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Astronomy Portfolio Review Recommends Defunding US's Biggest Telescope

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the would-rather-by-half-a-jet-plane dept.

Government 192

derekmead writes "Data from the enormous Green Bank Telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory has been used to test some of Einstein's theories, discover new molecules in space, and find evidence of the building blocks of life and of the origins of galaxies. With 6,600 hours of observation time a year, the GBT produces massive amounts of data on the makeup of space, and any researchers with reason to use the data are welcome to do so. The eleven-year-old GBT stands as one of the crowning achievements of American big science. But with the National Science Foundation strapped for cash like most other science-minded government agencies, the NRAO's funding is threatened. In August of this year, the Astronomy Portfolio Review, a committee appointed by the NSF, recommended that the GBT be defunded over the next five years. Researchers, along with locals and West Virginia congressmen, are fighting the decision, which puts the nearly $100 million telescope at risk. Unless they succeed, America's giant dish will go silent."

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192 comments

Good (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41488957)

Good. That's a lot of money to be used to feed and provide health care to people.

Re:Good (2)

Soilworker (795251) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489005)

In your dream, everybody know they will put the money in they shitty army based on quantity instead of quality.

Re:Good (5, Insightful)

NFN_NLN (633283) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489323)

Good. That's a lot of money to be used to feed and provide health care to people.

In your dream, everybody know they will put the money in they shitty army based on quantity instead of quality.

You're both being silly... children and their education are what matters if the future of America has any chance. This money will be rightfully used to re-write text books to include creationism as a valid science.

Re:Good (2)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489007)

$10 million? I don't think that's going to feed and treat as many as you think.

Re:Good (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489179)

$10 million will fund medical care for about half a dozen elderly grandparents [blogspot.com] whose children won't let them die gracefully. With that money, the hospital will be able to pay the staff and buy the drugs and equipment to keep their bodily functions active without brain control for another few weeks. No amount of money will give dear old Grandma a realistic chance of recovery, but the beeping of the monitors will comfort her family a bit, while they wallow in fear and postpone the actual grief.

There is no punchline here. The fact that the most biased party possible still has near-absolute control over a dying person's medical treatment is just sad, and it's a major reason medical costs are so high for everyone else.

Re:Good (2)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489253)

Yeah because the corporate bureaucrats in the insurance companies are clearly non-biased when it comes to health care decisions.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489479)

Don't worry. Capitalism will rescue us all!

Just ask John Galt. If you can find him.

Re:Good (2)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489531)

He's long since dead. Had a pre-existing condition that his insurance company refused to pay for and he couldn't afford the costs himself.

Re:Good (2)

Thorodin (1999352) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489797)

Actually, capitalism on the whole, has been pretty darn good for the world.

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489961)

Actually, capitalism on the whole, has been pretty darn good for the world.

(Looks around)

Checks CO2 levels.
Checks water purity.
Checks air pollution levels.
Evaluates pesticides in food. ...

Looks at doctor's bill.

Yep, pretty good. If you define 'good' as maximal help for a limited class of human beings at the expense of large swaths of the population and the planet.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41490169)

Right, because socialist countries are carbon-neutral, have pure water, low pollution levels... etc.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41490511)

Large swaths of the population that would not be alive without capitalism?

Re:Good (1)

Thorodin (1999352) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489777)

And CMS (aka Medicare). They're just as bad as the insurance companies. They make the same kinds of decisions. Absolute refusal to pay for tests based on diagnostic code (even though the family doctor may know that person since their birth and knows the medical history).

Re:Good (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year and a half ago | (#41490613)

Medicare is far worse than private insurance. They pay less across the board and refuse to allow many types of treatment. They make the VA look good.

Re:Good (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489067)

And what is basic science today will feed millions in the future. I'm not saying this particular telescope will provide the insights necessary to advance overall economic productivity, but once shut down, it definitely won't.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489787)

We need birth control more than food. 6 billion people is more than enough.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489931)

We need conception control more than birth control. Stop it before it starts.

Re:Good (3, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489265)

Oh please! Stop with this delusion. The money will end up in some banker's pocket, just like every other time a cutback is made.

Re:Good (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489579)

Actually the money will land in climate science [climatesciencewatch.org]. Climatologists have first claim because they produce results (right or wrong, doesn't matter) that rationalize statism.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489315)

But first, let's eliminate all professional sports. Trillions of dollars are wasted on it. Also, ban pets: vast amounts of money is wasted on dogs and cats. Next, eliminate all TV, radio, and the arts in general.

