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RT Atlanta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:23 PM
Original message
Neil Armstrong not a scientist?
Edited on Tue Sep-22-09 02:28 PM by RT Atlanta
From a Texas blogger writing about the state's continued assault on science/education:

http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/archives/2009/09/neil_arm...

As some readers may know, Texas State Board of Education has held meetings this week (read more) to conduct a variety of business. Fortunately they haven't engaged in their anti-science attacks on evolution, but there have been other questionable actions.

...

As part of the process a Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills review team composed of parents and teachers has suggested removing Neil Armstrong from a "science strand" in a 5th grade social studies book.

Effectively this would remove the mention of Armstrong has a figure of historical significance from 5th grade textbooks. I asked board spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe why this change was made and she explained: The team said they made this proposal because he was not a scientist.

---------------------

If not a scientist, what the hell does one call a person who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University, and a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California?!?

Read the quote from Jim Hansen, the authorized Armstrong Biographer, and his letter to the TX Essential Knowledge team - it does a great job of hitting the point home.
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damntexdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:36 PM
Response to Original message
1. So they hate engineers?
And wait -- George Washington was not a scientist either! Take him out!
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jemelanson Donating Member (254 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 03:05 PM
Response to Original message
2. The heat of a Texas Summer must have caused brain
damage.
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sofa king Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 04:35 PM
Response to Original message
3. You call him an engineer.
Edited on Tue Sep-22-09 04:36 PM by sofa king
Seriously. While the two disciplines need each other very much, "science" relies on experiment and observation to expand our knowledge of the physical world. Engineering designs and builds things to work within that physical world. Scientists devise the experiment, scientists and engineers build it and make it work.

NASA tried very hard to conflate the two definitions during the moon program, primarily because they didn't wish to take up valuable human space with a mere scientist when they could have a pilot/engineer/technician instead. Eventually, NASA gave in and sent precisely one scientist to the moon, geologist Harrison Schmitt. Everyone else who walked on the moon was a pilot and usually also an engineer.

(Edit: Schmitt was also a pilot.)
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caraher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 07:40 PM
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4. Yes, an engineer.
And he'd tell you the same. Sofa King has it exactly.

Though this reminds me of a legendary row between my father and my uncle over a trivia game over whether Thomas Edison was a scientist. One asserted that Edison was an inventor, and inventors are not necessarily scientists...

Still, it's a stupid fact to scrub from textbooks. Certainly the moon landing was an historic feat of engineering and science, and simply because the men qualified to undertake the trip had engineering backgrounds scarcely justifies acting as if the astronauts involved have not become historic figures at least on par with the great explorers.
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DavidDvorkin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 09:54 PM
Response to Original message
5. He is an engineer. He is not a scientist.
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krispos42 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-23-09 04:52 AM
Response to Original message
6. "The Apollo program sent 12 men to the Moon..."
"Only one was a scientist, so we'll take exclusively about him"


:banghead:
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-23-09 08:51 AM
Response to Original message
7. Well, without a body of peer-reviewed scientific papers...
...it's hard to push him as a scientist. His notable achievement(s) as a pilot are what deserve the mention.
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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-27-09 10:24 AM
Response to Reply #7
11. Really?
You do realize, of course, that Newton kept the Principia, in a drawer, unpublished, until Edmund Halley saw it after asking Newton to explain a problem in planetary dynamics, don't you?

Suppose he had, instead, left it in a drawer. Not a scientist then?

How about Galois?

Not a mathematician, I guess?

Rāmānujan?

It seems to me that if Hardy - whose most important contribution to mathematics involves having actually read a letter from Rāmānujan - had not opened Rāmānujan's unsolicited letter, might have avoided, by your definition, being a mathematician.

Mendel was also not much of a biologist.
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caraher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-28-09 11:04 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Good points, but...
Orsino didn't say that the lack of a publication record meant Armstrong not, by definition, a scientist - just hard to "push" as a scientist.

I suspect that were we to ask him, Armstrong would describe himself as a pilot, astronaut and engineer, and not as a scientist. Plenty of engineers do science just as plenty of scientists do engineering...
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 11:30 AM
Response to Original message
8. He really is an engineer, with no scientific background (other than studying it;
but he never worked as a scientist).

Still, the moon mission was itself a scientific mission.

But on the other hand, there are clearly FAR MORE bona fide scientists who should get mention before Armstrong.
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sspeilbergfan90 Donating Member (50 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 04:05 PM
Response to Original message
9. Ok, that's just nonsense
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PavePusher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-26-09 11:03 PM
Response to Original message
10. One does not need advanced degrees and pieces of paper with silly ink patterns..
to be an actual scientist.

In fact, the pursuit of those stupid pieces of paper have gotten in the way of more actual science than you can shoot a proton at.
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