Archive for September, 2012

September 17, 2012

Hill Farm House

If one goal of a triathlon is to provide a balanced test of prowess over its three disciplines many of them don’t succeed. Last weekend, for example, Paula and her sister Adrienne participated in the Taunton Deane Sprint triathlon in Wellington, while Zoe did the Novice event. In both events the results were dominated by performance in the cycling alone – places in the Novice were 95% correlated with how competitors placed in the bike segment, and in the Sprint the correlation was 96%. From a competitive point of view, the events were essentially wet bike races.

There’s no mystery about why this is the case. Look at this chart of each competitor’s times for each of the three legs of the Sprint:

The fastest swimmer gained under 10 minutes from the slowest (see the blue dots), while the fastest cyclist made over 41 minutes over the most recreational bike performance (red dots)…

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September 3, 2012

So the argument is that technological advances will eventually reduce poverty. But it seems clear that social structures (tribalism, feudalism, capitalism, socialism) determine the economics of the poor more than technology does. For instance many cheap medical technologies do not get to the poor, much like food doesn’t, because they don’t have enough money.

The fact that he resorts to “The bureaucracy says we can’t” and “I would if I could” is a non-argument against why money should be given to the poor rather than to space research.

The use of satellites / GIS is a strong one, but half a century later, still a billion hungry people. So it would seem the satellite technology didn’t solve the problem. Maybe I’m wrong and yields have increased in the poor areas but only not enough to eliminate human hunger.

Dr Stuhlinger points out that international cooperation increases in response to space travel, but again it’s been insufficient to solve the problem of human hunger.

The bit about “We need more young people to choose science as a career” seems wrong as well. You learn organic chemistry, not how to farm, at university, and the scientists who do get “good jobs” (could be at Lockheed) are making money for themselves, not money that creates remunerative job opportunities for the world’s poorest.

The final point about nations competing with civilian achievemnt rather than military destruction is obvious, but besides the world wars, the greatest destruction of human life and property was in civil wars, police actions, or in some way involved governments or rebels killing intranationally rather than international competition. (Not that internationals were never involved.)

Roger Launius's Blog

Ernst Stuhlinger wrote this letter on May 6, 1970, to Sister Mary Jucunda, a nun who worked among the starving children of Kabwe, Zambia, in Africa, who questioned the value of space exploration. At the time Dr. Stuhlinger was Associate Director for Science at the Marshall Space Flight Center, in Huntsville, Alabama. Touched by Sister Mary’s concern and sincerity, his beliefs about the value of space exploration were expressed in his reply to Sister Mary. It remains, more than four decades later, an eloquent statement of the value of the space exploration endeavor. Born in Germany in 1913, Dr. Stuhlinger received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Tuebingen in 1936. He was a member of the German rocket development team at Peenemünde, and came to the United States in 1946 to work for the U.S. Army at Fort Bliss, Texas. He moved to Huntsville in 1950 and continued…

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