What’s it all for?

Much hoopla this week about the landing of a picture-taking, data-relaying thingmy on the back of a comet.

Am I alone in being left a bit cold by this? I mean, well done amazing scientists for working out how to fire the thingmy gazillions of miles into space and bump it down onto an object travelling gazillions of miles an hour.

But what’s it all for?

All I heard on the news was the technological achievement, or the ‘how’. Only after a good minute or two did the BBC’s David Shukman throw in any mention of the ‘why’. It seems the thingmy might tell us how the Earth got its water. Ah. Now I’m interested. Tell me more. Except Shukman didn’t. Shame. (Especially as I really like him, usually.)

This all reminded me a bit of something we tell people in workshops: talk about benefits, not features. Because people care more about how fast they can download films than how big the chip in their phone is.

I’m not averse to a science story. The Voyager probe transforming what we know about the universe. The boffins at Bletchley Park shortening WWII by cracking the Enigma code. But until someone tells me what use this thingmy really is, I’ll just think the money would have been better spent on developing an Ebola vaccine.

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