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Thu Mar 22, 2012, 06:13 AM

This is why we invest in science. This! (Important!)

Every day — every single day, it seems — I see a note on Twitter, or get email, or hear someone on TV asking why we bother spending so much money on NASA. Billions of dollars! We should be spending that money right here on Earth!

This argument is wrong in every conceivable way. Ignoring that we do spend that money here on Earth, ignoring that NASA’s budget is far less than 1% of the national budget, ignoring that the amount we spend on NASA in a year is less than we spend on air conditioning tents in Afghanistan, ignoring that we spend five times as much on tobacco in a year than we do on space exploration… this argument is still dead wrong.

Why?
<snip>

See that picture above? It shows a new type of rocket engine design. Usually, fuel is pumped into a chamber where the chemicals ignite and are blown out the other end, creating thrust. The design pictured above does this in a new way: as the fuel is pumped into the chamber, it’s spun up, creating a vortex. This focuses the flow, keeping it closer to the center of the chamber. In this way, when the fuel ignite, it keeps the walls of the chamber cooler.
<snip>
In other words, this new system put out a fire more quickly, using less water, and — critically — with fewer firefighters needed to operate the hose. This frees up needed firefighters to do other important tasks on the job, and therefore makes fighting fires faster and safer.
<snip>
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/

I said this was important because I too am always getting questions about why should we invest in this or that program. You hear it on the news when Congress is smacking the money spent for some study. They need to find out what the end result is before they declare it wasted money.

sometimes I have seen people on DU question the need for certain programs.

We have gotten many useful invention and processes from our space program. Because the program was entering unknown areas such as flying to the moon, they had to break new ground in a lot of areas. That lead to new lines of study that are still paying off.

If this country doesn't put some money in basic scientific research, we will never keep up or catch up in some areas. it seems the only programs that get money are those used for Secret Squirrel ideas or DoD projects.








46 replies, 5173 views

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Arrow 46 replies Author Time Post
Reply This is why we invest in science. This! (Important!) (Original post)
Are_grits_groceries Mar 2012 OP
ejpoeta Mar 2012 #1
tclambert Mar 2012 #4
Javaman Mar 2012 #13
Uncle Joe Mar 2012 #36
baldguy Mar 2012 #8
Javaman Mar 2012 #14
izquierdista Mar 2012 #17
Javaman Mar 2012 #22
Occulus Mar 2012 #24
Javaman Mar 2012 #30
nadinbrzezinski Mar 2012 #39
baldguy Mar 2012 #18
Javaman Mar 2012 #21
baldguy Mar 2012 #23
Javaman Mar 2012 #26
baldguy Mar 2012 #27
Javaman Mar 2012 #28
baldguy Mar 2012 #32
Javaman Mar 2012 #35
nadinbrzezinski Mar 2012 #43
Javaman Mar 2012 #46
One_Life_To_Give Mar 2012 #29
GoCubsGo Mar 2012 #25
ejpoeta Mar 2012 #45
handmade34 Mar 2012 #2
Selatius Mar 2012 #3
The Wizard Mar 2012 #5
baldguy Mar 2012 #6
One_Life_To_Give Mar 2012 #31
longship Mar 2012 #7
chervilant Mar 2012 #9
SemperEadem Mar 2012 #10
ProfessorGAC Mar 2012 #33
mmonk Mar 2012 #11
madokie Mar 2012 #12
AlbertCat Mar 2012 #15
Are_grits_groceries Mar 2012 #16
arthritisR_US Mar 2012 #19
ProgressiveATL Mar 2012 #20
lumberjack_jeff Mar 2012 #34
Uncle Joe Mar 2012 #37
Amonester Mar 2012 #38
white_wolf Mar 2012 #40
Amonester Mar 2012 #41
Aerows Mar 2012 #42
bvar22 Mar 2012 #44

Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 06:30 AM

1. there are lots of things we have today because of the space program.

teflon, i believe. TANG. here is a list i googled and found.

http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/Spinoff2008/tech_benefits.html

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Response to ejpoeta (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 06:39 AM

4. Better skis and football helmets, too.

Lots of materials science. Cordless power tools. So much medical technology. NASA technology was used in the recent design for a turbo-pump artificial heart, the one reported recently where the guy has no heartbeat, just a steady flow of blood.

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Response to tclambert (Reply #4)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 08:37 AM

13. the one reported recently where the guy has no heartbeat...

dick chaney?

