2 April 2008
- General (Strange)
Laugh and the World Laughs With You
April Fool's jokes abound
by Carol Pinchefsky
by Carol Pinchefsky

One of the world’s more spectacular April Fool’s Day stories came from a BBC news show in 1957, a tale of spaghetti trees. At that time and place, spaghetti was an import, and few Brits had sampled the food. Callers phoned into the BBC, asking where to purchase their own spaghetti bushes.

This year, two April Fool’s jokes were pointed at the space revolution: In one, NASA buys out XCOR, it’s potential competition. In the other, Google and Virgin formed a joint venture to start a Martian colony.

Despite the April 1st date, many space enthusiasts took the announcements at face value. Had I not been forewarned, I may have read the Virgle story with heart in throat.

Of course, a hoax is only convincing if it _might_ be true. It was not so long ago that space tourism and private space ventures had the “giggle factor” – where the mere mention of these industries elicited smirks.

But the fact that some people were taken in by the potential Martian colony means the interest in “Virgle” exists. And why shouldn’t it? It’s a great vision, and with Virgin Galactic planning flights for 2009, they would be one of the more logical pioneers.

Perhaps the real hoax is that NASA spent $15.1 billion in fiscal year 2007 on agency operation. And very little of that money is being spent on the initiatives that people want to see – or could ultimately derive any benefit from.

And that’s no fooling.
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Carol Pinchefsky 2 April 2008
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