There are times when I wish that I lived in 1907 instead of 2007. Naturally I would be a gentleman with a private income rather than some poor sod working down a coalmine and dying of emphysema in my mid-50s. That goes without saying. But what a life it would be, existing in a world without McDonalds, Big Brother, motorways, human resources, globalisation, mobile phones, Coldplay and CCTV. I wouldn't know that a devastating global conflict was only seven years away, so I could enjoy myself in blissful ignorance.
However if I'd been born 100 years earlier I wouldn't have seen this wonderful photo, released by NASA recently:
This amazing picture of Jupiter and its moon Io was taken earlier in the year by the New Horizons probe - a craft that was launched in January 2006 and is due to rendezvous with Pluto in 2015. What is so remarkable about the image, apart from its clarity and beauty, is the fact that a volcanic eruption is clearly visible on Io.
If you ever start to feel depressed about Iraq, global warming, gun crime and dumbing down, visit NASA's superb website to see what Mankind is capable of. There are some incredible images on the site, but one of my favourites is an audio file of the sounds recorded by the Cassini-Huygens probe as it descended to the surface of Saturn's moon Titan. To hear this astounding recording, click here.
Whilst we're on the subject of space, another really exciting development is the detection of planets outside our solar system. What was once a matter of conjecture is now a reality and in less than a couple of decades we have discovered nearly 250 planets. None of them appear to be capable of supporting life as we know it, but it is only a matter of time before the first Earth-type planet is discovered.