|Star Trek actor William Shatner with an image of astronaut Chris Hadfield. The actor spoke with the astronaut on February 7th, but "appeared to have no enthusiasm for the project," according to Blacklock's Reporter.|
The summer "silly season," typified as a period during the latter half of the summer when the real news-makers are on vacation and less important, frivolous stories can gain traction and be exposed to a wider audience, is well and truly underway.
Here are a few of the more amusing recent examples in this genre, from space:
- Blacklock’s Reporter, a daily online-only publication based in Ottawa that covers parliamentary and departmental affairs, has accused retired Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Chris Hadfield of having "had ghostwriters" to support social media activities during his recent trip to the International Space Station (ISS). The claim has been picked up by others, such as the August 4th, 2013 TVA Nouvelles article "Le fils de Chris Hadfield prend sa défense" and the August 5th Sun News article "Hadfield's son denies space dad had Twitter ghostwriter." The original July 8th, 2013 Blacklock's post, titled "Spaceman had Ghostwriters," only gained traction after it was included in the August 5th, 2013 issue of Blacklock's Reporter. It referenced documents received under the Federal government Access to Information Act and at least one "on the record" interview with CSA communications manager Anna Kapiniari to bolster the point that "Hadfield was directed by communications staff as he ate spinach, clipped his nails and invoked Star Trek at the International Space Station."
- As outlined in the August 4th, 2013 Russia Today article "Robohope: Talking robot sent to ISS to ‘get along’ with humans," a small, 34 centimeter (13 inch) android resembling the classic manga character Astro Boy, has been sent to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the latest Japanese HTV-4 cargo resupply mission, in what the article called "a historic attempt to befriend robots and humans." Jointly designed by the University of Tokyo, Toyota Motor Corp and Dentsu Inc. to speak Japanese, recognize voice and emotions and even "learn," its main conversation partner will be Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, scheduled to arrive for his second ISS mission in November 2013. Dōmo arigatō, Mr. Roboto.
|"Wheeeeee...." Photo c/o Kibo Robot Project.|
- As outlined in the August 2nd, 2013 NBC News Science article "Applicants for one-way trip to Mars to descend on Washington, DC," while it's theoretically possible that there were indeed a "million Martians" hidden around the periphery of the weekend event organized by Mars One, a non-profit organization promoting a permanent human colony on Mars, it's also highly unlikely that there was anywhere near that many humans. The event was organized to kick off the US promotional efforts for what is essentially a television program about people who would like to go to Mars, although the promoters are insisting that actual trips to the red planet are being organized. The organizers estimate the cost of landing the first four settlers will be about $6Bln USD and plans to fund the costs by selling advertising for a reality TV program that would document the mission's progress, from astronaut selection through the settlers' first few years on Mars.