Re: Boston Globe Article

From: Markus Mehring (
Date: Wed Feb 05 2003 - 13:50:59 EST

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    On Wed, 5 Feb 2003 11:54:02 -0400, you ("Stephen Bolton"
    <>) wrote:
    >Markus wrote:
    >>Please explain and justify the huge amount of funding that keeps going
    >>into other non-space fields of research that have far far less practical or
    >>direct short-term and long-term results to the benefit of people
    >>worldwide than manned space flight. Explain why money goes into theoretical
    >>physics, particle accelerators, astronomy, philosophy, art, or archaeology. Also
    >>explain what the direct and indirect benefits of such fields are that
    >>render them privileged above space flight. Why invest in such fields?
    >I will make no such attempt to justify the funding of science in any other
    That's what I expected. Sorry if it came over offensively.
    >I have no doubt money must be wasted in other research areas.
    >But doesn't your argument boil down to "others waste money why shouldn't
    No, actually I think it boils down to the fact that other, even much more
    abstract fields are _well_ worth funding huge amounts of money, and so has
    to be spaceflight, especially when considering how extremely little that is
    compared to the rest of a FY budget. You can't possibly state figures
    without putting them into perspective towards the rest of the household,
    and certainly you can't disregard their broad short-term and long-term
    value and effect. I sometimes feel it's pure magic how NASA still is
    successful in doing what they're doing with that measly less-than-1% of the
    US household that they're granted, and yet they're feeling the increasing
    budget cuts year after year. And that is from someone who strives for
    objectivness and who is not exactly a 100% NASA fan.
    More competition from the private and commercial sector? Hey I'm all for
    it. That still doesn't render NASA useless, because there's got to be
    _someone_ to do the rather basic fundamental and abstract spaceflight
    research that private and commercial sectors ultimately would be building
    upon in doing their spaceflight stuff. Also NASA doesn't just research
    space or spaceflight, most of what they're doing from space deals with
    researching Earth and Earth issues, and commercial companies have far less
    interest in doing that, because that _is_ of course hard to turn it into
    _direct_ profit to keep them alive. And the results of such research are
    far too important these days to dismiss them or declare them not worth the
    effort, just because they cost <gasp!> money...
    It's just that I get this strange feeling, whenever I read those opinions
    coming from "distinguished and knowledgable scientists" that you mentioned,
    there's always this sense of "Oh dear! It costs money! Shame, scandal!"
    (surprise surprise, it costs money, now who would have thought that...) and
    "They're no good! Take money from them, give it to us instead!" in them. As
    if just a single school, hospital, kindergarten or whatever would be built
    _more_ if you took money from such abstract fields of research. As if. That
    is not how government budgets work.
    CU!	Markus
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