Why Space Porn Is Important to Science

Why Space Porn Is Important to Science

The opinions expressed in this news editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Escapist.


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Space porn. A crude, yet descriptively apt name for spectacular images of the cosmos. You don't have to be an astronomer to appreciate these pictures that capture a glimpse of the majesty of what lies beyond our little world; in fact, it isn't at all uncommon to see people with little to no interest in science nonetheless marvel at space pics, liking them on Facebook and even setting them as their desktop wallpaper.

Astronomy itself, as a field of study, fails to evoke this same sense of awe among the masses. Sure, you'll have the few, like myself and some among you readers, that remain fascinated by the small advances we continue to make in our understanding of the universe. But public interest in space exploration peaked with the lunar landings. The Mars rover saw somewhat of a resurgence, but since then, the public seems to have become jaded to the headlines.

Space launches no longer inspire awe. Instead, people scoff at news of repeated delays in launching rockets - which, we should all take a moment to appreciate, is literally rocket science, the thing we use as our yard stick for the most difficult activity imaginable. So many new exoplanets continue to be discovered beyond our Solar System by Kepler - including two new Earth-likes this week - that people don't know whether they should still care. Over the years, there have been so many headlines suggesting that evidence for life on Mars may have been found that when some of the most significant evidence ever published was released this week, it wasn't met with the level of public interest it warranted.

In short, we, as a society, have grown impatient. When we don't see immediate, tangible results that can be represented with striking imagery - like a man planting a flag on the moon - we stop caring. We are culturally focused on destinations rather than journeys, on reward rather than struggle.

Every failure, setback, and negative test result is as important to science as the successes, but scientists will forever struggle to convey that to the public. And as public interest decreases, so does funding, and without funding, progress grinds to a halt.

That's why space porn is important to science. That's why this new, higher-resolution image of one of Hubble's most spectacular photos is more significant than its use as desktop wallpaper may suggest. Apart from the immeasurable amount of data in the image that scientists will be dissecting for years to come, this is a picture of the finish line. This is the striking imagery that reminds us of what's out there and why it's worth pursuing. This is the kind of symbol that captures the pioneering spirit of humanity and will inspire continued interest in space exploration.

Ultimately, it is not the work of any individual scientist that will be most meaningful to the advancement of science, but rather how widely our culture embraces science. Space imagery is able to transcend the realm of scientific analysis and be viewed as art, something that defines culture.

So bring on the space porn.

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I thought this was an article about Trials in Tainted Space.
I am disapointed.

Well, that wasn't the first image my mind conjured up after reading the title.

I thought space porn would be about a Neil DeGrasse Tyson-lookalike coming over to fix a flux capacitor for a sexy astronaut / alien.

Don't judge me.

OT: I'm probably gonna get hated for this, but one of my pet peeves is when random people go "I love science!!ONE!!!". No you don't. You like the results, and only a few that you can somewhat understand. You don't give a shit about the process.

SKBPinkie:
I thought space porn would be about a Neil DeGrasse Tyson-lookalike coming over to fix a flux capacitor for a sexy astronaut / alien.

Don't judge me.

OT: I'm probably gonna get hated for this, but one of my pet peeves is when random people go "I love science!!ONE!!!". No you don't. You like the results, and only a few that you can somewhat understand. You don't give a shit about the process.

Trying to link a relevant Twitter post...

I fucking LOVE science. *is handed peer reviewed journal* Haha nonono I meant CGI pictures of space with misattributed quotes as captions— shut up, mike (@shutupmikeginn) December 17, 2014

[script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"][/script]

Space porn. A crude, yet descriptively apt name for spectacular images of the cosmos

And here I thought it was about rule 34 pics of Star Wars. Oh well. The pics of cosmos are also nice, I suppose.

Don't call it that with Giant Space Hand there! You'll give people the wrong idea!

I thought the article would be about how the picture looks like penises.

Ah, just look at those majestic cosmic dongs.

FalloutJack:
Don't call it that with Giant Space Hand there! You'll give people the wrong idea!

As the chap above me notes, those aren't fingers, my friend.

Zykon TheLich:

FalloutJack:
Don't call it that with Giant Space Hand there! You'll give people the wrong idea!

As the chap above me notes, those aren't fingers, my friend.

That joke starts here: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/7.868332-New-Stunning-Image-of-Famous-Nebula-Revealed

Now, please help me with this bleach. I need to clean my brain.

I thought this would be about...oh, nevermind. Though, not sure how important public interest is to funding, the decision gets made at a level far removed from the masses.

Well they've got to do something to pass the time on the international space station. Just... keep a tissue on hand. And hold it close. Misfires not appreciated.

AxelxGabriel:
I thought the article would be about how the picture looks like penises.

This is exactly what I thought when the images were first posted. Was hoping they wrote an article about how important space genitalia is to our future.

Everybody, I think the thing that we're all missing from this article is that Aslan's face is on the bottom right below the *ahem* protrusions. We found Space Narnia!
Still, I was psyched when the potential evidence of life on Mars was revealed earlier.

AxelxGabriel:
I thought the article would be about how the picture looks like penises.

Gives a whole new meaning to the name Pillars of Creation.

Someone writes an insightful article about the nature of scientific progress and its dynamic with those that it is progressing and the entire thread is about how they expected tits. Dammit guys, why do you think scientists are working so... hard?

The problem is that these days, people think that science is only worthwhile if it leads directly to smaller cell phones. In the meantime, research into ways of growing more varieties of bacteria turned up a potential new class of antibiotics in a time where some strains of disease are resisting our current last-resort stuff. It's that sort of accidental, off-target discovery that's given us a lot of advancements, and which makes a variety of scientific research not only worthwhile but important.

It sure would be nice if stuff that helps us advance as a species wasn't tied to how entertained your average person is by it.

Scars Unseen:
Well they've got to do something to pass the time on the international space station. Just... keep a tissue on hand. And hold it close. Misfires not appreciated.

Considering the lack of gravity you'd want something stronger than a tissue, and to secure yourself too....

..... what? Not my fault that physics go wonky in space...... <.< >.>

ShenCS:
Someone writes an insightful article about the nature of scientific progress and its dynamic with those that it is progressing and the entire thread is about how they expected tits. Dammit guys, why do you think scientists are working so... hard?

in one of the podcasts in 2012 said: "I used to write well though out political commentary, but then i gave up because i realized that a video of a weasel on a treadmill will have a million times more likes"

This statement seems to be very true to this day.

Yes i listen to old podcast. no its not weird damnit!

If the Hubble had been rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise when it took the picture, that nebula may very well have been called The E In MC Squared. And that's really the full importance all this human naming of random patterns. I'm surprised there isn't a rapper out there named MC Squared who does physics ditties like They Might Be Giants. Or is there?

I just checked. There is.

 

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