For two glorious years I got to observe them in their natural habitat. Like Dian Fossey studying gorillas in the jungles of Rwanda, I watched them and learned their ways. I was accepted into their society and lived among them.
For two glorious years I got to observe them in their natural habitat.
Like Dian Fossey studying gorillas in the jungles of Rwanda, I watched them and learned their ways. I was accepted into their society and lived among them.
I had my Hewlett Packard graphing calculator, learned computer programming languages to help me communicate with them and even developed a strange affinity for video games.
It was an incredible two years with the Engineers in the Cubicles.
I left the pack when I changed my major from Mechanical Engineering to Political Science and Economics. But the life lessons learned in those two formative years have been invaluable.
That's why I understand when one of their own spends his time picking apart the engineering of science fiction works like Stars Wars and Star Trek.
SciFi Scanner blogger John Scalzi has created a bit of a stir by taking on George Lucas's series with one blog and then picking apart Gene Roddenberry with the next.
What else was he going to do - date a girl?
Maybe that was a bit harsh. But I remember those late nights at truck stops eating pancakes and studying statics, fluid dynamics and linear algebra. Often we fancied what some of the real - and not so real - world applications would be for this knowledge we were acquiring. Rarely were we a big hit with the ladies.
I even developed a chemical equation that would remove rust from iron. Unfortunately, I had "discovered" stainless steel. But I would have been rich if I would have only been born 200 years earlier and had access to an oven that reached over 1600 degrees Farenheit.
Here is some of the wisdom Scalzi shared on his blog. "Phasers: Bad design, or awesome?
Evidence for awesome: They can very precisely vaporize living creatures -- and their clothes! -- whilst leaving everything else (floors, walls, objects people are sitting on) untouched. Evidence for bad: Inconsistent power output. In Star Trek II, a phaser vaporizes a mind-controlling eel of Ceti Alpha V (also, the Starfleet officer it's inside of - and his clothes!), but then turns another such eel into a smoky smear. Yes, one can dial down phaser power, but I'm pretty sure you can't actually set a phaser to 'smudge.'"
If you had ever walked a mile - or 5,280 feet - in their shoes, you would know that this is incredible smack talk in the engineering world. You would also know that he has just enraged millions of
Trekkies across the globe.
He blasted Star Wars buffs with similar charges.
"I'll come right out and say it: Star Wars has a badly-designed universe; so poorly-designed, in fact, that one can say that a significant goal of all those Star Wars novels is to rationalize and mitigate the bad design choices of the movies." Scalzi went on to explain 10 ways Star Wars failed in light of engineering logic.
It was a productive day, no doubt.
I would say I don't mean to make fun of them but I do mean to. It makes me feel better every time I think about how all of those guys who I used to help with their homework make so much more than I do each year.
Oh well, I'm going to spend the rest of the weekend trying to figure out who would win a fight between Luke Skywalker and Captain James T. Kirk.
I'll let you know what I come up with.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.