Once that's done, we can start looking at defunding basic research.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489353)

What a dumb strawman. Most of what you mention is not funded by the government but through consumer spending. FAIL

Re:Good (1, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489651)

Which is exactly why it's critical that the government fund as much research as possible, because it's not going to happen any other way. Put a 100% tax on every sporting event, movie, concert, and TV advertisment and put all of that towards research. That would get us in the ballpark of funding enough research.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489657)

The aforementioned is a lot of money to be used to feed and provide health care to people. The original idiot poster did not mention government. FAIL.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489767)

Since this subject was about government spending it was pretty much implied. Also, there is not trillions spent on sports in the US, dumbshit. It's not even within a magnitude of that. Come up with a better strawman next time.

Re:Good (1)

mill3d (1647417) | about a year and a half ago | (#41490243)

The arts in general are the root of our modern culture. Cavemen were drawing how to hunt for future generations' reference before anyone began to write. Hieroglyphs anyone..? While I agree that pro sports go into the excessive, what is important here is to maintain a proper balance of everything rather than focusing on what is profitable for the next quarter. And make sure the real artists/scientists/engineers(...) get their fair share instead of their cut being withheld at the top. Astronomy is great and has been a daily human occupation since we could look up, other present wasteful occupations, not so much.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41490471)

And yet the US has $1.6 Billion PER YEAR going to subsidize cell phones for poor people.

Telescope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489023)

Isn't that the Telescope from X-men First Class, Magneto will be very angry if you defund that

Discrimination. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489041)

GBT? Screw them for leaving out Lesbians. They deserve to be defunded.

Silent? (5, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489063)

Unless they succeed, America's giant dish will go silent

OK, I know I'm being a bit of a pedant ... but it's listening, it's already silent. ;-)

That being said, this sucks ... the amount of actual science we do seem to keep falling. But we've got money to teach Creationism in schools.

Re:Silent? (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489305)

Creationism is all we'll have left to teach after real science is defunded and the church gets all the money instead.

Re:Silent? (2)

Jeng (926980) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489473)

That is an interesting thought. Teach the wrong things to children because it is cheaper than teaching facts.

Shit, so that is why the Republicans are so for "teaching the controversy", it makes so much sense now.

Re:Silent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489529)

That is an interesting thought. Teach the wrong things to children because it is cheaper than teaching facts.

Why not? It's been working for the last 40 years.

Re:Silent? (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489649)

...so that is why the Republicans are so...

I see no significant opposition from the democrats, so there's no point in trying to discuss only half the picture.

Re:Silent? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489775)

If only one side is pushing then that side is at fault whether the other side resists or not.

Re:Silent? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41490079)

Not true... "it takes two" Lack of resistance is implicit (if not explicit) approval, making them equally at fault.

Re:Silent? (1, Troll)

Thorodin (1999352) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489831)

Forget it. Name the most unpolitical or apolitical subject and in this election year, someone will blame either Romney or Obama or Rep or Dem.

Re:Silent? (4, Insightful)

StormReaver (59959) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489563)

But we've got money to teach Creationism in schools

Teaching Creationism doesn't require any money...or evidence....or logic...or intelligence....or anything else. It's dirt cheap to teach, as it relies only upon what someone wants to believe at any given moment in time.

Real universal-level science, on the other hand, is very expensive. It requires the ability to make observations, the attention to detail and time necessary to evaluate and collate enormous amounts of data, the ability to accurately spot and eliminate flawed data, and a tremendous ability to arrive at logical conclusions based on said valid data. And it requires a LOT of money to build and maintain facilities needed to acquire such data.

To summarize:

Teaching Fantasy: Dirt Cheap.
Expanding Human Knowledge: Not Dirt Cheap.

Re:Silent? (3, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489973)

the amount of actual science we do seem to keep falling.

From my perspective it seems the opposite. I'm a biologist, more powerful tools are coming out faster than I can keep up with them. When I started my PhD, the microscope we had was really nice. By the end, it was essentially obsolete. It was a laser scanning confocal, a spinning disc was installed next door that was much faster and a super-resolution microscope was on it's way. That was a few months ago.

There are potential budget cuts looming unless the tea party and republicans suddenly decide they'd rather cooperate with Obama and be rational. And that is annoying and stupid, but look at the funding for the national institute of health, which sponsors a lot of biology research. 1993-2009 [healthpolcom.com] and 2004 to 2012 [sfn.org]. It's up pretty significantly in the last decade.

Noisy Telescopes (1)

jandrese (485) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489065)

Aren't telescopes already silent?

