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27 February 2012

Neil deGrasse Tyson explains why exploring space still matters on NPR, or why I think NdGT should be President, or at least the President's science adviser. [More:]
I sat in my car, waiting for the bus to come, and rooting for science.

"What [the president] needs to say is, 'We need to double NASA's budget because not only is it the grandest epic adventure a human being can undertake, not only would the people who led this adventure be the ones we end up building statues to and naming high schools after and becoming the next generation's Mercury 7 as role models, not only will there be spinoff products from these discoveries, but what's more important than all of those, what's more practical than all of those, is that he will transform the economy into one that will lead the world once again rather than trail the world as we are inevitably going to be doing over the next decade.' "

Fuck yeah, science!
That speech only sermonizes the choir. It does not address tangible arguments like first bolstering healthcare and education or the reluctance to fund manned exploration. NPR wasted airtime on propaganda rather than offering real arguments that could change people's priorities.
posted by Ardiril 27 February | 14:38
NdGT is a hero of mine too, and I heartily agree with him. We need to continue to fund basic science research -- including space exploration -- because many other economic benefits spin off from it, and because it is really basic to human existence that we continue to think and explore. (Ardiril, this does not mean I think health care and education should be stiffed. I think spending on NASA is a part of a focus on education.)

posted by bearwife 27 February | 15:49
I don't disagree, however these projects are an easier sell politically when the project scope is tightly focused with measures to tightly restrict feature-creep. The technological advances commonly touted from Nasa's work did not involve shooting rockets into orbit, but from building self-contained survival envelopes with very strict weight and spatial restrictions.

As we have seen with libraries, when the concept opens out beyond its original purpose, the entire institution comes under attack.
posted by Ardiril 27 February | 17:52
Earlier in the segment NdGT compared the history of NASA funding with military funding, pointing out that "One year's expenditures of the United States military budget equals the entire 50-year running budget of NASA combined." (No, he didn't clarify if that military budget fluctuated much in the past, but it's a pretty strong comparison). I don't think he was comparing the segments of government funding that fight for scraps, but taking a few chips off of Military funding. Sadly, military funding is near-sacred, and decreasing funding to the military is an easy attack-point.
posted by filthy light thief 27 February | 18:15
These projects were an easier sell politically when the project scope was basically "BEAT THE RUSSKIES!" If it wasn't a Race to the Moon against our political/ideological enemies, the United States never would've bothered. The U.S. has never been a Nation 'Dedicated to Exploration', and it certainly wasn't when I was a kid watching the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches on TV. And any 'pure science' that gets funded today still has to piggyback on some identified Economic or Military purpose. That's why the Superconductive Super Collider was shut down and the search for the Higgs Boson moved from Texas to Europe.

Now, if some hostile country starts working on an Islamic Space Program, it'll get every penny it needs from some corner of the financial black holes of Defense and Homeland Security to get to Mars in 5 years (but it'll take 10 because that's how Defense Contractors work). I have also suggested that NASA could also get a big chunk of INS money if they found any evidence of Alien Aliens coming here...

posted by oneswellfoop 27 February | 21:20
so I've been researching the Israel-Palestine issue a bit || We are living in the future