MORONS VERSUS MARS | 2004-01-17
The reason I can write this web page and you can read it is a direct result of the program that put America on the moon in 1969. Everybody who is being kept alive by a heart pacer owes his life to that same space program and the basic research that went into it.
Only a fraction of a percent of our national income goes into basic research in the hard sciences. All of our scientific advances eventually result from that research. A major part of the money spent on space programs like the moon shot in 1969 and the Mars shot today goes into basic research.
During the moon shot project from 1962-1969, you could have said, "We have priorities down here on earth? What will we get out of throwing a lot hardware at the moon?"
Back then, no one could have said, "Because it will lead to the heart pacer, to Silicon Valley, to a whole long list of great things that Bob Whitaker won't be able to remember." No one knew that yet.
That is why it is called "basic research." No one knows yet where it will lead. But it has proved itself again and again.
One thing is clear.
Anyone who says, "Why are we spending all that money out in space when we have needs here on earth?" has always been wrong.
So they're out there again. The Moron Brigade is saying once again that we shouldn't be doing this Mars thing because we have needs here on earth.
Every time there is an advance in the space program, we should have a special Moron Room. Naturally it would not be labeled "Moron Room.". The sign would read, "Special Seating for Tough, Practical, Realistic People."
In that room, the morons would say, in chorus, "We have Real Needs here on earth. Money should not be wasted out in space." Tapes would be made of this chorus and sent to each panel discussing the latest step in the exploration of space.
Morons always win the argument at first. That is because at the beginning no one can tell them what good basic research will do in the future. The whole point of basic research is that no one knows where it will lead. So if you asked the inventor of the microscope exactly what he was going to find with that microscope, he could not have told you.