Sara's Column: Voyager I, 'Doctor Who' and a bit of randomness

NASA announced Thursday that its Voyager I probe is now roaming interstellar space.
Sep 12, 2013

NASA announced Thursday that its Voyager I probe is now roaming interstellar space.

The probe, launched in 1977, has officially left our solar system, according to scientists.

And here’s the really amazing part: it's still sending usable data.

Granted, the data takes about 17 hours to reach Earth, but scientists can still capture it and make sense of it.

That’s how they figured out the probe likely left the solar system on Aug. 25, 2012.

When I heard the news, I couldn’t help but be awestruck. Human ingenuity has developed tangible technology that can venture out to the reaches of space.

My imagination sparked as I tried to visualize what the probe’s environment is like; how worn its 36-year-old exterior is from its more-than-12-billion-mile journey.

Odd as this may sound, I then flashed to “Doctor Who.”

I know. Randomness.

But follow me here.

For those not acquainted with The Doctor, he’s an alien called a Time Lord who travels through time and space in his trusty Tardis, which is cleverly disguised as an old telephone booth.

He usually has a friend along for the ride, and together they see all sorts of great and not-so-great places and meet all sorts of great and not-so-great life forms.

The BBC show, which celebrates 50 years this year, has recently developed a strong following in the United States.

You can hardly view Facebook without seeing at least one Dalek meme per day.

I was only recently introduced to “Doctor Who,” and I admit that when I watched my first episode, I spent most of the time cracking up at the special effects.

I wondered how anyone could take it seriously, but I soon found myself getting sucked in.

And I wondered what it was about the show that could suck people in to the degree it has, despite special effects that look like they’re probably also 50 years old.

Seriously. Just look at the Daleks – and for anyone who’s never seen one, do a quick Google search.

Thursday, I think I got an idea as to at least part of the reason why The Doctor has become so popular. It feeds into our imaginings of the universe.

Humans have a long history of seeking out to chart uncharted territory. But there’s not a lot left uncharted on Earth, at least not above water.

So we now try to explore and chart space, even if just in our imaginations.

Which is why shows such as “Doctor Who,” which helps give shape to those imaginings, draw loyal fans.

And which is also why we stretch the limits of human ingenuity to build a vessel that will travel billions of miles out into the reaches of space and then tell us what it’s like out there.


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