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US Astronomy Facing Severe Budget Cuts and Facility Closures

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the but-i-like-pie-in-the-sky dept.

Government 157

Nancy_A writes "The U.S. astronomy budget is facing unprecedented cuts, including the potential closure of several facilities. A new report by the National Science Foundation's Division of Astronomical Sciences says available funding for ground-based astronomy could undershoot projected budgets by as much as 50%. The report recommends the closure – called 'divestment' in the new document — of iconic facilities such as the Very Long Baseline Array and the Green Bank Radio Telescope, as well as shutting down four different telescopes at the Kitt Peak Observatory by 2017."

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157 comments

But we can have .. (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41029285)

All the rockets we want, as long as they are ordered by the Pentagon.

Science, it's now for total warfare.

The military does drive space science... (5, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | about 2 years ago | (#41029469)

...and has throughout our history — but it shouldn't be the only thing that drives space science and other human achievement.

If you're interested in a truly insightful and inspiring speech on this topic, I highly encourage you to set aside an hour for Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson's recent talk on just this subject at the University of Wisconsin - Madison:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqJzHHkmJ-8 [youtube.com]

It's well worth your time to watch, to think about — and to discuss with your elected officials.

Re:The military does drive space science... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41029793)

tax breaks for oil companies? Always in the plan.

Solar and stellar astronomy? Cut.

"Then we're stupid, and we're going to die"

--Khyris

Re:But we can have .. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41029543)

And we can support welfare scum in the name of being dumb dirty liberals! Keep on supporting the dregs. People need to stand on their own.

Re:But we can have .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41029797)

Stop strawmanning. You are a liberal, and everyone can tell. You're not the clever trickster you're imagining yourself to be.

Re:But we can have .. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41029571)

You think we rode to the moon on civilian hardware? Those were repurposed ICBMs made to blow up cities. The SALT treaties put an end to them.

MOST of the cool stuff NASA did in the 60's was on military hardware or tests for the air force (using air force hardware).

You seem shocked as if this is a new thing. The same people who build the NASA hardware (what they do build) are the same ones who build the military hardware. NASA has always been getting other agencies leftovers... Pretty much the shuttle is the only BIG project that they did all by themselves.

Re:But we can have .. (2, Informative)

bwintx (813768) | about 2 years ago | (#41029759)

Pretty much the shuttle is the only BIG project that they did all by themselves.

Um, Saturn 5?

Re:But we can have .. (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41029945)

What, you mean the series of rockets developed by Wernher von Braun, based on the German V-2 rocket?

Re:But we can have .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41030035)

Wrong. Saturn V was not based on the V-2. Redstone and Jupiter-C were based on the V-2.

Re:But we can have .. (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41030997)

Then I suggest you update the Wikipedia page and cite some sources, cause right now it states:

"The Saturn V's design stemmed from the designs of the V-2 and Jupiter series rockets. As the success of the Jupiter series became evident, the Saturn series emerged."

Re:But we can have .. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41031289)

It's kind of silly to say that Saturn V "stemmed from the designs," given that they didn't use the same engines, the engines were of completely different thrust classes, they didn't even use the same propellants (Kerolox for the 1st stage and LH2/LOx for the 2nd and 3rd stages), and certainly the tankage and other structures used on the Saturn V weren't based on anything related to the V-2 and Jupiter rockets at least as far as I know. One could maybe make a case that the Saturn I/Ib was "Jupiter/Redstone derived" given that the S1 stage used a cluster of Jupiter and Redstone tanks and used engines derived from those used on Jupiter, but this case could not be made for Saturn V because it used none of that. So yes, Wikipedia is quite wrong, Saturn V was not derived from V2 or Jupiter and if you discount the S-IVB stage (developed as a second stage for the Saturn IB, but originally intended for Saturn V), no major components from Saturn V flew on Saturn I or any other rocket. It was a clean sheet design.

Try here if you want to know more about Saturn's history: http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4206/sp4206.htm

Re:But we can have .. (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 2 years ago | (#41030167)

The Saturn V was very much yet another military pissing contest project, specifically with the Russians and used the usual suspects, Boeing, North American Aviation (of P-51 fame) and Douglas Aircraft as contractors, and Nazi scientists providing the brains. All technologies developed were also very much developed by and intended for subsequent military application. The shuttle, inherited much of the Saturn V technology and was also NOT a NASA project, but another cabal of MIC contractors from the Saturn V project as well as now a few others. NASA hasn't done any significant launch vehicles on their own.

Re:But we can have .. (1)

ukemike (956477) | about 2 years ago | (#41031933)

the Saturn V technology and was also NOT a NASA project, but another cabal of MIC contractors from the Saturn V project as well as now a few others. NASA hasn't done any significant launch vehicles on their own.

