Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Chinese Space Pork

Some pundits are horrible worried that China is getting ahead of us in the manned space race especially since the Columbia disaster. However, even if they ever do build more manned ships than us it seems that they can't think of anything worthwhile to do with them either. Case in point this telegraph article which explains how they are sending plants and anmials -in this case pig sperm- into space to see if being exposed to space makes them grow better or something. Of course I'm completely in favor of irradiating plants and picking off the good mutations, but its probably at least 1000 times cheaper to do it on the ground. Unless you think radiation magically changes its properties in space. Of course since we have a much more mature and sophisticated program we send much more useless stuff into space including pine seeds, soil samples, chalk, marbles, gum, gum/taffy, iron filings, small magnets, candles, crayons, film, yeast, a watch, viruses, meal worms and of course my favorite "urine filtered water mixed with paint dyes". This is all from NASA's own web site. They're actually proud of it. Apparrently these particular projects are supposed to help teach a dozen or so classes about the scientific method, except instead of costing thousands of dollars to hire teachers it will cost millions of dollars to hire teachers and fly junk into space. I know I certainly couldn't think of a better way to improve education if I had millions of dollars to spend.
Of course in a way its not really costing any money since NASA was going to send up the shuttle no matter what and they really don't have anything better to do than send gum into space to see if it becomes super gum. In case you're dying to know what the results are: all of the inert substances didn't change at all and the biological materials had a bunch of mutuations, most of them deletorious. I didn't look that up. It's just that I have a high school education so I'm able to predict these kinds of things. Personally what I'm really curious about is what anybody hypothesized exposure to space would do to chalk, marbles or crayons. Aaaarghh. And people died for this. And probably will again. I can't stand it.

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