I've seen a few people complain that the black hole picture is a waste, that humanity has our environment or povery or whatever else as a far far more immediate pressing matter than to take a photo that is 'an orange smear'.

The issue at hand here isn't science funding, the issue at hand is the total structure of industrial capitalism. If you cut astronomy funding to 0, how much do you think of that would go towards social projects? How much would go towards sustainable degrowth? How much would go towards ANYTHING that goes against tje ideological principles of neoliberal capitalism.

On the contrary, there are people who find a deep romantic wonder and an inherent artistic value in things like this. People finding wonder in the world, being humbled by the nature and otherness of it is a beautiful way to look at the world. Don't light your torches at astronomy, capitalism is your issue

@CornishRepublicanArmy Carl Sagan's view of the cosmos is inline with this. if we can teach everyone how precious, fragile, and unique the earth is in the universe then maybe we'll start caring for it more
@CornishRepublicanArmy Astronomy has to constantly publish pretty (and less pretty) pictures to justify its existence under capitalism as it is. Not every space probe *needs* a visual-light camera, but the ones that don't have them tend not to get the cult following and associated insurance from funding cuts

@petra @CornishRepublicanArmy didnt nasa get like all its funding cut over the past few years and all that happened was that corporations and rich people got a tax cut

@drifting_in_circles @petra @CornishRepublicanArmy
NASA *keeps* having its funding cut because America would rather build missiles.

Such a BIG part of science–even the wishy-washy stuff–is OBSERVATION. We thought we knew the sorts of things we'd see, but we HAD NOT SEEN THEM. Until now. We're closer to understanding because instead of very informed, educated suppositions, we now have some visual proof. We get to use it to winkle out NEW secrets now!

You want replicators to feed the hungry, or to reclaim our planet? Knowing the physical world is STEP ONE.

every single time we've ever gone to space or put something off earth we've done so by poisoning the ozone and spending billions without a lot to show for it, is part of the issue I think

when funding of public schools, clean drinking water, safe roadways and streets is on the constant downslope, is it any wonder why space exploration is still seen as a rich man's game?

disregarding that, space funding has been on the decline forever - 1/5

@CornishRepublicanArmy so what's the big deal? well astronomy still has the troubling capacity to be directed only at those who can afford the equipment to participate despite more or less every culture ever taking interest somewhere in history. amateur astronomers are both plentiful and real, but the qualities that enable a good astronomer come with the unfortunate baggage of privilege - 2/5


this isn't anyone's fault save the complexity of spaceworthy lensing technology, but it definitely means most astronomers don't have to deal with or are often insulated from complex material living conditions.

nonetheless, there are real problems with astronomy as a science, as is the case of all sciences more or less - 1/3

@CornishRepublicanArmy the torches will remain lit at astronomy, which continues to name places that have existed long before us and will outlast us by eons, in the same way vaspucci named this land I reside in america. maybe when science stops thumbing its nose at critics as being uneducated plebes who've not the imagination to draw a cave, astronomy will be seen a little more fairly - 2/3

Tell it!

I refuse to accept that there's a choice between scientific discovery and social progress. We deserve both.

@CornishRepublicanArmy Honestly, NASA's yearly budget costs less than two Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carriers.

@CornishRepublicanArmy we wouldn't have an Internet to be arguing this on if it weren't for astronomy done long long ago. The people complaining about the photo have the same short shortsightedness capitalists have.

@CornishRepublicanArmy @Dayglochainsaw Yes! Science funding is not a zero sum game. Discoveries in one field of science can and often lead to breakthroughs in other areas. And even if we don’t see useful results from research immediately it could lead to a discovery many years later. Understanding the world and the universe we live in more objectively is always worth the effort. Doing science and art for their own sake is worth it

@CornishRepublicanArmy @Dayglochainsaw seriously, telescopes are not responsible for income and wealth inequality

@CornishRepublicanArmy people stare up in wonder at the stars and want to know everything there is to know about the universe they live in.... honestly that's one of the things that makes saving the world worthwhile in the first place 🌍💚

@CornishRepublicanArmy honestly I can't imagine learning about space, especially seeing pictures taken of Earth from out there, and not being extremely humbled and have your perspective about the planet changed - I especially can't imagine experiencing that and not thinking it's something literally every human should have to go through, ideally just constantly, for the rest of time, like there should just be the pale blue dot pic in every office space with big text saying "YOU ARE SMALL!!"

@CornishRepublicanArmy I feel like people have this kind of terrible take no matter what's going on. I logged into Guild Wars 2 today in the middle of some conversation in the PvP lobby about how someone wanted the company to fire all the people who were currently handling PvP balance for the game as if that would help in some way.

@CornishRepublicanArmy also I'm not sure quite what they expect a bunch of astronomers to do about world hunger, very different skill sets involved


From 2011, but budgets and inflation haven't moved a whole lot in the intervening years:…

> We did the math, and it turns out that a little more than half a penny of every federal tax dollar ends up at NASA. That means that a family with the median household income ($49,777 according to the U.S. Census Bureau), which pays $6,629 of federal taxes, pays the space agency ...

> $33.

Now, 0.5% is actually quite a large part of the budget, but the return in terms of international prestige and the research and technology edge it gives the US is a very good return on that investment.

For most people who are upset over how much money NASA gets, if you ask them how much that is, they will greatly overestimate it.


Not to mention that this experiment cost a tiny fraction of the the money the US DoD *loses* every year.

@CornishRepublicanArmy also this gets people interested in nature and science instead of startups, crypto bullshit or js frameworks

it promotes collaboration instead of toxic competition, because while science projects have to justify their existence under capitalism, science isn't fundamentally capitalist and will outlast it

international projects are also good praxis

and it's not like climate change and world hunger are caused by scientists not knowing how to fix them

@CornishRepublicanArmy what kind of society kicked off the space race. the capitalist one? Nooooope.

Publicly-funded research absolutely pantses the private sector for economic return and social public benefit - the private sector can ,at best, only take advantage of what the public sector has built by packaging it differently and pocketing the profits (example: shitloads of paid/ad supported weather apps just using NOAA data)

@CornishRepublicanArmy We don't have to research how to end poverty and save the environment. We already have that knowledge. The people responsible for the poverty and the environmental disaster are the same ones who want to get their hands on what small bits of funding are still going to NASA/NSF

@CornishRepublicanArmy the waste isn't the M87 pic: the waste is people like Bezos are allowed to exist

@CornishRepublicanArmy honestly would the same people complain about the ussr's space program? sure it may have been seemingly pointless to try to land on the moon, but think of the knowledge we gained about satellites. the simple truth is that we don't know what we don't know, and we shouldn't cut science funding just because we don't see an immediate application to it. the black hole picture gives us more knowledge about our own universe. it's valuable.


Excellent point.

I seemed to have been quite smitten by the image. Being an agnostic...

...the picture takes humanity a step closer to letting go the influence and the irrationality of religion with its selfish eternal life dogma.

Astronomy has long been dangerous and hated by capitalist power structures aligned with religion.

Copernicus, Galileo risked their lives observing and promoting helocentrism.

Astronomy is truth!

@CornishRepublicanArmy Well done capitalism, making your subjects fight each other.

@CornishRepublicanArmy Also they used python to calculate it. Wish we could use python to overthrow capitalism... Or maybe we could?

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