Re:Noisy Telescopes (3, Interesting)

NixieBunny (859050) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489513)

I sleep under a radio telescope (the SMT on Mt. Graham) when I'm on site for several days. It creaks and groans like an old pirate ship.

Re:Noisy Telescopes (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#41490003)

Wow, I knew science funding was bad but this is incredible.

Can't they find you a pup tent or something?

Maybe you could sleep in your car?

Not just the GBT (5, Informative)

mendelrat (2490762) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489117)

Not just the GBT is at risk in all of this, and honestly NRAO is being selfish and shortsighted in their responses to the portfolio review. There are 5 optical telescopes at the national observatory at Kitt Peak, AZ that are set to be divested from the NSF as well, and their loss is much, much more devastating to the amount of open-access telescope time that is set to be lost if the facilities are closed or go into closed private partnerships. The closing of the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) means the loss of literally a one-of-a-kind setup as well. It's bad across all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, but the decision to stop spending money on these telescopes preserves the NSF astronomy grants program which funds a ton of astronomers, engineers, and students of all levels (myself included). The portfolio review didn't come up with any answers that we liked, but at least it's an honest estimate of what we have vs. what we expect funding wise; things are getting even worse with the upcoming budget sequestration. The big worry among astronomers is that we're returning to a time when only large institutions have access to telescope time, the exact reasoning behind the creation of the US national observatory system in the first place. Public-private partnerships will likely come around somehow to keep these facilities operating, but it's early still to know what those will entail in terms of open-access telescope time.

Re:Not just the GBT (3, Informative)

tizan (925212) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489733)

Just a clarification: NRAO manages only the GBT and VLBA ..the optical telescopes are managed by a sister institute NOAO (note the O for optical).
So NRAO at best can fight/defend the cases for GBT and VLBA only.

Yes sucks big time for everybody though as even small funds for hardware/instrument development for astronomy at universities is recommended to be defunded.

Re:Not just the GBT (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a year and a half ago | (#41490351)

I didn't see a link to the actual portfolio review (pdf) [nsf.gov]

Programs at risk:

Our portfolios for Scenarios A and B do not include the Nicholas U. Mayall, Wisconsin-Indiana-Yale-NOAO (WIYN), and 2.1-meter telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory, the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, the Very Long Baseline Array, nor the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope. We recommend that AST divest from these facilities before FY17.

Scenarios A and B are as follows:

This Portfolio Review Committee was convened to recommend AST portfolios best suited to achieving the decadal survey goals under two budget scenarios: (A) AST purchasing power drops to 90% of FY11 levels, then rises to 106% of FY11 by FY22, and (B) AST purchasing power drops to 80% of FY11 levels by mid-decade, and remains flat through FY22. By FY22, the projected AST budget is only 65% in Scenario A and 50% in Scenario B of the budget NWNH assumed in recommending an AST portfolio. Indeed the AST budget is already $45M short of NWNH projections for FY12. This presents a considerable challenge in implementing the strong NWNH recommendations for both new facilities and for maintaining the strength of the grants programs. AST must find the proper balance between current facilities and new endeavors, between large projects and small grants, and between risk and reward. It must continue to invest in the training of a highly skilled and creative workforce.

So to get the GBT back on line would require that austerity be fucked long and hard.

Private Enterprise... (2)

michael_rendier (2601249) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489133)

I'm hoping we are learning to take science (particularly space in this case) out of the 'gov't' sector...if this telescope was privately funded, they wouldn't have to be dealing with partisan crap based on ideological 'budgets'...politics...but that's the price for receiving 'public funding'...*shrugs*

Re:Private Enterprise... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489203)

Yes, it's the price of guaranteeing open access to these resources versus them only available to corporate scientists.

Re:Private Enterprise... (2)

Jeng (926980) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489225)

Ok, so how exactly do you make money off of this?

This type of research is funded by the government because there is no incentive for private enterprise to do something like this because there is no way to profit off of this.

Re:Private Enterprise... (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489721)

it's worse than that. the great republican governor of new jersey killed funding for a new tunnel between manhattan and midtown. it's expensive. apparently more expensive than the quality of life of thousands of new jersey residents who commute to manhattan

but there's no business case for it in a short sighted, easily quantified bottom line oriented way. but certain free market fundamentalist idiots believe this is the only valid way to look at any question of government policy. their stupid quasireligion of the free market will surely destroy this great nation

Re:Private Enterprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41490053)

it's worse than that. the great republican governor of new jersey killed funding for a new tunnel between manhattan and midtown. it's expensive. apparently more expensive than the quality of life of thousands of new jersey residents who commute to manhattan

Apparently taxation and the devaluation of your savings/retirement due to the current spending/printing policies of the government and the Fed don't affect the quality of life of New Jersey residents...

