man…' bit. Actually, however, it is not widely known, but those were not Neil Armstrong's actual first words. Buzz Aldrin, who had always been a bit clumsy, was in a hurry to get down the ladder, and so Armstrong's first words were actually 'Get of my hands Buzz, I can't move'. This was later modified by Richard Nixon. Buzz Aldrin's first words: 'Gee, this place is kinda' dusty, do they do hamburgers here?' Have been lost to history.

So what of the future? If you listened to the Japanese, you would think that one day we will all go into space on little talking eggs! But, of course, this is a bit far fetched. In about ten or fifty years or so, we will have houses in space. They will be square shaped and coloured blue. But that is just my prediction - and, who knows?? Maybe we will all end up living in underground tents. I mean, how should I know what will happen in the future? I just wrote this for some cash for beer and fags. I can confidently predict that I will soon pop out to the supermarket for a frozen chicken. How's that?

To sum up: Space is big and shiny. A dog went there. Cliff Richard is best avoided.

Dr Deckchair Funderlik

30.01.03 Front Page

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