Putting a man on the moon really opened a can of worms. More precisely, it gave us an overused preface to a widely varied phrase: “If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we …’’ Here are a few memorable questions following that phrase, some serious, some not.
1. Why can’t we cure the common cold?
Perhaps that’s the most common complaint. Doctors cannot develop a vaccine to prevent all of its various strains. “The common cold is not the same infection every year. It keeps mutating,” David Sheehan, University of South Florida health professor, told digitalbullpen.com blog. “The bug next year is different from the bug this year.”
2. Why can’t we make a prescription bottle that’s easy to open?
This is Jerry Seinfeld’s complaint at the start of an episode of his long-running sitcom titled “The Dinner Party.’’ Another variant in the episode, uttered by George (Jason Alexander) about he and Kramer are blocked in by a double-parked car: “We can put a man on the moon, but we’re basically still very stupid. The guy whose car this is? He could be one of the guys who built the rocket.’’
3. Why can’t we stop climate change?
Former vice president Al Gore asked that question, which NASA historian Steve Dick tried to answer in a 2009 interview. The upshot, the historian said: “The technology is one thing, but you may not be able to solve the problems of global climate change with technology alone. I think it’s a lot more amorphous. There would have to be many different technologies. Not one single technology that you focus on.’’
4. Why can’t we cure cancer?
Various cancers are projected to keep rising. The World Health Organization estimates that 12 million people will be killed annually as of 2030. But why? ‘’Even the knowledge of cancer’s biology is unlikely to eradicate cancer fully from our lives. We might as well focus on prolonging life rather than eliminating death,’’ writes Columbia University oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee in the 2011 book “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.’’ Bummer.
5.Why can’t we have satellite navigation that understands apostrophes?
A British cabinet minister asked this question in March after local governments began removing apostrophes from street names and road signs. Traditionalists fought the changes, inserting proper punctuation on the signs with black markers.
6. Why can’t we wean ourselves from using polluting fossil fuels for energy?
President Obama raised the issue in June 2010, after the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. If anything, challenging carbon-based fuels is getting more difficult, as a technique known as fracking has revitalized U.S. fuel production – and made American manufacturing costs more competitive.
7. Why can’t we end world hunger?
In 2012, the chief executive of Cargill said the world would have to increase its agricultural production 70 percent in the next four decades to do so. How? Greg Page suggested better trade policies, rethinking how much we divert from food production to make biofuels and helping African nations develop best practices to grow more food.
8. Why can’t we find a shirt that stays on Matthew McConaughey?
This was one of 33 items selected by Buzzfeed in its March compendium. The list also included a self-sorting sock drawer, bunk waterbeds, nail polish and pantyhose that lasts, a Slinky that doesn’t get tangled and a way to eat chicken wings cleanly.
9.Why can’t we make killer robot police?
In a 1997 editorial, the satirical site the Onion expressed the need for such an advance, at least “to keep the cars from roaring down my street at 45 miles per hour? What kind of priorities do we have in this country?’’
10.Why don’t we send astronauts to Mars?
That’s the big question of Buzz Aldrin, the second NASA astronaut to set foot on the Moon. He told The Post’s Joel Achenbach that the United States should skip follow-up Moon missions to focus on the red planet. He added: Those first astonauts must be prepared for a one-way trip, to live out their lives on Mars.
Readers, let us know how would you complete the sentence, “We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t …’ Please let us know in the comments section below.