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Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

Time Event
9:40p
The clouds opened up to let John go by

Likely many of you have heard Dr. Gregory Olsen is paying the Russians to become the third space tourist. This is neat. As a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student I had a vague, tenuous connection to Apollo master George M. Low and a few other astronauts -- Jack Swigert, Richard Mastracchio, and David Low, for example -- and to Dennis Tito, the first space tourist; and of course I attended Walter M. Schirra Jr. Elementary School from 1977 to 1984 (the township built seven schools in the early 60s, you see). And I met Harrison Schmitt, the Lunar Module pilot of Apollo 17, and got him to autograph my Charlie Brown's Second Super Book Of Questions And Answers: About The Earth And Space ... From Plants To Planets!

But now I have a much more direct vague personal connection to someone going to space: Dr. Olsen was a student of my father's when dad was doing some adjunct teaching, and my dad did consultation work for Dr. Olsen afterward. Dad describes him as first-rate, and the company he founded as one of the best places he could have worked for. Neat.

One of the pages at Dr. Olsen's Sensors Unlimited, explaining their Indium Gallium Arsenide work, contains the claim: As we like to say, ``InXGa1-XAs starts where silicon leaves off.'' It is a fine thing to say, and I imagine all other conversation comes to a halt when they say that at a party.

Trivia: Asteroid number 11356, discovered 18 December 1997 by F. B. Zoltowski at Woomera, is named Chuckjones, after the inspirer to all engineers. Source: Dictionary of Minor Planet Names, Lutz D. Schmadel.

Currently Reading: `T. E. Lawrence': In Arabia and After, Basil H. Liddell-Hart

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