If your opinion mattered what you said would be a huge slap in the face of the THOUSANDS of American engineers and scientists who worked on the space program.

Re:But we can have .. (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41030293)

The Saturn 5 used the F-1 engine which was initially developed for the Air Force. They halted that when they realized they didn't need an engine that big, but initial development was for military purposes. And of course it was developed by German scientists who headed the whole Saturn family, from experience they had from developing the V-2 rockets. So really, it was, at least indirectly, developed by the Nazis.

Re:But we can have .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41031311)

The OP said that we went to the moon on repurposed ICBMs. "Rocket developed for military purposes" does not equate to "ICBM."

Re:But we can have .. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41031435)

Mercury and Gemini were launched on repurposed ballistic missile platforms (Redstone, Atlas, Titan). Apollo wasn't.

Re:But we can have .. (1)

ukemike (956477) | about 2 years ago | (#41031991)

The F-1 engine is about as close to the V1 as a 1985 Porsche 911 is to a 1951 VW beetle.

Re:But we can have .. (0)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 2 years ago | (#41029999)

Pretty much the shuttle is the only BIG project that they did all by themselves.

Military influence in the shuttle design process [wikipedia.org] caused the shuttle to be oversized, and thus mounted horizontally relative to the fuel instead of on top of it. This led to the deaths of two crews.

Re:But we can have .. (4, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 2 years ago | (#41030021)

You think we rode to the moon on civilian hardware? Those were repurposed ICBMs made to blow up cities. The SALT treaties put an end to them.

Cool story bro. Too bad it's completely wrong.

The Saturn series rockets were designed by Von Braun's team to launch military satellites into low earth orbit. Every single one of them was launched from Cape Canaveral. The Saturn V was the largest of the Saturn series and was built for the purpose of launching astronauts into space. NASA never launched astronauts on rockets that were not designed to be human-rated.

The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) treaty (more specifically SALT I) agreement was made in May 1971 which is a little late for the Saturn V to repurposed since it flew from Nov 9, 1967 to Dec 6, 1972.

BTW, ICBM were originally mounted on Atlas rockets then were replaced by the Titan II rockets.

Re:But we can have .. (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41030499)

BTW, ICBM were originally mounted on Atlas rockets then were replaced by the Titan II rockets.

And those Atlas rockets [wikipedia.org] carried the first Americans into orbit. Slightly modified to be "man rated", of course, but it was based on the ICBM and was most certainly not designed from the ground up for manned missions. Of course NASA would never launch astronauts on non-man-rated rockets, that's the whole point of "man rated".

Re:But we can have .. (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 2 years ago | (#41030731)

You are correct the Mercury missions used the Atlas LV-3B rockets. The LV-3B were derived from the Atlas SM-65D design (as noted in your wikipedia link). The mercury missions were orbital missions. The grand parent posts referred to Lunar mission which was the Apollo missions done on Saturn rockets. Both Mercury and Apollo missions were done prior to the Salt I treaty agreement.

Also I forgot to mention that the rockets used in our nuclear defense program are still being repurposed for non-manned science missions.

Re:But we can have .. (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#41031053)

The Saturn V was not a repurposed ICBM. It was specifically designed for space launch.

Re:But we can have .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41031251)

Pretty much the shuttle is the only BIG project that they did all by themselves.

Ahhh, no. The shuttle was built to launch and recover KH=11 spy satellites [wikipedia.org] . Wasn't used for very many that are public knowledge though.

Re:But we can have .. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41031941)

You think we rode to the moon on civilian hardware?

Who wouldn't think that? It's true after all. The taint of private enterprise is all over any government endeavor, much less Apollo.

Re:But we can have .. (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 2 years ago | (#41032091)

You think we rode to the moon on civilian hardware? Those were repurposed ICBMs made to blow up cities. The SALT treaties put an end to them.

MOST of the cool stuff NASA did in the 60's was on military hardware or tests for the air force (using air force hardware).

Nobody's going to dispute that the military has produced some major technological breakthroughs. A lot of the early efforts in computing were military cryptographic efforts, the military played a critical role in developing navigational technologies like radar and later GPS, and of course, DARPA brought us the internet.

But there are a couple of things to keep in mind here. First, I'd argue it's pretty hard *not* to have one or two major technological breakthroughs when you're spending $700 billion per year. The question isn't whether the military produces major technological advances, the question is whether it would be more cost-effective to fund pure research, rather than hope that pissing away trillions in Iraq and Afghanistan somehow nets us an innovative technology. If your goal is research ,distributing $700 billion to civilians to do blue-sky research and R&D would probably create a lot more of that.

