Oh where, oh where has this gone?
There's an interesting piece today in the LA Times ("The final American frontier" by Ted Anthony of the AP), exploring our waning wonder for space exploration. It's not really remarkable anymore when the space shuttle launches and images of astronauts space walking and doing other astronauty things are no longer broadcast live (or even at all). But it ought to and they should be. I mean, how many people do you personally know who have orbited our planet (one of the estimated trillions in the universe)?
We didn't (couldn't?) keep the fire going. And then the $64,000 question: "Is space, the final frontier, still the American place to aim for?" Well, you can guess my answer. The article cites a 2006 Gallup survey, in which nearly half of Americans said the money spent on the space shuttle program would have been better spent on something else, and 13% basically said "hell no" to funding any space exploration.
$how us the money. But first a slight segue...
I didn't fully get the story of Pandora and her box the first time I read it in middle school. I thought Hope should have been set free along with all the plagues, since escaping is what activated them - how could we hope if it was still trapped in the box? But then I realized we don't hope, we have it. You can't own something unless you have a place to keep it. Which brings us to the National Air and Space Museum:
The fire isn't dead, the embers just need stirring up.
You see, it's what I like to call trickle down science. It's not just science that benefits from funding science. Thanks to space exploration we have satellite technology (tv and radio), global communications, pacemakers, better golf balls, solar photovoltaic energy, Tang (and by extension, KoolAid, Crystal Light, etc) and Velcro