History, Art, and Science

userpic=headlinesToday I spent the day with my daughter, and got to meet two of her three roommates for her sophomore semester: Varsha and Hayden. We spent the day with Varsha and Erin visiting the Legion of Honor Fine Art Museum (for one of their Art History projects), and had dinner with Erin and Hayden. I’ll note that at the Legion of Honor, we saw one of the most moving holocaust memorials I have ever seen. So art and history are on my mind, plus a little bit of science and security…

In the history department, I have a few deaths (or potential deaths) of interest:

  • Yvonne Brill. The LA Times has an interesting writeup on Yvonne Brill, who died March 27 at age 88. Brill was a very important woman rocket scientist and engineer who developed a revolutionary propulsion system that remains the industry standard for keeping unmanned spacecraft in constant, stationary orbit. Later in her career, she became the director of the space shuttle’s solid rocket motor program for NASA. In the last quarter-century of her life, she strove to help others pursue careers in science and math and especially pushed for women to achieve scientific recognition. Still, at one point, she moved to the East Coast to support her husband’s career, noting “good jobs are easier to find than good husbands.”
  • Martyl Langsdorf. The St. Louis Post Dispatch is reporting the death last month of Martyl Langsdorf, who designed what has been called the world’s scariest logo — the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Since its introduction in 1947, the drawing of the Doomsday Clock has kept watch as international incidents flared. The clock is a symbol of the nuclear age, whose minute hand moves closer to midnight— and presumed annihilation — with each major immediate danger. The clock hands can also move backward, if tensions cool. The hand has moved only 20 times during the past 65 years. It currently stands at five minutes to midnight.
  • CPI Corporation. You probably haven’t heard of CPI Corporation, which abruptly shut down last week. CPI Corporation is better known as the provider of photo studios in Sears and some Wal-Mart stores, and their shutdown deprives parents of an old-fashioned way of taking awkward photos of their children. Of course, there is always the cell phone.
  • Time Magazine. The Atlantic has an interesting article on how the death of Time Magazine may be soon, as they haven’t managed the Internet transition well.

Turning to the science side:  a number of interesting computer security articles. First, Israeli hackers have started attacking back at anti-Israel groups that have vouched to wipe Israel off the Internet. Next, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have uncovered a way to fingerprint credit cards to address credit card fraud. Lastly, a data breech at a St. Louis supermarket chain have alerted a large number of people to the risks of how data is handled.

Finally, a PS: To my friends who are involved with Northern Faire: Erin is interested in going this year, so I’ll be glad to forward to her any information on how to get discount tickets &c. (and how to coordinate transportation). She’s also likely interested in Dickets. She’s at UC Berkeley.

Music: Alive Alive-O (Jose Feliciano): “The Comedy Bit”