Second, while the military may have driven civilian technology in the past, that seems to be less true today. These days, we see the military increasingly using civilian technology- hooking together PlayStation processors to create a supercomputer, using Xbox controllers to pilot predator drones, using iPods as ballistics computers for sniper rifles... that kind of thing. More and more, we see that the military is leapfrogging on civilian technology, not the other way around. So even if funding the military may have produced innovation in the past, that seems less true today.

Simple solution (2, Funny)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 2 years ago | (#41029309)

Tell congress we're under attack from space A-rabs and we need surveillance equipment pronto. We also need drones to go up there and find out what's going on. And manned craft as well just for good measure in case the drones miss anything.

It could work for Mars too (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 2 years ago | (#41029883)

See the grant proposal [smbc-comics.com] .

Hey NASA, idea: (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | about 2 years ago | (#41029311)

Kickstarter

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41029409)

Kickstarter

Y'know, I'd really like to see the government take an approach like that on things. Not just assume we're all going to keep paying out taxes for whatever that bunch of idiots in Congress deems fit and proper. When I look at some budgets and calculate my share, I'm not sure I really feel like paying that much for some things.

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41029423)

It sounds neat, but lots of stuff would end up unfunded. I predict the same things that are being unfunded today.

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (3, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41029477)

Typical. You have no clue how much something takes to do, so naturally you assume your share is tooo much.

Here is a clue: Tax dollars aren't yours. Ever. They are all ours, societies. DO you really want New York, Detroit and Dallas and California to be the effective determination for all tax money?

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41029627)

Typical. You have no clue how much something takes to do, so naturally you assume your share is tooo much.

Here is a clue: Tax dollars aren't yours. Ever. They are all ours, societies. DO you really want New York, Detroit and Dallas and California to be the effective determination for all tax money?

Figure this: WW II was funded by the sale of bonds. Bond drives went on everywhere and were widely supported by the entertainment industry to underwrite the massive expense of a massive undertaking. But today we don't buy War Bonds, it's assumed we are all going to pony up $5,000 (on average) for our share of the annual Pentagon Budget, for whatever they decide they need. Let. Me. Tell. You. $5,000 is probably what I could have afforded for war bonds, had I lived in the 1940's in 1940's adjusted dollars. But this has been on-going since after the war ended and is still eating up a high percentage of our GDP, for years on end, even when we are at complete peace.

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (2)

Mitreya (579078) | about 2 years ago | (#41029845)

even when we are at complete peace.

We must be bombing a dozen foreign countries on regular basis (now with drones). We are hardly "at peace". Oh, and we are in "War on Terror" which is projected to end approximately never.
Congress needs to man up and demand that the Administration has to get damn permission and issue official war declaration in order to bomb anyone. And de-fund any and all money that goes toward "unofficial" offensive military action.

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (2, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41030043)

even when we are at complete peace.

We must be bombing a dozen foreign countries on regular basis (now with drones). We are hardly "at peace". Oh, and we are in "War on Terror" which is projected to end approximately never.

Congress needs to man up and demand that the Administration has to get damn permission and issue official war declaration in order to bomb anyone. And de-fund any and all money that goes toward "unofficial" offensive military action.

Before 2001 we were at peace, with the only event since 1991 (Desert Storm) being a few cruise missles lobbed into Serbia to bring them to heel. Yet our military spending, despite cuts and closures, still ranked high while the Pentagon found all manner of toys in its version of the Sears & Roebucks Catalog that it just couldn't live without. Even when we're not at war, we're preparing for total war.

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#41030265)

even when we are at complete peace.

We must be bombing a dozen foreign countries on regular basis (now with drones). We are hardly "at peace". Oh, and we are in "War on Terror" which is projected to end approximately never.

Congress needs to man up and demand that the Administration has to get damn permission and issue official war declaration in order to bomb anyone. And de-fund any and all money that goes toward "unofficial" offensive military action.

Before 2001 we were at peace, with the only event since 1991 (Desert Storm) being a few cruise missles lobbed into Serbia to bring them to heel. Yet our military spending, despite cuts and closures, still ranked high while the Pentagon found all manner of toys in its version of the Sears & Roebucks Catalog that it just couldn't live without. Even when we're not at war, we're preparing for total war.

Also the cost of a bombing campaign like the one in Libya was "only" about $US1 billion for the US side of things.

The DOD's annual budget for 2012 was $US683 billion.

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about 2 years ago | (#41029853)

Last I checked there was still a war on.

While I served in Iraq and never have stepped foot in Afghanistan... I suspect those who have would take umbrage with your stated position.

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (2)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 2 years ago | (#41030095)

To bad the current war on two fronts are not only unfunded with bonds earmarked for the war effort, but the republican president that started them gave a huge tax break to the wealthy at the same time. This set up the US government to have a huge spike in debt which has gotten us in this mess in the first place.

