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iPod Generation Indifferent to Space Exploration 526

Posted by Zonk
from the in-space-no-one-can-hear-your-ringtones dept.
An anonymous reader writes "CNN tells us that today's young adults are no longer excited at the possibility of space exploration: 'The 2004 and 2006 surveys by Dittmar Associates Inc. revealed high levels of indifference among 18- to 25-year-olds toward manned trips to the moon and Mars. The space shuttle program is slated to end in 2010 after construction of the international space station is completed with 13 more shuttle flights. The recent 13-day mission by Discovery's seven astronauts was part of that long-running construction job.' As a result, NASA's budget will include a greater amount of public relations spending."
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iPod Generation Indifferent to Space Exploration

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  • Sounds Fair (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:34PM (#17399234)
    I think that I am in the Space Exploration generation, and I am indifferent to iPods.
    • by Flying pig (925874) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:13PM (#17399752)
      I too am in the Space Exploration generation, and I too am indifferent to iPods.

      And I'm not surprised. The members of our generation (in their teens in the 60s, I guess) who were interested in space flight were not exactly your average passive consumer. My brother worked for NASA, and I did work on, among other things, rad-hard real time computers. When I was an undergraduate at a university not far from Ely, your audio system did not count unless you had built it yourself, from components, and by components I mean tubes, transistors, and for real kudos turn your own vinyl turntable out of an alumin(i)um blank.

      Nowadays our modern equivalent, when it isn't doing the same kind of thing, is writing its own audio decoders.

      The difference between then and now is quite simple. There is a lot more rubbish about. The size of the recording industry was not so bloated in the sixties and the bandwidth was much smaller. People built their own turntables, for the most part, to listen to Mozart and Wagner and (Richard) Strauss and perhaps Berio and Ligeti as I recall, not pop music which was beneath contempt; it was, after all, the product of multiple remixings from tape and there was no depth to bring out. Now, the record industry is trying to extend copyright still further on stuff with a shelf life of hours, and this is, for the most part, what will get loaded into iPods.

      My conclusion? The Space Exploration generation and the iPod generation are probably practically disjoint sets. Sheep and goats, in fact. Nothing to see here; move along.

      • by Omestes (471991) <omestes AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 29, 2006 @02:16PM (#17400680) Homepage Journal
        I'm younger than you, significantly (teen years in the 90's), am interested in iPods, AND space exploration. But I do think that geeks (either cobbling physical stuff, or programming) will be much more interested in space exploration regardless of age. When we talk about the average Joe, there is a good difference between the so-called "iPod generation" and people born anytime before the 80's, the nationalism associated with the Cold War. Space was a point of pride because we had to be there before the U.S.S.R. Now we've "been there, done that", and we can't see tangible gains in space exploration.

        eople built their own turntables, for the most part, to listen to Mozart and Wagner and (Richard) Strauss and perhaps Berio and Ligeti as I recall, not pop music which was beneath contempt; it was, after all, the product of multiple remixings from tape and there was no depth to bring out.

        I disagree, perhaps YOU were, but the 60's were the rise of pop, it was when music started following the form it does today with an actual "recording industry", my folks huge collection of LP and 45's refute your account, as does the rise of Elvis in the late 50's and the Beatles in the 60's, both of which could be seen as the birth of modern music.

        Regardless, I don't see what people's choice in music have to do with it.

        I think literacy might play a role though, and not only in taste of reading, but actually reading. As probably does level of education. Both of which we're abject failures at now, starting around when the "iPod generation" was in school. I grew up loving science classes, and reading old pulp Sci-Fi, and I am an aberrant in the real world. Most people my age would rather not read a book, much less care what a bunch of disattactched men in lab coats are rambling about in vaguely confusing terms. I'm sure their is a high level of correlation between level of education and elective literacy and interest in space travel.
        • by Tim Browse (9263) on Friday December 29, 2006 @04:54PM (#17402592)

          Regardless, I don't see what people's choice in music have to do with it.

          It allows the OP to feel superior. Simple!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        I knew there was a reason why my MP3 player is a SANSA. It's not that I'm cheap, it's that I support space exploration.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kpau (621891)
        I'd actually argue that the indifference arises from a few decades of our "fearless leaders" in Congress and the White House being absolute spazzes, grinches, and zealot idiots when it comes to science and space exploration. After a while, indifference is the safest emotional response. "Going to Mars, eh?" yeah yeah, sure sure. "Moon Bases, eh?" pbffffft In my youth, I really sincerely planned on probably expiring somewhere near the Asteroid Belt (went to college in the mid 70s). I did work in NASA in
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        BS.

