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December 19, 2010

Heliocentrism: A Passing Fad

by brainoids

OK, I have to jump on the bandwagon and add some Google Ngram search results of books through time.

Battle of the Planets (remember BOTP?):

Heliocentrism does seem to have been a passing fad; from the mid-1970’s on, Earth has risen ascendant as our gaze turned inwards vs outwards.  (Once I figure out how to decode the raw ngram data, I’ll plot and add “Earth” vs “Everything else in the solar system”).

In other news, Uranus gets absolutely no love, and Jupiter (whether the god or the gas giant) has steadily lost stock over time.   Meanwhile Venus-envy exhibits an odd 20-year periodicity that I would love to understand.

Little Green Men (and Women)

Amongst our nearby neighbors, the battle between Moon and Mars wages on.    For a nice summary of Mars fever, see the early pages of Mars Wars, and in shapshot, Mars “canal” interest grew from 1877-1894, culminating in publication of Lowell’s “Mars” in 1894.   “War of the Worlds” followed in 1898.

Stranger from Venus” came in 1953, along with quite a bit of interest in Venusians.

Things To Do In Space

Lest we forget that what Von Braun really wanted was a Space Station.   Meanwhile, the dominance of “remote sensing” somewhat confirms the observations about navel-gazing cited in the first graphic.

Here’s a link to some more “out there stuff” (pun intended).

Mine’s Bigger

Some early generations of rockets.

What I find most interesting about this one is the “earn a place in history books” phenomenon.

Mine’s Still Bigger

Some newer generations of rockets.   I had no idea the Europeans had hyped Ariane so much.

Though for pure press, STS reigns supreme:

That is also drawn approximately to the same scale that OMB engineers believe to be NASA’s in-house inefficiency.

I’m Giving You all She’s Got

Continuing on the space transportation theme, here’s a perennial throwdown:

Unfortunately, checking the actual search results confirms that the ascendancy of “jump drive” is due to the USB rather than FTL variety.    And wormholes still are the preferred method of interstellar travel.

Dueling Lunchboxes

And, the age-old question:

I’m pretty sure this also means the world is ready for a new franchise.   Something tells me Avatar isn’t it …


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