Today I walked into a toilet block and the light turned on as I walked in. Despite being such a little thing (that was probably automated by a switch/timer system on the door) it made me happy. A few decades ago an automated system like that would have been incredibly cool but today we just take for granted. This then made me realize that I was standing in a climate controlled building with hundreds of desktop computers within a few hundred meters and thousands of chips in general.
To somebody of the early twentieth century it would appear that we live in a completely different world. 100 years ago flight had only just been invented and yet today we can look up at the sky and see the trails of scores of airplanes. Not only that but we’ve sent man to the moon and robots to everywhere within a billion kilometers. Its certainly not bad.
Little elements of old school science fiction do exist in the modern world. We have complex displays capable of display all sorts (and they’re flat) of information and images – we can even touch them and view them in 3D. We have a complex network that connects billions of people around the planet. Billions of people carry devices that allow them to communicate with something in their hand.
Despite everything that we can do and do do every day mankind is always capable of imaging the future. We still haven’t conquered the other planets (largely due to the recession and cosmic limits) but we’ve managed quite a lot. Not bad for a civilization that’s only been intelligent for a few hundred thousand years.
OK, I have learnt these. I do know them. I have not cheated this list:
- Washington, D.C.
- New York
- West Virginia
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
Not bad. Took a few minutes though. I am planning on creating some sort of online quiz game for this – though I don’t know how it will work.
Last night Azerbaijan surprisingly won the Eurovision song contest, easily beating the critics’ (and bookies’) favorites France, Sweden and Ireland – and they rarely get it wrong on big events like Eurovision. When watching Eurovision, other than noticing that about 90% songs were English – quite surprising considering that the UK – the people who would be expected to sing best in English – don’t normally do that well -, I also noticed that I didn’t actually have a clue about Azerbaijan, where it is, what language it speaks, what the culture is like and all the other interesting things that might be expected from me. Here is my fact file:
- The capital city is Baku
- Just over 9,000,000 people are thought to live there
- It is on the edge of the Caspian Sea
- It is bordered by Russia, Armenia, Turkey, Georgia and Iran
- The official language is Azerbaijani and to say hello you would say ‘Salam’, so look out for lots of this next year
- The current political system is a Presidential Republic (with a President and Prime Minister), however it has been a Democratic Republic (1918) – the first Islamic state of its kind – before being taken over by the Soviet Union in 1920, finally gaining independence in 1991 with the disillusion of Communism
- Azerbaijan is technically considered by the United Nations (which it is a member of) to be in Asia, however it is in the Eurasian area, which why it (and the other former Eastern Bloc countries) is allowed to perform in Eurovision
- During World War Two, Azerbaijan fought with the Soviet Union, supplying men and oil
- 90% of the people are considered to be Azerbaijani, and much of the remaining ten percent is made up from peoples from former Eastern Bloc countries
- 99% of the people are Muslim
- The three most popular sports are Freestyle Wrestling, Football and Chess
- The Azerbaijan National Aerospace Agency plans to launch its first satellite in summer 2012
- Azerbaijan is very mountainous, however 9 of the 11 climate zones exist within Azerbaijan, with temperatures ranging from -33 degress Celsius to +44 degrees Celsius
And because I quite enjoyed that, I might do something like this for more countries in the future. Please put ideas in the comments!