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Response to Javaman (Reply #13)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 01:48 PM

36. Yes but we should still support science in general and NASA in particular

in spite of that.

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Response to ejpoeta (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 06:58 AM

8. Your computer.

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Response to baldguy (Reply #8)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 08:42 AM

14. actually, the computer was invented about 2500 years ago...

The abacus. computer - computations.

but for general purpose...

"In 1801, Joseph Marie Jacquard made an improvement to the textile loom by introducing a series of punched paper cards as a template which allowed his loom to weave intricate patterns automatically. The resulting Jacquard loom was an important step in the development of computers because the use of punched cards to define woven patterns can be viewed as an early, albeit limited, form of programmability."

But if you are referring to the "modern computer"...

"Alan Turing is widely regarded as the father of modern computer science. In 1936 Turing provided an influential formalisation of the concept of the algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, providing a blueprint for the electronic digital computer. Of his role in the creation of the modern computer, Time magazine in naming Turing one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, states: "The fact remains that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or a word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine"."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer#Limited-function_early_computers

While the space program did amazing things with computers, it's not reponcible for it's invention.

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Response to Javaman (Reply #14)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:23 AM

17. Actually, it was invented for the space program

 

But you keep playing with beads on runners or with gears on axles or with vacuum tubes, if you like, thinking they are "modern computers". The fact remains that weight limitations of putting payloads in orbit was the major driver behind the development of transistors which led to the development of op-amps which led to the development of flip-flops which led to the development of microprocessors.

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Response to izquierdista (Reply #17)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:02 AM

22. funny when history and facts over rule your belief system, have a look and learn...

sadly, you choose to be insulting rather than just read up on history...

The UNIVAC I (UNIVersal Automatic Computer I) was the first commercial computer produced in the United States. It was designed principally by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, the inventors of the ENIAC. Design work was begun by their company, Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation, and was completed after the company had been acquired by Remington Rand (which later became part of Sperry, now Unisys). In the years before successor models of the UNIVAC I appeared, the machine was simply known as "the UNIVAC".

The first UNIVAC was delivered to the United States Census Bureau on March 31, 1951, and was dedicated on June 14 that year. The fifth machine (built for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission) was used by CBS to predict the result of the 1952 presidential election. With a sample of just 1% of the voting population it correctly predicted that Dwight D. Eisenhower would win.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNIVAC_I#History

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Response to Javaman (Reply #22)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:31 AM

24. The poster also completely forgot about Charles Babbage

Creator of the difference engine and other computing devices.

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Response to Occulus (Reply #24)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:44 AM

30. it's truly amazing how people who consider themselves...

informed, refuse to read a little history.

in another reply in this thread, I mentioned babbage as well.

people have this concept that computers are small things that can be carried around. That something as big as a house that compiled election results and worked via vacuum tubes couldn't possibly be a computer. LOL

Cheers!

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Response to izquierdista (Reply #17)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 01:55 PM

39. Nope we have had computers before the space program

What would be more accurate is the modern, micro circuit based computer.

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Response to Javaman (Reply #14)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:26 AM

18. When you can run Mass Effect 3 on an abacus, or a Jacquard loom, then we can talk.

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Response to baldguy (Reply #18)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:58 AM

21. We'll talk now...

the poster said computer.

They didn't say anything else.

if you don't like history, then go someplace else.

the fact is, Babbage probably came closest to inventing the commercial computer (sadly, Babbage's computer was never built) prior to Univac, which wasn't for the space program but for the census. But, you know, facts suck.

The UNIVAC I (UNIVersal Automatic Computer I) was the first commercial computer produced in the United States. It was designed principally by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, the inventors of the ENIAC. Design work was begun by their company, Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation, and was completed after the company had been acquired by Remington Rand (which later became part of Sperry, now Unisys). In the years before successor models of the UNIVAC I appeared, the machine was simply known as "the UNIVAC".

The first UNIVAC was delivered to the United States Census Bureau on March 31, 1951, and was dedicated on June 14 that year. The fifth machine (built for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission) was used by CBS to predict the result of the 1952 presidential election. With a sample of just 1% of the voting population it correctly predicted that Dwight D. Eisenhower would win.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNIVAC_I

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Response to Javaman (Reply #21)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:19 AM

23. Do you even read any of what you copy & paste into your posts?

UNIVAC weighed 14.5 tons and took up 382 sq feet of floor space. The Apollo Guidance Computer - which had only slightly more functionality - weighed 70 lbs and was only a little bigger than a shoebox. The IBM AP-101 designed for the Space Shuttle was even more compact: derived from the refrigerator-sized IBM S/360, it weighed only 55 lbs and was half the size of the AGU from ten years before.

