Monthly Archives: March 2008

Arthur C Clarke, 1917-2008, I salute you.

Arthur Charles Clarke, born December 16, 1917, passed away on March 18, 2008, in his home in Sri Lanka.

 A wonderful science fiction and science writer, he is popularly known for his film and novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” and his introduction of the concept of geosynchronous communication satellites. One of the best science fiction writers, and one of my favorites, he has left a large corpus of science fiction novels and short stories well-grounded in hard science and imaginatively written.

Clarke also introduced the three laws quoted below which are well known in the science/engineering and science  fiction communities. The third law is widely quoted, often without attribution to him.

1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
2. The limits of the possible can only be found by going beyond them into the impossible.
3. Any sufficiently advanced technology may, at first, be indistinguishable from magic.

(Note: These should not be confused with the three Laws of Robotics introduced by Clarke’s friend, the SF and science writer Isaac Asimov).

A nice obituary for Clarke has been published in the Guardian, here: http://books.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,,2266521,00.html

Sir Arthur C. Clarke (he was knighted in 1998, the award being made in 2000)  recorded a message on the occasion of his 90th birthday last December which has been published on YouTube, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qLdeEjdbWE

Arthur C Clarke, 1917-2008, I salute you.

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Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi Day, 2008!

March 14

Pi, Greek letter (π), is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi = 3.1415926535… Pi Day is celebrated by math enthusiasts around the world on March 14th.

Follow it here: http://www.piday.org/

Hello? Is anyone there?

OMG, is anyone still here? I have been gone so long that I wouldn’t be surprised if y’all took off. What can I say? Earning a living is just taking more time than ever. (I’d like a higher pay rate, shorter workweek employment, please. (-:  ). Must confess that there is some volunteer activity in that busyness too.

  

Anyway, I have got a couple of interesting websites for you to look at.

 

http://voicethread.com/  allows adding voice comments to documents and videos.

 

http://www.scribd.com/ allows you to store and share documents via the Web.

 

I haven’t used these sites yet (see busy above) but they show potential. Let me know how well they work if you try them out.

  

What else? Here is an excerpt from a piece by Heidi Storl that I really enjoyed in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

 http://chronicle.com/weekly/v54/i25/25b02001.htm “I think now that I might have met Mephistopheles in college, though at the time I thought only that I was encountering my first philosopher. I was a biochemistry major, looking forward to a career in genetics. I still needed to fulfill a number of those basic-education requirements that students seem either to get out of the way early or put off until the bitter end. As I stood in the registration line, memorizing the molecular structures of proteins, fate intervened. The easy history course that I had planned to take was full. Determined not to lose my spot in line, I scrambled to come up with another course and chose philosophy.The professor was a little late for the first philosophy class. He was a short, bearded man with a limp, and my first thought was that if he wore the right kind of hat, he’d make a perfect elf. But then he looked at each of the 10 students in turn, and spoke: “Does God command an action because it is good, or is an action good because God commands it?”Whoa! I sat up, put my chemistry notes away, and started thinking. Fifty minutes later, I was exhausted. As I walked to my next class, two thoughts jumped about in my head. First, I liked — really liked — the way I had felt in philosophy: out of breath, struggling to keep up with the argument, my mind on fire. Second, what was this course going to do to my GPA?”

I should have majored in philosophy though I suspect that the pay rate would have been even lower in that case, assuming one found employment as a philosopher in the first place.

 

Anyway, I have been listening to lectures on the philosophy of science on a set of tapes published by the Teaching Company. Quite informative and enjoyable. Listening to material from the Teaching Company (http://www.teach12.com/) is a good way of catching up on the liberal education one may have missed in college. BTW, I bought some of the material as a download rather than ordering it as CDs or tapes. Guess what? I haven’t got around to downloading it yet even though it has been a couple of months! (See busy above!!) Just goes to show that if it involves extra steps or equipment, one isn’t going to get around to it. There is a lesson in there for all you marketers and product managers.

 

So what is new with you? Tell me about it?

 

Before we end, given that this is election season, here is a column that you may enjoy.

 

Scientists’ Political Dream World

Completely separately, you may want to scan this little tidbit from me here.