Day 220 of 366: Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

Well, I have never seen so much hugging in my life as I saw on the TV news last night. It is not something one sees every night so it made me sit up and take notice.

The NASA people celebrate by hugging …

It was the men and woman of NASA Laboratory hugging; they were responsible for the landing of the Rover named ‘Curiosity’ that successfully landed on Mars late Sunday (US time).

They got so excited that they began hugging and giving high-fives to each other … but I did notice some anomalies with all this hugging.

Some people could only manage ‘space hugging’ (you know what I mean, hugging but hardly touching?) Clearly uncomfortable, these people were excited enough to attempt hugs without really wanting to. Others went the opposite way and were hugging so hard I thought they would do damage to one another.

But it seemed that it was the top people who simply did the high-five sign and didn’t hug at all. All the newspapers were reporting on it too. The British Telegraph wrote:

“Jubilant scientists hugged, wept and distributed Mars chocolate bars to each other as one of them announced: “Touchdown confirmed. We are wheels down on Mars. Oh, my God.”

Possibly they had spent so much time and money ($2.5 billion) on this project that it tipped them over the edge. Don’t you just love the fact that they gave out Mars Bars? Someone was thinking creatively on that team.

Curiosity landing

For those of us who don’t understand these things, the landing of Curiosity was a huge feat. After a journey that had lasted eight months, and covered 352 million miles of space, Curiosity performed a series of aerial acrobatics before landing safely near the equator. This had been planned for a long long time folks.

A NASA scientist being interviewed said that there was two other ‘rovers’ on Mars at present one called ‘Spirit’ and the other ‘Opportunity’ and these were considered the GEOLOGISTS for NASA while this new rover “Curiosity‘ will act as the SCIENTIST for NASA. From what I can gather, ‘Curiosity’ is looking for signs of life in the soil on Mars.

Christopher Columbus eat your heart out! And hasn’t the art of exploration changed significantly since the days of men in ships taking off to find out what lay beyond their reach?

Did Christopher Columbus have a quiet celebration alone on his ship when he discovered that the world was round and not flat? And when did he know it was round? Possibly when he returned and didn’t go over the edge??

But, he had to wait until he came home to get any hugs or high-fives from the Queen of Spain who sent him. Not like the NASA scientists. No they got stuck into hugging immediately after their success as this news item reports:

“Celebrations by the mission team were so joyous over the next hour that JPL Director Charles Elachi had to plead for calm in order to hold a post-landing press conference. He compared the team to athletic teams that participate in the Olympics.  “This team came back with the gold,” he said. “

And so today folks, I have been having a mini-science lesson because of all this hype over Curiosity. But the thing that started my search was really all this hugging and excitement over NASA’s success. It led me in search of what all the hugging meant.

I learned on Psychology Today that there is a psychology around hugging: what it means, how it affects people, why we need it etc etc. And there were seven different types of hugs: the Sideways hug, the Back Pat, Full-on Hug and the Shoulder Hug  to name a few.  ‘Hugging’ is a huge subject folks.

I wasn’t counting how long these people actually hugged but the Science NOW website says a hug usually lasts about 3 seconds. Yes, and they have even done research into this too with swimmers after they finish a race. No hugs lasting more than 3 seconds!

Because I am more interested in human relationships than scientific achievements, I always notice what people are doing more than I notice what they  are achieving. Hence my writing this blog!  Martians could have been attacking that rover ‘Curiosity’ for all those scientists knew as they ignored their screens and got physical.

Still, I feel good about it all … the hugging that is. Apparently it releases some chemical in the brain and I am sure it made all the NASA people feel great. It seems that even scientists ARE human and it was so nice for a change to see some spirited behaviour in the pursuit of a scientific endeavour. And all that chocolate too would have helped I am sure.

Well done NASA Scientists! You achieved your goal but don’t give up the hugging just yet because when you look up hugs on “Google images” there are an extraordinary number of hugs from political figures.

It seems to me that if politicians are hugging something has to be working …