Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Links and News

Topics: carbon in another solar system, students, academic basketball, Arthur C Clarke, strategic victory in Iraq.

Cool news that methane (meaning carbon) has been detected on an extra-solar planet. There are quite a few reports (BBC, Discovery News, National Geographic) based on the same news release. Astroprof blogged about Arthur C. Clarke (see below the fold) today, so maybe s/he will get on it tomorrow. [Update: Nope, but Chad did.]

I was entertained by Chad's comments about what student habits irritate him the most. It is great to see that students at an expensive liberal arts college are not that different from those at a very cheap community college. In fact, I think ours are better. I did have a student miss an advising appointment today, but I regularly get e-mail replies to confirm a time or to warn about an absence (and I don't take attendance or penalize for absences, so I could actually care less, but they care, which is nice). I can see that I really do need to assemble my blog about lab teaching, after his remarks about bogus reports. [I tell them that I will mark off for lame explanations like "the experiment failed because the water was too wet" or "I can't find my mistake in a calculation I was supposed to do before I left the lab".]

Basketball is here, so it is time for the folks who think college sports should be played by college students to point out the obvious disconnect

Thanks to Sherman Dorn for having a link to the second one. Full disclosure: my favorite college player graduated directly to the NBA, did not wear gown, did not get degree. My second favorite is a physician running an entire building at Stanford med. Both were on the same team, one backing up the other.

Arthur C. Clarke died. Chad Orzel has a nice comment with a link to the NYTimes Obit. There is also a good obit over at the BBC, which also has a page devoted to some of his predictions. I was never a Sci Fi fan, so I only really admired him for the idea of geostationary communications satellites (but learned for the first time from the NYTimes that his failure to patent the idea was not out of altruism, having heard incorrect versions of the story for years) and for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I'll never forget the trip with my dad to Detroit's Fox theater to see 2001 on a huge Cinerama screen during its original release. I loved the intellectual challenge of "film" that told a story without any explanation of what was going on, but my dad was baffled by the imagery of the rapid aging and rebirth of a new man during the last half hour or so. Of course, that film was as much Kubrick as Clarke. (And the most impressive thing about Kubrick was that he could work with such different subjects and styles and coauthors, never doing anything like the same thing twice.)

I like the way the BBC picked up on the news that President Bush declared a strategic victory in Iraq today. That would be two victories in the same war, something no other president has managed. And since the war continues with a quiet strategic withdrawal (we are de-surging as I write, no one would dare call it a pull out), he might even have a chance to win it a third time when the fighting stops.

No comments: