Previously on Found
It is one of my most pricey acquisition to date: A black cotton T-shirt, I thought of buying on Teespring.
But it was no ordinary piece of clothing. The advertisement said - and this I saw on the NASA Twitter account - that a purchase of the shirt will help fund the research and education initiatives of the SETI - or the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. The SETI Institute is a research organization founded some 50 years ago, and whose aim is to understand and explain the origins and nature of life in the universe. It hopes, that by listening to radio signals from the stars, it can tell the world that advanced alien life exists on distant planets. When you watch movies that are about alien invasion (and how humans repel these attacks in different ways our storytellers could imagine) the scientists involved in the detection of approaching spaceships belong to this organization. For Hollywood filmmakers and the public-at-large, this is what the Institute was created for.
It has been half a century since the SETI was created, and by now, we should be hearing from these intelligent aliens given the proximity of the nearest stars. So what could have happened? I do not know for sure. Maybe the intergalactic muting was deliberate - like what I do when I dislike the posts of someone I follow on Twitter but could not remove that person from my list. Regardless of its aims, the search for intelligence must go on and I for one believe that we are not alone in the universe.
And so I bought the shirt, which cost over a thousand pesos when the actual price is converted to local currency. It doesn't include the shipping expense whose charge amount to half of what the apparel cost. Feeling the pinch, I had second thoughts of carrying on with my purchase. The upper garments I used to buy fetch half the price I have to shell just to wear this "Worlds of Discovery" shirt. I can even search for a local T-shirt design maker and have one customized for myself. Then I would wear it in public, with only the nerds understanding what the shirt is all about.
But then, what about the scientific research and the promise to educate the kids about the wonders of Radio Astronomy?
I will have to bleed for it.
Two full months after the official printing commenced in the United States, a month after the actual package journeyed across the world (whose pause in Frankfurt made me envious) and after paying a hefty 500 PHP for the customs tax when the item lingered in the Lawton post office for weeks, the shirt finally reached me. Like the SETI, whose funding is always objected by politicians and scientists alike, this piece of clothing may have cost me a lot of money.
But knowing it will be for the collective knowledge of the human race, I can live with the price and wear the shirt, beaming with pride.