Tag Archives: high school

UFOs? OK. Alien Spacecraft? No so fast.

I found How Washington Got Hooked on Flying Saucers to be fascinating if somewhat depressing. “There is nothing new under the sun.”

This is a subject I have been watching from a safe distance for well over half a century, when I first read Martin Gardner’s Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (Few books have influenced me more than this one).

I met J. Allen Hynek in my last year of high school, 1967-68, when I was a student in the Astro-Science Workshop (Still around although in a different format) at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. This program was organized and run by Hynek. Hynek was a pleasant and interesting speaker, and a good teacher, but he never spoke to us kids about UFOs.

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The Lifetimes of Programming Languages

I started programming computers in February of 1967, when I was a junior in high school. After dropping out of grad school I began a 41 year career in information technology in January of 1977. I have seen a lot of computer languages come and go. So I read 5 Programming Languages You Won’t Likely Be Using by 2030 with some interest. The only one on the list I had ever used was Perl. It was kind of fun, but I did not get very attached to it 🙂

Meanwhile, some much older languages live on. Last year COVID-19 demonstrated how much the financial world still depends on COBOL:

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Imaginary numbers and reality

Imaginary Numbers are Real.

I first visited the complex plane 45 years ago, in High School. It was love at first sight, and I have been smitten ever since. Thank you, Margaret Matchett, my math teacher that year.

EDIT: I just looked her up on the Mathematics Genealogy Project. Go back three “generations” and you get to Ludwig Boltzmann, whose work has fascinated me since I first heard about it, not long after Mrs. Matchett’s math class.

Significant Figures

Measurement and Uncertainty Smackdown. With America being ruled by the Innumerati of all political persuasions anything that helps simple quantitative reasoning is worthwhile.

The basics of this I learned in High School Chemistry (Thank you, Mr. Wheeler) and my first two years at Carleton. Of course, back then (1967-70),

….there is no reason that students in introductory courses couldn’t do the monte
carlo method.

was not quite so obvious.

Convergence 2010 — Physics and Fantasy

Convergence 2010 — Physics and Fantasy

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Perpetual motion machines, cold fusion, free energy and other fake science stories. Where do they come from and what does physics really allow?

Notes from a panel at Convergence 2010, with web
links, comments, and one smart-assed quote.

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