All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Florence Nightingale And Mars

I looked at the pictures emanating from the Mars Phoenix Lander, with incredulity. Could it really be possible that I was seeing a picture that had only been taken a day before?

Think about it. We are now able to view detailed photographs from the planet Mars. How cool is that? Is this something that our parents could have imagined when they were our age? Not our grandparents....our parents!

I've written this before but I'm still awestruck at the level of technology I can access these days.

Putting aside the fact that I can pick up my emails on the move (could you have foreseen doing that, five years ago?), listen to whole CD albums on devices the sizes of credit cards and even watch my favourite TV shows in HD on a computer - how could I predict, even a year ago, that I would be picking up freshly minted photographs from another planet on my mobile phone?!

On Monday (the Bank Holiday), we all went to Central London. We walked across Westminster Bridge, braving the pelting rain (well, it was a Bank Holiday after all and it always rains on these special days) and made our way to the Florence Nightingale museum, which Dassi was particularly keen to visit, as she had to put together a school project on this fascinating individual.

Having visited the exhibition, which I would definitely recommend (click here for more info), we were in the shop/entrance browsing the tat when I decided to look at the news on my phone (as one does, in moments of boredom). Lo and behold, the Mars story was featured on the BBC site, so I clicked on the link and saw the the photographs.

It was a strange moment.

For the last hour or so, my mind had been busy exploring the world of Florence Nightingale, and in particular, taking in the detailed information regarding her sterling work during the Crimean War. Yet, here I was, now thrust into the 21st Century, a few yards away from her staid clothes and medical implements, looking at virtually live photographs from Mars.

The contrast between the two worlds (literally!) was stunning. After all, we are only talking about 150 or so years between them.

I wondered what Florence Nightingale would have made of the situation? Here she was, battling the bureaucracy that was the Victorian Age, trying to better the lot of the embattled British soldiers and there was I, looking at virtually live photographs of Mars!

I wonder if she would have approved of how technology had advanced since the dark nights she used to walk the rancid wards with her oil lamp. Then again, would someone like Florence Nightingale be that relevant these days, when the vapidity of celebrity seems to be all the rage?

Would the modern world be able or willing to recognise true heroes like Miss Nightingale?

On the one hand, we can now obtain pinpoint photographs from Mars at the click of the button, whilst on the other, I wonder if we've let modern technology replace a time when people were recognised for their worth, as opposed to the airtime they gather, making idiots of themselves on television.

Finally, I wonder if Florence Nightingale would want to be alive today? I think she'd get more respect from the Martians anyway.

Maybe, she deserves to remain locked in the Victorian Age after all.

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