        I apologize for being a bit of a jerk here, but there are a few other things done by your generation which make Space Exploration not as big a deal to mine. (I'm slightly outside of the iPod age group) The world has changed extensively and definitively for a thousand reasons.

        EX: I could eventually figure out how to build myself a radio. With enough time and patience I could assemble all the parts off of the internet. Then, I'd need to put together a workshop. Where? Oh, yeah, in my little studio
    • by mitchell_pgh (536538) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:23PM (#17399856)
      If you compare our rather lower risk missions of the 90s/00s to the rather high risk missions of the 60s/70s, it's no surprise that it's less interesting.

      Also, I believe the image of NASA has changed from that of a cutting edge government sponsored organization to a lumbering money pit. We really need to "fight" someone if we want public support... even if it's more PR than anything.
  • by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:34PM (#17399238)
    They'll care about it when it's practical for some of them to take a trip into space or to the Moon.

    Youth, by nature, tends to be more shortsighted than mature adults. We'll also likely see a change as that generation ages.
    • They don't care because it's been a while since NASA has really done anything interesting. It's tough to get excited about space exploration when it's a handful of people riding up and down in a vehicle that's older than most young people's cars, and doing incomprehensible/boring stuff when they get there.

      Space exploration was exciting when it meant putting people on the moon; the public has lost interest when it just means sending people up to LEO over and over again, and the people in question aren't them.

      I suspect that if we put a person on Mars, you would see an immediate renewed interest in space exploration. But seeing the state to which NASA and the government in general has fallen, I suspect most young people are (wisely) too cynical to believe that will ever occur. Thus they don't care, and turn their attentions to things that seem to be actually progressing.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jimstapleton (999106)

        It's tough to get excited about space exploration when it's a handful of people riding up and down in a vehicle that's older than most young people's cars, and doing incomprehensible/boring stuff when they get there.

        It should be...

        It's tough to get excited about space exploration when it's a handful of people riding up and down in a vehicle that's older than most young people, and doing incomprehensible/boring stuff when they get there.

      • by ericdano (113424)
        Yeah. And it takes them......forever to do anything. I mean, this space station......how many years has it been under construction? Hubble needs repair and they are planning on doing it....when?

        It's hard to get excited about something that is moving so slow.
        • by paeanblack (191171) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:18PM (#17399808)
          I think the problem lies in the lack of mystery. In the '50s-'60s, we didn't know if we were going to make it to the moon. We had no idea if it was, or ever would be, possible for a human to make it there and back. Today, putting someone on Mars is, in the minds of the current generation, purely academic. It won't be terribly difficult, just very expensive. That's neither mysterious or interesting to youth.

          Perhaps the rate of technological innovation and incremental improvements have much to blame for this attitude. When kids grow up assuming next year's model will be twice as fast and one-third the price, it raises the question, "Why do we need to go to Mars right now?". The extension of this is, "If the same equipment will so much cheaper next year, just like an iPod, why not save some money and visit Mars later. Mars isn't going anywhere."

          • by shaneh0 (624603) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:46PM (#17400222)
            Interesting idea. Especially the pragmatist idea of waiting until "next model year."

            I personally have hopes that the moon base will be sufficiently interesting to stoke the public demand for a Mars mission.

            I'm 24 and when I was in grade school I had a teacher for 3 & 4th grades that was an absolute space nut. We had a chapter of Young Astronauts in the school, she had a space-shuttle cockpit (made from mostly wood with a bunch of dials and toggle switches inside) in her classroom that we could sit in and she filled the class with a sense of excitement about what was going on out there.

            It's also worth mentioning that at this time NASA was a bit more exciting, too. Hubble just launched. Endeavor was brand new. And IIRC the Voyager had just left the solar system.

            My point is that todays adults can get todays kids interested in this. And also that the prospect of people living on the moon is new and exciting enough that it just might work.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209)
        I agree, the golden era of space exploration only lasted for the first decade, which was in the 1960's. It's very easy for me to imagine why people were so excited when every year brought fantastic new achievements, but then aerospace more or less leveled off. Me, I'm just old enough to remember the first Shuttle mission, and I can't say much has happened for manned space exploration during my lifetime. If anything I think it has diminished a bit. IMHO, unmanned is where it's at.
      • by M-G (44998) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:57PM (#17399564)
        Don't forget that our current mode of space exploration is something that this generation has grown up with. I remember the first shuttle launch. To a teenager today, shuttles have been flying their entire lives, so to them there's no real novelty to captivate a large audience.
        • by Thansal (999464) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:10PM (#17399702)
          That is the nail!

          For a large number of us the concept of putting a man on the moon (let alone in space) is practicaly pedestrian, as opposed to in the 60s when it was a truely amazing (and NEW) thing.

