Today was Museum day and the overwhelming vote was for the Science Museum. A selection of eye candy is included below for those interested.
For me one of the highlights of the day was in the Space gallery. They had a model of the Solar Heliospheric Observer – SOHO – a European Space Agency satellite I know well.
I have a cardboard model of it on my shelf as one of the earliest jobs I had during my years working for Space Innovations Limited in Newbury as a Space Systems Engineer was to test a computer for the Coronal Diagnostic Spectrometer. CDS was an instrument designed to detect which elements were found in the Sun’s outer atmosphere (known at the corona). The computer – known as the Command and Data Handling System had to be tested at a facility in Bristol, where it would be subjected to extreme heat and cold in a vacuum, to ensure its durability once in space. I tested the unit that went into space (known as the flight model) and also a version for ground testing (known as the Engineering model).
So I took a closer look at the display and spotted a very familiar instrument – in fact the CDS Engineering Model. So a little closer and I spotted a box I haven’t seen since 1993. The CDHS I tested in Bristol.
You can see it more clearly from the other side but the photo is rubbish because of reflections on the perspex display case.
So why am I so chuffed? Well, I never thought something I built would end up in the premier Science Museum in England. But then again I doubt that Stephenson thought his steam engine would take pride of place in a future museum, nor any of the thousands of people who developed our understanding of science over the centuries.
The point is that you never know the outcome of what you do now. The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes (an Old Testament book whose author desperately needed antidepressants) wrote these words…
Since no one knows the future,
who can tell someone else what is to come?
Ecclesiastes chapter 8 verse 7
Not being God we can’t see the end from the beginning. As I sat through the night in 1993 waiting to run a diagnostic test at 2am I hadn’t got a clue that 23 years later I would be seeing that unit sat in the Science Museum. The company I worked for no longer exists. No human being has seen the flight model CDHS since it launched in 1995. The spacecraft, instrument and computer I tested were designed to work for 2 years. I have just checked the instrument data page and the CDHS is still working 20 years after launch.
And my point is….?
It is so easy in this life to spend vast amounts of time thinking about the future. Career plans, the next gadget, the next boyfriend/girlfriend, a promotion, a pay rise, a change of government (!) but we cannot know what the future will hold – and often those who spend most time trying to bring about the future they want are the ones who fail to either enjoy the present, or achieve their future goals. (Just watch the Apprentice!!!)
25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6: 25-34
So why not spend some time today focussed on today, on the people around you, on the tasks today has for you to do, rather than thinking about your legacy and the future. It is MUCH more satisfying to focus on today’s tasks and the current journey, and then to be wonderfully surprised when the future turns up a wonderful surprise.
“Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, That’s why it’s called the Present”
It’s not Rocket Science – oh – wait! Today it actually was!