Great news about NASA‘s success with the Curiosity Rover landing on Mars. Good reason to be excited, not only to recognize the sheer magnitude of achievement, but also for what is yet to come. The earliest images, specifically those from the descent camera, had everyone elated. But did you know that they almost didn’t happen?
A little reported story came over CNN by their science guy, John Zarrella, about Mike Malin, head of Malin Space Science Systems, a small company in San Diego. They have been designing, building, and operating space camera systems for the past twenty years. On this mission, to cut costs NASA decided to kill that descent camera after already spending a million dollars on it. Mike then found ways to finish the project through other funding sources, one of which was his own pocket. “Eighty thousand,” when asked he said with a big smile, “But wasn’t it worth it!” Check out the brief clip here.
So, in a country where the science community is applauded on one hand for it brilliance (but shortchanged on the funding front), that same brilliance and critical thinking is ridiculed by a significant portion of the public over issues like climate change. While more serious signs emerged this past week in a paper published by the National Academy of Sciences, some of the most vociferous deniers are the same people happy to fund programs like Louisiana’s School Voucher System. This little gem will allow millions to be spent in one of the worst school systems in the nation. Maybe on computers, or broadened subjects, or maybe even expanding (or simply initiating) music and art programs. One would hope. But no According to Mother Jones: “Thanks to a new law privatizing public education in Louisiana, Bible-based curriculum can now indoctrinate young, pliant minds with the good news of the Lord – all on the taxpayers’ dime.”
One last note: These same people, who very well might sway the coming election, think that early earth history was something akin to Fred Flintstone riding dinosaurs 10,000 years ago. That kind of thinking will will be a great help in navigating us through the difficult times ahead!
A mixed bag of images today, some fossils (mostly plant, Devonian, from Schoharie County) and BFF ( Before Fred Flintstone!), others just some interesting rocks from the last hike.Don’t forget to look out for the Perseid Meteor Shower on the nights of August 11 through 13. If the skies are clear you’ll see a great show.
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