The overhead projector strikes back

The Adler Planetarium's Zeiss Mark VI projector, first installed in 1970, as featured in the planetarium's 2006 Report to Donors

Last night, during the second presidential debate, John McCain accused Barack Obama of voting for a $3 million earmark for an “overhead projector” for a planetarium in Chicago. “My friends,” said McCain, “do we need to spend that kind of money?”

Today the planetarium has defended itself. In a statement on its website, the Adler Planetarium explains that the equipment they wanted to replace is a Zeiss Mark VI projector, not an overhead projector, and the planetarium didn’t receive a new one, because the funding effort failed. The existing projector is forty years old, “is only the Adler’s second in seventy-eight years of operation,” and the manfacturer no longer makes parts for it. Moreover, “the Adler has never received an earmark as a result of Senator Obama’s efforts,” though they have received some federal support thanks to others, and they aren’t bashful about it, because they think science education is a worthwhile cause.