we did it again. i like to say ‘we’ although i did nothing more than passively agree to fund the mars curiosity rover program. oh, and be a fan of it. (i get to use ‘we’ regarding the olympic athletes too, just because they’re representing the usa in their foreign made uniforms)
there was a lot of gnashing of teeth when the u.s. ended the shuttle program, a lot of worry that the end of manned space flight meant the complete demise of space exploration. even as the mars rover program was chugging away. (interestingly, the very politicians who demonized the slashing of the nasa budget, represent states like alabama, florida and texas. keep those states in mind.)
okay so a rover on the surface of mars might not be as sexy as an astronaut on the moon, it was a huge challenge to create and will bring huge amounts of data to advance our knowledge base of mars and beyond. consider just what it took to land the http://abcnews.go.com/technology/mars-curiosity-rover-lands-successfully-mars/story?id=16934302#.ucfqq01lqmw. maybe the best thing that could happen is that the program just might ignite the curious minds of generations to come who will build upon what’s already been learned. that is if they ever study it in school.
c had the best quote (i’m paraphrasing here): ‘i hope the scientists associated with curiosity get a hell of a lot done and hurry up and plan another mission before they’re too old and the next generation of dunderheads kills science altogether.’
there’s reason to worry. 4 out of 10 americans believe in creationism as the only theory of how the earth and everything on it was made. at least 22 out of 50 states have had challenges to enact equal time laws for public schools to teach creationist theory alongside evolution (including alabama, florida and texas… remember those states?). 9 states proposed bills in 2011 alone. according to a 2009 study, the united states ranks 25th among 35 nations in science literacy.
in the words of isaak asimov “…it is precisely because it is fashionable for americans [and canadians, doubtless] to know no science, even though they may be well educated otherwise, that they so easily fall prey to nonsense. they thus become part of the armies of the night, the purveyors of nitwittery, the retailers of intellectual junk food, the feeders on mental cardboard, for their ignorance keeps them from distinguishing nectar from sewage.”
mars rover curiosity is nectar. the search for the bose higgs partical is nectar. denying the use of the most magnificent gift god or nature or (in the words of L) the giant spaghetti monster gave us in the name of said deity is sewage.