September 2, 2012

POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAYS: “To boldly go...” – er, “Not so much, eh?”

An older gentleman asked me last night if I’d seen the pictures from Mars. I told him I looked at them daily, and so I do.

I am fifty-five years old; AARP constantly tries to get me to join; I creak when I get up and “colonoscopy” is now supposed to be my watchword.

When was the last time a teenager or young adult tweeted, “Did you see Curiosity land? It was totally amazing!”? Not recently? Been a while?

That’s because they didn’t.

Except for “Mowhawk Guy” (NASA Flight Director Bobak Ferdowski), who is, in fact, an “old guy” at 32 (though he looks like he’s about 20...).

In a completely unscientific survey of the pictures of people who had commented on Curiosity Rover Report (August 31, 2012) from the NASA Curiosity FaceBook page (!/MarsCuriosity) of the 1,261 people who commented on it, whose photos were of a post-adolescent person either male or female and whose age might reasonably be deduced – there were 50 that appeared to be between the ages of 15 and 25.

I don’t want to leap to conclusions from this, but regarding young adults graduating into pure science careers, it’s not particularly heartening: “starting salaries from the Class of 2011 to the Class of 2012, along with examples of occupations graduates within each major might pursue:

Business Degree: Highest-paying academic major: Economics (business/managerial); Examples: Financial manager, accountant/auditor, management analyst

Communications: Highest-paying academic major: Advertising; Examples: Author, public-relations specialist, advertising or promotions manager

Computer sciences: Highest-paying academic major: Computer science; Examples: Postsecondary teacher, computer programmer, computer support specialist

Education: Highest-paying academic major: Special education; Examples: Special education teacher, elementary or middle-school teacher

Engineering: Highest-paying academic major: Computer engineering; Example: Computer software engineer

Health sciences: Highest-paying academic major: Nursing; Examples: Registered nurse

Humanities and social sciences: Highest-paying academic major: Political science/government Examples: Social worker, paralegal or legal assistant, labor-relations specialist

Sciences: Highest-paying academic major: Construction science/management; Examples: Constructions manager (a new career in which an individual or a team oversees a construction project), civil engineer”

Not a single pure science job up there. Of the eight top-paying degrees, working with computers, nursing and civil engineering are the only careers that connect with science.

Scientists are NOT the people we’re graduating from our colleges and while we may still have a reasonably high proportion of Americans graduating from college with a degree of ANY sort, we are by no means the world leaders any more – in fact, we are Number 12 (care to get a T-shirt with THAT printed on it?).

The honor goes to Russia.

May I ask one final, double question?

Q: Who is still sending crewed missions into space when American astronauts go up to the International Space Station and what’s the name of the ship they ride in?

A: The Russians, Soyuz (which means (you should make sure you know) “union”) (

Clearly this doesn't bother anyone but me...(and I'll probably be accused of being a racist because I happen to be a Christian, too).

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