Skip to main content

View Diary: This week in science: billions and billionaires (107 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  On the contrary (0+ / 0-)

    I think there's a tendency, maybe helped along by the two-party system, to start moving in on direction to be more unlike your political enemies, all the way to some extreme. The Republicans have certainly demonstrated that - their hatred of anything government has extended to the degree that they get riled up over investing in our public infrastructure because it's anti-freedom and communist. To them, the government has no positive role in their lives, and private business could always do it better.

    While I don't think we have anything that even remotely approaches that attitude from the other side (against private enterprise), I do see some elements of it at times. I think this offers a perfect example of the need for public-private partnerships, and the unique benefits provided by both. You see so many comments attached to articles like these claiming that the success of companies like SpaceX is embarrassing NASA, and proves private industry beats government, etc. There is no way NASA could do what Inspiration Mars or Mars One or some of the other space exploration or resource development projects (Deep Space Industries, Planetary Resources) are doing. Not because they couldn't, but it would just be highly inappropriate. I would not be happy if NASA diverted funds from launching new telescopes that will help us directly image and characterize new exoplanets, or launch robotic explorers to new moons and planets to look for signs of life, just to show the world we can stick a couple people into a tiny container and send them through space on a free return trajectory with no landing or much of a science return for the expense. We should be excited about this being done, and that there are people who are willing to do it to show it can be done and help move things along to the next level. Think about it as being ten times more significant than being the first person to make it to the top of Everest (and there are still plenty of people who really want to do it just to say they did it, even though plenty of other people have already done it). It takes doing things like this to prove it can be done, right now, and get people interested. People have become so cynical about space travel that even this mission, as modest as it is, is being met with incredulity. Clearly, people could use a demonstration.

    I'm also going to take major issue with the incessant argument against space exploration because poverty. This argument can be used against any science spending, and since I think most would agree our efforts in science and technology research have helped raise everyone's standard of living to some extent, it's especially short-sighted. I don't know what it is about space exploration in particular that immediately gets people thinking about spending the money on poverty, but there are far more wasteful sources of spending that have no future benefit to anyone that I'd go after first. I generally don't think to berate someone who bought a curling iron or used their heater instead of putting on a sweater or bought an herbal supplement with no evidence-based benefit for wasting money that they should have given to an orphan. Why does spending on science and exploration so commonly evoke that response when all these other, far more significantly wasteful expenditures get a pass?

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site