Sometimes I feel as if I belong to a different species than certain other human beings.
BBC4 has been showing programmes in the Horizon series, one of which featured a number of scientists speculating about what happened before the Big Bang. It’s all in the maths apparently – but obviously way beyond my O Level. Another programme about quantum particles suggested that the mass of the universe at the time of the Big Bang was less than that of a proton. Come on … how can that be … and anyway, how do you know this stuff!
At the weekend there was a programme about Voyager and how even though it had now travelled far beyond Neptune, we were still able to receive messages and also send instructions the other way, in order to turn off pieces of equipment as a way of conserving energy. My rudimentary logic concerning communication is that there has to be some form of connection. Essentially it’s two tin cans and a piece of string. Of course this may be infra-red or radio waves, but the principle is the same.
This means we have the equivalent of a piece of string between a big dish in America and a puny spacecraft 3 billion miles away. See how far away your TV remote works and do the sums. Humans designed and built this technology, yet how many of us – the same species don’t forget – struggle to make simple things work.
You’ve got to admire these humans – and also Bill Tutte (24 year-old codebreaker) and Tommy Flowers (telephone engineer who designed and built the first electronic computer) who featured in last night’s programme about Bletchley Park. Their brains are at a different stage of evolution than the rest of us it seems.