Saturday, October 10, 2009

Squiggly Lines and Such

We all know "science" takes time. Time to look through the data, take out the noise, correlate various sensors, and report the findings.

But the announcement of the meaning of one of those squiggly lines leaked out yesterday anyway, making the whole process now somewhat suspect. Sodium was seen in the spectra (ah hah, there is a spectra!) and reported dully to the press afterwards. Yet somehow, a "longer look at the data" was required to see, or not see, that other squiggly line everyone was hoping to see. While the minions had every one's attention, some flash science results that were available could have been shared. "Good" or "bad." We paid for the moon bombing and we deserve to see what those computers churned out in the first minutes after the data was available. And data was available. And the computers did churn.

And maybe the public would have learned something about the scientific method.

This is not the first occasion that the minions have built something up, only to send the children home crying. Remember Mars Polar Lander, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Buzz Aldrin sending us home from Pasadena tearing up like LoriAndI?

But please, Mr. & Ms. Congress, can we have some more? Another $3B and we'll do something wonderful. We promise.

The 475nm Panel skipped over the part explaining why we need humans in space and now their options have fallen on deaf ears. A simple statement of need, from which a policy can be derived, would have been nice vision (pun intended) to start from. The academics on the panel were certainly more qualified to do that than the ESAS'ed review of rockets and safety and costs they screwed up on. Followed by a period of reasoned trade studies and architectural formulation...while holding the ego-maniacal clothless wonder at bay...would have given us a reaffirmation, or fork in the road, to progress on with some confidence of satisfying those grounded needs we started with.

Instead, we are back wandering in the desert, without water, so to speak.

4 comments:

kT said...

She was kind of embarrassing, speaking newspeak a mile a minute, using all the appropriate catch words and phrases - NASA can do no wrong.

It was so embarrassing, and I had enough information from the PI's initial description, that I just couldn't take it and killed the feed.

Anonymous said...

the reason for humans in space is to have human life in space

no one wants to come out and say the truth

because the simple, modest folks of planet earth don't have the foresight to understand such a statement, such an implication.

that life in space means their death because they'll never live to see it finished.

Anonymous said...

Remember that we now live in the misinformation economy where those that tell the biggest lies get the most money, whether in government or in business. Greed is now a sacrament, no longer a sin. Nobel prizewinners and BofA suckups get the same bonus, one for discovering new truth, one for telling new lies.
The contractor will happily sell the rope that hangs NASA and kills his milk cow, as long as her gets his G5 and his congressman get his lobbyist blowjob.

Anonymous said...

Comment 3: Some would say NASA has done precisely that (enough rope) with COTS. Griffin and Doc Ho forbade the viable ones and ensured the lawyers near LAX skip ahead to ch.11. Even those near IAD may have extrapolated their abilities too far. I hope I'm wrong.