Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hunting Black Holes with NASA's NuSTAR Telescope


Science is critical for our future and NASA has led the way for 5 decades.  The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array or NuSTAR for short will use the same technology your dentist uses to see cavities, X-Rays. Use of x-rays will enable NASA scientist to see through clouds of dust and gas and really see black holes for the first time. Black holes are thought to be super massive stars that have collapsed under their own gravity. Black holes are places where ordinary gravity has become so extreme that it overwhelms all other forces in the Universe. Once inside, nothing can escape a black hole's gravity — not even light. 

Picture of NuStar telescope in orbit.

Bottom Line

The reason to bring up the NuSTAR telescope and NASA is that government investment in science can drive our economy forward with innovations that the private market would never have. There is no free market need to study black holes or space, but through research like this we have gotten many spin off technologies. Regressive policies have resulted in massive cuts to NASA and the NSF [National Science Foundation] in order to give wealthy individuals and transnational corporations tax cuts. 

Imagine if a company slashed R&D to the bone in order to give management more profits. Well actually you don't have to imagine it, because that's what happened at Chrysler under Cerberus Management. They massively cut R&D, while the Japanese car companies and Ford spent billions in R&D and it showed. The end result is they went bankrupt largely in part because of dated designs and had to be bailed out. Now that Fiat has control of the company, R&D spending is back up and the companies future hasn't looked better in years.


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