Dark age vs space age
Literally and figuratively, the gap between Eskom tech and Voyager tech is growing astronomically
In 1977, the same year that Eskom opened its brand new headquarters at Megawatt Park, Nasa launched space probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, 16 days apart, from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Forty-six years later and the two spacecraft, built with 1970s technology, are somewhere out in interstellar space. While their power supplies, like South Africa’s, are much diminished, both Voyagers still send signals more than 20-billion kilometres (24-billion in Voyager 1’s case) back to Earth.
Between them, the Voyagers have done fly-bys of Saturn, Jupiter, Titan (Saturn’s largest moon), Neptune and Uranus.
By comparison, Eskom’s achievements in the past 46 years since Megawatt Park opened its doors have been less than stellar.
Eskom, it is fair to say, would struggle to find Uranus using both hands.
Eskom, it is fair to say, would struggle to find Uranus using both hands
In 1923, when Eskom was founded, space travel was still firmly the realm of dreamers, opium addicts, HG Wells and a tiny band of scientists.
Talk about technological progress. Now there are space stations, reusable launch vehicles, spy satellites, radio telescopes that can see into the depths of the universe, suborbital flights for tourists and strategies for sending colonists to Mars.
Astronauts rode to the moon perched like sparrows on top of a Saturn V three-stage rocket, using computers less powerful than a cheap smartphone.
Eskom, stubbornly not reaching for the stars, has implemented stage 6 load-shedding again as it fails to keep the lights on.
The Voyager probes are each carrying gold-plated, audiovisual discs inscribed with the “sounds of Earth” — whales calling, babies crying, waves on a beach and music by Mozart and Chuck Berry, among others.
Eskom’s gold-plated disc, meanwhile, would need only one sound: that of diesel generators cranking up all over town as the lights go out.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.