No, no, no. It can always get worse.

(i) A red giant. (ii) Planetary nebula surrounding white dwarf remnant. (Source: National Schools’ Observatory (UK), Astronomy Textbook).
Don’t worry, kids. This won’t ever happen to our Sun. God will sustain it with energy from our prayers.
In a different example of spinning science news last month, NASA headquarters removed a reference to the future death of the sun from a press release about the discovery of comet dust around a distant star known as a white dwarf. […]
“We are seeing the ghost of a star that was once a lot like our sun,” said Marc Kuchner of the Goddard Space Flight Center. In a statement that was edited out of the final news release he went on to say, “I cringed when I saw the data because it probably reflects the grim but very distant future of our own planets and solar system.”
An e-mail message from Erica Hupp at NASA headquarters to the authors of the original release at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said, “NASA is not in the habit of frightening the public with doom and gloom scenarios.”
Never mind that the death of the sun has been a staple of astronomy textbooks for 50 years.
Ms. Hupp was a colleague of the former NASA flack, George Deutsch III. Deutsch, who didn’t quite finish his BA at Texas A&M, was discovered to be trying to censor press releases. Before she started telling NASA’s scientists what to say, Erica Hupp was a PR person for the Colorado Springs and the Kansas City airports. She wrote stories like this: “COS Gears Up for the Annual Holiday Travel Rush” (Colorado Springs Airport Press Release 19 Nov 2003). You can certainly see how she’d be qualified for her present position.
Now tell me again what’s so bad about solipsism.
Link to the Times story via Seed’s “Daily Zeitgeist”.

LinkFebruary 15, 2006 in Current Affairs · Unenlightenment