That’s one small step for chickenkind
I am entirely in favor of anything that will get today’s kids interested in science. And that includes mascots.
After all, I know how powerfully mascots can work. For didn’t Reddy Kilowatt inspire in me a lifelong interest in things electrical? Why, not only do I know how to change a fuse, and – better yet – flip a circuit breaker, I also have rewired many a lamp. I know that you see the lightning before your hear the thunder. And one of my favorite clients ever is an electronics engineering company. I owe it all to Reddy Kilowatt, just as I owe my lifelong commitment to preventing forest fires to Smokey the Bear. And surely it’s the Litterbug who’s prevented me, lo these many years, from hurling Styrofoam cups and beer cans out the car window.
So I’m totally down with Camilla, the rubber chicken who fronts for NASA. As a long-time Muppet fan, I am impressed that she shares a name with Muppet chicken Camilla, and equally impressed that the dudette has her own blog. (Not to menion an interest in Pinterest.)
As an inspiration, she’s working: in April, some California high school students launched a Camilla of their own into space to monitor a solar radiation storm. Broiled (rubber) chicken, anyone? Not really. Camilla was wearing protective gear, and was probably a lot less frightened than her predecessors in space, Laika the Space Dog and Ham the Astrochimp.
The real Camilla is getting some new duds and, for the first time, the job of outfitting this chick has been outsourced.
Personally, I would have preferred to have this task kept local. Way too much has been off-shored of late. If I’d known about Camilla and her sartorial needs, I would have nominated my sister Kathleen* as one who is more than equipped to whip up a suit for a rubber chicken. (Or will be, once she fully recovers from her recent hand surgery and can once again get to her knitting and purling.)
That said, England’s Sue Drage does appear to be amply up for the task she was asked to perform by Camilla’s main squeeze, NASA’s Romeo Durscher, who learned about Sue when he (and Camilla) guested on a local UK radio station that had recently sponsored a knit-athon. (I was going to write “appeared”, but you don’t actually appear on radio, do you?)
That’s Sue there, with rubber chicken avec stylin’ suit that she cooked up from plastic bags. Her hobby, in fact, is knitting with plastic, newspapers, and cardboard. Not only is she a recycler, she’s now an adjunct part of our space program:
'I feel like a rocket scientist or something.’
Probably more ‘something’ than ‘rocket scientist.’ Still…
Source of picture and quote, while I’m at it: The Daily Mail.
One reason I have welcomed the news about Camilla’s new space suit is that a bit of space news I saw in a recent Economist was somewhat more dire.
It seems that NASA, along with the rest of the world, has been slacking off on the amount of monitoring they do of Planet Earth’s health. This type of monitoring, The Economist warns is something we really need to be doing:
With the state of the atmosphere and oceans upset in ways whose consequences are not easily foreseen, and may well prove catastrophic, it becomes an imperative.
And yet, we’re not acting as if it’s particularly imperative at all, at all.
The US is not the only country falling down here, yet it’s disheartening to read:
In the late 1990s NASA used to spend $2 billion a year on Earth observations, but by 2007 that had fallen to $1.3 billion (the costs of a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope rose from around $2 billion to $9 billion over roughly the same period).
Finding nice ladies in the UK to knit space suits for rubber chickens is all well and good. Still, I hope that NASA can redirect more of its attention to things like monitoring the state of the planet. Or we may all end up having to learn how to knit our own protective gear out of whatever waste materials we find washing up once the icecaps melt.
*Based on her talent and creativity, I would nominate Kath even though she was the one who sent me the article on Sue Drage and Camilla with a terse note: WTF. When I know that what she would have written if she’d had more time is: What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals. (Am I right here?)