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Letters to the editor

By Daily Bruin Staff

Jan. 15, 2004 9:00 p.m.

Mad cow quotation not accurate

In Tuesday’s Daily Bruin, columnist James Moon (“Mad
cow not real threat”) accused me of dubbing mad cow disease
the “plague of the 21st century” in his column
downplaying the very real risks the disease presents to the
world’s food supply.

I have never called mad cow disease the “plague of the
21st century.” One talk I give on the subject is titled
“Mad cow disease, plague of the 21st century?” in the
form of a question. As I explain in that talk (available streaming
online at, the phrase Moon
attributes to me is based on a CBS News interview with University
of California, San Francisco Nobel Prize-winner Stanley

A transcript of that interview shows this excerpt: “When
asked if in his darkest moment he thought that this is the plague
of the 21st century, Prusiner said, “˜I don’t need a
dark moment to wonder if that’s the case, because
everybody’s wondering that, not just me.'”

Michael Greger, M.D. Chief BSE investigator for farm

Space a worthy expense for U.S.

This is in response to Antonio Raimundo’s column,
“Fix problems on Earth before heading into space” (Jan.
14). Raimundo suggests we eliminate the space program and divert
the funds to social programs. So what would we gain if we did

During the 2002 fiscal year, we spent approximately $1.3
trillion on human resources (including health care, education and
other social programs) and $14.5 billion on NASA. The elimination
of NASA would enable us to increase the spending on our earthbound
“problems” by 1 percent. So we need to ask ourselves
whether a meager increase of 1 percent in spending on social
programs, which most certainly would not solve all of our social
ills, is worth what we would be sacrificing.

Is it worth losing a significant portion of the most educated
and intelligent segment of our society to other nations who have
the foresight to invest in science and research? Is it worth giving
up our superiority in space, science and technology to Russia,
China and Europe? What about the future generation? Any generation
gap in research essentially means we must start from scratch.

Publicly funded research is the cornerstone of all science, and
its discoveries have far-reaching and profound influence on our
lives that are not always easy to foresee. We certainly need
spending on social programs and with NASA being so visible in the
public eye it is a very easy target to offer up in sacrifice. But
there clearly are more logical and effective spending cuts that
could be made.

Jean-Pierre Williams Graduate student, geophysics and
space physics


I wish to respond to Antonio Raimundo’s viewpoint column
“Fix problems on Earth before heading into space” (Jan.
14) by raising two points. There have been “problems”
to fix on Earth as far back as the dawn of civilization. The
implication that somehow the present day has uniquely pressing
issues that are solvable only by ransacking NASA is simply
naïve. People have been jobless, homeless, hungry, at war,
diseased or disenfranchised long before the space program began.
It’s troubling, yes, but to suggest disrupting the long-term
benefits of structured scientific research to achieve a
“magic fix” of today’s societal ills is very

It is in our human nature to explore our surroundings, much like
Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Richard Byrd, Edmund
Hillary, George Mallory and Neil Armstrong. We need look no further
for reason to travel to the moon and Mars than Mallory’s own reason
for climbing Mt. Everest ““ because it’s there.

Michael Mischna Graduate student, earth and space

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