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May 27, 2008

Comments

brother john

A good example of this is the essay: I,pencil.
http://www.econlib.org/LIBRARY/Essays/rdPncl1.html

LS

This is what I can't understand: why we spend billions of dollars on NASA and the space program when we have much BIGGER problems here on EARTH.
So what if there is/was life on Mars. Then what? Does that help the homeless in this country? Does that solve our environmental crisis? Does it help our failing education system? Does it solve cities that are in huge economic trouble like Detroit or Cleveland? You don't have to look very far to see that foreclosures are endemic in this country, not just the midwest.
yeah, exploring outer space is NEAT, Bean. You love Pluto, blah, blah blah.....But I'm more concerned with what is happening HERE in the US and on planet EARTH. A better America for me is one that spends its dollars here and not in the final frontier.

Ken

The NASA budget for 2009 is roughly 17.5 billion; the budget for the US military is nearly half a trillion. If we could retire a few four star generals and get the hell out of a dozen different places around the world we don’t belong we’d have enough funding to inhabit Mars let alone take care of all the neglect here at home.

I think the point needs to be made that most of the technology’s Bean is referring to, that we all now take for granted, came from the Apollo missions to the moon.

Off topic:

This font is terrible. I realize that typepad changed, but you should find a better font. This one, at least for me in opera, is huge. It looks like size 16 font on paper.

On Topic:

I don't understand why people downplay the importance of exploration and scientific inquiry. Why on earth would we leave Earth? Because one day, we may have to. Because while we can find and discover and learn on earth, we can find and discover and learn as much outside earth. Because the things we learn off the planet, or by research off the planet can directly help conditions on the planet (for example: terraforming).

Furthermore, think about this: While basically impossible, imagine that phoenix or one of the rovers, or something discovered a (human like) martian on mars. How mind blowing would that be? Not only life, but sentient life? What about if it was a deer like martian? Would that not change how you think about life in general? Now, what are we likely to find? anything in the range of nothing to simple bacteria. Will this fundamentally change your world? Probably not, but it is significant as it can teach us about the necessary conditions to produce life. It could possibly teach us where we came from, or where we are going.

I believe I understand your point: that we can do more now with the money we save from not exploring than we would get from exploring (I do not necessarily agree, FWIW), but I think you are being a little short sighted in this outlook.

Rochelle

i made a spoon out of a cardboard coffee cup wrapper (those things to keep your fingers comfy) when I just couldn't wait to get home to dip into my just-purchased pint of Soy Dream.

Check out this use of GPS technology for some amazement. http://www.biggestdrawingintheworld.com/drawing.aspx

I'm sure his route avoided Afghanistan and Mars.

Geo

We can marvel over so many things that man kind has accomplished, yet it amazes me that
their compensation for their ingenuity and brilliance is degraded by these whiny athletes who cry that they can't feed their family for 10 million a year.

Stacey

I, for one, understand the point that yes, we have a lot of major problems here on earth that need to be addressed. But I also think there is intrinsic value to exploring the universe outside of our tiny little rock on the edge of the Milky Way. The technology that we develop along the way and the research that is done on these exploratory missions do eventually find their way into our daily lives, just not in the form for which they were originally intended. (I have to put in a disclaimer here - my father worked on the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs, so I'm more than a little biased.)

Yes, LS, homelessness, the education system, crumbling cities, and the foreclosure crisis are huge problems. But stopping space exploration is not going to solve them. If you shut down NASA, then boom, you've just added to unemployment, started thousands of former NASA employees on the road to foreclosure and homelessness, and have made it harder for their kids to get an education, because they're going to be so worried about where their next meal is coming from that they can'd concentrate on their studies. Next thing you know, Houston will have more urban blight that it did a few years ago.

It's not the number of dollars you spend. It's how smart you are when you spend it.

Personally, I love social history, and I also ponder (often) on how technology has transformed our lives, especially when I consider how removed we've become from our original, natural beings. Our ancestors of just a hundred years ago wouldn't recognize most of what we take for granted every single day.

Dan

Your last paragraph poses a scary question. Scary to me, because history tells us that disasters have happened before ending great civilizations. I haven't a clue how to make anything I need to survive.

Off topic: I like the font. Please don't change it.

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