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Friday, January 29, 2010

The Future of Technology: From Robots to Jump Shots

This spring NASA is retiring their space shuttle. When I first heard this news, I wasn’t too alarmed, “Out with the old and in with the new,” right? There’s just one small flaw in that equation, there isn’t a new. After the rocket retires we have to begin relying on Russia to give us a lift to the newly built space station. Now, if you take a look at a timeline, we haven’t always had the strongest bond with the Sov’s. Maybe we should take it a little easier on them in the winter Olympics this year just to ensure a healthy relationship; they do love their figure skating.

But seriously, how is it possible that the leading pioneer in space exploration is to be without a space shuttle? In 1970 space experts projected that we would have people actually living in space by now, and going to Mars wouldn’t seem like an impossible feat, but a daily routine. Clearly that is not the way of it.

Have you ever seen Back to the Future II? I’m assuming so, but for those who haven’t, it’s a 1989 film where Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) travels to 2015 to save his future son. In this flash forward flick we see skate boards that float, cars that fly, movies in 3D, clothes that reshape themselves to fit an individual, and waitresses are replaced by robots. Granted it’s only 2010, and ok we have 3D movies, but I think it’s safe to say those other things aren’t going to become reality within the next five years. So why is it that people 20 years ago had such high expectations for us, and yet we have failed to uphold our part of the bargain?

There was a time when technology was continuously evolving, and kids, even at the earliest ages, would become ambitious to build and invent new things. Putting a man on the moon, colored TV, music recording devices, video players, compact disks, computers; if they could dream it, they could do it. But childhood ambitions have completely changed. Our generation is primarily comprised of what people are calling the “lazy crazies”. Instead of wanting to become astronauts and inventers, kids are striving to become athletes and actors. In the 70’s astronauts were celebrities, not hotel heiresses. Neil Armstrong was on the “Got Milk” posters, not Snoop Dog. Kids wanted to be like these bright, ambitious people, but not anymore.

Interest in STEM education (science, technology, engineering, math) has rapidly declined. There aren’t enough computer engineers and scientists to go around, and the few that exist are going to hip, trendy places like Google and Amazon. In other words, Web site design and construction has become more important than space exploration and rocket ship building. And more importantly, becoming ESPN anchors and professional athletes has taken appeal over practical, necessary careers, thus NASA is struggling and not at all where it should be.

We need to begin inspiring kids as young as ten-years-old to continue in math and science. I’m not saying shove flashcards and a science kit in front of them, but maybe asking how they think their Nintendo Wii was created, snorkeling in the ocean and talking about all of the fish and coral you saw, or buying them a telescope for star gazing can make a small difference in the way they view science.

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Blogger Jitender said...

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3/16/10, 4:12 AM  

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