Minor, perspective changing facts

There’s a lot of back­ground mess in our men­tal pic­tures of the world. We try and be ac­cu­rate on im­por­tant is­sues, but a whole lot of the less im­por­tant stuff we pick up from the me­dia, the movies, and ran­dom im­pres­sions. And once these im­pres­sions are in our men­tal pic­tures, they just don’t go away—un­til we find a fact that causes us to say “huh”, and re­assess.

Here are three facts that have caused that “huh” in me, re­cently, and com­pletely re­ar­ranged minor parts of my men­tal map. I’m shar­ing them here, be­cause that ex­pe­rience is a valuable one.

  1. Think ter­ror­ist at­tack on Is­rael—did the phrase “suicide bomb­ing” spring to mind? If so, you’re so out of fash­ion: the last suicide bomb­ing in Is­rael was in 2008 - a year where ded­i­cated suicide bombers man­aged the feat of kil­ling a grand to­tal of 1 vic­tim. Suicide bomb­ings haven’t hap­pened in Is­rael for over half a decade.

  2. Large scale plane crashes seem to hap­pen all the time, all over the world. They must hap­pen at least a few times a year, in ev­ery ma­jor coun­try, right? Well, if I’m read­ing this page right, the last time there was an air­line crash in the USA that kil­led more that 50 peo­ple was… in 2001 (2 months af­ter 9/​11). Noth­ing on that scale since then. And though there has been crashes on route to/​from Spain and France since then, it seems that ma­jor air crashes in west­ern coun­tries is some­thing that es­sen­tially never hap­pens.

  3. The ma­jor cost of a rocket isn’t the fuel, as I’d always thought. It seems that the Fal­con 9 rocket costs $54 mil­lion per launch, of which fuel is only $0.2 mil­lion (or, as I pre­fer to think of it—I could sell my house to get enough fuel to fly to space). In the differ­ence be­tween those two prices, lies the po­ten­tial for pri­vate spaceflight to low-Earth or­bit.