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MONDAY, JULY 04, 2011
Stephen Colbert soon to be sent to space
Let me preface this by saying - I'm quite a fan of Stephen Colbert and, in fact, much to the chagrin of some, a bigger fan of his than of Jon Stewart. However, I must admit: If humanity faced extinction, and it were up to some brilliant Aliens to reconstruct humans by analyzing our DNA, I wouldn't really want a world filled with Stephen Colberts. For one, the oversaturation of Colberts would result in an overall lack of humor, as Colbert's success largely hinges on his ability to poke fun at others. But besides that, there are far better specimens to repopulate the earth with.

That's why it comes as somewhat a peculiar sign that Stephen Colbert's DNA is being sent off into space. (see: Stephen Colbert to have his DNA sent into space) Without denying Colbert's comedic brilliance, has he truly attained such stature to be immortalized forever among the other greats who have walked this planet? Or is this just an obvious note on NASA's part that they're really not taking themselves, and their missions all that seriously anymore.

Has a diehard Beatles fan, I'd always found it odd - though interesting - that NASA had sent a few Beatles songs up into space. The most recent time being last February '08 when Across the Universe was beamed into space. But when you consider how vast space is, the chance that this signal would be picked up is pretty slim - let alone understood. Perhaps the bug-eyed guys prefer radio-static. My point really is though - well, what is their point in doing all this? All that comes to mind is just the desire to generate some media buzz about themselves - to keep NASA relevant in pop-culture. Hard to do, when Richard Branson is so keen on sending anyone - including himself - up into space. Assuming they can afford a ticket.

Why else send up Stephen Colbert's DNA? Do we really want a man famous for his sarcastic wit to be humankind's ambassador to the aliens? Maybe he's good with first impressions, but there are many other notables that I can think of. Sending up Colbert is an appeal to the college student age group, the Digg users, the YouTube generation, the XKCD readers, the people who would help generate significant buzz at the excitement that one of their favorite media men are being shipped into the beyond. And maybe NASA's deemed this the best way to remain relevant. Afterall, sending off Hulk Hogan's DNA may be more appealing to WWE fans, but when it comes to generating buzz, it's the cult of the internet that has shown how much more effective they can be. Consider the iPhone, which to my knowledge, was never once advertised.

Here's my real problem with all this though. For 2008, NASA received $17.3 billion in funding from the American Government.1 That number may not be particularly staggering compared to other government funded projects, but $17.3 billion is one hefty sum of money, all the same. Particularly when the two major projects so far have been beaming a song - albeit, one of my favorite songs - into space, and soon sending Colbert's DNA encoded on a Hard Drive off into infinity.

So I'm left with one question to pose to the masses: Should NASA continue being government funded?
Should NASA continue being government funded?

Be sure to leave some comments, let me know where you stand on the issue!

NASA is sending Colbert up to space. Who did the University of Sweden send to space? Not Abba, the only Swedish export I can think of other than IK...




This publicity stunt helps Colbert more than NASA... by a lot.
REPLIES: alishahnovin



Replying to claudia:
Very true. Colbert's whole shtick is to be a larger than life egomaniac. Colbert's goal completely overshadows any goal NASA could possibly have here. NASA comes off as nothing more than a group of geeky guys with calculators, trying to look cool by hanging out with the funny guy.

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