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Life in Space: The Anniversaries of Satellites and Search Engines

Russia was in the avant-garde of Space Science in the 20th c. Today’s Google homepage reminded us of the 50th anniversary of Sputnik, which was the first satellite sent into space (image is the courtesy of NASA website).

But space has many meanings. In the passage above it means “cosmos”. If I say “I need space” it will mean that I either crave for freedom or that I need to put something somewhere where there is little or no place. And when we say “virtual space”, we mean the web.

Recently it was Google’s 9th anniversary, of which again their homepage has reminded us. At Search Engine Land they contemplated on whether 9 is the correct number, but Google seems to have their own view, which they communicated with this logo (right) on September 27th.

And ten years ago, on September 23rd 1997, Yandex, Russia’s leading search warehouse, has set off their rocket into the virtual space. To mark the anniversary of intermittent work of their orbital station, they have sent a lovely gift. The gift consisted of a cylinder box, which contained: a message to other “space civilisations”, a flashy pen, a tube of cherry and apple juice, a can of meat in white sauce, a prunes and nuts flapjack, and a pack of 10 miniature bread loafs. As you undoubtedly notice, the word juice is spelt “cok” in Russian, which looks very familiar to the English speaker. I would like to repeat that it means juice, and not what it may seem to mean, judging by its spelling. 🙂

Yandex is obviously playing a deft joke on the word “space” and Russia’s history of delving into the cosmic vastnesses. All the food items are exactly what they eat (or definitely used to eat) in space. I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre at Starry Town (Zvezdniy Gorodok) in, if I am correct, 1993. I went with my classmates, and I vividly remember our sheer amazement at the size of those Lilliput chocolate bars and bread loafs on display at the museum. Well, now my present colleagues have shared this amazement, too, and in turn, I am sharing it with you.

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