          I grew up with the knowledge that space flight, and going to the moon were things we have done, and we did them a LONG (to a 7yr old) time ago.

          I for one still am interested in what we are doing in space (I am 23, just for ref), however it isn't the type of thing that it was when we first started.

          Now most of us are more interested in what is happening at home (Earth), and understandign that better.
      • They don't care because it's been a while since NASA has really done anything interesting.

        Nothing exciting, that is, except for lots of probes to Mars, Titan, and other bodies, probes that have fundame tally changed out view of the solar system and send back stunning pictures.

        It's tough to get excited about space exploration when it's a handful of people riding up and down in a vehicle that's older than most young people's cars,

        Indeed, the space station and manned space flight is a waste of money and horrib
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Moofie (22272)
          "and get orders of magnitude more scientific data"

          Yet, if we send people to Mars, we get a whole new planet to live on and explore, forever.

          I'll vote for sending people to Mars, thanks. Scientific data and photographs are cool and all, but actual real meatbags on other planets is way, way, way, infinitely, indescribably, ineffably, superbly more exciting.

          Why bother with exploring space if we're not going to go there?

          That's just me, though.
          • Re:well, except... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by oohshiny (998054) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:33PM (#17400028)
            Yet, if we send people to Mars, we get a whole new planet to live on and explore, forever.

            A manned mission to Mars and settling Mars are two entirely different propositions; even if we managed to pull of dozens of manned landings on Mars, we'd still be far away from any sort of settlement.

            Why bother with exploring space if we're not going to go there?

            Who said anything about "not going there"? Eventually, we will settle on Mars. But for now, we're talking about near-term strategy for space exploration, and robotic spacecraft are not only the fastest way for gathering scientific data, they are also the fastest way towards a real manned space program.

            If we're going to go ahead with a manned trip to Mars, the project will likely get killed before it ever gets executed, and manned space exploration will be held back by at least half a century.
    • by garcia (6573)
      They'll care about it when it's practical for some of them to take a trip into space or to the Moon.

      I'm a beach vacation person. There's no ocean on either and while I'm sure the blast off would be entertaining the rest would be unbelievably boring for me.

      Why would you ever think that a trip to Mars would be exciting for most non-nerds? Once the novelty of going to space as a civilian wears off, there's little draw.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by j00r0m4nc3r (959816)
      They'll care about it when they run out of places on Earth to build Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts franchises
    • by cdrguru (88047) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:50PM (#17399442) Homepage
      I think this is an incredibly wrong attitude. The youth of the 1920s and 1930s were the ones that were excited by the possibilities of space exploration. They grew up with the beginnings of space oriented science fiction and this formed the basis for everyone from Chuck Yeager to Neil Armstrong.

      Today's fantasys are shaped by authors which focus far more on dark gothic horror and sex. Look where we are today.

      No, it isn't the youth that eventually mature into beliving in space exploration, it is the youth that push the rest of the stay-at-homes into investing in the future.

      It is dangerous and foolhardy to place the future of the human race at the mercy of the planet Earth. And viewing the planet as a closed system, without access to off-world resources is equally short sighted. As someone else once said, Humanity is too valuable to place all our eggs in one basket.
      • by localman (111171)
        Today's fantasys are shaped by authors which focus far more on dark gothic horror and sex. Look where we are today.

        Yes, we're living in a much better world -- at least in the civilized bits with access to gothic horror and sex. Cool!
    • Honestly, from the view of anyone under the age of 30 (or so) there is a different expectation on the rate of progress than the generations that came before them.

      For people who were growing up in the 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's the world was changing at a rapid rate and people were expecting that the investment in Space Exploration would have pay-offs in their lifetime. People who were raised in the 80's (and I suspect the 90's) look at the world as being far more stable because most of the advancement has be
    • they don't care about it because they can't take a trip into space or to the Moon. They've grown up knowing that we went to the moon all the way back when the Beatles were considered radical and offensive, and their entire lives have been filled with documentary video of trips through galaxies and universes and time and space, full of aliens and lasers and faster-than-light travel. Yes, this video evidence is fictional, but it doesn't change the fact that they've experienced such things.

      So knowing that we a
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nizo (81281) *
      They'll care about it when it's practical for some of them to take a trip into space or to the Moon.


      Maybe NASA could drum up interest by giving travelers to the moon free iTunes store credit for each flight?

  • by gelfling (6534) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:35PM (#17399242) Homepage Journal
    You mean "everything" I can agree.
  • by garcia (6573) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:36PM (#17399262) Homepage
    There is no such thing as the "iPod Generation". Do not go and make up a name for that group just because you need to use the word iPod a certain number of times per day on the front page.

