NASA has inspired the minds of people all throughout our country for 54 years. From the Moon to Mars, and even to the outer reaches of our Solar System, NASA has developed technologies that expand far beyond space flight. Instead of cutting NASA’s budget, we should be growing it. Compared to other federal agencies, NASA receives a microscopic amount of money.
In the words of Neil deGrasse Tyson, “We stopped dreaming.” We need to start dreaming again, and that starts with funding NASA adequately. By investing in NASA, we are investing in the U.S. economy.
The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.
By Carl Sagan, Cosmos (via sciencesoup)
Hitachi have developed a quartz glass storage system which is able to hold about 40MB of data per square inch - about the same as a standard CD. By writing the data as binary using lasers to etch dots on four layers of glass, the technique should allow the data to be stored for perhaps hundreds of millions of years - unless, of course, the glass is smashed.
The glass can retain its data after being heated to 1,000°C, and isn’t damaged by radiation, water or most chemicals. The team behind it says adding more layers to increase the relatively small storage space shouldn’t be a problem.
NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, who holds the record for the longest spaceflight by a woman, took charge of the International Space Station Saturday, becoming only the second female commander in the orbiting lab’s 14-year history.
“When people look at it, it looks crazy. That’s a very natural thing.”
This is a summary of the Curiosity rover’s descent plan from the top of the Martian atmosphere, from 13,000 mph to full stop with zero room for error. There’s 76 explosives, a supersonic parachute, and a completely insane skycrane involved, too.
Hooooooooly crap. At 10:31 PM, PDT, August 5th, 2012 … we will know if it worked. I can’t wait :)
Bonus: Best YouTube comment on this video? “I wish ALL my tax dollars went to NASA”
Happy Father’s day from CWL:‘NASA Tribute to Carl’ByDorion Sagan
My father’s work made science cool. He showed that it was good to be smart, to be open to wonder but also critical, both of superstition and political authority. The universe was our home. Space exploration and evolution were part of a story based on evidence that belonged to all humanity, not a religious or political elite looking out for their own interests. He criticized Congress (most of whom are lawyers) for not knowing science, and he empowered the public by revealing the multicultural truth of our belonging to a cosmos that was beautiful, understandable, and open to human discovery. He showed not only that science belonged to everybody, but that a scientifically educated public was necessary for the health of society. In short he used television to democratize the advances of the Renaissance and Enlightenment.
Cosmos was one of the most watched TV programs in history, and it wasn’t drama or sports but the story of who, what, why, when, and where we are. Rather than being local or international news, it was cosmic news: a taking-stock and popularization of where we are in our voyage of self-discovery of the cosmos from which we have evolved. Although Jacob Bronowski had preceded and paved the way for my father in his TV series The Ascent of Man, and David Attenborough had expanded the form in his nature series, my father inaugurated and embodied the idea of exciting television that was about the beauty and truth of our place in a universe that is far bigger than humanity. He showed science as both an intellectual adventure and a spiritual experience. As the Protestants dispensed with priests to show that the individual could have a personal relationship with God, so my father showed that anybody on the planet, employing the nondenominational method of science, could have a personal understanding of the cosmos—a kind of God (the God of Einstein and Spinoza) but one that was open to rational and mathematical inquiry.
Cosmos may be dated in terms of production value and special effects, and certain scientific and philosophical aspects of it could be tweaked, but its spirit remains timeless. Because of the backsliding in science education, in some ways it is more relevant than when it appeared. The emphasis on evolutionary biology, scientific history, critical thinking, free inquiry and the role of evidence in the growth of humanity’s understanding in a universe that dwarfs us and in which we are not masters but an immature life form—these continue to be crucial themes.
My father was unparalleled in his ability to convey the essence of science in poetic language. He was pleasant to look at, hypnotic to listen to, and the conviction and enthusiasm of his presentations—which took the form of a moral imperative for us to know ourselves—were infectious. I miss him; the world misses him. He was not just a good popularizer, but a man in love with the truth. He was not afraid of the powers that be or, if he was, he had the courage to face them in the name of a cosmic human heritage that transcended class, sex, and racial-cultural differences. He oversaw a leap from an age of science fiction to an age of scientific reality, where we really did go to the moon and beyond. He was asked to lend his image to advertising campaigns—but he steadfastly refused. Although he was famous, he was motivated to educate and empower through science, not to cash in or compromise. Here he differs from the many celebrities and sports stars who do not think twice about attaching their name to a product to make money.
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