In Jurassic Park, Jeff Goldblum plays some kind of scientist, and he cites “chaos theory” in some bull-shitty explanation as to why the dinosaurs were eating everybody.
At the time the movie was made, it was a buzz-phrase, but chaos theory has nothing to with anything in that movie. What perhaps was illustrated, is that in a sufficiently complex system, it’s impossible to anticipate all possible outcomes. I think a corolarry to that, is that you can call yourself lucky if most of the outcomes are neutral, because almost anything but that, is bad.
I mention this, because I read in the Times, about how all sorts of bad shit is happening as a result of the completion of the Three Gorges Dam in China. How could anyone think you can build the world’s largest hydro-electric dam, displace 1.4 million people, and think everything’s going to just “work out”? Now lakes are drying up, stuff is dying, etc. An official is quoted as saying,
“We failed to think of all the impacts that the dam might bring about when designing the dam…”
You think? To quote Mickey Rourke’s character in Body Heat,
“…any time you try a decent crime, you got fifty ways you can fuck up. If you think of twenty-five of them, then you’re a genius... and you ain’t no genius.”
Some beautiful video shot by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli from Soyuz, after undocking from the ISS. With Endeavourthere, you get a great feel for the size of the space station. Be sure to play it in HD.
I read in the Times today, Nobel laureate Rosalyn Yalow passed away this past Monday, at the age of 89. I knew of her because thirty years ago, she spoke at my high-school graduation.
She was a medical physicist and only the second woman to win the Nobel Prize in medicine. She received it in 1977 for developing a way to use radioactive isotopes to measure minute amounts of antigens in the blood.
She was a lifelong New Yorker, and though she graduated magna cum laude from Hunter College at the age of 19 as its first physics major, she faced an uphill battle breaking into her chosen field. The Times obituary says that Purdue University turned her down for a graduate position, noting
“She is from New York. She is Jewish. She is a woman.”
I was excited about achieving a career in physics. My family, being more practical, thought the most desirable position for me would be as an elementary school teacher. Furthermore, it seemed most unlikely that good graduate schools would accept and offer financial support for a woman in physics. However my physics professors encouraged me and I persisted. As I entered the last half of my senior year at Hunter in September 1940 I was offered what seemed like a good opportunity. Since I could type, another of my physics professors, Dr. Jerrold Zacharias, now at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, obtained a part time position for me as a secretary to Dr. Rudolf Schoenheimer, a leading biochemist at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S). This position was supposed to provide an entrée for me into graduate courses, via the backdoor, but I had to agree to take stenography.
“…as the House was debating a measure that would also halt the regulations by repealing the agency’s scientific finding that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are endangering human health and the environment.” (ed. emphasis)
New York Times –“Senate Rejects Bill To Limit EPA's Emissions Programs” 4/6/2011
The next mission to Mars, the Mars Science Laboratory, AKA the rover Curiosity. It’s set for launch later this year, and due to arrive on the Red Planet in August, 2012.
It will be 5x the weight of the rovers Spirit, and Opportunity, carrying 10x the weight of scientific instruments they did, so it will be too heavy to use the “beach-ball” airbag system of those earlier craft.
Instead, it will employ a multi-stage system, including parachute, rockets, and an amazing “sky-crane”. Even in this NASA animation, the suspense is almost too much. When the day of the real thing happens, I’m not sure I’ll be able to take it.
A funny thing about the animation..it includes sounds, even in the sequences that take place in a vacuum. NASA knows, like the creators of Star Trek did, human beings expect that when things fly by, they should go,‘whoosh’.
Here I am in 6th grade; bottom row as always, first on the left — I was 11. Two over, is Timothy Damadian, with whom that year I had my only ever schoolyard brawl. I remember the fight happened the one day we shared a table in class. Though he lived about a block away, I was only in his house once, at a party that was also the first time I played “spin the bottle”. I’m not sure why I even got invited, as we weren’t friends (shocker).
His father, a research doctor, was one of the key people behind the invention of magnetic resonant imaging (MRI). There was a bunch of controversy when he didn’t share in the 2003 Nobel Prize for medicine. There’s evidence the reason is because he is a “young Earth creationist”. That’s the belief that the Earth came into existence less than 10,000 years ago.
So like with Bobby Fischer, it shows you can be a genius in one area, and bat-shit crazy in another.