Even while the world suffers, investing in science is non-negotiable (Synopsis)

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“I am looking at the future with concern, but with good hope.” –Albert Schweitzer

Every so often, the argument comes up that science is expendable. That we’re simply investing too much of our resources — too much public money — into an endeavor with no short-term benefits. Meanwhile, there’s suffering of all kinds, from poverty to disease to war to natural disasters, plaguing humanity all across the country and our world. Yet even while there is suffering in the world, investing in our long-term future is indispensable. This story is nothing new.

To invest in any one thing means to not invest in something else, but both science/space exploration and humanitarian relief are worthy of the investment of human resources. Image credit: NASA and WFP / Q. Sakamaki.

Back in 1970, shortly after the first Moon landing, a nun working to alleviate poverty in Africa, Sister Mary Jucunda, wrote to NASA, and begged them to stop this frivolous waste of resources, and instead to use their funding for the benefit of humanity. The letter made it all the way to Ernst Stuhlinger, then the Associate Director of Science at NASA. Stuhlinger’s response was all at once compassionate and convincing, and helped convince Jucunda — as well as skeptics everywhere — of the value that science has to offer.

The first view with human eyes of the Earth rising over the limb of the Moon. This was perhaps the greatest moment in education / public outreach for NASA until the first moon landing, and it was the picture that Stuhlinger sent to Sister Jucunda with the above letter. Image credit: NASA / Apollo 8.

Come see the full story, and read Stuhlinger’s complete, original letter, on the non-negotiable value of science to our world!

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