It's a Micro World after all is a blog dedicated to discussing pretty much whatever I feel like. When I delve into scientific matters it will primarily be discussing microbiology (agricultural, bioenergy, and environmental focus). Otherwise, I'll probably ramble on about sports and life.
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Honestly, I'm surprised that I haven't seen more coverage of the Challenger tragedy in the news or the blogosphere today. It was a pivotal moment in our history, and it seems as if it's being forgotten. With that said, today is the 25th anniversary of the Challenger tragedy. It's hard to believe that I was in grade school when this happened, but I was. I remember watching the launch because Christa McAuliffe, a teacher, was one of the crew members. She was supposed to be the first teacher in space, but instead shared a more ominous fate with the six other NASA astronauts.
Challenger Crew (Courtesy: NASA)
I don't think, at the time at least, that I ever really gave it much thought as to why they were doing what they were doing, just that they died doing it. I certainly don't think Christa McAuliffe went up into space just to be the first teacher in space, though I must admit the challenge in and of itself might have been part of the motivation to do so (it would have been for me). Instead, I think as a teacher, she was doing it to inspire a whole generation of children. As a matter of fact, she was slated to teach lessons from the Shuttle, one of which was entitled: Where We've Been, Where We're Going, Why.
Prior to Challenger (where we had been), men and women had risked their lives to place the human race into space, onto the moon, oribiting the Earth for months at a time. We had experienced one tragedy in Apollo 1, which killed three astronauts. After Challenger (where we were going), we experienced another in the Columbia disaster, which killed seven more.
Sacrifice - Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.
Is it safe to say that these individuals forfeited their life, something I think we can all consider to be something of high value, in the pursuit of something greater? I think each of these men and women thought so. They knew they were undertaking something extremely risky (at least compared to what most of us experience in a typical day), but chose to do it anyways. I think this not only made them brave, but shows that they believed in something greater than themselves.
Yes, I realize that I'm idealizing these men and women. I will readily admit that I am biased, and I do consider them national heroes. Why? I think they risked their lives so that we, as a nation, could push the envelope and advance our understanding in matters of education, engineering, science, and technology. They didn't merely go up and come back down for the sake of it, and while the motive to put a man into space may have started as a military exercise, I think it certainly moved beyond that. Each shuttle was laden with experiments, many designed by civilian scientists, to give us insight into our environment that we couldn't typically get otherwise. When looked at from that point of view, these men and women sacrificed their lives so we, as a human race, could advance our scientific knowledge.
Therefore, we as a scientific community, owe them a particular debt of gratitude. They gave their lives so that the rest of us could come to a better understanding of our world, and the worlds beyond our own. To which I say: Thank you Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chafee. Thank you Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnick, Ronald McNair, Sharon Christa McAuliffe, and Gregory Jarvis. Thank you Rick Husband, William McCool, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson, Laura Clark, and Ilan Ramon. Thank you for your dedication and thank you for your service to the human race. May we never forget the ultimate sacrifice you made.
We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of Earth' to 'touch the face of God. - High Flight, John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
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Ron McNair was our state hero. I remember being a shortass watching on TV in school as the damn thing burnt up.
The local news channel is doing a week of remembrance. Maybe it's a Florida thing, but I agree there should be much more coverage on this.
I was watching it on TV when it happened. I was in shock- I couldn't believe it was real.
It was a very sad day.
Yeah, it was an extremely sad day. I remember where I was for both shuttle tragedies. It's one of those things you just don't forget.