John Carter vs. Mark Watney


Salah satu penyesalan terbesar saya adalah melewatkan Interstellar di bioskop. So, when The Martian came out, I rushed to the nearest cinema. By myself. And it soon became one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

The pace, the character, and the mood built in the story were superb. I really-really-really love it.

Kalau DPR kita betul-betul mau mewajibkan ada pesan moral dalam setiap film, maka The Martian memenuhi kriteria itu buat saya. As Watney said at the end of the movie: solve one f****** problem at a time. That is one hell of an inspirational quote over there.

Di suatu seminar setelah “The Martian experience”, saya dan para senior berkumpul, bergosip tentang apa saja. Termasuk soal The Martian. (Just a heads up, they are a bunch of “lecturers & scientists”. The ones that work at a reputable university and get paid by the government.)

Mengejutkan buat saya bagaimana mereka terkejut waktu saya bilang bahwa The Martian is quite scientifically accurate (except for few things that need to be made up for the sake of  story development). Di level yang lebih pedas lagi, mereka kembali mengejutkan saya dengan ide bahwa The Martian is less scientific than John Carter.

John Carter? Saya nggak salah dengar kan?

When I rumbled crazily about Andy Weir’s talk about The Martian and the science behind it at Google, they were really not into that. The idea that The Martian was quite scientifically accurate was blasphemous to them. Enough said.

A memory flashes my mind. A colleague, also a good friend of mine, was once saying how ridiculous it is to dream about colonizing mars, or moon. As a proud geek as I am, I insisted that colonizing mars and moon is possible in the future. Possibly not in our lifetime. Possibly we will be (long) dead by the time it happens.

(Oh No! I wish I will still be alive by the glorious time of interstellar travel.)

Then BOOM!

Mars One mission happens. Due in 2020. I am pretty much sure that we both will still be alive by then. Of course, assuming that nothing fatal is happening to any of us by the launching date of the mission.

So here are the billion dollars worth questions:

(1) Why can’t we be more ambitious?

I mean, they are expecting heaven after life, thus they are being properly religious. Isn’t it also some sort of being ambitious? Then why don’t we be more ambitious and positive towards science too? After all we just need to sit and watch as humanity progresses. One f****** step at a time. All we need to do is just keep doing what we’re pretty good at, and share the glory of being a part of the very same living beings who make remarkable progress.

(2) Why do we have problem accepting scientific evidence? I mean in science, anyone (including us) gets the chance to disprove anything we doubt, also using scientific method. Why do we easily believe the most atrocious fairy tales ever be told on earth instead?

Being skeptical is gold for every scientist. In fact, you have to be skeptical to be one. But being skeptical toward the “right” thing, apparently, is another story. How come we have problem with people trying to find life (in any forms) outside the earth, but we are suddenly okay with people telling stories of life after death in the heaven. (You know the one with wine river and tens of virgins who are willing to be your sex slave.)

Look at the probability alone. Look at the number of planets that is potential for extraterrestrial life to bloom. And the earth is fortunate to have people whose job is finding those alien lives, at the very same second I am writing this sh**** blogpost.

And my final question:

(3) What is your problem? You don’t have the ability to pick the “right” problem to be skeptical about, but you still consider yourself a scientist?

I am over and out.

PS. As always, here is the mandatory pug photo to brighten up your day.

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