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#41030279)

Also one has to wonder how enthusiastic people would have been for the war if in the lead up to it the US government were front loading some of the tax costs. If every time it came up, the future annual tax increases for "Iraq invasion" were mentioned.

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (1)

publiclurker (952615) | about 2 years ago | (#41030705)

How about a nice war tax. A simple, flat, per person amount for the previous years war costs. Heck, I'd even let them space each year out over 5-10 plus interest. Do that and I can assure you that the chicken hawks starting these wars would be a lot quieter.

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#41030881)

Actually they wouldn't be - flat tax's are disproportionately regressive, and military-industrial complex has made out like bandits from the wars. Halliburton would get the army's of lobbyists in.

Although, you're right in the sense that the people we need to reach on these issues are not the upper 1%, but the masses of people who either don't care to vote against them or perversely keep voting for them. But I'd much rather target the people who tend to profit from the current wars in the only language they understand and simply tax progressively. But make sure that every single person in the country saw a little "War Costs" itemized breakdown on their tax bill, with a note for which conflict it was.

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (2)

hsmith (818216) | about 2 years ago | (#41030075)

Yes, we are all slaves to society. You have no right to your labor, only what the government lets you keep.

No (1)

publiclurker (952615) | about 2 years ago | (#41030729)

you can leave any time you want. Of course the kinds of places that would take a self-important whiner don't realy have the sort of society that you could sponge off of, so I guess you'll just have to sit there and have your temper tantrum.

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41031927)

Here is a clue: Tax dollars aren't yours. Ever. They are all ours, societies.

Sure, I grant that my tax dollars are gone squandered on whatever fads we think we need. But I'll also strive to make sure as much of my pre-tax income (and everyone else's pre-tax income) doesn't fall into our incompetent, greedy hands.

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about 2 years ago | (#41029747)

Better idea: vote.

Re:Hey NASA, idea: (1)

KGIII (973947) | about 2 years ago | (#41030163)

For whom? /votes third party almost exclusively

Get the public interested. (3, Interesting)

stevenh2 (1853442) | about 2 years ago | (#41029327)

The interest of the general public could help keep funding. If people never heard of it, they will not notice or care.

Re:Get the public interested. (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 2 years ago | (#41029445)

Interesting? SyFy is WAY more interesting. Got it? The real Universe? Pretty irrelevant. In scale just as much as every single one of us is irrelevant to It.

Re:Get the public interested. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41029711)

Interesting? SyFy is WAY more interesting. Got it? The real Universe? Pretty irrelevant. In scale just as much as every single one of us is irrelevant to It.

The difference is, when a few Redshirts are dusted on Star Trek the nation doesn't stop what its doing. When we landed on the Moon the world watched. When we landed Curiousity on Mars a lot of people around the world still paid attention. High profile things are still able to get funding, but when an new telescope is proposed to study how the universe was made, it comes in pretty distant down the list. Some people don't care and some people don't want answers which challenge the answers they've already accepted.

Re:Get the public interested. (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 2 years ago | (#41030221)

but when an new telescope is proposed to study how the universe was made, it comes in pretty distant down the list

That's because the politicians & taxpayers already *know* how the universe was made: Jesus's daddy waved it into being one afternoon. Case closed.

Re:Get the public interested. (1)

Keith111 (1862190) | about 2 years ago | (#41030415)

Even though its been however many years since SciFi channel renamed themselves, everytime I read "Syfy" it still causes me brief intellectual pain and suffering.

Re:Get the public interested. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41029483)

The interest of the general public could help keep funding. If people never heard of it, they will not notice or care.

I think that's one thing behind getting more pretty pictures out to the public as quick as they can. But we had a speaker at our astronomy club from the Little SDO and the advances in solar observing are startling (and quite likely of considerable value) and I don't think some people are as aware of these programs as I wish they were.

Re:Get the public interested. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41029681)

It's just easier to make snide remarks than to get active in showing our "leadership" what really matters to us.

Can't have it all (0)

zerosomething (1353609) | about 2 years ago | (#41029371)

You can't have everything you want. Subsidize this worthy project, pay for that worthy endeavor, save this thing or that. There's a limited amount of money the Government has for these things. Even if you tax at 100% you can't fund it all!

Re:Can't have it all (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41029449)

While that is totally true, we could just try a couple less wars, or raising the retirement age, or any number of sane ideas to pay for something this small.

At this point as the US gov can borrow money at negative rates, we might as well do that.

Re:Can't have it all (2)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41029697)

While that is totally true, we could just try a couple less wars, or raising the retirement age, or any number of sane ideas to pay for something this small.