    I certainly couldn't care less about space exploration (and I'm just barely outside of that demographic. I always thought it was a waste of time and energy to do a manned Mars exploration. Let's get the moon and space station finished first -- we've already started afterall.

    After that, end the programs and use the money right here.
    • I'm inclined to agree. TFA's title is "NASA's vision lost on Web generation," which is still stupid and meaningless, but at least it's stupid and meaningless without dragging an overhyped brand name into it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by gEvil (beta) (945888)
        TFA's title is "NASA's vision lost on Web generation," which is still stupid and meaningless, but at least it's stupid and meaningless without dragging an overhyped brand name into it.

        NASA's Vision Lost on Web 2.0 Generation

        Ahhhh, much better...
    • by budcub (92165)
      There is no such thing as the "iPod Generation".

      Yeah, I've been wondering how is the iPod generation different than the Walkman generation. Its all the same to me, I'd rather have a good stereo than be tied down to earphones stuck in my head.
    • by Qzukk (229616)
      After that, end the programs and use the money right here.

      And people wonder how, with trillions of planets out there, we haven't run into another space-faring species. I think this is the solution to the Fermi Paradox right here.
  • iPod generation? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Enoxice (993945) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:37PM (#17399268) Journal
    "iPod generation"? WTF? How is that name relevant to...well, anything?

    Anyway, I'm in that age range. I can tell you that space exploration is as exciting as it ever was, but I'm indifferent (or, rather, have negative feelings) towards NASA doing it. Wasting all kinds of money on projects that are either never finished or are spectacular failures that could be used for more useful things.
  • by ReptilianSamurai (1042564) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:38PM (#17399278)
    I'm 20 years old and nothing excites me more about the near future than space exploration. The idea that in <b>my</b> lifetime we will likely have a moon base, or go to Mars is hard to believe.

    Then again, I read Slashdot, so I may not represent my demographic. ;-)
    • I'm 30 years old, and while I thought space exploration was neat when I was younger, today I mostly see it as just a very well funded astronomy club. There is no value in going to the Moon or to Mars. If you really want to get my interest, you've got to think bigger than that. Send probes directed at the 30 nearest stars in an attempt to find an earth like planet and try to colonize it. Now, if you build a self sustaining space station as a precursor to an extra-solar expedition, I might be interested.
    • I'm 20 years old and nothing excites me more about the near future than space exploration. The idea that in my lifetime we will likely have a moon base, or go to Mars is hard to believe.



      Based on past performance, the idea that in your lifetime we will have a moon base or go to Mars is hard for me to believe as well.

  • Since when does "young generation = iPod generation" these days? I saw a few shots from the space station where some of the astronauts had iPods on Velcro. I think it would be fair to say that the "video game generation" has a lack of interest in space. I blame William Shatner for that one. In a video clip for an old Star Trek game, he announced to a group of Starfleet cadets: "Space is boring."
    • by kyouteki (835576)
      Space is boring. However, all the little goodies in it (stars, planets, black holes, dark matter, etc.) are exciting.
  • These 18-26 year-olds might have different opinions in 10-20 years. Until then, their opinions don't matter. Why? They're not politically involved when compared to older demographics. But NASA is smart in trying to preempt future apathy.

    Besides, not enough Americans care about taxes and program funding for this to matter. As long as politicians want huge NASA contracts going to their district/state, NASA will have funding. Whether or not this funding is merited is a different story...
  • Let's see... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Scareduck (177470)
    We're running out of oil, faced with the probability of using ever-more CO2-generating coal to fuel our civilization, and we're (the "we" being "anybody who's paying attention") supposed to be excited about sending astronauts into orbit to solve exactly none of these potentially life-threatening problems? I'd call that a good thing. I'd call that knowing your priorities.
    • Well, one of the ways to generate energy without using carbon is to launch solar panels into orbit and beam solar energy back to earth using diffuse radio waves (which are as safe or safer than cell phone and are not a death ray in any way shape or form). You get more power that way from the solar panels, since they see sun 24x7, about 3 or 4 times more than you get on the Earth and it can cost about the same to launch the panels as it takes to make them if you do both in large quantity.

      The economics of do

    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      sending astronauts into orbit to solve exactly none of these potentially life-threatening problems?

