These high-tech mystery machines — 29 feet long — are about one-quarter the size of NASA's old space shuttles and can land automatically on a runway.
The X-37B is not one-quarter the size of the Space Shuttle, it's one-quarter the length of the Space Shuttle. The launch weight of the X-37B is 5.5 tons. The launch weight of the Space Shuttle is 125 tons. This ignorance about the meaning of dimensions reminds me of the Stonehenge scene from Spinal Tap.
Inspired by the dictate within its Japanese parent company Rakuten to have all its employees become fluent in English, Jaconi decided to have everyone, from himself down to the interns, learn to code.
He calls himself the "inventor of email" which is silly. He registered a copyright with the US copyright office. Again, there did not seem to be any innovation involved. He wrote an email program, and registered his copyright. The only remotely interesting thing about it is that it was named EMAIL. If he had produced a television and called it TELEVISION, and it was after other people had already produced and refined televisions, it would be false to claim to be the inventor of television.
I agree that the guy's claim is dopey, and I'm not paying careful attention to Chomsky's claim, but I suspect that here he is playing some semantic game that he finds relevant in theory, but serves no useful purpose in fact.
That said, the question isn't "was it cool?" or even "was it worth it?" It's "what if Apollo never happened?
Most of us agree that it was cool. Was the expenditure to get a man on the moon worth it? Let's say it cost 40 billion 1970 dollars, which is like 100 billion today dollars (that's not exact, but in the ballpark). Was it that much money's worth of cool? Hard to say, but that's not really important to the "what if" question. And I bet if Apollo were a new project today, it would cost a trillion dollars. Especially considering that it cost the USA 15 billion dollars to reroute 10 miles of highway under Boston.
People who are saying that we wouldn't have the internet or tang or teflon are mistaken, because the moon money might have been spent on other science projects. As it was, the space program was allied with the techno-military-industrial complex already, so other innovation would have happened even without a moonshot.
I'm not a moon landing hoax person, but I know enough about science to understand that the cost of doing stuff on the moon and especially on distant celestial bodies, because of the distances and the hostile environments, makes it all rather impractical. Doing stuff in weightlessness, sure. In geosynchronous earth orbit, sure. On the moon? Maybe. But sending people to Mars or Jupiter or Alpha Centauri is more of a sucker's bet.
When I look at Dictionary.com I find this for irony:
5. an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.
It seems reasonable that debating moon travel 40 years after Apollo might be considered unexpected. What am I missing?
If the space program hadn't happened, that would be an outcome of events contrary to what was. The act of discussing it isn't ironic or contrary to anything, it's just a discussion. If the LA Lakers beat the Chicago Bulls in a basketball game with a last-second basket, and I say, "what if they missed that last shot," it's not ironic.