Cut military spending, yes. Per the constitution, no military budget can exceed two years, so that should be a quick action.

Raising the retirement age, however, is robbing Peter to pay Paul. With a real unemployment rate in the vicinity of 20%, this will just lead to more people receiving unemployment benefits, a cost that is much higher per individual than medicare is.
Bring down unemployment first (and start being honest about it, not removing long term unemployed from the counts), and then increase the pension age.

Re:Can't have it all (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41029901)

I agree on both.

The reality is though the retirement age should be in the 70s by now. People should not be spending 20+ years retired.

Re:Can't have it all (2)

0racle (667029) | about 2 years ago | (#41030101)

Why should people spend all of their time working?

Re:Can't have it all (1)

avandesande (143899) | about 2 years ago | (#41030249)

They can retire whenever they want if they pay for it.

Re:Can't have it all (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#41030325)

It's also an attitude born of the upper class, where a lifetime in suits and air conditioned office's certainly allows you to keep going well past the retirement age.

Manual labor jobs, things involving heavy lifting or the like, it is physically not possible to keep doing into your 60s nor would it make any sense to try and make people do.

Re:Can't have it all (1)

swan5566 (1771176) | about 2 years ago | (#41030443)

Social Security was initially set up to be where retirement was around the average life expectancy. It hasn't changed because no politician wanted to commit political suicide, even though life expectancy has gone up. The whole notion of having "retirement years" for every average joe resulted.

Re:Can't have it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41031001)

but in a physical labor job, you will be fired before you hit 70. It's not even age discrimination, you are no longer physically capable of doing the job.

Re:Can't have it all (1, Flamebait)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#41031525)

Oh yeah? The free market capitalism actually allowed the people to cut down on the amount of time they had to spend working, that's what allowed the people to work 5 days a week and 8 hours a day, you can look up Henry Ford as an example of how that was done, while people were paid more and more because of how productive they became.

The gov't stepped in with all the money printing and all the SS and Medicare schemes, and instead of getting the benefit of the higher productivity and working fewer hours and a shorter week (why not 4 or 3 days a week a this point?) the people are again forced to work 60 or more hours a week to survive and now they'll have to do it for more years again, instead of having to work for fewer years by just being more productive and gaining more purchasing power.

The government programs, gov't spending, gov't system has destroyed the benefit of the productivity that the free market capitalism provided.

I would love to take all the Socialists, Marxists, Communists and simply put them together on the other side of the planet from myself, while the people who value individual liberties and freedoms could be free from these parasites, destroyers of life, the anti-life forms on the other side of the planet.

On the necessity for collective action (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | about 2 years ago | (#41031719)

I would love to take all the Socialists, Marxists, Communists and simply put them together on the other side of the planet from myself,

You and what army?

Re:On the necessity for collective action (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#41031975)

The bond holders and basically the productive part of the society, which will end this nonsense by stopping the subsidy.

Re:Can't have it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41031267)

Cutting military spending is taking a short term saving for huge long term costs. Look how well appeasement worked out in the 1930's and 1990's.

Re:Can't have it all (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41029533)

Yes, but science is stupid to cut. The long term survival of the country is in Science and engineering. If your society doesn't do that, then you are done as a civilized society.

How about we cut 1 bomber instead?

Re:Can't have it all (1, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#41029773)

The long term survival of the country is in Science and engineering. If your society doesn't do that, then you are done as a civilized society.

Thank goodness Congress was there to develop electricity, automobiles, radio, and telephones!

Oh, wait, those all happened before general income taxes when people still had money to spend on preposterous ideas.

Re:Can't have it all (3, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#41030351)

The long term survival of the country is in Science and engineering. If your society doesn't do that, then you are done as a civilized society.

Thank goodness Congress was there to develop electricity, automobiles, radio, and telephones!

Oh, wait, those all happened before general income taxes when people still had money to spend on preposterous ideas.

It sure was a good thing those private companies built a massive national highway infrastructure for automobiles to run on, or standardized, built and maintained the telephone and electricity grids.

Re:Can't have it all (0)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#41030437)

It sure was a good thing those private companies built a massive national highway infrastructure for automobiles to run on

It's true, the States seized most of the private highways in the 1800's. The important point was that the automobile was built to run on horse-carriage roads; there was no infrastructure work specific to the automobile before it was invented.

or standardized, built and maintained the telephone and electricity grids.

You think the governments build and maintain the telephone and electricity grids?

Re:Can't have it all (2)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 2 years ago | (#41030829)

That very wonderful to say, but relatively speaking each and every one of those are incomparable to technologies coming out of government sponsored research. It really is quite amazing how quickly people forget the ancestry of things such as the Internet, passenger jets, computers, and nuclear power.

