David Moseley

ET, home phoned

2012-05-29 08:42

David Moseley

In a dreary week where all the talk in South Africa centred around a little prick and a newspaper editor who managed to insert herself and her brand so expertly into the story that she became the story (and a nauseatingly boring one at that), it’s quite possibly time for us to all enjoy a little perspective.

In the week that was, let’s look at the important things that happened around the world:

In Miami, a naked man was shot 12 times after he refused to stop eating the face of his homeless victim. Naked. Face eating. Twelve times. Savvy and well-read readers will know that this heralds the start of the Zombie Apocalypse. Buy your baked beans now.

Nineteen miners were trapped in an old Northern Cape mine. Ten of them died. They’d gone into the old mine to search for diamonds because, with 95% unemployment in their region, scrabbling through a dangerous and disused mine is actually more appealing to them than sitting around doing nothing. Oh, and they needed money for food.

And of course, let’s not forget Syria, where so far since Sunday over 30 children have been massacred. Because, you know, that’s what you do when you have a gun.

Marty, I’ve built a time machine

But never mind all that, because here, a fucking painting managed to generate more headlines than the incredible news that we are just one phone call away from discovering ET. That’s right, suckers. We are going to phone ET’s home.

In amongst the moralising, hurt feelings and paint flinging of the last few days comes the stunning news that South Africa will host the largest portion of the Square Kilometre Array (or SKA). So, apart from a Jamaican influenced calypso blues form of music, what is SKA? For the science, I now hand the baton over to Dr Kelvin Kemm, a nuclear physicist, who wrote the following in the Sunday Independent (I buy papers with the best front page pictures, not because someone told me to):

“SKA will be a radio telescope. It monitors radio waves rather than light.” Meaning, of course, that if ALF was tuning in to Highveld, we’d soon know about it. “Few realise that astronomers can generate accurate pictures built up from radio waves.” True. I did not know that.

But here’s the really good stuff: “The radio waves that astronomers want to view have been travelling through space since the birth of the universe, so when they get a snapshot of these waves, astronomers will actually see a picture that was created at the beginning of time.” (No religious folk, that doesn’t mean we’ll actually be able to see Adam and Eve cavorting in the Garden).

In essence, SKA will be able to see back in time. But wait (in your best Verimark voice), there’s more. SKA will be so sensitive (just like our president) that, “if there are alien beings living on another planet orbiting a nearby star we will be able to detect their TV broadcasts.” And so, one of the greatest unanswered questions of our time will finally be resolved: is the scariest horror movie in all of alien life called… Human?

I’m no man of science, but I’ve watched everything from Alien to Event Horizon to Galaxy Quest. Space is undeniably cool. And in a fortnight where a South African-born man sent his SpaceX Falcon 9 ‘Dragon’ to dock with the International Space Station (making his the first private company to launch and dock a vehicle to the ISS) and where a bunch of clever South Africans won the honour of hosting the world’s first viable time machine, space has never been cooler.

Do yourself a favour. Check this out www.skatelescope.org and www.spacex.com. Learn about stuff that matters. Not trivial, over opinionated fluff that makes us all look like fools.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

Send your comments to David

News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24



24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.