Wednesday

Wednesday 26/02/2003Walking back home from work, the Evening Standard hawkers catch my attention. It's bad form for journalists to bash publications for which they don't work, but when it comes to the Standard and its sister paper, the Daily Mail, it's hard for an unrepentant Guardianista to stay his tongue.

Wednesday 26/02/2003
Walking back home from work, the Evening Standard hawkers catch my attention. It's bad form for journalists to bash publications for which they don't work, but when it comes to the Standard and its sister paper, the Daily Mail, it's hard for an unrepentant Guardianista to stay his tongue. But I'll leave the rant about reactionary poisonous propaganda until another day. My lifelong boycott stays in place: although the banner today is lacking the usual venom about Blair, immigrants or Red Ken. "London: Amazing view from space", it says. Has to be on the Web, right? Right. Taken by the crew of the Intenational Space Station, this picture is truly wonderful. There are higher resolution versions, and Londoners can try and spot their house by finding the nearest large park and dead-reckoning across to their street. I'm in the big glowing 0207 bit in the middle, so that's nice. But it's striking how much the picture looks like any number of distant galaxies glimpsed by Hubble as it points its lens in the other direction. There's other fine space news this week: a large chunk of money has been put aside by NASA and its paymasters to get a Pluto probe underway. If all goes well, a suitably equipped lump of hardware should go whooshing past the planet -- OK, Kuiper belt object. Objects, if you count Charon. -- in 2015 or so, if it makes its 2006 launch date. There are good reasons to rush: Pluto and pal is heading away from the sun on its elliptic orbit and the atmosphere will freeze out soon. Get there while it's hot (hot being a relative term, of course. Autumn on Pluto is even chillier than Aberdeen). And a moment's silence for Pioneer 10, which finally went silent after 30 years of zooming outwards towards the edge Solar System. Its thermonuclear power plant finally ran out of ergs: by the time it gets anywhere near another star in two million years time the last dregs of radioactivity should have cooled to a safe level and we won't get hauled up for galactic dumping.