Re:Private Enterprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489239)

Yeah, does anyone know what the operating costs of this telescope are per year? A nonprofit org might be set up to run it, but the feasibility of that would depend on how much it takes to run it. It was government built, so I would doubt it was built to be very efficient or anything, but it can't be all that much, can it?

Re:Private Enterprise... (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489449)

Yeah, does anyone know what the operating costs of this telescope are per year?

Second link says $10 million a year.

Re:Private Enterprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41490011)

That's pretty hefty, but a non-profit might be viable. I wonder if the cost could be cut down in some way? I know I'd willingly hand over a few bucks a year to keep it open, but would a couple million other people do so? It's hard to say.

(I should have known OP would bring out a mob of anti-libertarian kooks. Say the word "government" in anything but the most positive light, and suddenly you're Ayn Rand's evil baby-eating ghost, and they must defeat you. He's right, though, it really is politics that's shutting this down, and the only way it'll stay open now is to disconnect it from the government somehow, even if the very idea rustles a lot of jimmies.)

Re:Private Enterprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489261)

Sooo... what do you propose instead? A non-profit funded by donation? Corporate ownership so the science is driven by what's profitable?

Is it preferable that the research is at risk because an executive needs to cut costs to get a fat bonus versus political reasons?

Re:Private Enterprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489401)

If this radio telescope were privately funded, it would be closed up and outsourced to SE Asia where 5,000 people would be paid pennies a day to listen to hand cranked AM radios and write down any alien messages they hear.

Re:Private Enterprise... (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489751)

Yep, that's why there are so few privately funded large telescopes in the world - it's the damn government undercutting the price that private companies would be willing to pay! And private companies have no bias whatsoever, so there will never be any partisan crap - ever! Woo! Privately funded astronomy will rock! I'm sure my 24-inch Celestron will revolutionize the field of astronomy!

Yeah, go private industry! Suck it, government!

Sigh. Can't believe someone actually thinks like that.

Re:Private Enterprise... (1)

Thorodin (1999352) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489899)

Unfortunately, government is the only entity with deep enough pockets and no mandate to make a profit. I'm in no way bashing industry but with the amount of dollars (since we are talking US), its only the government that can fund it. I'm a 'small government' person but when it comes to basic research, and not just limited to space but oceanography, climatology, etc., I'll gladly pay more in taxes if I know that it will keeps things going.

Shared access? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489137)

I wonder what it would take to actually run one of the things? If it can be made to run itself, and access specs can be published on an official website for shared access... I can see it being totally cool to have anybody with a way to connect be able to pull their own data in about the universe.

Re:Shared access? (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489639)

It takes $10 million a year. That money pays for engineers, mechanics, office staff to take care of the paperwork, staff scientists, a lot of electricity, etc.

You'd need a dedicated millionaire to support it, or find some way to make its operation sexy enough to bring in advertising revenue. Good luck with that.

Re:Shared access? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489851)

You'd need a dedicated millionaire to support it

You typed an m instead of a b.

A millionaire won't be able to fund it very long, it would take someone with a lot more money than that.

First its cuts to the legion (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489159)

First its cuts to fund the Platonic schools. Then its limits on what can be said at the agora (nothing bad can be said about senators or Caesar). Then its cuts to the Legion. You change their breakfast diet, then you go for lower quality swords and shields. Then you ask that they join the legion with their own sword and shield. In a few short years, you go from ruling the world, to losing Brittania, then Gaul, and finally fighting off the Hun, and ultimately watching Rome burn. But start off by being cheap with the scholars. That's right. We already know all there is to know. Oh, by the way, are those proposing cuts from Crete? They seem like Cretans.

Re:First its cuts to the legion (2)

CRCulver (715279) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489803)

First its cuts to fund the Platonic schools...

That part of the Roman Empire that eradicated classical Platonic education (Byzantium) managed to last another thousand years -- and with high literacy rates and intact trading links with the rest of the world -- after the Western Roman Empire fell. If you want to propose a slippery slope, that's not the best start.

Way to go, America! (0)

SuperMooCow (2739821) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489199)

Continue destroying anything science-related and pushing for more crazy religions in your schools!