      Orbiting solar power stations beaming power down to a station in an unpopulated area using microwaves have been proposed. So have orbiting mirrors to reflect some sunlight and possible combat global warming. This isn't even mentioning moving some mineral mining operations off the planet (moon or asteroid belt) given a cheap (nuclear?) energy source so that the Earth doesn't get polluted and scraped clean b

    • by jonored (862908)
      Now, what would actually be useful is going to the moon and researching the economic viability of mining helium-3 for fusion. No awkward neutron radiation, just normal hydrogen and helium as by-products, possibly renewable dependent on the rate of absorption from the sun... Some aspects of this whole space exploration buisiness are very relevant to the fuel shortage. In fact, I do believe China is planning on pursuing just this route, planning on getting there by 2010. It's not worthless; but NASA could be
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      We are not running out of oil. We are running out of cheap oil. Global warming is only a threat to poor people (callous but true). These are NOT life threatening problems for most people on the Earth. Running out of oil is not a problem at all as we have lots of time to switch to other energy sources. Global warming is not going to be fixed in the short term, if ever, unless it starts to directly affect lots of rich people.

      This whole "we should fix all problems on the Earth first" attitude drives me craz

  • They don't get it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ConanG (699649)
    Patrick Stewart? David Duchovny? Unless they fly on the shuttle or in the ISS, they won't have any effect.

    Kids aren't interested in space because nothing new has happened except a disaster and a "space station" in the last 20 years. They aren't excited because NASA isn't going out of its way to make us believe that one day they will be able to travel to space. Unless, of course, they get a PhD. by the time they're 25, in perfect health, and a model citizen.

    If they really want to ignite interest, let reg
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      If they really want to ignite interest, let regular folk go to space. For the last 50 years, only the most perfect people have been given the chance to go. It's our turn...

      Mod parent up insightful!

      That's what private companies based in places with more relaxed views of liability like India and Brazil are going to be for. If you die in space - too bad - you signs the contract, you takes the risk. And that's the only way to look at exploring a dangerous place. We (even NASA, though they do try) can't h

  • Could it be due (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Timesprout (579035) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:45PM (#17399382)
    To the fact that most kids these days are clued up to the vastness/emptyness of space, the barreness of Mars and the Moon and the difficulties of actually getting anywhere, nevermind finding and colonizing other planets. A trip to Mars or the Moon then seems like an utterly insignificant step towards the space exploration and technology they see in the movies etc. They know it has to be done but the cool stuff comes much much later and most likely not in their lifetime.
    • by 0racle (667029)
      fact that most kids these days are clued up
      By that statements inaccuracy, I guarantee that is not the problem.
  • by 0racle (667029) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:46PM (#17399396)
    After Apollo 11 landed on the moon and the US beat the Russians to it no one cared about what NASA didi after that. No one was interested in space exploration in the first place, it was all about beating the Russians.
  • ...land an iPod on Mars.
  • by paladinwannabe2 (889776) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:46PM (#17399406)
    Because Aliens are busy sitting at home experiencing virtual realities. Once computer simulations reach a certain point, you can create a universe bigger and more entertaining than the real one.
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Friday December 29, 2006 @02:31PM (#17400878)
      Once computer simulations reach a certain point, you can create a universe bigger and more entertaining than the real one.

      Nah: it'll be limited by human conceptions of what the universe ought to be. I'll bet that the real universe has parts that are more interesting (and frightening) than we could have ever imagined them to be. And this won't change the fact that we'll be just as screwed if the Earth somehow gets rendered unfit for habitation.

      -b.

  • Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Randolpho (628485) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:48PM (#17399418) Homepage Journal
    Why are people increasingly disaffected with space exploration? Well, aside from general apathy -- I mean, come on, it's 18-25 year olds, the most apathetic (is that a word?) age -- most of us are "meh" about space because we highly doubt FTL travel will ever actually occur. The planets in our solar system are extremely distant and inhospitable, and terraforming another planet like Mars or Venus is also highly unlikely.

    The "exploration" aspect of space is basically gone; we've been pretty much as far as we can feasibly go. It's not a frontier anymore, and it won't be until some future Columbus makes it to another star system and brings a few natives back.
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      we've been pretty much as far as we can feasibly go.

      Maybe with normal chemical-propulsion rockets this is true. I suspect that we could get a manned mission quite a bit further with nuclear-fission powered drives. But, no, the enviro-fascists would never allow something like that to be launched from Earth. A possible solution would be to build the reactor in space. Launch the fuel into space in basically impervious ceramic casings and then fuel the reactor in a safe, high Earth orbit. Even have emerg

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@worfMOSCOW.net minus city> on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:49PM (#17399432)
    The 18-to-25s that aren't showing any interest, well, there's a good reason.

    For most of their active life, as far as they were concerned, space flight is an everyday occurance.

    They grew up with the Space Shuttle. They grew up with space stations. Exploration is practically common (face it, with the Mars rovers since the mid-90's...). So is it any surprise that manned exploration would get a yawn?

