Episode 38 – 18th June 2010

[Direct MP3 Link]

Humanist Heritage Week by Liz Lutgendorff
Harm Minimisation for Religion by Drew Rae
Palin and Thatcher by Salim Fadhley
Mission to Mars by Pete Hague
Slave to the System by Sly & Reggie

Follow up links:

6 thoughts on “Episode 38 – 18th June 2010

  1. Pete Hague’s mistake is that “a nation with the same budget as NASA currently has would have a credible chance of getting people to Mars”. NASA’s current budget isn’t even enough to get people to the Moon, much less to Mars. The International Space Station, a decade in the building and clunking around in low Earth orbit, cost anywhere around $100 billion. Getting to the Moon cost approx $170 billion in today’s money. Multiply somewhat for going to Mars.

  2. Every week there is some sound problem through the podcast. While editing the podcast together could you consider those of us that just can’t listen to the scratchy, tinny or distorted noise that is masking the interesting things we want to hear about. I couldn’t listen to Drew Rae’s segment because the sound was so terrible and the topic was, I think, the most important one in this weeks podcast.

    1. We do strive to have good quality audio, but unfortunately were all volunteers with no money, so have to work with the kit we have. Some of us are lucky enough to have good mics, others not so. I did wonder about including Drew’s report, but it’s content was too good not to include.

  3. Why is £13 billion a year for getting to Mars a ‘mistake’? Do you know for a fact how much it would cost? Have you worked it out or are you guessing? I think its a bit arrogant for you to simply say I made a ‘mistake’ without any evidence for your assertions.

    Bringing up the cost of Apollo, by the way, doesn’t actually prove your point. For a start that is the total cost of Apollo over more than a decade (which of course fits in the existing NASA budget), and secondly they needed to break a *lot* of new ground with their R&D that wouldn’t be necessary today. Most importantly, you don’t give any clue how you are using this irrelevant number to magically derive the cost of a Mars mission.

    In the 1990s, an engineer called Robert Zubrin devised a plan to get the US to Mars within the NASA budget (which was, in real terms, pretty much what it is now) and a new space program would have the advantage also of not having existing expensive commitments like the ISS or the Space Shuttle.

    The Obama administration, on the other hand, thinks that an extra $6 billion (£4 billion) a year is needed for Mars – if true that hardly demolishes my case does it?

    By all means say that you *think* I am wrong, but don’t come by flatly stating that I made a ‘mistake’ and arbitrarily declaring Mars too expensive, without citing a damn thing. Those who have evaluated the technical challenges and those who advise the President of the US on scientific matters do not seem to agree with your unsubstantiated cost assessment, Rob.

  4. Sorry, Pete, I phrased my comment clumsily and I’m sure you’ve done ample research on the topic. I blame the comment’s on tone on my general perception that such ambitious projects tend to go over budget, combined with being a bit drunk while listening and commenting.

  5. No problem. I’m sorry if I came across a bit strident in my response.

    You do have a point that such a project could well overrun its budget and timescale – but it doesn’t *have* to and if it does, it doesn’t have to do so by much. All that means for my argument is that money is necessary but not sufficient. How much over £13 billion a year you would have to spend on getting to Mars is simply a matter of competent government.

    Throwing your hands up and saying that huge overruns and waste are inevitable (whether for cynical or ideological reasons) just gives those in government who are tasked with running national scale projects and services a pretext to not even bother. In the same way I think public choice theory gave politicians an excuse to milk the system for everything they could with a clear conscience (after all, *everyone* does it…)

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