Friday the 13th – Might As Well Stay In Bed

Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13, and with that in mind you might want to stay indoors tomorrow as it is Friday the 13th – the only time this number falls on the last working day of the week this year. Whether the fear is founded on logic, or some nonsensical hoodoo that has haunted the craniums of the gullible since the beginning of time, the number 13 certainly has an effect on our psyche. So what technologically superstitious events have occurred involving the number 13? Quite a few. Read on…

Apollo 13
Probably the most famous involves the United States space agency, NASA, and its ill-fated Apollo 13 mission in 1970. Just over half way to the moon, one of the oxygen tanks exploded setting in motion one of the most enthralling survival stories in modern history. We all know the outcome and that the astronauts arrived safely back on Terra Firma, but wewere reminded recently by a mobile phone vendor that the processor in your average smartphone had more processing power than those that powered the Apollo spaceships to the moon. I have no idea if this is true or not, but if so, it shows how far we’ve come, and begs the question; why aren’t we going back more often?

Apophis – The End of the World
Why don’t governments of nuclear powers get their scientists and military folk together and bang heads to find a solution to the possibility of an asteroid slamming into the Earth and ending life as we know it? The dinosaurs had an excuse; their brains were the size of a walnut. On Friday 13th 2029 these leaders might wish their predecessors had got off their collective butts and done something as an asteroid named Apophis (after the Egyptian God of darkness and destruction) is due to pass the Earth. Our gravity will pull it in, making it orbit the Earth for seven years, before causing it to smack us in the kisser, which will cause all sorts of mayhem and destruction. Aussies need not worry –as it stands, it’s predicted to hit central America or off the west coast of the US. There should be a tsunami of epic proportions of the coast and we could feel some effects.

Logie Baird
We’re lucky one of the most important inventors of modern technology – the moving picture – was not a triskaidekaphobe, because if he was, he would have been reminded annually about the phobia as he was born on August 13, 1888. Scottish inventor John Logie Baird contribution to moving pictures vicariously lead to the one of the most important consumer electronic entertainment hubs of the past 100 years – the television. Baird managed to transmit the first moving picture on 2 October, 1925. One would wonder what he thinks of the advent of plasma, LED, OLED and 3D technologies – probably be as pleased as punch, and why would he be?

William Shockley
In the same vein the co-inventor of the transistor, William Shockley, was born on February 13 1910. Some have argued that the transistor was the key invention of the 20th century as it has lead to the development of microchips, which are produced in the billions every year. Without Shockley and his co-inventors we could d still be reliant on glass vacuum tube technology used in modern electronics, which would not only be impractical, but would arguably mean we would be without thousands of CE products that are available to us today.

Tupac Shakur
Well, it’s a long bow to stretch when connecting the rap artist who died in 1996 to technology, but it was on Friday the 13th that he was shot to death in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is a nice segway into how he never got to take advantage of all the ways his ‘music’ could be heard by millions on fans. When he was alive, there were no MP3 players, the iPod was just a dot in Jonathan Ive’s mind, and digital downloads were something out of a Philip K Dick novel. Of course, Shakur went on to sell truckloads of albums – both hard copies and digitally – after his death, as is the case of most musos who die young.

Have you had a tech mishap worthy of a Friday 13th moment? Let us know in our comments section.