So NASA now has an unofficial new slogan. I kinda like it. It's pretty true of what NASA does and comes from an inventive vlogger Hank Green. The most recent video can be seen below, which NASA helped to make.
It initially started with Green's video "Top 5 Awesome Things About the Webb Telescope" and has been quickly taken up by the community as a great way to describe NASA and reasoning for supporting continued scientific support in the United States. It is especially important Congress is debating the science budget that currently leaves scientists in limbo. The main thing that is clear is that both the House and the Senate are proposing cuts to science funding, with the most massive proposed cuts coming from House Republicans. (See this Nature chart for the numbers) Those cuts also include the EPA, NIST, NSF, Department of Energy, NIH and CDC.
I had also recently mentioned SETI's budget woes, and donated $5 to the cause. But over at μcosmologist they have a great infographic on SETI. Of course, if you need a good reason why you should support SETI, listen to the words of Carl Sagan.
There is also the good news that Osama bin Laden is dead, as I'm sure most of you have heard by now. I don't know that some of the celebrations over the death of a man are warranted, it is better move for humanity though, decreasing the suck. But, I do have to mention one observation that kinda struck me, a tweet from Neil deGrasse Tyson: Two American goals that took a decade, and more than $100 billion to achieve: 1) Walk on the Moon 2) Find Bin Laden.
|From xkcd, another wonderful webcomic.|
I try to imagine a world, were after the decade spent going to the Moon, we spent the subsequent decades pushing further out into space, where now we could be exploring the Outer Solar System more then just by sending the occasional probe out there. It could have been an even more amazing time, and we may have avoided a reality with the disasters committed by those who seek only to inspire terror and fear.
I think a befitting line for this is the hover text quote from that comic above: "The Universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space -- each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision."
It's a sobering time, but I'm also optimistic about it. We are in a Golden Age of astronomy, we have learned more about our place in the Universe in the past 20-50 years then in the entirety of human history. It's a great feeling. For the first time we are able to put telescopes into space to peer into its darkest corners and listen to its darkest secrets. We cannot allow those eyes and ears to be shut, eventually we will need to seize upon the stars. The Earth won't be habitable forever, something we are becoming more and more aware of through the study of our home.
But more countries are getting into the space business. With China ramping things up and Iran looking at getting into the fray, as well as SpaceX pioneering corporate space flight, we are on the brink of a new space race that might just kick start a change in U.S. policy. The future is space, there is no doubt about that, its just a matter of making people believe in decreasing the suck and increasing the awesome.
On a more positive/humorous note, I thought this film looks kinda awesome based off of the trailer:
From the io9.com description:
Buddy Holly Is Alive And Well on Ganymede
Based on the book by Bradley Denton, John Heder plays Buddy Holly who is still very much alive and working on secret space missions across the universe. Here is the first teaser trailer for the film. Looks extraordinarily sweet.
Here's a synopsis of the novel:
When televisions worldwide begin broadcasting a nonstop, noninterruptible live performance by Buddy Holly purporting to originate somewhere in the vicinity of Jupiter, Oliver Vale—the apparent object of the broadcasts—finds himself drafted for a mission so secret that even he is not sure of its purpose. Denton fills this supremely funny novel with warring space aliens disguised as humans, a robot dog, a psychopathic assassin, an overzealous psychologist and her jealous husband, a motorcycle gang, and a messianic televangelist—all to prove that rock 'n' roll never really died.