The following is from the Associated Press, February 24, 2020, by BEN FINLEY
“Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated rocket trajectories and earth orbits for NASA’s early space missions and was later portrayed in the 2016 hit film “Hidden Figures,” about pioneering black female aerospace workers, has died. She was 101.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Twitter that she died Monday morning. No cause was given.
Bridenstine tweeted that the NASA family “will never forget Katherine Johnson’s courage and the milestones we could not have reached without her. Her story and her grace continue to inspire the world.”
I was listening to NPR recently and in the discussion, it was mentioned that much of Trump’s support comes from people who distrust learned people. People who are educated and have some degree of expertise in a field of knowledge. Even people who are not formally educated but who have taken the time to acquire a significant body of information from either reading or experience have experienced this rejection.
I have no problem agreeing with this assertion. Many times I’ve seen people who can’t get beyond their own “gut” feelings or unfounded assumptions and become defensive when they are challenged. Trump himself has exhibited such behavior. We’ve all heard him say that such and such is correct because he just knows it is, his gut tells him it is.
It was in March of 1989 that some in the world became aware of what is now a part of most people’s world, the World Wide Web. The joining together of millions of computers all over the world to facilitate the exchange of information. Its effects have been enormous ranging from vast social changes to revolutions in how we learn, how we spend our free time, how medicine is practiced, how business is conducted, and so very much more. Just think, thirty-years ago there wasn’t an app for anything! Today, in this era of omnipresent smartphones, there is hardly a person who doesn’t have the WWW at the swipe or tap of a finger or two.
4 BILLION MILES AWAY: NASA’s minivan-sized New Horizons spacecraft just visited the most distant object ever explored, a rocky, 20-mile-long object 4 billion miles from Earth called Ultima Thule. The mission was first conceived 30 years ago.
By the spring of 1969 I had two more classes to take to fulfill my requirements. I needed to take public speaking and a literature elective. Public speaking was required of all students seeking a career in teaching. I was so fearful of it I put it off till the very end. Turned out I feared for not, I loved it.
The literature class I decided on was Science Fiction Literature. Both classes were summer classes and I quickly learned that Catholic nuns went to school in the summer and they were serious about getting all the As. The other lesson was that literature teachers who are serious fans of Sci-Fi also take summer classes.
On this day, July 20, 1969, an age-old dream of mankind became a reality, a guy named Armstrong put his foot on the surface of the moon.
This is one of those occurrences where most people can tell you where they were when it happened. I was a student at Cal-State Fullerton and living in Whittier, CA. I was scheduled to work during the landing so I took a small black and white portable TV to work. Like so many I was awe-struck by what unfolded on that 12″ screen.
Shortly afterwards David Gray appeared at my door and handed me a $100 bill. Because of something his minister had read in the Scriptures he had given me 100-1 odds that a moon landing would never happen.
Where were you on that July, 1969 day?
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If anyone had watched me in elementary school they may have predicted I’d grow up to become a social studies teacher. As far back as I can remember I loved maps and geography. I loved looking at maps and wondering what life in various parts of the world would be like. All these years later I recall reading stories about a Navajo child in the desert Southwest making ice cream from ice that fell from the sky as hail. Or, a child living in the jungles of the Malaysian Peninsula and tended to his family’s elephants.
I grew up in Southern Ohio, I spent some summers in South Carolina, and during my time in the Navy I was stationed along the East Coast of the United States, mainly in Rhode Island. Common to all was an abundance of water Turning on one’s water faucet and having cool clear H2O flow forth isn’t much of a concern.
In 1964 I packed up my 1960 Chevrolet Biscayne and headed for California. Someplace in Oklahoma water became an issue and the green fields and forest of the East turned into parched, treeless, grasslands.
West of Flagstaff, AZ I stopped for gas and was advised to buy a burlap water bag to hang on the hood ornament in case I had trouble crossing the desert. In Needles. CA I was, for the first time in my life, asked to pay for a drink of water. I filled the gas tank and walked into the adjoining restaurant and asked for a glass of water. The waitress sat it down and said, “Ten cents please.” With a shocked look on my face I asked why and was told they had no wells and all water had to be hauled in by tanker truck.
FACTOID: For what the Iraq War has and will cost the United States we could have more than halfway reached the goal of sustainable clean energy utilizing wind, solar, and hydroelectric. Now lets just toss in the cost of the war we are still waging in Afghanistan, the longest war in the nation’s history, and we may not be having the current argument about fracking.
Richard Dawkins, an avowed atheist, recently expressed that, “ultimately said he believed that religious fanatics with access to the most destructive products of science posed the biggest danger to human civilization.” Hearing this many Americans would equate it with a nuclear armed Islamic radical. But just consider a president Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum with their finger on the trigger of America’s nuclear arsenal. There’s also no shortage of irony in these science deniers employing the weaponry of science to wipe out our foes.