Overhead projector.  Courtesy Alibaba.com
Overhead projector. Courtesy Alibaba.com

Astronomy

Of Overhead Projectors and Planetarium Foolishness

8 Oct , 2008 by

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We don’t normally publish political articles here on Universe Today, but I’m going to make an exception here after watching last night’s presidential debate because a.) John McCain mentioned something about a planetarium, which is an area of interest for UT readers, and b.) McCain obviously had no idea what he was talking about. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee pointed out how Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, has voted for almost a billion dollars of “pork barrel” projects (money for specific pet projects in their districts) and said, “He (Obama) voted for … $3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois.”

First of all, there’s a big difference between an overhead projector and a planetarium projection system. Spacewriter’s Ramblings has a great explanation and pictorial description, if you have questions.

Second, if you want to be nitpicky, while Obama requested the funding, he never voted on it.

Obviously, McCain thinks this is a big issue, since this is at least the second time he’s mentioned Obama and planetariums. A few weeks ago he said that Obama has sought money for “planetariums and other foolishness.”

Foolishness! Over 110 million people around the world visit planetariums every year! They are important learning and teaching tools that encourage a science-literate population, and have inspired young people to become astronomers and astronauts, and aspire to many other science-related occupations as well.
Children enjoy the stars and planets at the Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Davin Flateau says it much better than I can on his great post at his Perfect Silence blog.

Obama’s website has a list of his federal funding requests for Fiscal Year 2008, and clearly listed is “Adler Planetarium, to support replacement of its projector and related equipment, $3,000,000,” with a description that says the 40 year old projection equipment has begun to fail and since parts are no longer available, soon students and other museum-goers will be left “without this very valuable and exciting learning experience.” I don’t see that as “pork barrel” funding, but an attempt to maintain a long-standing (Adler opened in 1930) and important institution in his district.

And don’t get me going on Sarah Palin.

By  -        
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.


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InvaderXan
Member
October 8, 2008 11:24 AM

The stupid! It burns!!!

InvaderXan
Member
October 8, 2008 11:30 AM

On a marginally more serious note… Is it just me, or is politics no longer about actually being any good as a politician? These days, elections always seem to end up as mud slinging matches and schoolyard tale-telling.

“Look what he did. Isn’t he bad!”

“Ooo! Ooo! He did this too!”

“Look teacher! He got paint on the floor!”

“Honest! It’s true! *And* he had the audacity to think that education was worth spending money on!”

Someone give the politician a lollipop before he throws his toys out of the pram…

just say no!
Guest
just say no!
October 8, 2008 8:37 AM

Seriously, anyone who votes for either of these idiots are idiots themselves. Not voting would send a bigger message.

greg c
Guest
greg c
October 8, 2008 8:43 AM

a message to whom? that is the dumbest thing anyone ever says. no one gets the message of not voting. certainly in swing states everyone should vote. electoral college, heard of it? not voting is lazy, ONLY if you don’t do your homework on the candidates and their issues. thanks for the info and clarification, Nancy.

George Sullivan
Guest
George Sullivan
October 8, 2008 8:55 AM

You’re right about one thing; you shouldn’t put political items on Universe today.

just say no!
Guest
just say no!
October 8, 2008 9:01 AM

I guess greg c is an idiot.

Bob
Guest
Bob
October 8, 2008 9:14 AM

110 million*

Nancy Atkinson
Guest
October 8, 2008 9:21 AM

Thanks Bob, I fixed it.
Nancy

fsm
Guest
fsm
October 8, 2008 9:24 AM

They dont want kids asking difficult questions like “Mom, if the earth is only 6000 years old, why did the man at the planetarium say the light from andromedea takes 2 million years to reach here?”..

Nonchalont
Guest
Nonchalont
October 8, 2008 9:38 AM

You can either vote for Turd Sandwich or Giant Douch….it doesn’t matter what your beliefs are, because one of them are going to be the next President. You might as well vote for the one who YOU will think be better, and I believe Barrack Obama aka Turd Sandwich would be the best vote over McCain any day. There are a lot of Presidents who are HORRIBLE…I mean c’mon, America voted for the worst president (G-Dubbya) TWICE…lol!! Actually America is the worst. America is like the movie Idocracy! American people are dumb…and I’m an american. I’m the few that are actually intelligent.

Ryan T
Guest
Ryan T
October 8, 2008 9:54 AM

Wow. Somehow I would have expected more from the readers of UT.

Nancy Atkinson
Guest
October 8, 2008 10:04 AM

Ryan T —

Me too. All the nonsensical comments supposedly posted by political figures were posted by one person and have now been deleted.
Nancy

DestroyAllHumans
Guest
DestroyAllHumans
October 8, 2008 10:07 AM
Anyone who thinks McCain would somehow have a clue in regards to anything on science (and don’t get me started on Palin, either) has never really read up on the man. McCain is there because he represents what many hope is a return to what they think are the traditional values of yesterday. Being any kind of smart other than street smart just isn’t cool and sure won’t win you any votes, not from Joe Sixpack anyway. Many are frightened of Obama not just because he is relatively new and – gasp – black, but also because he represents a new world and way of thinking, one that if the United States doesn’t get into gear about will… Read more »
Per
Guest
Per
October 8, 2008 10:11 AM

“… I’m an american. I’m the few that are actually intelligent.”

– Nonchalont [sic] 10.8.08

RE
Member
October 8, 2008 10:11 AM

Now, now, gang try not to be too upset with
Johnny McPalin. He and Miss Alaska are mental defectives. Your dog can’t play chess and you don’t get mad at him.

They don’t read much and it is a certainty they’ve never been to a planetarium.

Their colossal brand of ignorance, stupidity and myopia though wholly unforgivable is to be pitied.

Just don’t vote these poltroons in and America can start to rebuild.

Talk is cheap
Guest
Talk is cheap
October 8, 2008 10:19 AM

Obama sought projector money, though he didn’t vote on it.

Hans-Peter Dollhopf
Member
Hans-Peter Dollhopf
October 8, 2008 10:22 AM

In Germany most of the voters have a strong aversion to all kind of lobbyism. I do not share that opinion. In in my opinion lobbyism is an eminent part of a democratic society. When Germans think of lobbyism they normally are used to think of the interests of the “high finance”. They imagine arms deal, child labor and other monstrosities. So it is very interessting to see that also planetaria have a lobby in the States. wink

sarcastic voter
Guest
sarcastic voter
October 8, 2008 10:23 AM

I’m voting for Obama, cause i know when he says something, he means business. Like when he pushed for the projector money but didn’t vote on it… yeah, that’s someone who we need in office. We need someone who talks about getting things done, but isn’t actually serious about getting them done.

Makes sense, right?

wasted vote
Guest
wasted vote
October 8, 2008 10:27 AM

Yeah, i plan on voting for obama too. He seems like the right guy to waste our time, and bring us false hope.

Aodhhan
Member
Aodhhan
October 8, 2008 10:36 AM
I guess we will all feel better, when all of our senators average 450 million dollars a year in pork spending. What is another 45 billion dollars a year in purchases which should be funded by local and or state governments? The problem with pork spending is: 1-Doesn’t face the same spending scrutiny 2-Can be used to “payback” a contribution or to get one up front 3-While this one was a planetarium, it could have easily been 3 million spent on parking meters 4-Federal funds would be better spent on local crisis rebuilding, not luxury items 5-Federal funds being used for local gain. Californians shouldn’t have to pay for Chicago’s laser light shows. The point isn’t what the… Read more »
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