Friday, 30 November 2012

"Bilge and a waste of money" Royal Decree

Dr Ian Crawford is a brilliant scientist, of that there is no doubt...but his article in A&G the RAS journal this month on the legacy of Apollo is just outstanding. The ADS citation count alone, and the efficiency of the astronauts on the moon walks shows time and again that WE HAVE TO EXPLORE not just send robots. Even Steven Squyres conceded that point, and he's had two rovers on mars for the best part of a decade, not a cumulative 25 days across 6 missions.

What stunned me though in the article was the irresponsible and quite appalling comments by the then "Astronomer Royal" which sadly seem to have been passed down through successive ones... that "it was bilge and a waste of money"...

If taking part in humankind's greatest technological achievement, uniting most of the planet, ending the cold war, and delivering inspiration to millions of kids, whilst generating thousands of scientific papers and research, and making international heroes 

out of a group of men who risked their lives to do something that 43 years on we've STILL not matched is "bilge" then I give up with these people...

Appointed spokesmen (and women) for science like the Astronomer Royal should support breakthroughs and discovery. Werner and his team delivered a breakthrough in technology, whilst Aldrin/Armstrong through to Cernan and Schmitt from the Crawford paper delivered science on a scale which is still unprecedented and has never been matched since by all of the robotic landers on other worlds..

Science is science, we should all applaud it, if it furthers our knowledge, and yes, it may and did have political aims too, but it had them and delivered something great from it, unlike the Vietnam War and every damn war since, which has done nothing but bring misery and suffering to millions. A political desire to "outperform" or "show off" to your "sworn enemies" in the case of Apollo was the spark that ended the cold war...if that's a bad thing then we live in a very very messed up world.

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