What’s in a headline

Space, astronomy and related topics are definitely a hobby/interest of mine and I try to keep up with developments at least once a week and came across the below which has certainly brought a raised eyebrow.

http://www.rememberthe13th.com/ – “The Biggest Discovery That will shake the earth, It will never be the same again.”

Hmm…

The issue I have with the As a headline is it is really far to open for interpretation and a lot of media outlets these days seem to go for the concept of shock and awe to grab your attention and don’t necessarily convey the reality of what the underlying article is really about.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/01/nasa_find_tupperware_on_titan/ – TUPPERWARE FOUND ON MOON of Saturn (Plastic food boxes boldly go where no plastic food boxes have gone before (Titan)) is a prime example of this.

The headline is designed to convey the actual presence of Tupperware on a moon of Saturn when in reality a chemical that is involved in the process of creation of the plastics used for Tupperware is what was discovered, rather world of difference there guys… A more apt headline in my opinion would be “Chemical used to make Tupperware found on Titan” or if you wanted to add some more flare/humour “Tupperware from space – Key chemical in creation of Tupperware found on Titan!”

Sensationalist headlines aside what the world consideres to be a huge discovery and what a scientist considers groundbreaking are two very different things. Given the discovery of water from soil with Curiosity on Mars and the fact the facebook/twitter links at the bottom this discovery (if real) is likely to relate to something found on Mars. Given that we have already worked out that water vapour can be released from the soil it wouldn’t be a stretch in my opinion for complex organic molecules to be discovered which whilst not necessarily life in itself could be a building block for more complex organisms or evidence of previous presence of life.

If I was a scentist I would definitely consider it rather groundbreaking especially in the field of exobiology, for the bulk of the world however it doesn’t really change a damn thing and many people especially with the issues facing the world as a whole at the moment probably wouldn’t even care. Me however, I would find it awesome and a reason to raise my glass to science and push for further investment, exploration in these areas as the logical expansion of our capitalistic viral race.

On the other side of the coin however, I find the timing of it’s appearance somewhat interesting. The United States government which is in control of NASA is currently in a state of shutdown due to the ideological differences of the Republican and Democrat parties over the newly introduced health care reforms so a lot of things deemed non-essential are currently closed and their workers from what I can gather are going unpaid. Even websites which once the cost of Hardware (servers, internet connectivity) and domain registration fees have their costs virtually sunk and have very little in the way of ongoing operational expenses are currently pointing to a notice message.

One of these is NASA, with the bulk of it’s employees currently on furlough.

The domain rememberthe13th was registered on the 1st of October, which was just after the shutdown came into effect so effectively it would not have been able to receive funding from official sources as they will not even run their own website or update existing social media sites so it would have needed to be privately funded. Now domains are dirt cheap, as is webhosting the domain name resolves to an IP address of 192.111.149.82 which seems to link to a company called Adixy where you can buy youtube views, twitter followers, facebook likes and “reach your marketing potential” so it is a shared server. The IP address is allocated to CraftingHost which seems to be an incredibly low cost virtual server provider.

So based on the services with which that ip address is shared with I am going to lean towards this being more of a phishing site looking to capture your details to then use towards other needs taking advantage of the fact that only mission control at NASA is currently in operation so they can take advantage of the shutdown whilst no one will really speak out against it. Whilst I won’t use the share functions on the site and expose access to my underlying credentials or add my email to be updated I will take a look after the release date to find out what it is out of sheer curiosity.

In the end I hope I am wrong and something awesome is announced 🙂


Edit:

Hmm I notice that they are bringing forward the date of the announcement due to “a change of plans” one thing I find interesting however is just when they consider to be the 6th of October. As at the time of writing the countdown clock has 5 hours and 7 minutes remaining on it (6:52pm GMT +8). Wait, what? Isn’t NASA’s headquarters in Washington DC (and currently closed) and the time there is currently 6:52am 10/05 so 5 hours from now is going to peg the time there at about lunch time on the 5th of October.

7 hours from now will only be the 6th of October in countries GMT +5 or greater, I guess that is an “Oops”


Edit 2:

Well at least it wasn’t a rickroll video I guess, but sadly it was predictable with someone trying to take advantage of NASA being unavailable to dismiss it and was just a promotion for some music video.

Whilst I do somewhat understand the concept of viral marketing used today, personally I believe you should be able to market your goods/service without trying to piggy back off something else.

At least my hopes were not dashed, but right now really would be a good time for NASA to have something Earth shattering. They don’t have their shuttles anymore and with the state of the US economy they really can’t afford to be innovators in todays’ world.

Is always China I guess.

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