Government is an invaluable and very necessary patron of the sciences. No sane business would invest in anything that doesn't have a near term payout let alone things such as basic physics. If private finance were the answer to funding science we would have had the first computers in the 1830's not the 1930's. Babbage could never find a patron willing to pony up the dough. Who they hell would finance things such as the Tevatron, the LHC, Hubble telescope, Curiosity, etc.? What kind of prosthetic limbs do you think our returning soldiers, athletes (yes athletes!), etc. would have? What kind of trauma care do you think you'd receive?

The very foundation of the incomparable yet regrettably eroding science and engineering prowess of the United States private sector would not exist with out the patronage of the U.S. government by way of tax payer dollars.

Re:Can't have it all (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41029785)

Yes, but science is stupid to cut. The long term survival of the country is in Science and engineering. If your society doesn't do that, then you are done as a civilized society.

How about we cut 1 bomber instead?

Pfft. Typical liberal educated elite liberal overanalytical liberal LIBERAL. Can't keep a grasp on the big picture, now, can you, young'un?

Here, let me explain: Back in the 50s and 60s, America was on top of the world. We were clearly the best country that ever was or ever will be. Congress knows this because they all grew up then, and some of them killed a few Nazis, maybe. But now we're falling behind. And why do you think THAT is, huh?

No, you smartass young punk, it's because of SCIENCE. See, back then, we knew everything. Then you liberal science liberal types came by and told us we didn't. You know what happens when you do that? That's right, we get all confused and the country falls off-track and we lose sight of our goals and God.

So the sooner we can get this whole "science" nonsense taken out of the picture, the better. After all, our generation, THE GREATEST GENERATION, won't live forever if you tykes keep changing things! As soon as we get back to what made America great, we can get back to selling eight-ton cars, trench guns, and player pianos. And if we need anything else — which I SERIOUSLY doubt, and you can trust me on that — we can just import them from those foreigners in Asialand. That'll never come back to bite us.

Re:Can't have it all (1)

Zephyn (415698) | about 2 years ago | (#41030523)

Yes, but science is stupid to cut. The long term survival of the country is in Science and engineering. If your society doesn't do that, then you are done as a civilized society.

How about we cut 1 bomber instead?

Pfft. Typical liberal educated elite liberal overanalytical liberal LIBERAL. Can't keep a grasp on the big picture, now, can you, young'un?

Here, let me explain: Back in the 50s and 60s, America was on top of the world.

1950-1963: Top tax bracket: 91-92%
1964-1969: Top tax bracket: 70-77%

Are those really the times you want to go back to?

Current top tax bracket: 35%

Source: National Taxpayers Union [ntu.org]

Re:Can't have it all (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | about 2 years ago | (#41029757)

Shut down the military... before we have not anything worth defending

Re:Can't have it all (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#41029795)

There's a limited amount of money the Government has for these things

<statistvampire>Hiissssssssss</statistvampire>

Re:Can't have it all (2)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#41030863)

We piss away hundreds of millions of dollars each year on useless trash, and then complain we can't afford Science. What a surprise right? I mean, just 2 weeks ago President Obama gave 25million dollars to the Rebels in Syria. That is just the most recent example of hundreds possible that does not include the Wars we are currently waging.

Let us face facts. The majority of people in Politics right now that care about 1 thing, and here is a clue: It sure as hell is not bettering our society. Keep defending the actions of the R and D people, it's helping us so much as a society.

By the way, the fix is to clean house. As a start go vote and push a button without a D or an R for everything possible in November. If they lie and cheat to stay in, we have bigger issues but at least we tried to clean house. If it works, we may have a bit of a chaotic start to 2013, but at least we have a chance to stop racing to the bottom.

Dark ages (1, Troll)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41029427)

We are hurtling headlong towards another dark ages.

Re:Dark ages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41029717)

Astronomy, astrology it's all the same and all useless and a waste of money...Rand Paul

Re:Dark ages (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41029847)

We are hurtling headlong towards another dark ages.

What do you mean, "towards"?
With 80% of the population believing in miracles, it'll take a miracle to elevate ourselves out of the dark ages.

Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41029453)

These astonomers just need to have a Wall Street mailing address and then tell the government that if they don't get money, the universe will end.

Or say that they have seen a potential asteriod headed for Earth and likely to hit Washinton DC and if they don't get their money, they won't be able to track it. Also, they need funding of every other astoronmical projects becuase that research is needed to support the anti-Washinton DC destroying asteroid detector thingy.

Also, into the request that due to the budget cuts, they'll have to sell all of their data drives which so happens -somewhere - there are images of Congressmen: picking up gay men, sleeping with young women that aren't their wives, taking bribes, skipping church, etc .....those stinking telescopes pick up so much!