While these were incredibly powerful & innovative machines for their time, they don't hold a candle to today's laptops and tablets, and none of them would have been possible without the basic govt-funded research for miniaturization of computer components done in the '50s, '60s & '70s.

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Response to baldguy (Reply #23)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:37 AM

26. the original poster stated computer...

now you are talking size?

if you wish to parce the argument find someone else to argue with. I have no idea what horse you have in this race but you seem to get angry when I point out that the computer wasn't invented for the space agency.

Why is that so horrible to digest?

it was originated for the census then for compiling election results.

so what if it was as big as a house, a computer is a computer is a computer.

If you wish to then redefine the arguement as the first "non-vacuum" tube computer then you have a point. But to make the blanket statment that the computer was invented for the space program is in fact wrong.

Look we are done, you wish to keep barking up a tree with no squirrel that's your choice, but frankly, I'm not going to waste my time.

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Response to Javaman (Reply #26)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:40 AM

27. You don't even know who you're replying to.

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Response to baldguy (Reply #27)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:42 AM

28. you don't even know what you want to talk about.

Like I said, we are done.

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Response to Javaman (Reply #28)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 11:32 AM

32. Oh, master! I humbly appologize!



When I said "Your computer" in Post # 8 (not the OP as you said) I assumed that anyone posting on a DU forum would be using some version of a modern microprocessor-based personal computer which uses the miniaturization technology researched & developed in the mid-20th century for America's space program, not a Babbage Difference Engine from 150 yrs before. And I made a second assumption that anyone who would read "Your computer" on such a forum would understand that, and not be a nit-picky moron.

You may have noticed, brass gears don't have a very friendly GUI.

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Response to baldguy (Reply #32)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 01:33 PM

35. you know what they say about digging, right?

give it up.

the conversation is over.

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Response to Javaman (Reply #35)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 02:12 PM

43. Just one detail

Manhatran project...

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #43)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 12:41 PM

46. nt

Read your replay above.

Cheers!

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Response to baldguy (Reply #23)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:44 AM

29. You are confusing IC with computer

Java is right. The integrated circuit was developed for the Space program and dramatically reduced the weight. But the computer operated just fine using tubes, discrete transistors or magnetic amplifiers.

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Response to ejpoeta (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:32 AM

25. Not teflon.

That was actually a happy accident by DuPont, where scientists were trying to create a refrigerant unrelated to the space program. That being said, we have no disagreement about the great things that have come from the space program, whatsoever. I am quite happy to have my tax dollars invested in this program, just as long as they don't take from environmental programs. I really hope it never comes to that.

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Response to GoCubsGo (Reply #25)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 06:37 PM

45. really? don't know where i got that idea. and i agree.

We should be taking from the defense spending and supporting things like NASA and other stuff like environmental stuff... alternative energies.... take from the defense spending!!

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 06:32 AM

2. I recommend science...









"Union of Concerned Scientists"
http://www.ucsusa.org/

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 06:36 AM

3. We'll need this kind of technology if we're serious about manned missions to the moon/mars.

I'd love to see the day where we put a man on Mars, but with all the resources spent on war and war preparation, I don't really remain too optimistic.

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 06:40 AM

5. The only thing the right wing

likes about science and modernity is the weapons.

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 06:51 AM

6. Basic research usually does not have one immediate application.

There are usually dozens, even hundreds of applications. The problem is they usually are developed over several years (even decades), when we have a full understanding of the research. Unfortunately this doesn't satisfy short-sighted people.

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Response to baldguy (Reply #6)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:49 AM

31. Include stockholders with Short sighted

As you say basic research can take years to decades before tangible developments are refined from it. Which is why no business in the free market will invest a dime in it. Investors are not asking what the stock price will be in twenty years.

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 06:53 AM

7. Digital cameras are ubiquitous

Where did the detectors used in every camera today and almost every single digital phone come from?

Astronomy! They were developed to make more accurate and more sensitive detectors for our telescopes.

And now they are everywhere!

