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"NASA Uses Python"

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From:
Shlomi Fish
Date:
April 5, 2008 05:53
Subject:
"NASA Uses Python"
Message ID:
200804051552.32009.shlomif@iglu.org.il
Hi all!

If you go to http://www.python.org/ you'll see at the top-right corner a 
picture of an astronaut with the title "NASA uses Python...". Now, to the 
layman or beginner it might sound more impressive, but let's get our facts 
straight.

Yes, NASA uses Python. However, that doesn't surprise me because NASA, being a 
large, old, hetrogenous, government organisation, with a huge budget, and 
many IT needs uses a lot of technologies both new and old. I'm pretty sure 
they also use Perl (at least that's what Damian Conway implied in an 
interview with him about Parse::RecDescent). They use Windows, Linux, VMS and 
many other UNIX flavours and OSes. (There was a Linux-running device on the 
Columbia). 

<Pseudonym> NASA still uses Fortran on their VAXen.
<Pseudonym> Hell, they still use VAXen.

NASA wrote a great deal of their satellite software in Forth. And this JoS 
item links to an article about the fact that they are still using a 1970's 
vintage launch-control computer system:

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/news/20020918.html

So while the fact that NASA uses Python may sound impressive to 
relatively-clueless people, it is by no means truly indicative of how really 
good and unique Python is.[1] That's why I'd rather not say something 
like "NASA Uses Perl" on http://perl-begin.org/ . It may be true, but saying 
this would be misleading due to the nature of NASA.

However, I'd still like to see this removed from the Python homepage, because 
it's a statement that is misleading to the uninitiated and lacks integrity. I 
thought about consulting you people on my own turf about the best course of 
action from here.

I could post a rant about it on one of my blogs and hope that reddit, digg, 
etc. catch it and a flamewar (probably completely tangential to the issue at 
hand) ensues. Or I could try contacting the Python advocacy list (is there 
any) or the python.org webmasters. The latter seems a more civil course of 
action to me, but I may be met with apathy or antagonism.

What do you suggest?

Regards,

	Shlomi Fish

[1] - I'm not saying that the technologies that NASA use are necessarily crap, 
just that they use a lot of diverse technologies.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Shlomi Fish      shlomif@iglu.org.il
Homepage:        http://www.shlomifish.org/

I'm not an actor - I just play one on T.V.

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