Would You Rather Know The Origin Of Life Or Watch People Play Sport?

People are making comparisons between the cost of the Curiosity rover and other things. Among them, the cost of the Olympics.

Would you rather spend more money on the science that could reveal the origin of life and help us understand our place in the universe -- questions that humans have asked themselves since the dawn of time? Or would you spend that money organising games to watch people chase balls, or try to run or jump faster than each other?

What affects us more? What pushes humanity forward? Is it the development of science and technology? Apart from revealing the secret of the universe, all the space program technologies have direct applications in your day-to-day life, from Velcro to medical scanning to carbon fibre. Or is it watching sponsored athletes compete for a gold medal? The former seems to have wide implications for all of humanity through decades and centuries. The latter doesn't affect humanity that much, except for the excitement of 9.7 seconds of a 100m race.

Science and technology, or bread and circus? Where do you want to see your dollars go?

Chart: Luminous Enchiladas



      Here here...
      Although I think we could flip the budgets (ie $15 billion for Science and $2.5 billion for sport) and still have a very good Olympics!

    What if we moved the next olympics to Mars?


    ^ cost too much.

      I think humanity has proven that when it comes to a meaningless over-hyped sporting event; money is no issue.

        I agree. Lets waste money on a pointless event that does nothing for no one rather than use that money for the good of the world and environment. I wish they'd once consider using the money used to create Olympic stadiums and power those things and every cost associated to the Olympics and just put it towards one (or a few) good and worthy causes that will help humanity in the long run. If they did this once every 40 years that'd be awesome.

    Would you rather go to Mars or solve starvation? Choose.

      hmmm... I think there is even less money to be made in solving starvation than going to mars, hence why it never gets a look in unfortunately.

      solve starvation by exploring the vastness of space and potentially discovering new habitable locations that will in turn solve the food production shortages that causing starvation on the home world

        not to mention that technologies developed for long space flights could be adapted for food production, water purification, and other such useful things related to world hunger.

        Not to mention the amount of money spent on stuff like tobacco products (not to mention, the resources spent growing said tobacco ) could also be redirected to solving world hunger.

      This is probably meant to be provocative, as it's a common phrase to be thrown in when people talk about science and the money involved.
      I don't see it that often when it comes to military spending or, say, spending on the great competions of pharmacists (i.e. Olympics).
      Maybe that's just me...

        Yes it was, I was trying to show that you can rationalise the money spent on anything against anything but that is not the issue. Money does not necessarily equal results. You need the will of everyone as well.

        Then the Olympics and professional sports contribute to medical science as well. A lot of the structural repair of body parts and keeping people's bodies structurally healthy is pushed forward by the money in sport. It promotes good health and fitness and activity as endeavours. Science will probably tell you people need to keep active as we don't have to hunt animals any more.

        Olympics trying to compete to be the best is a Darwinist trait, getting to moon and playing sport is both about seeing how far humans can go.

      It's likely any spinoff technologies from a manned Mars mission may very well go towards ending golbal food shortages.

      And besides, half of the technologies developed in the 60's have offshoots and derivative technology that you would use everyday.

      Go to Mars. Sheeple are only starving because they are allowed to. It could be fixed very cheaply if the world had the balls to do it.

        and sport/Olympics has probably contributed more to medical science than the space program and lets not forget it keeps people entertained. Sport pushes people to find out the limits of the human body, similar to space exploration in a philosophical context.

        I brought up starvation against Space Exploration because its a universal truth. While almost everyone on here would take Space Exploration over the Olympics, starvation would be more supported than Space.

        The argument needs to be more sophisticated than just money.

      mars because i have been desensitzed to the povo africains by people like you

      Going to Mars will do more for solving starvation than trying to solve starvation

      Why, you're right! 2.5 billion dollars, spent over 6 or 7 years (2005-2012), would totally SOLVE starvation! We could maybe, like, give every starving person 50 cents. Once.

      Solved! Genius, Nathan. Pure. Genius.

      (Or, Americans could all quit smoking, and end up with several times that amount in surplus. But you know, your idea 'sounds cooler' I guess.)