Science delivers the goods.
Carl Sagan

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 07:07 AM

9. hmm...

I have to wonder if this near ubiquitous trashing of science is part and parcel of the anti-intellectualism spreading its vile tentacles throughout the Hoi Polloi. I recommend Hofstadter's Anti-intellectualism in American Life .

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 08:01 AM

10. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson recently spoke before congress about the lack of funding for NASA

and he was saying that when we last felt that spending money on NASA was important was when we were under the impression that USSR was going to put a base on the moon. Once we found out that they weren't that ambitious, that's when we lost interest in funding NASA and it's been a downhill slide ever since.

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Response to SemperEadem (Reply #10)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 11:40 AM

33. I'd Have To Agree With Him

Nothing like the boogieman to motivate behaviors. Maybe we should slip the Chinese a couple billion and help them launch a moon mission. That'll get people worried again.

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 08:21 AM

11. I ask the same question and have concerns about it.

How are we going to achieve advances with such skewed priorities? Who is going to leave the US in the wind because we rather privatize everything and play budget games instead of investing in critical sectors that would advance both the public and private sectors?

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 08:35 AM

12. My big green egg smoker/grill

is possible because of the space shuttle. It uses the same ceramic as the space shuttle tiles are made of.
If you like big juicy steaks cooked just right or the best ribs you'll ever eat you really need to check out a big green egg. A turkey they say that is deep fried is to die for well you should try cooking one in a big green egg if you like smoke flavoring in your turkey meat. All possible because of the space program.

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:10 AM

15. Who cares if science is applicable

We do it to find out about the universe we live in. Only sheep don't care about their world.

Just knowing stuff improves the QUALITY of your life.

It's like not funding art. Who wants to live in a plain cinder block cube? Art improves the QUALITY of your life.

What about quality... not quantity....

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #15)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:14 AM

16. I'm on your side.

Some people want a practical argument and this is we. We benefit and ultimately save money on research.



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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:32 AM

19. k&r for science and trenchcoat squirrel's. n/t

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:49 AM

20. Neil deGrasse Tyson agrees

His video, We Stopped Dreaming, part 1:

&feature=player_embedded

Go science!

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 11:55 AM

34. Mmmmm... Tang. n/t

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 01:48 PM

37. Kicked and recommended.

Thanks for the thread, grits.

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 01:51 PM

38. "They" are preparing for asteroid mining (lotsa Platinum).

Asteroid mining will give us all the platinum we’ll ever need, and maybe start a new Space Age

The platinum group metals are crucial to electronics, massively expensive, and extremely rare on this planet. But on asteroids? A single one holds billions of pounds of these metals - and that could start the era of private space exploration

http://io9.com/5590330/asteroid-mining-will-give-us-all-the-platinum-well-ever-need-and-maybe-start-a-new-space-age


"They" being the "Private-Sector" profiteers.

(of cour$e).

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Response to Amonester (Reply #38)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 02:02 PM

40. To be honest, I'm half suprised they haven't tried to figure out a way to get to Titan.

It literary rains oil there.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #40)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 02:09 PM

41. Mu$t be in the "plans" somewhere.

Problem is, this little planet here might as well already be un-inhabitable (due to excessive pollution and temperature changes) long before these hypothetical "plans" will ever be implemented for real.

If only "development" was "managed" properly (as in "ecological" on a global scale), but the way things are going, it's like one minute to midnight.

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 02:10 PM

42. Would we have communications satellites were it not for NASA?

I think not.

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 03:06 PM

44. We SHOULD be investing in Science and Space Exploration,

but we shouldn't be wasting Billions on Manned exploration.
Robots can do it better, faster, safer, and much cheaper.

"Manned" Space Exploration is prohibitively expensive and not productive,
but looks good on TV.
There are more important things on which to spend that money.

I grew up on Lost-in-Space and Star Trek.
As a youth, I read Science Fiction and Space Travel.
As an old man, I still enjoy reading Science Fiction,
and watching a good Space Movie.

But at THIS time, I don't see a viable way for us (Humans) to Colonize Space or Move off this Planet.
We can't even find a viable way to travel Supersonically in our atmosphere.
The SST was a DEAD END. There is NO next generation.

WE have huge problems here on Planet earth.
We would be better served spending our limited resources on the Science and Research necessary to Fix THOSE problems,
instead of throwing it away on a pipe dream of Moving Off THIS Planet.


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