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NASA seeks to interest youth with rock music radio …

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… at Third Rock Internet radio, an allusion, of course, to Earth as the third rock from the Sun:

According to David Weaver, associate administrator for the Office of Communications at NASA Headquarters in Washington, ”NASA constantly is looking for new and innovative ways to engage the public and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. We have led the way in innovative uses of new media and this is another example of how the agency is taking advantage of these important communication tools.”

Pat Fant, RFC Media co-founder and chief operating officer, adds: ”Today’s 4G audience craves new music and enjoys finding it. We’ve pulled out the best songs and the deepest tracks from a full spectrum of rock artists across many styles and decades. NASA features and news items are embedded throughout the programming alongside greetings by celebrity artists.”

– Paul Scott Anderson, “Third Rock – NASA’s Cool New Internet Radio Station” ( Universe Today, December 13, 2011)

What bothers some of us, who remember Apollo 11, is that in those days NASA didn’t need to bother providing this kind of entertainment.

The prospect of personally gathering a moon rock was sufficient to motivate many youngsters to stick with maths and sciences in those days – and they looked elsewhere for mere entertainment.

One Reply to “NASA seeks to interest youth with rock music radio …

  1. 1

    I was going through a stack of books that a colleague was throwing out of his office when he retired, when I came across the published proceedings of a NASA Mars conference (The Case for Mars), perhaps #1 or 2. I had just given a talk on a way to put men on Mars, and so I was fascinated to see what they were discussing in ~1981 when the conference was held. To my great surprise, there was a section in the conference on sociology and psychology. One fellow talked about the psychological challenges of putting men in space for 3 years, (did Columbus know about this?) But then I ran across a paper by a sociologist NASA had hired to explain how to sell the American public on the idea of a manned Mars mission.

    I was stunned.

    Here was US taxpayer money going to a fellow whose job it was to explain how to get more US taxpayer money. In other areas of government, this is called lobbying. But at least with lobbyists, we all know its about knowing the right people. Here we had a materialist lobbyist, a man specializing in the science of promoting science, the mathematics of promoting mathematics. From a NASA engineering perspective, this is called positive feedback, and is widely thought to be undesirable because it is so unstable. Put a microphone in front of the speakers and see what positive feedback sounds like. Yet NASA was encouraging this unstable situation by having a sociologist telling NASA how to change its mission statement.

    The principle recommendation of the sociologist was, you guessed it, education. Get them when they are young, and that’s how NASA can evolve to become a self-sustaining branch of the government. The light-bulb went on, and I distinctly remember the early 80’s when NASA began encouraging every proposal have a “education” component, no matter how esoteric the topic. (We all viewed it as extra money, until NASA started requiring that all education money go through approved educators. Then it became useless again.)

    So here we are 30 years later in 2011, watching as the generation brought up on NASA education efforts takes over control of the agency. And what do we find? That NASA’s stated goal is to make certain subgroups possess greater self-esteem. Sure looks like the education money worked! And the positive feedback did precisely what positive feedback is supposed to do–run the amplifier off the rails.

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