Re:Way to go, America! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489905)

Less than one damn day's spending on the bloated defense department could pay for the entire annual budget for this.

Re:Way to go, America! (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489995)

The defense budget is more than $4 trillion a year? Since when? Methinks you didn't think through your math..,

the real money wasters (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489333)

Well if George W Rich Kid, and all the other greedy, selfish rich people, would not have wasted so much money, we would not be in this situation. For example, all the people at the big banks, AIG, the credit rating agencies, the mortgage companies, all of those institutions documented in the movie Inside Job, they ripped us all off, and they should be giving all that money back.

Re:the real money wasters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489425)

And the countless hundreds billions spent off the budget to fund his war to avenge daddy in Iraq and search for mobile port-a-potties err... "weapons labs".

preservation of the human race (4, Funny)

confused one (671304) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489365)

Of course they're cutting funding. Green Banks has come close to finding the aliens living in orbit around a couple of nearby stars on several occasions. Damn close. The government needs to cut funding to prevent identification of the aliens --- the powers that be are aware of the aliens and know what kind of retribution they will bring on the Earth if humans become aware of "other" species existence. There has been very limited contact through Air Force satellites. The aliens have made their intentions very clear: As long as we remain a quaint backwater planet with no ability to travel off the small rock we live on, we are not a threat. As soon as we become a threat, the simplest course of action is to exterminate all life on the planet (that would be us). If Green Banks manages to identify the aliens, noone will be able to keep it quiet. It will drive interest in space exploration, funding for the space program, development of space vessels and then the genie is out of the bottle, so to speak. It cannot be allowed to happen. So, it is the Government's intention to quash funding for NRO and NASA, for the preservation of the human race.

Re:preservation of the human race (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489441)

I was enjoying a good nonsense conspiracy theory post until you mixed up NRO and NRAO in the final sentence. The National Reconnaissance Office is having no budget issues, sadly.

Re:preservation of the human race (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489595)

They need to come up with "+1: Insane"!

Re:preservation of the human race (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489601)

But we make such great pets.

Re:preservation of the human race (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489825)

And we're tasty too!

Re:preservation of the human race (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489935)

I was going to disagree with you about us being eaten due to us being foreign biology and low energy density and a bunch of other stuff, but then thought "Well, what if we really are tasty?".

Twinkies on 2 legs??? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about a year and a half ago | (#41490285)

maybe we are "snack food" for some other species. we already have a common thing with Vampires calling us "happy meals on 2 legs" so what do you think??

Re:preservation of the human race (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489999)

Free food, a back yard to play with, all the toys we could want, and someone to pick up your fecal matter. Life could be worse.

Just hang signs around it called "Space Defence" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489375)

Somehow it will get funding...

Defund the SLS instead (1)

mark99 (459508) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489411)

They should defund the Senate Launch System instead and fund more of these science programs. (Like a few more Mars Rovers).

Re:Defund the SLS instead (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489791)

Wait, we get to launch the Senate? Do we have to bring them back?

Re:Defund the SLS instead (1)

jfengel (409917) | about a year and a half ago | (#41490359)

Sadly, no. It means that it's the Senate's launch system, i.e. the one they're buying with taxpaper money so that Senators (specifically Senators in Florida and Texas) can get reelected. It was specified in ways such that big space tech vendors were the only ones who were in the running to build it.

Defunding Science (1)

na1led (1030470) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489517)

God forbid our kids might learn some real science, lets just send them to Sunday school instead.

So how else do you do this? (4, Insightful)

Ravensfire (209905) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489519)

Isn't this the way it should be working? Allocate X dollars to group. Group really needs X + Y dollars to do everything they want so they create a group to review all the projects and allocate the dollars. If you don't have enough funding, programs WILL be cut or scaled back. Save program A and program B is cut, which costs jobs around program B. Congrats though, program A's jobs are intact.

Prioritization sucks but if you don't have all the funding you need you have to make the call at some point. Having a (theoretically neutral) group review everything and make the call is better than having Congress make the decisions for you. And yeah, it would be much better for everyone if there was enough funding, that's the easy way out of this dilemma.

-- Ravensfire

Re:So how else do you do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41489599)

How about dismantling the TSA first? And then maybe keep going. Rid of all the actual leaches? That's how.

Re:So how else do you do this? (3, Informative)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489641)

Here's a crazy idea or two ...

