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Why is Science in general growing lethargically in America?

 
 
Zeke
 
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 03:40 pm
It is apparent from looking through history that there was an enthusiasm for great human achievements such as putting a man on the moon, and putting man in space during the 50's and 6o's. These events were taken as a source of national pride, but somehow and somewhere, American society, at present, has started to become less sensible , and less active in the matters of science and have become a more languid society.
Today a large chunk of technology and services that businesses and consumers utilize are directly or indirectly the benefits of the past space program. This space program seemed just an introduction to the limitless possibilities, and yet as soon as it was started, the acclimation to comfort has made this country stagnate in the field of science. The deterioration of the space program is just one of many examples. I could name a few more, but generally the basic gist of the story is America's cutting in investment in basic science and engineering is threatening new innovations. Many people are not aware of this, and that is where it gets alarming.
Half a century ago, having a base on the moon by today's date was not considered to be a joke, but today, this idea makes many people guffaw as if it's a poorly written joke. What's more bothersome is that today we have the means to put a man on mars, yet it's not seriously considered or initiated because it is seen as such a low priority, and left to sit on back burner.
This lethargy is not without its argumentative case that follows some idea along the line of: the economy is not great, the times are bad, we don't have the time for it, etc. But I think these arguments could be made at anytime in history of space exploration and this is deduced from the viewpoint of short term thinkers, which can easily be seen as something that leads to stagnation in the advancement of science and likely our species as a whole.
Excuse my rant, but if you are seeing what I'm seeing, is there a possible explanation as to why this is so?
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Type: Question • Score: 5 • Views: 1,734 • Replies: 20
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tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 04:12 pm
@Zeke,
Well, I can bet there are several hundred thousand scientists in the US alone who would bristle at your concept that science consists of ONLY the space program. Nevermind the biological sciences; the engineering sciences (outside of NASA); the medical sciences; the geological sciences; the (earth bound) atmospheric/climate scientists; behavioral sciences; the chemistry sciences; etc....

Many of these fields are thriving above and beyond their for-profit corporate counterparts. This is coming from someone who believes the US should times the NASA budget by at least ten and it'll still should be considered underfunded.
Rockhead
 
  2  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 04:31 pm
@tsarstepan,
I think it's because everybody has cable tv now.

what more do we need?
Zeke
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 04:54 pm
@tsarstepan,
I see that the economies is becoming more global, more complex, more interrelated, and a single invention won't usually cause a large commotion as much any more, because now it is just one step in a process or workflow that is otherwise still constricted view, and we often don't realize the breathtaking potential until an entire process has been re-engineered from start to finish. It is safe to say that almost all the innovations today are very subtle and lack detection.
In terms of logistics, technology related to speed has continued to advance, however, a large portion of it hasn't found its way into consumer products because demand hasn't really been there. Another good observation is comparing innovations in cancer treatment from the 70's to today, and the current period can be seen as a clear victory. So there is growth so to speak.

I am hard to please I suppose. The number of scientists researching problems so central to existence is few, and indeed, little of society is going to care or change if tomorrow the physics community officially gives up on string theory. I am, as many others, though hoping that someday somehow a revolution of thought that saves science from certain nihilism. I have a great gumption that exploration of space holds the answer to the question as to why we are here.
Look at the stagnation of string theory for example.
Why don't people work on string field theory as much as they used too?
It seemed the most natural and elegant formulation yet devised. It seems to my guess is that regular string theory has become so sonorous and mathematically intertwined that their are a lot of opportunities to do satisfying research and discovery that are open to hard work and a modicum of talent require a quite different way of thinking.
Zeke
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 05:12 pm
@Rockhead,
Quote:
what more do we need?


There will will always be something more to want, for that is our nature.
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 05:20 pm
@Zeke,
soma...
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 05:30 pm
@Zeke,
I think you are ignoring a huge wave of technology advancements in many fields. You seem to have a 19th century view where it has to be big and flashy to have any meaning. Rebuilding the Titanic to go to Mars says nothing about science.
Zeke
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 05:58 pm
@engineer,
Space exploration is important, and it can indirectly lead to reveal new and exciting unforeseen technological advancements.
Quote me from anywhere in which I suggested there wasn't any meaning in the small matters of growth in science.
You clearly blew everything I said out of proportion and portrayed it inaccurately. Well done, if that's what you were aiming for.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 06:11 pm
@Zeke,
Space exploration is no more important than advances in communications, medicine, computation or material science but it is a lot more flashy. We just landed a rover on Mars and it is conducting experiments and sending high res pictures back to us. Is that not advancement for you? You seem to want manned exploration, something that is going to require huge sums of money not to advance science, but to keep people alive. Take that money and put it into understanding cancer, improving solar cell efficiency or some other field where it will be well spent. Heck, roll it back into robotics for space exploration if you want. This is pretty much a golden age for science and you think it is "growing lethargically" because no one is building a pyramid.
aspvenom
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 06:12 pm
@Zeke,
I think we are just in our period of time where the government is passing the "baton" to private companies. So they'll pick up their pace, hopefully soon. NASA has always worked with the private sector, and now even more so with their "new deal."
Is it me, or are we back peddling here? 40 years ago we went to the Moon. And now today we're paying someone to figure out how to even get into space.
Anyway, most of the time private companies do everything better than government!
I just hope space doesn't become the next capitalistic frontier.
aspvenom
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 06:16 pm
@engineer,
Just wanna point out advances in long distance communication was from the help of NASA, and its decades of R&D.
Continue on.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 06:23 pm
@aspvenom,
I'm all for decades of investments in technology, but investing directly in technology research blows away investing in glory projects and hoping you get some fallout. The current fad is manned space travel, something that is phenomenally dangerous with very little direct benefit. Using robots for space travel makes a lot of sense from both a technology benefit standpoint and from a cost efficiency standpoint, but that's just not flashy enough for some people.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 06:37 pm
@aspvenom,
aspvenom wrote:

Anyway, most of the time private companies do everything better than government!