    This happened in the 70's. I believe by Apollo 13, no one watched space launches on TV anymore (if the networks would even carry it) nor did the public actually care (until the tank exploded).

    For those who grew up in the 70's, well, spaceflight was a mystical thing. These feelings probably stayed. It's basically assumed that spaceflight is a boring reality these days.

    Go back a few years, say around the time I was born, and yes, you'd probably find more excitement about spaceflight (hell, I'd love to go).

    Take aviation - nobody thinks much about hopping on a plane (other than the PITA that is security nowadays and long lineups) to go somewhere. Go back to the 1950s when travelling by commercial jet was fairly novel. Now, well, it's just another form of travel. The same thing is happening to spaceflight. The novelty has worn off on this "generation" - they grew up with it, and probably assume it's always been the case.
    • by mikelieman (35628)
      Bullshit. "Everyday"?

      Shit NASA can't get it up every MONTH much less everyday.

      Kids aren't interested in Spaceflight b/c NASA has made it pointless. Shuttle flights to resupply the ISS, whose purpose is to be resupplied by the Shuttle?

      Your taxdollars at work.

      Now, if they were SERIOUS, I wouldn't have a problem, but MORE money for NASA is MORE money *NOT* spent on access to orbit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fallingcow (213461)
        Haha, so true.

        The ISS is a total waste of money. It's not even half-finished, IIRC, and probably never will be completed.

        NASA's public image would be enhanced if at least *some* of the shuttle missions and IIS activities were focused on something other than the following two items:

        a) keeping the IIS supplied and working
        b) OMFG WTF WILL ANTS/GRASS/WORMS/CRYSTALS DO IN ZERO-G!!!11eleventy1

        Hubble and the Mars Rovers are the only cool things they have, and they're letting Hubble die. The Rovers are unmanned.
  • How about this... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by metlin (258108) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:51PM (#17399460) Journal
    ...the iPod generation seems indifferent to science and engineering in general, and seems more interested in applied technology.

    I'm within the age-group that they specified, but I enjoyed building Tesla Coils, playing with all kinds of electrical and electronic equipment, pyrotechnics and the like.

    These days, a lot of kids in my age group aren't particularly motivated towards building anything.

    They'd much do things on the computer. Hell, most of them do not even consider Lego Mindstorms to be vaguely interesting.

    Then again, I bet every generation feels this way about the newer generation. Who knows?
  • The truth (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dasupalouie (1038538)
    The only real push that the space program ever got was during the Cold War. It's upsetting that war brings out innovation and today's generation is stuck with a cycle of reusing the old.
  • We don't call the 60s kids the sex without condoms generation! I resent the ipod designation.
  • This is the same demographic who speaks loudly against government yet fails to do the one thing to fix it, vote. Time and again this demographic fails to turn out at the polls despite their intense displeasure of the way things are going. This is the smae generation who has grown up with instaneous gratification and it shows in their demeanor. Fuck 'em I say. They don't want to be a reasonable functioning member of society, then I don't want them deciding things like this for me or my kids.
    • ...Reinstate the draft.

      rj
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You're right. It's not like it was when you were a young person, and all young people were politically active, and respectful of their elders, and didn't play their music so damned loud. It's not real music, just noise. It all sounds the same. No moral backbone in the lot of 'em, nosiree.

      You want to see college-aged kids get more involved in politics? Simple: allow election-day voter registration. The younger you are the more likely you are to be bouncing from apartment to apartment, and the more diff
  • Of course they're not interested in space exploration - the special effects just aren't there. Most aspects of space-flight are pretty boring to watch (with the minor exception of the shuttle launches), and any time something cool looking happens, someone dies. Now, if we weaponized the shuttle and started vaporizing orbiting debris with a laser cannon, THAT would get some interest.
  • by Jerf (17166) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:53PM (#17399508) Journal
    Sci-fi set unrealistic expectations. Current technology can barely get us to the moon, it might get us to Mars in several months if nothing at all goes wrong, and when we get there, there's very little we can do of consequence other than bang on rocks and report back how sparkly the insides are.

    This is a far cry from warping halfway across the galaxy to save the universe from a universe-threatening quantum disturbance with no particular relationship to reality.

    As our capabilities grow, as they will, it might get more exciting again. For instance, even if we never get a space elevator, it is still theoretically possible to have a space age with rockets; it's "just" a matter of getting enough energy, cheaply enough, with fusion.

    But until then, it's become clear to anybody who can think (and that's more people than the sometimes-somewhat-elitist Slashdot crowd will credit) that nothing terribly interesting is going to happen anytime soon in the space industry.
  • Young adults don't care about anything, so an article about them not caring about _____ is redundant.

