Warren Ellis linked to this article a few days ago, and while I realize that means half of the known world has now read it, I had to repost it over here due to the extreme relevance. While yes, it’s a story of the strange places the space race played out in, it’s also the story of how a few hobbiests turned a garage into a hub of international activity and secret intelligence with just their passions and the tech they could find and repourpose.
Suddenly, an angry voice rang out; the man who lived on the floor below leant out of the window and screamed: “Will you stop that racket, I’m trying to sleep!”
One of the young men shouted back “Sorry sir; the Soviets have launched a satellite and we’re trying to intercept it!”
The brothers finished setting up, grabbed their head-sets, twiddled the knobs on their portable receivers, hit the record button and listened…
“Come in… come in… come in… Listen! Come in! Talk to me! I am hot! I am hot! Come in! What? Forty-five? What? Fifty? Yes. Yes, yes, breathing. Oxygen, oxygen… I am hot. This… isn’t this dangerous?”
The brothers looked nervously at one another. They only fully understood the Russian later when their sister translated for them, but the desperation in the woman’s voice was clear.
“Transmission begins now. Forty-one. Yes, I feel hot. I feel hot, it’s all… it’s all hot. I can see a flame! I can see a flame! I can see a flame! Thirty-two… thirty-two. Am I going to crash? Yes, yes I feel hot… I am listening, I feel hot, I will re-enter. I’m hot!”
The signal went dead.
Today, there are do it yourself genetics clubs, you can mail out to have your genome sequenced, open source engeneering labs and all sorts of places that people can come together and test new frontiers outside of an institutional heirachy. The street still finds its own uses for things, and while the space race has stagnated (a topic of black rage for myself) , there are still many envelopes to push, many mysteries to probe, and many wonders to be found with whatever tools we can scrounge to find them.
Sorry, if I sound like an evangelical Grinder, today, but I find this article to be really inspiring.
[Via Warren Ellis and Fortean Times]