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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Space Invaders Invade Space!

By Phil Plait

I’m not trying to give away my age or anything here, but I remember seeing my first Space Invader console. At the time, the best you could do at home was playing Pong or some variant of it that involved a couple of dots and a line moving around on your screen, and believe me, it was the coolest thing we’d ever seen.

One day I was at a sci-fi convention (Disclave? Balticon? One of those) and saw a crowd of people in the dealer room. I walked over and saw them clustered around a standup console, and it was thumping ominously. I couldn’t see the screen, but the thumping got faster, and the people were cheering and clapping. What the heck …?

Once I saw the game I knew right then that everything was about to change. It was amazing. Of course, that seems like ancient history these days, but history has a way of coming back up on you … way, way up.

That is a picture of astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti holding a mosaic tile on board the International Space Station. She’s in the cupola, which has windows facing in different directions, providing the exact kind of view a space invader would have shortly before landing on our fair blue world.

The tile is part of a series done by French artist known as Invader, and they appear all over the world. And now, I suppose, above it. Cristoforetti will use it as a way to inspire young children to create art by mixing geometry and colors, which I think is a fine thing to do.

And while it was fun for me and also a way to dump a couple of hundred kilos of quarters over the years, to kids these days that experience for me is history. Maybe this is a way to teach them that, too.

Previously in Slate:

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