    Space is big, mostly empty, expensive, and dangerous. So people know about space they just have no reason to care about it.

    NASA has also had some *ahem* issues with spending money in smart ways instead of just acting as a funnel to the pockets of friends of government.
  • Opiate of the masses (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dsanfte (443781) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:54PM (#17399516) Journal
    Democracy is a fine device for trending national policy decisions towards what people really want. In this case, for this age group, it seems that most people want to sit around playing the PS3 all day, and they really don't care about much else. Electronic games are the new religion of our age. Sad as hell.

    Fortunately, the US is not a democracy.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      it seems that most people want to sit around playing the PS3 all day, and they really don't care about much else. Electronic games are the new religion of our age. Sad as hell. Fortunately, the US is not a democracy.

      Unfortunately, it is in the interests of government to keep people in that state.

  • It's fucking insulting. I don't have an iPod, and I fucking hate the iPod. And regarding space exploration: show us something new instead of reporting "OMGWTFLOLBBQ there may or may not be water on Mars!!one" every two minutes, and you may have us interested.
  • Cue all the young people protesting that they are very interested in space exploration. Perhaps you're not representative of the population as a whole.
  • As a person who is now 40 years old and grew up in the New York area, when I was young here are the things we found inspirational about science:

    1. The Concorde
    2. Star Trek
    3. The World Trade Towers
    4. The Space Shuttle (a little later)

    Now 30ish years later:

    1. Concorde retired without a replacement
    2. No Star Trek
    3. No World Trade Towers
    4. Space Shuttle limping along and about to be retired without an obvious replacement
    5. To be fair, we had Battlestar Galactica both times, and now people pay me to play with co
  • by Pojut (1027544) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:59PM (#17399574) Homepage
    We have long had the technology to build a base on the moon. Do you know how much easier and cheaper launching exploration vehicles, both manned and unmanned from the moon would be rather than from earth? I know the DISTANCE isn't that big of a change, but the GRAVITY is a massive change, it would take exponentially less energy (read: fuel) to launch from the moon...Not to mention the observatories and labs that could be set up...after all, what better place to research low-gravity technology than in *gasp* LOW GRAVITY

    The probelm is funding. The feds don't want to put any money into space. If we took the budget we have put into the Iraq war 8 years ago, a moon base would already be under construction and ready to be completed in 5-10 years. Like I said, the technology has been around. The FUNDING has not.

    I know why people nowadays don't care. Alot of people feel we won't do anything of great percieved importance in our lifetime as of right now, but hey you gotta start the advancement of the race some time. Why not now? When else in history have we had the opportunity to? We have the technology, the money is in circulation, and we have the motivation (survival).

    Why the hell are we being so stupid as to throw away such an opportunity?
  • WTF is up with slashdot (or submitter) calling 18-15 year olds the iPod generation, and wtf is up with CNN saying 'the web generation'? Both are stupid, and imply incorrect things. The implication seems to be that the iPod or the web destroyed interest in the space program. I may be out of that age range, but I can imagine if I were in an age group identified by the web or, even worse, a particular company's product, I'd be offended.
  • by joshv (13017) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:03PM (#17399620)
    So can anyone tell me, what, if any real and important science is taking place on our beloved space station? And please don't tell me 'research on long term effects of zero-G'. We're only confirming finding from 20 years ago.

    Absolutely nothing interesting has happened in the manned space program since we first repaired Hubble in orbit. Since then we've done nada, nothing, zilch, zero, bupkiss of interest to much of anyone, be they John Q iPod, or a PhD in astrophysics.

    The manned space program has become utterly irrelevant. NASA can spend as much money as they want trying to get people excited about 'crystals' grown in microgravity, but we have heard it all before.

    Do something new and different. Send people someplace they haven't been before. Or maybe let's get people living, I mean really living, on the moon. It is not impossible with today's technology. It just takes more imagination and political will than NASA currently possesses.

    • Send people someplace they haven't been before.

            You're right! THE SUN! I would PAY to watch that!

            See 12 astronauts fight for a place on the 3 man escape pod, and watch as the remainder are vaporised in the sun's corona!
  • by Toby The Economist (811138) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:03PM (#17399622)
    > The 2004 and 2006 surveys by Dittmar Associates Inc. revealed high levels of indifference among 18- to
    > 25-year-olds toward manned trips to the moon and Mars.

    Erm, that's it? that's all we get?

    How big was the sample? how were they chosen? was it ten people chosen from a Big Brother audience? what questions were they asked? how exactly do you decide what "indifference" is?

