IF you haven't heard of Moore's Law, let me enlighten you.
Nothing to do with Bobby, Roger, Demi or even lofty Scottish Secretary Michael, it's actually named after American boffin Gordon Moore. He noted in 1965 that computing power doubled every two years and would probably continue to do so – for at least a decade, he thought.
In fact, the trend continues today, more or less. As a result, Nasa was embarrassed last week when it was revealed that the Curiosity vehicle currently doing three-point turns on Mars is equipped with a two-megapixel digital camera.
Top-of-the-range in 2004 when it was commissioned, it is now some way behind the eight-megapixel camera on your smartphone. Scotland's schoolkids are snapping their happy-slapping exploits in higher definition than the $2.5 billion Curiosity rover is picturing its mission to the Red Planet. Sounds like a miss to me.
Looking back – isn't eight-megapixel hindsight a wonderful thing? – it's a shame Nasa didn't just weld an iPhone to the front of the vehicle, next to the sprig of good luck heather. Had they done so, they could have also loaded up one of those snazzy smartphone apps like Hipstamatic, which replicates the retro look of pictures shot with film. So instead of producing flat, boring images in a low resolution, the agency's pictures of the Mars terrain could have looked like high-resolution versions of the 1970s holiday snaps your dad took with his Polaroid on Lanzarote that time (no, not those ones. The ones when the curtains were open and the strange shapes were volcanic landscapes).
Artfully-shot retro-style images wouldn't be much use to scientists, I admit, but they would give the nascent Mars tourism industry a much-needed boost – and make Curiosity's Facebook page a lot more interesting.
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