Monday, 5 August 2013

Rainbow Mansion & Space McDonald's

As our time in the Silicon Valley draws to a close, my friends and I have been making the most of what it has to offer outside of our work at NASA Ames Research Center.  First up, we visited the Rainbow Mansion. A communal house full of socially concious, international and driven people, the mansion hosted a lecture by Pascal Lee, co-founder and chairman of the Mars Institute and planetary scientist at the SETI Institute. His lecture on human settlement on Mars discussed colonisation of the red planet in a realistic and very much obvious second step for man and womankind. I mean duh..of course we're moving to Mars before we over-exploit Earth and poison our atmosphere right? Right. 

After dinner with entrepreneur Chris Kemp, CEO of cloud computing company Nebula (you may remember him from my '2013 So Far' post), we visited what can only be described as 'Space McDonalds'. It doesn't house the usual burgers and fries but instead, vintage space footage from NASA's Lunar Orbiter mission that was sent to the Moon prior to Neil Armstrong's mission in 1969. As part of the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP), previously unopened audio and video footage from the 60s is restored and digitised under Ronald McDonald's roof. As you can see from my photos, the McDonalds hasn't changed much, with Apollo era footage stored and masquerading as Strawberry Jelly and Hotcake Syrup!

The Computer History Museum held a Byte Night event for Silicon Valley interns this week. The largest museum for the preservation of artefacts from the Information Age -  basically tech-nerd heaven. In the photos you can see my friends John, David and I trying and failing to compete against the artificially-intelligent computer system, Watson. I even spotted one of my childhood favourites, Playstation 1 on display! Now if that doesn't make me feel old I don't know what will.. :(

Space company Planet Labs gave us a quick tour of their San Francisco office within which they are designing, manufacturing and testing small satellites known as CubeSats. Set to launch 28 by the end of the year, the company are dedicated to monitoring the environment . This window into the ever-evolving, beautiful Blue Marble is useful for for applications such as precision agriculture and land-use monitoring, not to mention help society as a whole better understand the planet and cater to its needs.

My step stop on the Silicon Valley tour is a social networking company that I'm pretty sure most of you guys use everyday. Look out for my next post to find out what tech company I acted like a complete tourist at next!


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