Science is a pretty terrible thing. If you have been around Article Cats for some time, you likely remember that time I provided four examples of just how much science sucks. Well, apparently someone at the Pentagon or some other secret military base is a fan as well, because they seem to be embracing the concept. Specifically, the US Navy has started teaching its pilots and sailors celestial navigation techniques. That’s right – in a day where they can get anywhere with precision accuracy thanks to science and GPS technology, they are now opting to teach them an archaic method of navigation. So, take out the old sextant, map and jump aboard that old wooden ship, because the Navy is about to get more exciting.
If you are a fan of old wooden ships, or even just a fan of history in general, you might be somewhat familiar with the concept of celestial navigation. To perform this properly, sailors would need to know quite a bit about the stars, they would need an accurate (or at least semi-accurate map), a sextant and some definite amount of skill. Experienced sailors would learn it and use it every day, and while you might expect it to be completely inaccurate, it actually does the job surprisingly well. Despite how well it worked for so many years, it was made obsolete when humans developed GPS, which now allows for exact locations to be figured and makes navigating a whole lot easier.
So, is the US Navy deciding to forget about technology and go back to the old seafaring days for all its ships? After all, teaching this skill and actually maintaining it are two different things. While the sailors of old used it day in and day out, modern sailors would have little opportunity, so how accurate would they really be?
Of course, the truth is that teaching sailors and pilots this old seafaring skill is really not an affront to science. Instead, it is meant to be a backup plan for those traveling about in case something occurs to knock out their more advanced technology. After all, GPS can go out from time to time if the signal is off, and while this might not matter for general travelers, during a military operation it can be essential. More than this, what happens if cyber technology continues down its current path and hackers develop a way to completely take down the Navy’s GPS capabilities? For those times, they want sailors ready with something they can use and while celestial navigation may not be entirely scientific, it is mostly effective.
While it might not be the US Military behind it, one who follows current events cannot help but think the timing on this report is somewhat humorous. After all, the FBI is now leaning heavily on Apple to produce a program that would allow them to hack into the iPhone. If you need it spelled out more clearly, the military is here worrying about super hackers crashing their navigation system and the FBI is working on making sure those hackers have more tools to get the job done. While they are from two different branches of the government, it seems like they ought to have a little bit better communication between one another.