Senator McCain repeated his charge that Senator Obama engaged in wasteful pork barrell politics when he sponsored a request for three million dollars for "an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois." This is deeply misleading. The projector in question is Zeiss Mark VI (similar to photo shown at above-left). As PolitiFact put it:
McCain refers to the item as an "overhead projector," conjuring images of those little projectors on carts in public school libraries all over America, but calling this piece of equipment an overhead projector is like calling the space shuttle a bottle rocket.
In addition, the Adler Planetarium has published this press release to explain its involvement in this funding request. The Planetarium uses the projector to show the position and glow of thousands of stars in the sky to its visitors, including joint programs with the Chicago Public Schools. In other words, the funding for what is perhaps the most inspiring human experience, that of considering the imponderable size of the universe, was turned into a political weapon. Boo.
Disclosure: I will openly admit that my lip quivered with delight when Senator Obama mentioned "basic science research." I bet he meant population genetic and phylogenetically-informed analyses of plant mating system evolution.