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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Dec 16 2005, 03:14 AM
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http://sciencedems.house.gov/press/PRArtic...spx?NewsID=1007 :

"[House] Science [Committee] Democrats lauded an agreement reached today on
the Conference Report for S. 1281, the NASA Authorization Act of 2005.
Following today's approval by the conference committee, the legislation is
tentatively scheduled for consideration by the full House this week...

"During the conference, Rep. Jackson-Lee was a strong proponent for... more
educational programs in the sciences for minorities..."

I should hope so, given that she showed up at JPL a few days after the Mars
Pathfinder landing and asked if it could photograph Neil Armstrong's
footprints.
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Bill Harris
post Dec 16 2005, 05:25 AM
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QUOTE
The Congressional bonehead award goes to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) who, on a visit to JPL, asked if Mars Pathfinder had taken an image of the flag planted there in 1969 by Neil Armstrong!


Close, no cigar...

--Bill


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deglr6328
post Dec 16 2005, 06:42 AM
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Wow, yeah, there's stupid and then there's mind meltingly idiotic. This of course falls into the latter category I'm afraid.
However, it does not top the time two years ago when I was discussing the successful MER landings with a co-worker when he asked, completely seriously: "oh wow! how many of our astronauts did we send this time?". wacko.gif Its that delightful sort of question that causes your eyes to completely roll back in your head and your bowels to involuntarily empty.
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Guest_Richard Trigaux_*
post Dec 16 2005, 08:20 AM
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a space education program for majority too would be interesting. and the ideal places for this already exist: they are called schools.

Poor guies, able to subtly analyze a political conflict and manage it for years, but who never raise their eyes to the star strewn sky...
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Toma B
post Dec 16 2005, 08:32 AM
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QUOTE (deglr6328 @ Dec 16 2005, 09:42 AM)
Wow, yeah, there's stupid and then there's mind meltingly idiotic. This of course falls into the latter category I'm afraid.
However, it does not top the time two years ago when I was discussing the successful MER landings with a co-worker when he asked, completely seriously: "oh wow! how many of our astronauts did we send this time?".  wacko.gif  Its that delightful sort of question that causes your eyes to completely roll back in your head and your bowels to involuntarily empty.
*


Mind meltingly idiotic... biggrin.gif biggrin.gif biggrin.gif
When I was in high school, my friend used to inform me that they saw some spaceship (usually it was Soyuz to Mir space station) launched on the yesterday’s news...
That was the good part.........bad part was when they asking me: "Are they going to the Moon" or "Where they are going (meaning Moon,Mars,Jupiter,Saturn)" which would be more difficult for me because I would have to explain to them what EARTH ORBIT means... mad.gif blink.gif mad.gif sad.gif mad.gif blink.gif


--------------------
The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful.
Jules H. Poincare

My "Astrophotos" gallery on flickr...
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djellison
post Dec 16 2005, 08:58 AM
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"Are there any people on it" is the most common question I get asked about just about any spacecraft.

Doug
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Guest_Richard Trigaux_*
post Dec 16 2005, 11:45 AM
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I remember a story when I was in an UFO association, incredible but true: a guy came to us, telling he was pursued by a round bright spaceship, at night, and from mad terror he speeded up with his car on the small countryside roads, just to find that the "spaceship" was still above him...
After one minute of questionning it appeared that the "spaceship" was just the full Moon...


Still with the Moon, there are still many people here who believe that we cannot see the Moon at day. This is really incredible, they read this into a mickey comic when they are a child, and never raised their nose toward the sky to see it is not true.

That people don't know about basic astronomy is already a problem, but when they even not SEE...
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ljk4-1
post Dec 16 2005, 03:02 PM
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And we have a former Canadian defense minister who recently declared that the US is planning for an "intergalactic" war as the reason for raising its defense budget.

I've known college-educated people who did not know what stars were, that the Moon had craters, and that the Sun "rose" in the east and "set" in the west.

I've met grown men who not only did not know what sundogs or moon rings were, but when shown them in reality were actually fearful of them. No, I did not time travel to 1305 Europe. I am thinking of ways to make a fortune during the next eclipse, however.

I frequently visit a local university observatory that has open house nights on Fridays. More often than not, it is the little children who know more about the stars and planets than their parents or the students who attend the college (and it ain't no trade school).

I taught an adult ed course on basic astronomy in the 1990s. I once asked my students - all adults - who was the first man to set foot on the Moon. I got mostly blank stares, with one student finally making the guess of John Glenn.

I had a high school student in my class who started out really eager to become an astronomer - until she discovered that there was math involved. I kid you not.

I remember an ABC news correspondent (Lynne Neary or Shear?) asking Carl Sagan when we were going to launch a manned mission to a star that was recently discovered at the time to have a protoplanetary disk.

I watched Charlie Rose interview two of the head managers of the Mars Rovers shortly after Spirit's landing in 2004 and essentially spend most of his time declaring he knew nothing about what NASA did or what was going on with Mars.

I remember either MacNeil or Lehrer (of the PBS MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour) become astonished to learn from someone he was interviewing that geosynchronous communications satellites orbit Earth at 22,000 miles altitude.

I recall the time David Grinspoon of Venus Revealed and Lonely Planet fame being "interviewed" by the DJs of a local Boston radio station who ended up asking him inane questions about global warming and other nonsense and not about Venus, the real reason he was there.

And on and on and on....


