NASA, don't let the sun go down on me

A great commentary in the Times this morning:

Someday the Sun Will Go Out and the World Will End (but Don't Tell Anyone)
By Dennis Overbye
Last week my colleague Andrew Revkin reported that a 24-year-old NASA political appointee with no scientific background, George C. Deutsch, had told a designer working on a NASA Web project that the Big Bang was "not proven fact; it is opinion," and thus the word "theory" should be used with every mention of Big Bang.
It was not NASA's place, he said in an e-mail message, to make a declaration about the origin of the universe "that discounts intelligent design by a creator."
In a different example of spinning science news last month, NASA headquarters removed a reference to the future death of the sun from a press release about the discovery of comet dust around a distant star known as a white dwarf. A white dwarf, a shrunken dense cinder about the size of earth, is how our own sun is fated to spend eternity, astronomers say, about five billion years from now, once it has burned its fuel.
"We are seeing the ghost of a star that was once a lot like our sun," said Marc Kuchner of the Goddard Space Flight Center. In a statement that was edited out of the final news release he went on to say, "I cringed when I saw the data because it probably reflects the grim but very distant future of our own planets and solar system."
An e-mail message from Erica Hupp at NASA headquarters to the authors of the original release at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said, "NASA is not in the habit of frightening the public with doom and gloom scenarios."
Never mind that the death of the sun has been a staple of astronomy textbooks for 50 years.

Maybe it's just me, but this series of events looks like a doom and gloom scenario...

I'm reminded of that scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind where the aliens pass over the row of buff-looking astronauts and take Richard Dreyfuss instead.