Technology has advanced and the time has come to put up a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.  NASA is well on the way to a next generation space telescope but to my horror, they've chosen to call it the James Webb Space Telescope!

"Who the hell is James Webb?" you might ask.  Well, he was a lawyer and a bureaucrat. He happened to be the top administrator of NASA through the glory years of Gemini and Apollo, but he was not a scientist.

Is anyone else offended by having a piece of advanced technology named after a bureaucrat?  I'm fine with putting his name on a government building, but I think the next generation space telescope should be named after a scientist - perhaps Carl Sagan.

Should we protest?

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Looks like some goodies in there.  Downloading as I type this.

Would make for good screen savers or xmas cards even.

Along with the message, "See: No God no matter where you look. Happy Holidays."

I'm still fond of the greeting card I saw once, a very sketchy drawing of a face with long hair, with a caption informing us that on December 25, a most remarkable savior was born...

Opening the card, they're talking about Isaac Newton, and he saved us from a lot of ignorance.

You want a great scientist...I think he was the greatest of all time.

Newton was amazing....he had to invent new math to solve his problems, that's BAD ASS.


Einstein tossed Newton to the ground (Respectfully of course), as General Relativity answered what Newtonian Physics could not.

BOTH were giants...but Einstein got to stand on Newtons Shoulders.


Some people don't give a fig about Newton of course.

Einstein would have been impossible without Newton. 

The Newtonian revolution extended to virtually ever corner of physics, turning much of it upside down. By contrast, Einstein amazed us with a relative few amendments to Newton, some of whose theories function quite nicely under everyday circumstances but become a bit out of kilter when dealing with greatly massive objects or very high speeds. Thus, as revolutionary as Einstein has been, he's basically a footnote, amendment, or adjustment of Newton.

Even today, Newton's Principia Mathematica is hard to understand, and perhaps intentionally so. He wrote it in Latin, even then not a widely-understood language even among scientific scholars, and using geometric rather than algebraic proofs.

Newton drew upon the work of those who came before him as well, Archimedes for example was no slouch, and, had almost nothing to start with compared to Newton or Einstein.

And you seem to forget that atoms, electrons, protons and neutrons, and the wee stuff THEY are made of, are NOT massive objects, and, Special and General Relativity not only can replace the entire Work of Newton, but add an understanding of what we are made of, and, what the cosmos is made of, etc.

So, I agree that Newton WAS bad ass in his day, but, I don't know what Archimedes or Einstein might have accomplished if for example, all 3 of them swapped time periods.


 BTW - Its fairly mind blowing that in Newton's world, gravity pulled objects down to the mass of the earth, and after Einstein, we are henceforth pushed down by the curvature of space time, not pulled down by gravity.

Newton covers everyday physics. Einstein covers great mass and speed. Neither grasped the subatomic level. Newton was unaware of it and Einstein never really accepted that it operated by totally different rules.

That is incorrect.  Fusion and the atomic bomb for example are directly related.


Newton of course can be forgiven not considering subatomic particles...despite the atom being contemplated in Greek Times...smaller than an atom was not on the table yet.

Einstein did though.

In 1935 for example, he predicted quantum entanglement, and published papers on it. (With Podolsky and Rosen)

He was off initially on HOW it occurred, just as he was wrong initially about general relativity...but he was the sort who would change his mind when the evidence indicated it was time.

According to Wikipedia (which is never wrong):

Einstein and others considered (quantum entanglement) to be impossible, as it violated the local realist view of causality (Einstein referring to it as "spooky action at a distance")[4] and argued that the accepted formulation of quantum mechanics must therefore be incomplete.

Einstein accomplished a lot.  That's a no brainer.

But I think Newton accomplished more, and that's not altered by what his starting point was, nor is it altered by the fact that Einstein refined a lot of what Newton did.

Archimedes, I don't think, quite compares to either of them, and the fact that his work was foundational to theirs changes that.  If superseding someone's insight makes you a greater scientist than him, OR if being foundational to someone else makes you a greater scientist than them, then in the first case find the most recent guy to write a physics paper, whoever he may be, and give him the crown.  Or give it to Aristotle, who first enunciated some priniciples (but not all of them) on how we should try to obtain knowledge.

Here's another reason to name the Hubble Successor after Newton.

Newton invented the reflecting telescope, and laid the foundation for optics as a science.

Who better to name a big honking reflecting telescope after?

Other possibilities:  Herschel, who discovered infrared radiation.  Given that the "Webb" telescope is supposed to operate in the infrared, this may be as good a choice as Newton.  Hans Lippershey, commonly credited with inventing the telescope (his was a refractor, not a reflector) even if he never pointed one up.  (That distinction belongs to Galileo, but his name is on probe that orbited Jupiter.)  Lippershey, though, is not absolutely certain to be the inventor of the telescope.

Thanks to everyone for replying.  I'm not stuck on it being the Sagan Scope -> but I really really want it named after a scientist.  I just feel that if science has any 'sex appeal' to the young generation, it's in making that big discovery, turning your name into a household word, getting formulas, technological marvels, and stars named after you.  I just feel very strongly that something that will be as high profile as the next generation space telescope should be named after an interesting scientist in order maximize scientific inspiration.


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