Congress is so scientifically illiterate, you could convince them of anything.

There are many ways of blackm ... convincing Congresscritters that your project is absolutely necessary for the nation's security.

BTW, my grant writing service has a 100% guarantee.

Money (1)

SuperTechnoNerd (964528) | about 2 years ago | (#41029459)

Well it does not make money or help the rich get richer, in fact it costs money. I say shut it down!
Silly geeks with telescopes....

tax guzzling faggits (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41029507)

don't tax me for no mother fuckin telescopes

Mass non-white immigration... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41029523)

... thanks to the Jewish parasites who feed off you suckers...

Your country is being turned into Brazil, and all so that the Jews can continue to print money from nothing (Federal Reserve, and fractional reserve banking) and ensure that the population is so STUPID they will never question what is happening. Can't have a country full of white people - they might separate from the international banking system, and then the poor Jews won't be able to force their 'cattle' (that's you and me) to work for them as their slaves...

http://archive.org/stream/HowHitlerDefiedTheInternationalBankers/HowHitlerDefiedTheBankers_djvu.txt

"Canadian researcher Dr. Henry Makow (who is Jewish himself) says the main reason
why the bankers arranged for a world war against Germany was that Hitler sidestepped
the bankers by creating his own money, thereby freeing the German people. Worse, this
freedom and prosperity threatened to spread to other nations. Hitler had to be stopped! "

Just wondering (1)

zrbyte (1666979) | about 2 years ago | (#41029713)

Does this have anything to do with the James Webb [wikipedia.org] being over budget.

Re:Just wondering (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41029809)

Does this have anything to do with the James Webb [wikipedia.org] being over budget.

It will quite possibly. Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has done a lot for NASA PR. Amazing stuff. But James Webb isn't going to be about pretty pictures, it's about seeking answers to questions, questions the HST can't answer and no ground-based scope can do, because deep space IR doesn't penetrate the atmosphere.

When the USSR threw a silvery ball into orbit the US woke up, and answered a challenge issued by JFK. Now that China is making noise about landing on the Moon, people are 'Meh, who cares?' Times and attitudes have certainly changed. Not much national pride in scientific accomplishment.

Re:Just wondering (1)

mc6809e (214243) | about 2 years ago | (#41030519)

When the USSR threw a silvery ball into orbit the US woke up, and answered a challenge issued by JFK. Now that China is making noise about landing on the Moon, people are 'Meh, who cares?' Times and attitudes have certainly changed. Not much national pride in scientific accomplishment.

Remember that the Soviets at the beginning of WWII actually were aggressors that invaded Poland (and five other nations). It was obvious, then, that the Soviets weren't screwing around and were willing to use military power to get what they wanted (which happened to be a good deal of Eastern Europe).

When they put a silvery ball into orbit, it was frightening -- and for good reason given the Soviet's history.

We don't yet see China as that sort of aggressor(though their actions in the South China Sea might eventually be seen as evidence of a new desire for outward expansion).

Re:Just wondering - in verse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41031333)

"Surprise" by Leslie Fish
Remember the fifties, those fat complacent days
When the future seemed a century away?
Then up went Sputnik, gave the world a butt-kick,
And made it clear tomorrow starts today.

Beep beep, boop boop, hello there! (Gazhupa!)
Sputnik sails giggling through the skies. (hey! hey! hey!)
Red flags, red faces, jump in the race as
The space age begins with a surprise. (Surprise!)(more at url )
http://mindstalk.net/filk/surprise.txt [mindstalk.net]

Re:Just wondering (4, Informative)

hde226868 (906048) | about 2 years ago | (#41031075)

No, this has nothing to do with JWST being over budget. The review concerns the astronomy funding through the National Science Foundation, whose budget is independent of NASA's funding. NASA funds all of space based astronomy (including data analysis), while NSF funds ground based astronomy. NSF mainly funds the national optical astronomy observatory on Kitt Peak in Arizona and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, VA, with facilities in West Virginia and in New Mexico (plus some other states). In addition, NSF funds data analysis/theory grants. Overall, NSF's budget is much smaller than NASA's, but then, ground based hardware is much cheaper than space based. To put things in perspective: for about 50% of all university astronomers, NSF facilities are the only way to get optical observing time (the remainder of astronomers have access via privately funded telescopes, such as the Keck). The closures of the instruments proposed in the report to NSF essentially mean the US giving up its current leadership in large areas of radio astronomy, and significantly reducing access to medium sized facilities for optical astronomers, if the (realistic) flat budget for the astronomy program is realized.