--------------------
"After having some business dealings with men, I am occasionally chagrined,
and feel as if I had done some wrong, and it is hard to forget the ugly circumstance.
I see that such intercourse long continued would make one thoroughly prosaic, hard,
and coarse. But the longest intercourse with Nature, though in her rudest moods, does
not thus harden and make coarse. A hard, sensible man whom we liken to a rock is
indeed much harder than a rock. From hard, coarse, insensible men with whom I have
no sympathy, I go to commune with the rocks, whose hearts are comparatively soft."

- Henry David Thoreau, November 15, 1853

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MahFL
post Dec 16 2005, 04:05 PM
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Untill quite recently my American wife ( who is a teacher ) did not realise Stars were Suns.

pancam.gif
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Tom Ames
post Dec 17 2005, 04:09 PM
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"When a chance peak over 11-year-old Taylor's shoulder revealed a biology worksheet, she realized a teacher she'd trusted had been secretly teaching her only son about the physical world and its mechanics for almost a year."
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JRehling
post Dec 17 2005, 05:54 PM
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QUOTE (ljk4-1 @ Dec 16 2005, 07:02 AM)
I've known college-educated people who did not know what stars were, that the Moon had craters, and that the Sun "rose" in the east and "set" in the west.
*


Before we draw conclusions from this... do you (any reader in particular) know that some languages have postpositions instead of prepositions? That SVO and SOV are the most common word orders of languages, but all six possible word orders have been know to occur? That languages with postpositions tend to be SOV? That South America has the most native languages of any continent? That Papua New Guinea has more than any other continent? Etc...

There is a whole world of less-obscure to more-obscure knowledge to be known about dozens of different fields. A common trend among people who who have specialized in one is to endlessly tsk-tsk the rest of the world because they haven't also specialized in that field. Probably the number of people who don't know the basics of comparative linguistics is about the same as the number of people who don't know the basics of astronomy. But it's not a reasonable conclusion that both of those population-wide shortcomings is a shame. What would your education consist of: 700 brief introductions to every field?

All told, if someone was going to pick a field not to know anything about, astronomy is a hell of a good choice in terms of day to day usefulness.

For the nth time, I'll say that the "tsk-tsk"ing is not a flattering characteristic of the cognoscenti. We can easily devise basic tests that you, too, would get a zero on.
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Guest_Richard Trigaux_*
post Dec 17 2005, 07:38 PM
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QUOTE (JRehling @ Dec 17 2005, 05:54 PM)
All told, if someone was going to pick a field not to know anything about, astronomy is a hell of a good choice in terms of day to day usefulness.

For the nth time, I'll say that the "tsk-tsk"ing is not a flattering characteristic of the cognoscenti. We can easily devise basic tests that you, too, would get a zero on.
*



We do not speak of specialized knowledge, but of basic/general knowledge. That people don't know the decay mode of Aluminium 27 or calculate an orbit is perfectly understandable. That a guy is not able to recognize the Moon is much less.

Knowing what stars are or what is really going on with space exploration is of high philosophical/ethical/emotionnal signficance for us all: to undertand the world we live in. Yes it does not help to speculate at the stock exchange or things like that, but this does not remove any of its value. The problem is not with stock exchange, it is that people spend their life in the stock exchange and never look at the sky. Poor guies.

By he way I pass a good part of your test (knowing that South America and Papua have the most languages) because knowing other peoples with whom we are living together is ALSO of high philosophical/ethical/emotionnal signficance!
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deglr6328
post Dec 17 2005, 08:42 PM
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QUOTE (Tom Ames @ Dec 17 2005, 04:09 PM)
"When a chance peak over 11-year-old Taylor's shoulder revealed a biology worksheet, she realized a teacher she'd trusted had been secretly teaching her only son about the physical world and its mechanics for almost a year."
*




Ahhahaha! laugh.gif That is so freakin great! Also check out thier article on the science paparazzi!
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TheChemist
post Dec 17 2005, 10:52 PM
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Your hilarious onion links led me to :
Coke-Sponsored Rover Finds Evidence Of Dasani On Mars
laugh.gif
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RedSky
post Dec 18 2005, 01:27 AM
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Here's an example from about 15 years ago on some educational deficiencies (or worse):

In my previous job, I was sort of a liason between the sciences and insurance companies... providing pertinent research and information on meteorology and geology (i.e., hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc). I used to give talks about this at insurance trade seminars. As is typical, I'd open with describing my background and a little joke: My undergraduate degree was in physics and astronomy... but I "came down to earth" and got my masters in meteorology.

Some middle aged woman in the front row, wearing a smart gray business suit... she might have been an executive secretary, a middle manager, or actuary for all I know... asked me: "Does your astrology background help you in your forecasts?" Not sure what she meant, I said that... well, a lot of the physics, math and planetary science in astronomy was applicable in earth science. She replied... "No, I mean did your background in astrology ... forecasting the future by the stars, help in your weather forecasts?"

I could hear some chuckles in the audience... and I didn't really want to embarrass her, so I just said something like.. "If I could really forecast that well, I wouldn't be here." Well, I guess most newspapers do have daily horoscopes.


Similar to the previous post on someone not knowing that stars are "suns": My father was not well educated. Once, as a kid (probably in the mid 1960's), we were watching on TV the old 1950's classic movie "When Worlds Collide". Near then end, when the star Zyra collides with and destroys the earth... he said "Isn't that a bit far fetched: stars are tiny, and fall to the earth as shooting stars." When I said "Gee, Dad, stars are like the sun... some much bigger. Don't you KNOW that!" He seemed quite taken aback and embarrassed by that.

For someone not into science, I could easily see with our educational program here in the U.S. how this fact could be overlooked or forgotten. Especially for those who were not interested, and just sort of slept through 7th grade science (which was the last time in grades K-12 that we dealt with astronomy in my school system).
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