Not only do the Americans lack vision within the administration itself, but society in general is distracted from the relationship between pure and applied science. This is made especially clear when anyone questions the value of going into space, human or robotic. The return on investment for the scientific and technical capital is staggering - and people bemoan that you can no longer make $20/hr assembling vacuum cleaners in Peoria.
For me, this problem is by far the most frustrating. It seems like we, as as society, underestimate the importance of raw curiosity in fostering innovation. If there isn't a commercial application, or if no social goal is advanced, financial backing and public interest are proportionately hard to find. People simply don't make the kinds of connections to which you're alluding. As a big believer in the value of research for its own sake, I've found it difficult to coax people out of this mindset.
The first thought that occurs to me--make of this what you will--is that Earth will not be around forever. The more we learn about our planet and the rest of the universe, the more precarious our position appears. Sooner or later, if humanity is to survive, we're going to have to find another place to live. That alone seems like a good reason to give more people more resources with which to investigate the more arcane areas of the physical sciences. When you throw in all the shorter-term, tangible benefits that can come with high-voltage scientific and technical R&D, it seems like a no-brainer. But that rubber hasn't been anywhere close to the road since the Space Race.
I was at a seminar yesterday. It was with an engineering firm that builds and supplies drilling and associated equipment to mining companies and their contractors.
The speaker said they have been working with a NASA sub-contractor for plans to initiate mining operations on the moon, complete with a surface base with associated infrastructure. Hundreds of billions have already been spent on this.
This is real and not science fiction. Do a google search and you will see this is not a secret
I know it's extremely expensive and lately there have been some problems with the current rocket design, etc, but to not go there in over 4 decades is odd.
Even if we already know all there is to know about the Moon, you'd think we would have had some other projects in the works by now. Be that some sort of base on the surface or at very least some sort of landing dock.
Am I am the only one who really finds this weird?
who says we have not been back? there maybe a hilton or Burger King up there by now--
A few years ago Bush Sr at a science Q and A did a slip where he suggested that in 87 there was a moon landing, but corrected himself
Meh, I've already been on a Mission to Mars, launched from Walt Disney World. After a rigorous 5 minutes of training, we blasted off, dodged an asteroid field and barely avoided falling into a canyon at the Mars Base. Funny thing is, I apparently walked back.
Simple reason humans haven't been back to the moon?
Because sending humans to the moon and getting them back alive was the goal in and of itself, and that was reached. It was done so the US could say "First!" instead of the Soviets, and they did.
Like it or not, we're still relying on rocket propulsion to get things into orbit. I'm well aware there are several theoretical forms of space propulsion that are showing promise, but for the meantime, we're stuck with rocket fuel. Just getting things out of the atmosphere is phenomenally expensive and often quite dangerous.
A big problem with the moon is there's not a lot there that humans find convenient, such as air, water or food. Just getting them there and back is difficult enough, but establishing any kind of permanent settlement requires constant resupply missions, each one facing the same potential dangers as the initial mission. Example: the idea of putting a mine there. Establishing a mine requires a VERY large capital investment before anything even gets mined, and that's just building a mine on this planet. Putting one on the moon could very easily bankrupt several nations. Also, even assuming you manage to somehow assemble the trillions of dollars needed to put a mine on the moon and keep it running and supplied long enough for it to mine anything, the problem is how to get the mined ore. It's not going to be trucked off to the refinery, is it? There aren't any of those in orbit that I'm aware of, so that means getting several tons of ore back down the gravity well without creating a new geologic feature resembling the Gulf of Mexico.
A landing dock on the moon? For what? We actually don't have a lot of spaceships lying around. It'd be like a society that just invented the wheel deciding to build a gas station. We just haven't reached the technological level where it's safe or cheap enough to be worth going to the moon on a regular basis, especially as it can't support human life. If we manage to reach that stage without wiping ourselves out first, my guess is none of us will be around to see it. Just my thoughts, anyway.
Last edited by ProstheticConscience: 02-14-2013 at 02:05 AM.
Reason: typos, grammar.