Saturday, July 31, 2004

Stephen Hawking lost his bet!
Did you see where Hawking now agrees that his old proposal that black holes destroy all information is incorrect? He had always said that black holes could emit particles (one half of a virtual pair created at the event horizon). But he had been puzzled by the idea that, therefore, information is leaking from the black hole. That meant that information that originally entered the black hole was still inexistence. (Non-random radiation and particles are information because they denote pattern.)
For more, search Google on +bet +Hawking

Monday, July 19, 2004

35 years ago I was two months short of 19, a waiter at a lodge in Haliburton, Ontario. After lunch, I borrowed Mrs. Johnson's old TV set and set it up in the lounge of the main building. Mrs. J could get two channels with her TV tower, but without an antenna I couldn't get a picture. I found some lamp wire and ran it up to the curtain rod. Out of the TV came a lot of static, some sound, no picture. But I heard it: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

I could hardly wait for dinner to end. After serving, we helped dry dishes and set up our tables for the morning. Then I was back to tinkering with the TV. I got a picture by running the antenna wire through the window and attaching it to the eaves trough. As the sky darkened, reception improved, and word went out to the guests to come to the lounge. As people gathered, about half of them Americans, the excitement rose.

To this day I will always remember watching Neil Armstrong descend that ladder.

The next day I went to town and bought the Toronto papers. Each semester, at the end of the astronomy unit in grade 9 science, I bring my originals to class to show the students. I try to make them feel the wonder I felt when I looked up at the moon and realised that there were men up there, walking around.

Monday, July 12, 2004

A week or so ago a friend sent me a very distasteful poem about immigrants. I won't dignify the poem by printing it here, but I would like to share my response to her. (For the record, (to put my response in its proper perspective) I am third generation WASP in Canada.)

Dear --------

If this poem reflects some people's image of immigrants, I am sad. If
many Canadians think this, then Canada is a poorer country for this

We were built by immigrants. We (except for Native North Americans) were all from immigrant families. Up until 2001, the last year I have seen solid statistics, immigrants had a higher level of education, on average, than Canadians. They had a higher literacy rate, and a lower jobless rate.

For us to put down immigrants reminds me of the cottager's syndrome. We cottagers look around for a lake to build a cottage on. We find a new lot and build a cottage, then immediately we want local town council to forbid all future development. This is the cottager's NIMBY: NOAMOTL = No One After Me On This Lake. We immigrants, our ancestors, came to Canada, thankful to have a place we can live up to our potential and dreams. Suddenly, having made it, we don't want anyone else to have the same right.

Intolerance of people who are different makes me sad. In my grade 12
physics class I have six Chinese students, two Polynesians, four
Indian/Pakastanis, one Serbian. They are all polite, hard-working kids. One of the Chinese girls is getting 100. To have her and her family labelled lazy, lawbreakers ("stolen trucks", for heavens sake), and unworthy of our respect is unfair to her.

Please don't distribute this poem. Intolerance does not make Canada a better place for anyone.

Love, Rob