5 Stupid, Stupid Things Humanity Has Shot Into Space
Ever since man first gazed up at the night sky, we knew we'd one day need to put some shit up in it. It would take centuries and many failed experiments with elastic bands and cannons, but eventually we succeeded. Rockets and satellites, yes, but less obvious things as well. Dogs. Convertibles. David Bowie.
And that's only the beginning.
NASA Recently Sent A Bunch of Human Spooge To The International Space Station
NASA has been conducting a scientific study called Micro-11, whose experimental method involves the unique step of shooting sperm into space. By rocket, not some titanic orgasm, if you're wondering. And this is completely ... reasonable? Compared to some of the other things on this list, sperm is one of the more sensible things we've put into space. For one, we've got so much of it down here on Earth which we waste every day, and two, they're doing some good with it up in space. No, not filming clips for Pornhub, that's awful. Science. They're doing science. So not insane at all.
Still, it's space sperm. The government will shut us down if we don't talk about space sperm, so let's get into it.
So why do we need space sperm? Well, if we ever want a colony of people in space, the ability of sperm to perform in microgravity will be relevant. Similar deal if we ever hope to put a permanent settlement on Mars or the moon. And there's reason to suspect the spermies will have trouble in this environment. Previous research with animal sperm has shown that it doesn't quite behave in microgravity as it should. And even if we never want to make space babies, studying sperm in microgravity might reveal things we can't see on Earth -- information that might be useful for improving old-fashioned terrestrial fertilization, as the kids call it these days.
The tests involve nothing gross -- just microscopes, chemicals, and presumably very well-sealed containers. No word on how the samples were collected, whether NASA raided a sperm bank or ran some kind of in-house raffle or something. However it came off (heh), we can only hope that it happened at great expense to the taxpayers.
We Sent Andy Warhol's Dick Pic to the Moon
While we're on the subject of private parts (although we're rarely far from it), let's discuss the dick pic we've placed on the moon. You see, when the Apollo missions finished their work on the moon and left, they didn't take everything with them. A large portion of the lander module got left behind each time, and given the relaxed parking restrictions on the moon, they're all still there.
One of which includes a dick pic.
That image is supposedly inscribed on a small ceramic tile about the size of a thumbnail planted on the Apollo 12 lunar lander. This was part of a covert plan to put art on the moon, each of the six images made by a different artist. Warhol's is the one in the upper left, and as you can see, it's substantially dong-shaped. Warhol claimed the drawing was merely an artistic reinterpretation of his initials, and sure, Andy. Fine. If you don't buy that but want to maintain your innocence, you could also consider it a rocket ship, or a finger with a band-aid, or a short but girthy dildo.
The rest of us know it's dong, though.
And here's the best news of all. There's no atmosphere on the moon, and effectively no erosion. Not only is this dick pic still there, there is a very good chance it will be the last surviving piece of human art ever. Which is not only fitting, but will also give the aliens who eventually show up looking for Doritos something to remember us by.
We've Bombarded Some Poor Planet With Hundreds Of Inane Text Messages
Think for a moment about the level of professionalism and craftsmanship which goes into a Doritos commercial. It seems ridiculous that a 30-second show about corn triangles is made by professionals with years of experience, but they are. Doritos commercials are maybe not the height of our culture, but they're not that far off the top.
Now imagine you took all that professionalism and replaced it with the exact opposite: the mewlings of hundreds of internet strangers, a random selection of photos and drawings and text messages stripped from a social media site. Because we've sent that into space too. And not even from a good social media site either, but fucking Bebo. In 2008, Bebo sent 501 messages collected from its site to Gliese 581d, a planet some 21 light years away.
Again, fucking Bebo.
And what words of wisdom did the users of Bebo send to the aliens? Wishes for world peace, pictures of famous people, and lame jokes. Like requests to not eat humanity's brains or to "please bring a carton of milk if you come to visit," real knee-slappers like that. It strains credibility to imagine the point of any of this. Was Bebo imagining there was life on this world that can receive radio signals, and decipher their particular binary format, and parse the humor, and then not roll their eyes? What terrifyingly narrow window of technological competence and comedic illiteracy would this alien race need to possess?
It'd be the alien equivalent of Bebo itself, wouldn't it? Well that makes sense, then.
We Sent 100,000 Craigslist Postings Into Open Space
As you're probably seeing by now, there's a pretty low barrier to pointing a radio antenna into space and spraying whatever nonsense you want out there. And as you'd hope and expect, entire companies have sprung up specifically to take your money while doing this. And yes, you're correct, they do have some of the ropiest-looking websites imaginable.
That company in particular, Deep Space Communications Network, managed to get itself in the news a couple times by broadcasting garbage at literally no one. The first time appears to be in 2005, when they bundled up 100,000 postings from Craigslist and fired it off into space. No particular part of space; they were just spinning their antenna around at the sky. So if you were hoping to finally get a taker on that 13-year-old ad for a stained couch, don't get your hopes up.
It was effectively another waste of a perfectly good radio telescope, although considering that Alpha Centauri is about four and a half light years away, and plenty of time has elapsed for a round trip radio conversation to have happened, this stunt may have inadvertently proved the system is barren of intelligent life, simply from the fact that we have yet to receive a signal to "fucking knock it off."
The Unhinged Ramblings Of Turkmenistan's Dictator Are Orbiting The Earth
But what if you've got something insane, inane, or both to put in space, and you want to actually put it there? Launching something heavier than photons is expensive. Spraying blog posts into space doesn't require much effort, but putting your physical diary there does. At minimum, it'd require a lot of money and not a lot of common sense.
Which brings us to the former president of Turkmenistan. For 30 years, Saparmurat Niyazov ruled his country with a stupid iron fist. He had his portrait put on walls everywhere, he renamed months of the year after himself, and he once changed the word for "bread" to be his mother's name. He was great. It was the law. He also notably wrote a book about everything that made Turkmenistan great -- which was largely rambling, poorly documented stories about himself -- and then made everyone in the country read it.
But it wasn't enough to make his poor citizens read the thing; he wanted the rest of the Universe to suffer it as well. So in 2005, he had a copy fired into space. "Just park it near the Craigslist ads," we imagine he instructed.
The book only made it as far as orbit, mind you, so it's not threatening any aliens just yet. It's also apparently in a low enough orbit that it won't hang out up there forever. It will come crashing back down in 150 years or so. So keep those eyes skyward. If you happen to spot a particularly stupid shooting star in the night sky, you now know what it is.
It's just as fun to get a map of the stars and think about all this insane stuff up there at the same time.
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