Wonderfully sentimental tear — jerker of a story about the nun, I’m sure many old ladies will be reaching for the tissues while reading it. Unfortunately it’s total fiction, the first rudimentary microscope appeared between 700 and 800 years ago, and although the first compound microscope did not appear until the end of the sixteenth century and it is not known which of the claimants to its invention was first to demonstrate one, all were well known lens makers in The Netherlands.

And like the count in the story we taxpayers should save our money that the sci fi fanbois want to spend on ‘exploring space’ — the clue is in the name, there’s nothing there. Actually more rubbish is talked about space than is floating around out there as the debris of all those missions from which we have learned that with our current propulsion systems and no new, realistic technologies on the horizon (nor even within the range of the most powerful radio telescopes) we just have no hope of going beyond the solar system.

Here’s why. The nearest star to our solar system is four light years away. A lighht year, as I’m sure most people except astrophysicists know is the distance travelled by light at 186,000 miles (300,000 Km) per second. Even if we could travel at one tenth of the speed of light (18,600 miles per second,) such a trip would take 40 years each way. The fastest spacecraft we have launched to date as a flat out speed of slightly less than 10 miles per second. Therefore a quick bit of mental arithmetic tells me it would take us an effing long time to reach the nearest star, Proxima Caenturi, with no guaranteed the pubs would be open when we get there. (actually its about 42,000 years.)

So I suggest to the space fanbois, go to a Trekkie or Star Wars convention, they’re a lot easier to get to and from and will be much more interesting. Remember, space is called space for a reason.

Opted for comfortable retirement before I was fifty due to health problems and burn out. Now spend my time writing and goofing around. Home: northern England..

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