        It worked, opening up the debate. I think people rationalising the money spent on anything as to the legitimacy of the endeavour is the wrong way to go about it. Yes the money spent on Mars might not solve starvation. The money spent on the Olympics and Mars...not sure, maybe. It's not an ordinary person who chooses what money is spent on endeavours.

        All you can do is bring attention to what you care about. The more you talk about it the more you bring it up with friends and others, your circle of influence the more it is seen as important.

      I refuse to choose. Let us instead cut back on military spending, and use that money to "solve starvation". And hygiene. And disease. Also cut back on ice cream, tobacco, and alcohol for this purpose. And let us continue to explore and discover and improve.

        I consider the furthering of human knowledge as important, so I talk about it with friends and others. When they first invented the microscope they had no idea bacteria existed.

      Go to Mars.

      On our current humanity there will always be hungry people because of the way life works. Firstly, there are two states: growing, or dying. These are relevant to the single organism and indeed the species as a whole. Life does not believe in balance, that is a fallacy. Life is about organisms exploiting their surrounding to the maximum possible limit even when those resources are extremely low. Life finds a way to exist in the most meager environment, and if this means that a million people must die per year in a certain harsh environment to sustain the population that lives there, then that is what will happen.

      Is this any different to 8 cubs being born but only a handful of those 8 survive to adulthood.

      The biggest problem with humanity, is our refusal to accept that we have been and are subject to natural selection as well. Groups in harsh areas are no different to Animals living in harsh areas. Out breed death if necessary. Not all babies will survive, but a handful will if you just keep pushing them out.

      Believe me, this saddens me, but the only way we can resolve this is through a scientific utopia. We will never achieve this stuck on earth.

      This is the dumbest, most common logical flaw that is ever raised in regards to space travel. Innovation in space (which is the only long term future that humans will have) can be achieved for a fraction of the cost of most other big endeavours. And 'starvation' is not just a thing you can throw money at. Have you even been awake for a day in the past couple of decades? Dumping money into Africa has solved very little compared to what actual changes in practices would solve. You show enormous, almost tragic ignorance of the subject matter. I feel utterly sad for you.

    Exploration of our solar neighborhood and beyond is what will allow us to survive into the future. We need to get off the mothership called earth and spread our liabilities in order to survive the next extinction event..!

    In terms of cost, I think there needs to be some differentiation between the two... the Olympics has proven returns while Mars seems a complete unknown (not to mention gamble).
    From a business perspective I'd suggest the Olympics is a much wiser investment... from a philosophical/philanthropic perspective, both have some merits I guess.
    Depends on your personal position mostly though... sports just doesn't do it for me so I'm a Mar's supporter all the way :-)

      Proven returns....? It accrues massive debt for every city that hosts it (see Montreal as a particularly good example). The only people that profit are the IOC from selling tv rights, and the corporate sponsors.

      Every dollar invested in NASA, the American public has yielded a 33% return over that dollar (ie $1.33), in addition to half of the breakthroughs in science and engineering that go into the olympics in the first place (high speed cameras, space-age alloys in equipment, etc).

      Don't be so crass.

      Tell the people of Greece that the olympics is a wise investment, they will laugh in your face (assuming they don't get pissed off at your lack of research), and that is just the obvious one, many olympic hosts take more than a decade to break even on the hosting costs.

        If the Greeks had've patented the thing they would be rolling in the phat cash now :)

          Dont let Apple have this idea - iOlympics?

      The New South Wales government (Australia) has been in debt ever since the Olympics were held in Sydney in 2000.

        Yes, it does cause debt, but there heaps of unmeasurable benefits to the economy as well.

    Scientists should just claim that there's a large oil reserve on Mars. We will launch a man mission to Mars by Friday.

      Or the potential for finding WMDs?

      This will be the one way to get humans there in the next decade... tell them its an Iron Ore rich soil...

        Um... they already know it's rich in Iron... that's why it's the red planet.... i.e. Rust.

        Also, Earths entire core is iron. I don't really think we have a problem with iron.

        Or am I missing something?

