Gerard Degroot’s Dark Side of the Moon …

Gerard Degroot’s Dark Side of the Moon belabors a nevertheless interesting and timely point as Obama looks to set economies right and get man back on course to the Moon. Without realising the timing I began reading the book a week before the 40th anniversary of the Moon landings and finished the day after. I lapped up the nostalgia even as Degroot pounded page after page of fact and opinion on the worthless nature of the manned space race into my head. The book could be summed up in a short 10 page thesis and would probably be the better for it save that Degroot wouldn’t have been able to sell it for anything. Other reviews have pointed out some factual errors which while poor for an academic like Degroot do not take away from the facts that manned space flight inflated costs and return little scientific or even technological value. Even the prestige of reaching the Moon first is debatable, the Russians were never in the race to begin with. I was amazed to read how little JFK cared about space beyond the value it brought to his political ambitions. I do think man needs to achieve reliable and cheap manned space flight but it should be balanced better with automated space exploration. At the end of it Degroot’s book seems to be more a general call to solve humanities problems on earth first before wasting time and money on space. I think Degroot is naive to think social problems can be solved by redirecting NASA budget. Money solves technological problems, it doesn’t solve social ones (see aid in Africa.) In the end Dark Side of the Moon is worth reading for dreamers like me but be prepared for a belaboring. §


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