    What a complete load of tosh. An utterly unsubstaniated story.
  • The reason "young people" are no longer excited about space exploration is that it is no longer exciting. Space has become a fairly routine and known thing where human interaction is concerned. Space exploration into the unknown frontier is conducted by machines not over weeks or months, but many many years. Any chance of sending Man beyond the Moon is many years away, if ever. It's just not that thrilling to sit around and wait.
  • As a 15-year old... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PompousClown (1044810) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:10PM (#17399706)
    ...I can say that in my school, I have certainly observed a great deal of student apathy regarding just about everything that has to do with science. It's really a sad thing, because I suspect that this is largely due to our incredibly weak science department. The teachers are terrible. Either you're stuck with the stereotypical monotonous robot of an educator, spewing out terms and expecting the class to understand, or you've got some bipolar nutcase who is certain that we're all gonna die due to global warming. Although my current grade in my BSCS class isn't exactly stellar (79 average), out of all the students in my class I'm still probably the most interested in the subject. This, I would imagine, is because the school system hasn't beaten out my extreme curiosity which I have kept with me all my life. Every night, my dad would read to me from one of his favorite science fiction novels (Ender's game is one that I remember best). I would soak up programs on channels such as the Discovery Science Channel every chance that I got (I still do). And to top it all off, my father and I would frequently discuss the prospects and benefits of space exploration. This is what impacted me the most. Out of all my schooling, it was the extracurricular exploration and stimulation that made all the difference to me. I'm really lucky to have two great parents. I'd say that 40-50% of all the kids I know have parents who are divorced. More still have irresponsible parents to begin with. It's sad, but true.

    Oh, I guess that the fact that I was homeschooled from grades 2 to 8 made a big difference aswell.
  • by oohshiny (998054) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:14PM (#17399766)
    Young Americans have high levels of apathy about NASA's new vision of sending astronauts back to the moon by 2017 and eventually on to Mars, recent surveys show.

    Good: sending astronauts to the moon or to Mars is a waste of money. What we should be doing is sending out a lot more robotic probes. If we don't waste our money on sending meatbags to Mars, we could have planetary rovers on every major solar system body within the next three decades, and we could have several interstellar spacecraft on their way by the end of the century. The data and images those probes would send back is what's exciting.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      And for your next vacation would you rather go to Hawaii, or merely receive a nice color picture of Hawaii?

      Humans go to exotic and remote places themselves not because they merely wish to collect data from it, but because it is in the nature of our species to explore in person. A manned presence is not merely a necessary prerequisite to the acquisition of data; it is an end unto itself. The conquest of Mt. Everest, for example, had nothing to do with seeing what was on the top of the mountain. It was a

  • How to fix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Danathar (267989) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:16PM (#17399784) Journal
    Require Science Fiction reading in HS...lots of it.
  • I hate to say it, but even someone born in 1973 like myself has lost interest in space exploration. It sure seemed cool when I was growing up, but my interests these days lay more in discovery of large scale social interaction... stuff that wasn't possible back then, and further understanding of the human mind and body. I still appreciate that people are doing pure science and I wouldn't want that to stop. But I've become more realistic -- and getting off this planet just doesn't make sense to me any mor
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:16PM (#17399790) Journal
    I see a lot of posts about how we have far more important things to worry about than space exploration - wars, poverty, famine, global warming, disease - and that we should ignore space and fix these problems first. I've got bad news for you folk - they ain't gonna get fixed if we drop the space program.

    Now, being an ex-NASA guy, I feel fully justified in saying that the Administration is not a bastion of efficiency or efficient use of science dollars for science sake. Manned spaceflight will probably never be as cost effective as robotic exploration or remote sensing. Still, it can be a very valuable resource for the inspiration of younger generations to go into science and engineering. Both of those fields are critical to advancement against the world's ills of poverty, famine, globla warming, and disease. Since science doesn't pay as well as non-productive professions like accountancy, law, and real estate sales, we need some way to inspire the next generation to do something other than make enough disposable income to buy the latest iPod. NASA fuels both interest and the work they do has far reaching impact for science (and not just pens that write upside down and expensive mattresses).

    What we do need is a real mission and real results. Without that, the popultation is going to see NASA for what it currently is: a rudderless agency spending lots of money to do very little real science. Sadly, with the pork included in its budget, NASA will never garner the excitement and focus it has had in the past. Plus with the contractor mentality it will never have the in-house expertise keep and propogate the corporate knowledge that allows for efficent and consistent advances in aeronautic science.

    Right now the NASA beurocracy and the year-to-year funding methodology by congress has doomed the agency to its current fate - mundane and uninspired. I would love to see a rebirth of the agency, but I'm not holding my breath.

"Love may fail, but courtesy will previal." -- A Kurt Vonnegut fan

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