If your goal is fundamental scientific research, that is completely wrong. Corporations do focused research driving to commercialization. Basic science for the sake of improving fundamental understanding is rarely driven by private companies. Our model of using public funding to drive basic scientific research and pushing it over to the private side for commercialization works really well.
Zeke
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 06:39 pm
@engineer,
It's a weak argument to suggest that robotic probes can explore space more cheaply and more effectively than can human beings. Robot probes have failed miserably for many tasks.
First, the failure rate of robotic missions is nothing less than bewildering. The incredible fact is, the majority of landing pods sent to other planets have failed, many catastrophically. For example, of 12 probes launched from Earth that were designed to land on Mars, 4 can ( charitably) be called at least partial successes, the rest failed utterly.
As for the "successes?" Well, the Mars exploration Rovers are rightly lauded as the last word in successful robot landers. I certainly concede Spirit and Opportunity have done great, even spectacular work. But compared to a human? Nothing less than pathetic. It took Spirit more than four months to traverse 600 meters. A human could cover that distance is a few hours, and know what it was looking at, to boot.
Robotic exploration enthusiasts often seize upon the failure rate of roboticized mssions and argue that it shows that manned exploration is too dangerous, and that robots should take these risks instead. Alternatively, the disparate failure rate is explained away by noting the vastly higher safety factors engineered into manned craft (with the attendant higher costs).
The trouble with these two positions is that many of these failures wouldn't have occurred at all with an actual, *thinking* human pilot aboard. Contrast the manual landing of Appollo 11 with the crashed Soviet robotic lunar lander days before. More recently, the DART (Demonstration for Autonomous Rendezvous Technology) Spacecraft crashed into the satellite it was meant to rendezvous with, a procedure that is routine for American and Soviet astronauts. So, too were the Mars climate orbiter, Deep Space 2, and the Mars Polar lander.They were all lost because computers don't adjust as pilots would have.
The fact is, until there is working artificial intelligence, there is just no substitute for men and machines working together.
0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  0  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 06:40 pm
@Zeke,
Quote:
Why is Science in general growing lethargically in America?


Having an American president tell NASA that their primary focus in life is to aid muslims with their self-esteem issues doesn't help....
0 Replies
 
aspvenom
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 06:47 pm
@engineer,
*most

I did include it didn't I.
Basic research is a headache and highly time consuming (but it is with its rewards), and the findings from such research is what drives science forward. And yes, they must be publicly funded to remove a large possibility of bias. In a perfect world, space exploration should be under the hands of NASA, not a private sector. Space travel, however, is ideal for the private sector. The idea being that NASA can expand the boundaries and make the investment that the private sector won't touch, while the private sector can build upon those advancements of NASA and turn a profit. But this isn't a perfect world.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 06:53 pm
the answer: we increasingly no longer believe in either reason or that technical advances will prevent doom for the human race. the masses no longer believing in the project of science it withers from lack of interest and lack of funds.
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 07:03 pm
@Zeke,
Zeke wrote:

Space exploration is important, and it can indirectly lead to reveal new and exciting unforeseen technological advancements.

And this proves you're pretty naive on the political climate. In this era of financial crisis, high unemployment, and insane national debts, the US government (the Republican Congress and the Obama administration) isn't placing the space program in the top 10 of national priorities. You're just spitting into the wind right now.

AND NO! Space exploration isn't a global/universal panacea.
Zeke
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 07:13 pm
@tsarstepan,
Perfectly as I predicted in the starting. Science must continue regardless of politics.
Quote:
This lethargy is not without its argumentative case that follows some idea along the line of: the economy is not great, the times are bad, we don't have the time for it, etc.



Never did I claim space exploration was a panacea, I only claimed it is an interdisciplinary field that does large benefit to our species, as well as advance our knowledge base. And never did I limit to space science.

Quote:
This space program seemed just an introduction to the limitless possibilities, and yet as soon as it was started, the acclimation to comfort has made this country stagnate in the field of science. The deterioration of the space program is just one of many examples. I could name a few more, but generally the basic gist of the story is America's cutting in investment in basic science and engineering is threatening new innovations. Many people are not aware of this, and that is where it gets alarming.

aspvenom
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2012 07:34 pm
@Zeke,
You got the gist of it.

The competition for money, rather than scientific progress, is diverting scarce resources and discouraging needed advances.

You answered your own question, lol, but the question we must ask is how can we become better?
Education reform, socioeconomic reform, political reform. Just reform everything corrupt lol.

0 Replies
 
 

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