Saturday, January 26
My writeup of the Mars Society UK symposium, weighing in at just under 5000 words along with numerous photos, is now online.
If you had £100 to bet on when the first person would set foot on Mars, what date would go for? Also, what odds of survival would be required for you to be persuaded to travel to Mars?
Robert Zubrin: July 20th 2019 (audience laughs) – it’s the 50th anniversary of Apollo Moon Landing, and in any case it’ll probably take ten years or so for the politics to become right for a commitment to a humans to Mars mission. If there’s 75% chance of survival, I’m game.
Martyn Fogg: I’d just like to be alive when it happens, so thirty to forty years from now would be fine. I’d need a 90% chance of survival to go to Mars.
Charles Frankel: I’m with Robert, July 20th 2019. But I think perhaps there will be a meteorite shower causing the landing to be moved up to July 14th… (French Bastille Day). As long as there’s a 60 to 70% chance of survival, I’d go.
Mark Sims: 2024, and I’d go with a 60% chance of survival.
David Cullen: 15th August – it’s my birthday!
Thursday, January 24
Philip Pullman just won the Whitbread award for Book of the Year with The Amber Spyglass, a feat beating JK Rowling who last year won the best Children's Book, but not Book of the Year. In honour of this, I'm going to link to a great short essay written by Pullman on How to Write a Book. It seems like great advice to me, although I've never gotten past page 20, let alone page 70...
I heard that an internship fair was going on in the Guildhall in Cambridge this evening, and since I, like all other second year students, am currently sensing the end of my degree approaching inexorably, I decided that it was probably worth a look in. After dinner at hall, I set off to the event, noting with interest the large number of people milling about the entrance toting bags full of freebies. My special 'networking' superpowers thusly activated, I strode into the entrance, ducking underneath some suited students juggling flashing balls. I waited a bit in a queue full of people dressed far more smartly than I was, and then was finally admitted into the glorious fair full of expensive stands with earnest helpers and serious-looking students.
My initial reaction was of disappointment, and it didn't change much while I was there, as all but one or two of the stands could be fitted into three categories: management consultants, banks and law firms. This, my friends, is the shining future that awaits graduates from Cambridge - at least, that's what you get to do for an internship. No doubt there were some who were impressed by all of this, but for reasons which I don't think require explaining here, I honestly don't see the attraction of working in any of those companies. I suppose it's as much a comment on my peculiar character that I say this as anything else, but then I can say what the hell I want.
I noticed some students had dressed up in suits and ties for the event. In comparison, I was wearing my best tracksuit bottoms (not just normal Adidas, but stylish Adidas, thangyewverrmuch).
I picked up a brochure from IBM, and then was forced to fill out a questionnaire about the internship fair, having spent something like five minutes inside the place.
I had a far more enjoyable and productive time watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with a friend back at my halls of residence.