1. You know, maybe they could stop wasting money on an inanimate object called "terror". And/or stop trying to kill people who think different.
http://freemarketmojo.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/dat2010mint.jpg [wordpress.com]

2. Or maybe stop wasting money on undeployed and under-developed tech ...
http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/06/how-to-blow-6-billion-on-a-tech-project/ [arstechnica.com]

"cost growth and execution problems were based on the fact that no GMR radios were ever even tested by potential users until 2010. After 13 years in the pipeline, what those users saw was a radio that weighed as much as a drill sergeant, took too long to set up, failed frequently, and didn't have enough range."

Nah, that's just crazy talk ...

Then don't fund it federally (1)

hierofalcon (1233282) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489537)

It is in West Virginia. Let that state take on its operating costs. They can charge the West Virginia users, other U.S. users, and foreign users a fixed price or a sliding scale based on their location and usage to cover its cost. All of the researchers can try to convince their respective employers or governments that they need to cover their now higher costs of research or try to go use some other facility.

After a couple of years, it will either be making money for the state, just covering expenses, or losing money. If the later, then at some point the legislature of West Virginia can decide if the money lost is worth the prestige of the science being done in their state.

Just because the federal government doesn't want to fund it anymore is no reason that it has to shut down. Is it a sad decision? Yes. But you can't live beyond your means forever and the bills that are coming due are big and there are fewer and fewer taxpayers coming along to cover them. The trouble is that the currently popular parties don't see science as a priority. For the Rs, shoveling money to defense and fighting wars is the priority. For the Ds, shoveling money to social programs while sucking 50 to 75% of it into government bureaucracy is the priority. Neither are sound policy.

If you want to change things, get involved in politics at all levels and swamp your elected officials with your opinions. They do respond - at least minimally - to voter pressure. For the foreigners posting, if the GBT is important to you how about chipping in money to pay for its cost yourselves?

That does work well. (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year and a half ago | (#41490139)

That model has worked well. The state agency where I work charges DHS, FEMA, other states and state agencies etc. for our services. We do.a good job and do it efficiently, not wasting money, because we have to compete for those contracts. (Mostly training disaster prevention, managing disaster scenarios, and training first responders.)

GBT (3, Funny)

Stele (9443) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489575)

I can't help but think it would be better funded if it had some lesbians too.

The biggest? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489697)

I thought that the telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico [naic.edu] was the US's biggest telescope. Did Puerto Rico vote for independence while we weren't looking?

Re:The biggest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41490267)

It's the biggest _fully steerable_ radio telescope. The headline neglected to mention that fact.

Re:The biggest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41490365)

headline skimped, article correctly states:

Eleven years ago, the NRAO completed the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), the largest steerable radio telescope in the world. Sure, the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico (you know, the one in Goldeneye) may be bigger, but it doesn’t move. After having seen the 16 million pound GBT tilt and turn and gawk at the sky, I have to say it’s one of the most awesome sights on Earth

capture: tremble

Even as I hate this, I agree (0)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year and a half ago | (#41489763)

I love all these discoveries. I'm forced to admit, however, that astronomy, per se, has never made anyone a dime. If we found evidence of alien life on a planet orbiting Sirius B tomorrow, this would not change, no matter how mind blowing such a discovery would be.

Re:Even as I hate this, I agree (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41490427)

What is with all the simpletons on slashdot today who think radio telescopes are looking for aliens?
The are looking at the universe itself. You realize stars and put out EM in more than just the visible
spectrum right? This isn't nutters running SETI crap, it is actual science.

Naming it after Byrd didn't help (2)

schwit1 (797399) | about a year and a half ago | (#41490059)

Having Bob Byrd or Bud Shuster's name on any project implies it had no redeeming value other than helping the pol get reelected. Thankfully both are gone.

A bit of history (3, Informative)

Urban Garlic (447282) | about a year and a half ago | (#41490309)

So this unit has a bit of history [nrao.edu] -- there used to be a 300-foot diameter transit telescope on the site, which collapsed in 1988. The Byrd telescope was an upgrade, being fully steerable and covering more of the spectrum. The location is fairly special too, it's in a radio-quiet zone with some other NRAO telescopes, and close to the Navy's radio observatory site.

The thing only started working in August of 2000, it seems a shame to shut it down after such a small fraction of its expected operating lifetime.

Just out of curiosity.... (1)

Shadowmist (57488) | about a year and a half ago | (#41490313)

Has anyone actually READ the Review's reasons for de-funding the telescope, or did everyone who posted here, just settle for the lazy brain knee-jerk reaction response? Is there perhaps given a reality of limited funding that there are OTHER science projects that need a greater priority? Maybe the choice this time isn't between science and welfare, but science and science?
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