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Friday, October 21, 2005

"The mind is a terrible thing to lose"

Bob Park reminds us from where the administration's strange thoughts regarding space exploration originally sprung1 from. About 16 years ago, Professor Park emailed list subscribers a monospaced version of this newsletter:

That nutty remark probably put an end to the National Space(y) Council.

And moreover:
Who would have believed that the United States, having landed men on the Moon 36 years ago in a race with the Soviet Union, and having spent more than $600B on its space program, would today be locked in another race to send humans to the Moon? A race with China? And China may be ahead? Go on! Now suppose I told you that the United Kingdom, long admired by scientists for staying clear of the ISS, is urged by a commission of the Royal Astronomical Society to enter the race? "Say it ain't so, Joe."
Neons2 such as Matt Drudge believe that the Chinese staged the recent space shot, and that it had Photoshop written all over it. I rate the movie Capricorn One as one of my not-so-guilty all-time favorites, but I beg to differ on what the Chinese have probably accomplished. Lots of these scenes come out of 3-D visualization software simulations -- an absolute must for getting it right the first time. Secondly, I have recently heard rumors that the Chinese military technology can basically make hay with all of the West's satellite and communications infrastructure using a mix of state-of-the-art laser technology and other electro-optical info-weapons. Nothing to sneer at, and plus these things probably make great potatoe pumpkin shooters.

While the clueless complain about our left-leaning educational system, and right-wing imbeciles like Quayle and Bush slide through, the average intelligence of the world's population keeps on increasing. The scientists and technologists overseas look with bewilderment at our infatuation with Intelligent Design. No wonder we lost the National Space Council and gained the Institutes of Discovery and Hindsight Foresight.

As science education drives the standard-of-living, so too does a country's standard-of-living drive its energy use, and I think our respective countries' technology tracks have either started to diverge or to narrow. I don't think it matters all that much which way it turns out. Either way, the spreading of wealth means that the race to the bottom will start before we know what hit us.

1What a waste it is to lose one's mind or not to have a mind is very wasteful. --; Dan Quayle
2A dim-bulb follower of the neo-con movement.

The images on Drudge's site don't stay around long. I wonder why? Archived here.


Professor Blogger monkeygrinder said...

I've had people try and convince me in all seriousness that the 1969 moon landings were fake.

Since as far as I am concerned the universe didn't exist before 1974, I try and give these people a fair hearing.

11:50 PM  
Professor Blogger Big Gav said...

A few years ago I would have been outraged at the suggestion that they were faked.

Now I would give the idea a fair hearing - not because I have any particular belief that they were faked, but simply because I'm more in awe of the power of propaganda than I used to be.

And having seen many of the management class in action - declaring "success" when failure was actually what happened - the idea isn't that farfetched...

8:28 PM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

There were plenty of 3-D simulations shown to the public on the recent unmanned expeditions to Mars. No one implied that those missions were fake because the entry sims were simulated.

3:26 PM  

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