The True Olympians.
So many people in so many countries, especially the media of those countries, are rightly proud of sports personalities who are exceeding their personal goals while winning medals. However, the Olympics Games are parochial, ultimately individual, even when the sports involve small teams.
There are other, even greater, goals being achieved every day by humans who perform far away from the public spotlight: researchers making new discoveries that will improve public health; doctors, surgeons, therapists and pharmacists developing and testing medicines, surgical techniques and therapies that will aid individuals to live without pain and suffering; members of NGOs helping people in less developed countries to live without the fear of starvation and war, and technologists developing new materials that will aid communications and the ability to cope with global warming. These are just a few examples of the true Olympians of modern society.
There is another team of scientists who are reaching for the land of the other Mount Olympus. Olympus Mons, that is. For them, their excitement is reaching fever pitch as the Curiosity probe arrives and, it is to be hoped, lands on the red planet. For the Mars team of scientists there is little chance of personal glory; science has moved far beyond the days when scientists working in a shed in their backyards made new and exciting discoveries. Today, it is all about teams. Modern science is far too expensive and far too complex for the individual to make much progress. And in just a few hours, the Mars team will be able to gauge the success of their latest project.
New and exciting developments are coming thick and fast. The move from government-funded projects to launch shuttles to travel to and from the International Space Station to privately-funded organisations will allow organisations like NASA to concentrate on exploration. The Dragon vehicle has shown that private businesses can efficiently and safely make the milk-round deliveries. I can foresee the time when mining corporations will develop means of harvesting raw materials from planets and asteroids. I may not be around to see it myself but I can imagine the developments using informed hypotheses.
So, although we all feel the excitement and pride watching competitors in the Olympic Games winning medal and achieving personal goals let us also applaud all those who will not be lauded like athletes but who are ultimately much more important to human endeavour and achievement.