Monday, August 31, 2009

Strategy-Aligned Research at NASA

In response to this article (http://is.gd/2Ijes), I commented the following:
The distances involved for deep space exploration are far greater than can be traversed via any conventional means, even given the unlikely acheivement of a lightspeed drive. A NASA partnership with theoretical physics, certain math-related disciplines and others would enable development of space-time models for location jumps from one point to another, overcoming or circumventing the intervening distance.

While inital work would lack immediate benefit for most current NASA contractors, such an effort would inspire public support, aid the resolution of pernicious physics dilemmas, and advance us toward a future capability generally acknowledged as necessary for space exploration of real significance.

Unless short-term priorities are aligned with strategic thinking, NASA's successes will continue to be relatively small, uninspiring, and to those not closely associated with the effort: difficult to justify - at best.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

STbtM 035: Uhura Gets the Enterprise

Previous: Distress Call from Vulcan

The commander, without even turning around informs Kirk he is "on academic suspension; that means you're grounded until the academy board rules." This hanger attendant seems to know a lot about this one particular cadet he hasn't even looked at, out of the hundreds milling about. Especially when this one cadet who just left a "surprise" academic hearing due to an emergency distress call, isn't it incredible that he can recite details no one else seems to know regarding this hearing as well as the administration position while rapidly while doing something unrelated on a touchscreen panel? Miraculous! Even more amazing, he knows details of the resolution options, and who will determine them, and all this while coordinating hundreds of flight assignments during a planetary emergency. Wow! StarFleet should just assign this guy to a starship by himself, and in 10 minutes he'd have Nero thumbing a rosary and laying hands on Telurian Plague victims.

McCoy walks up and predicts with a note of concern "Jim, the board will rule in your favor…most likely. Look Jim, I gotta go." Kirk wishes him well and McCoy walks away but then stops, says "Dammit" between lens flares, and returns to grab Kirk by the arm and orders "Come with me." Exit stage right.

We next cut to an actual woman with a speaking part: shouting as she pecks with one hand at a tablet PC: "Uhura, USS Farragut; <somebody> USS Antares; Go to your stations and good luck." So we've learned that earth has at least 5 warp-capable starships standing by, and they are big enough to assist in answering a planetary distress call. A: Why is the flagship Enterprise not a member of "the primary fleet" that is in the Lorenzian system, and B: Where are the crews for these behemoth vessels? At least 5 top class ships and uncertified cadets are the best available crew? I suppose we could add some backstory about a cosmetology plague that blinded all qualified crewmembers in a tragic mascara mishap…

Gaila turns around and grins at Uhura before dashing off, but Uhura looks unhappy, and marches determinedly past Kirk as he asks McCoy "Where are we going?" "You'll see…" McCoy replies in a conspiratorial, about-to-violate-medical-ethics tone. Uhura approaches Spock who is working on a computer terminal, and she says: "Commander, a word." "Yes Lieutenant?"

"Was I not one of your top students?" "Indeed you were," Spock replies.

Of the six speaking parts in this segment, two are female.

Next: Mud Flea Sauce

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