I've seen this tactic before. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41029831)

The NSF wants to fund more than they're likely to get, so they tell everyone that they're going to have to shut down their big, high visibility programs in hopes that the resulting public outcry will result in them getting more funding so that they can fund all the little things they want funded, but are currently unlikely to get funded.

not just the NSF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41029939)

NASA's planetary science budget is being cut from (something like) $570 million/year, to (something like) $160 million a year. Unfortunately I lost the link now and those are just approximate numbers from memory, so probably a little wrong, but that was the ballpark.

This was expected to have a detrimental effect on the Curiosity program, as well as mean the cancellation of the two follow-on missions and several other far solar system probes.

Never mind that it only saves enough money to pay for 4 days in Afghanistan...

Re:not just the NSF (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#41030675)

Wrong comparison even though - I mean let's assume that we have to be in Afghanistan. That all that money isn't not going to armoring and arming actual US military personnel.

The F-22 program cost was $US 66.7 billion over about 14 years. $4.7 billion per year. The planes cost $150 million to produce each. The entire planetary science budget could have it's funding increased for less then the price of 4 of those planes per year. But that's programs over - unfair right?

Well then we have the F-35. Current production cost of the F-35A is US$197 million per unit. So 3 planes less a year to again, increase the funding of the planetary science budget. Total projected cost to date is $US 56.4 billion. That is probably going to go up. Total cost is projected at something like $323 billion for development and procurement.

So we have two new state-of-the-art fighter aircraft produced one after the other. In fact one was made, and another one was begun designing before the first program had even been mothballed. Neither is capable of replacing some of the planes the US actually needs - like the A-10 Warthog - for the wars the US actually fights - like in Afghanistan - where it's all about close-air support of ground forces.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan we have soldiers on the ground with insufficient body armor and unarmored Humm-Vees. Who'll come back to find veterans benefits programs being cut.

The US probably needs to stay well ahead in terms of military technology, but that sort of thing by all accounts could be done for a fraction of the current cost, while maintaining the same level of capability (in fact, probably gaining more, what with the idea of buying shit you actually need) and hey - as a sidebenefit you could maybe, just maybe, discover that fundamental science is surprisingly affordable.

Not in my backyard (1)

swan5566 (1771176) | about 2 years ago | (#41030007)

Every government agency and recipient of government funds receiving cuts has their own sob story right now - some more valid than others. Well, welcome to reality, where we are currently experiencing a recession.

But Obama said... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41030225)

I could have swarn our president just recently used the words "personal commitment" and "science and technology" in the same sentance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYUN9AWwui0 [youtube.com]

No need for space science in the New World Order (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41030653)

Once we create the Sustainable New World Order, we'll have no need for space science. No need to visit or colonize other planets. Our population will be culled to be sustainable by this planet alone. No huge dependence on world spanning power grids threatened by space storms. Nothing reaching higher than the mud huts the most of us will be living in.

If the US wants to regain respect in the world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41030667)

Stop creating policies which flow funds to your richest 1 percent and scrapping what the world truly cares about (your scientific endeavors). Other countries want a strong US that invests in the future for everyone that can act as a model to follow.

End of the American Century (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41030943)

People have argued whether it really is the end of the American Century. We are 11.5+ years into the new century, and yes, the American century is over. Was it caused by an invading army? Was it a biological contaigen? Was it a comet falling out of the sky? NO! It was bean counters and filthy-rich cheap bastards letting everything go to hell in a hand basket. They (the "Filthy-Rich Cheap Bastards") have for too long taken for granted what took generations to build up, and they are letting it all crumble. At some point, it will severely bite them in the ass, but they are willing to let a generation or two suffer while it doesn't affect them. Then at some point, Rome will burn and Caesar will fiddle and to put his reaction in the most modern of terms: Meh! The F.R.C.B.'s don't realise that the flooding Titanic doesn't just affect steerage and the lower classes, eventually the chills will cause the Astors to freeze too. If you start to worry when the stateroom down the hall starts to get wet, its too late. You will get dragged down into the abyss too. More financial terms: "A rising tide lifts all the boats", and here is another one: "A sinking ship will drown all passengers, F.R.C.B.'s too."

Just need a new player (1)

wallsg (58203) | about 2 years ago | (#41031193)

SETEC Astronomy

Look on the bright side.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41031307)

This way, it'll be quick and painless. We'll never even know what hit us.

Buffet (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 2 years ago | (#41031923)

As Mr. Buffet likes to lecture the rest of us about 'paying our fair share of taxes' and his feeling that he does not, how about stepping up to the plate and providing the funding for these projects as you clearly don't bother cutting the government a check for the shortfall you wish they would take (and that you can in fact send to them at anytime if you were inclined).

While the above is meant to be some what tongue in cheek, the larger point is that there are lots of billionaires and multimillionares in the US who could easily set up the necessary philanthropic fund to assure the continued survival of those observatories which are still able to do good science.

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