    Actually, I only cared about the 9.64 seconds of that 100m race. ;)

    When it comes to government funds used to foster sporting talent, I'd be very happy to see every red cent go to space exploration instead.

    the problem with the world's economy is that even though 2.5bil spent on science... the financial return of such an endeavour... is .. well negligible in the face of such financially driven people... however 15bil spent on the olympics drove 100's of mils if not billions of dollars worth of revenue in a short 4 week period through tourism, commerce and product endorsement sales...

    the only way to science moving is for there to be a way to make money out of it... look at the ground being covered by the Space Miner group who want to mine precious resources from Asteriods...

    Well said. I have boycotted the olympics every other year.

    My argument - why spend money on a sporting event where half the events are not seen due to terribly mainstream free to air tv coverage when there are people starving in some countries, people dieing of unknown diseases or known diseases with no cure yet but asking for funding and donations during ad breaks.

    And also, Table Tennis is a joke, it should not be an olympic sport. But yes, money better spent on space exploration and technology to bring that information/sights back to peoples living rooms.

      Why should you be on the Internet making pointless posts and dragging everyone down when there are people starving.

      Saying we should do either or is a moronic question as we are currently proving we can do both. Expanding our knowledge and testing the limits of the human mind are both noble goals.

        *testing the limits of the human body sorry.

          I've always seen sports as a way for the people pick sides by bashing on the other. Sport fans are an example of this, they yell and scream at their television, then spark arguments for their pride and this sense of tribalism left over from our ancestors. Sports are just another way for humans to divide themselves up, rather than uniting as one species together in loving compassion.

          And so when I see that graph showing the majority preferring to watch Olympics over Mars landing makes me sad, because it means the majority do not give a shit about humanity progressing to a Type 1 civilization. People would rather watch MTV, Jersey Shore, and the whores at Fox News spamming lies. .... or maybe it's the fact that I live in America, which is a culture still living in the American dream, hopefully in time they'll wake up.

            How about the flip side Sgnikwah, that sports has given us the means to indulge in this "sense of tribalism" without actually needing to tear each other apart limb by limb on the battlefield. To me, that is actually progress. Keep in mind, you can have a best friend that supports an opposing team, but you're still best friends.

    Slash the Olympics budget. It's all too showy and "look at me". Make it about the sport!

      Man, exactly. I hate this sportsman are superstars BS.

    Problem is - McDonalds and Coke wouldn't get much from advertising on Curiosity...

    Also the sad fact is, most of the world's populations probably does care more about sport than space exploration....

    Sport, of course. I already know the origin of my life :-)

    I joke, but really, knowing the origin of life won't make mine any more enjoyable, or make it seem like it has a point.

    The Olympics isn't just for fat, pasty, wealthy people in first world countries to watch on TV, it's something that unites billions of people around the globe regardless of religion, politics, ethnicity or nationality. It's something for generations of people in many countries to aspire to and look on as a shining example of physical excellence.

    I hate sport, but I can see the value in the Olympic games. Big, world spanning events like that are part of what increase people's awareness of the larger word of humanity around them, which in turn leads to interest in other important projects like the Mars Rover etc...
    While the Mars Rover itself can discover things that has broader implications and increases the sum of human knowledge, it's mainly a pretty exclusive first world/American thing.

    Mars FTW. Hopefully by the time I'm 50 (in 24 years) they'll have invented something to make me live longer, so they can send me to Mars...

    Both have a place. Some people are very interested in our origins and there is an off chance there will be finds that are beneficial to our future. On the other hand, living in the 'now' and getting behind a relatively healthy form of entertainment isn't a bad thing either.

    How about we figure out how to work together to improve quality of life for everyone? What scientific discoveries have really improved your quality of life? Paracetamol. Hot towels for polio. Antibiotics, but even then we've created a drug resistant strain of pretty much every virus out there. Probably the wrong website for a view like 'maybe people are the answer' and not technology but hey, sue me.

    The Olympics is just there to make money now, that's all.

      Also to provide a pedestal for athletic elitism.

    There's no point giving money to starving countries cuz the political instability (ie. civil wars, terrorism, anarchy) will destroy any achievements created with the aid money.

    As for sport, maybe we should spend the Olympic cash on sporting programs for high school kids, to deal with the obesity problem. Or maybe compulsory fat camps.

Join the discussion!