Star gazing seems especially good on a clear autumn night. From our back deck our amateur eyes scan the sky and its wonder. We first notice Venus, our closest planetary neighbor. A beautiful harvest moon rises over the hill, lighting up jet streams that crisscross the stars and planets. We see Orion, the bowl and handle of the Big Dipper, the Square of Pegasus, the vast Milky Way and we are fortunate to see an occasional falling star. We are in awe of the beauty of our night sky but it’s what we can’t see that is truly amazing.
Spectacular explosions, which can’t be detected with the human eye, light up the gamma-ray sky about once a day. These explosions, called gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), are from distant galaxies hundreds of millions of light years away from earth and are thought to be triggered by supernovae or exploding stars. They release more energy than our sun will put out in a lifetime.
In honor of the 60th Anniversary of the local Tennessee Valley Chapter (TVC) of the Special Libraries Association (SLA), International SLA President Deborah Hunt recently visited Tennessee. SLA is the global organization for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners, which has the mission of promoting and strengthening its members through learning, advocacy, and networking initiatives. September 13th Ms. Hunt made several stops at local information institutions, touring facilities and visiting with staff about issues facing libraries, information and knowledge managers.
During the 1700’s, the Reverend Thomas Bayes was a nonconformist minister at the Mount Sion Chapel in Tunbridge Wells, UK, about 40 miles southeast of central London. Having studied both theology and logic at the University of Edinburgh, he was also a mathematician and developed a strong interest in probability late in life. He was known to have published only one book on theology and one book on mathematics in his lifetime. A third manuscript he never published about the probability of cause made him famous. After his death, a good friend Richard Price recognized the importance of the paper and, after extensive editing, submitted it for publication. More than 20 years later, the great French mathematician, Pierre-Simon Laplace devised the formula for Bayes’ probability of causes and acknowledged Bayes as the discoverer of what we now know as Bayesian inference.
Theodore Roosevelt, in his famous speech “Citizenship In A Republic” starts by saying “it is not the critic who counts;” What makes the speech poignant is that all too often it is the critic who counts because we see time and time again the media pointing out “how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.”
Too often we only hear about failures and waste in government, yet the contributions and success of government-funded science and technology are ubiquitous and often under-reported.
Wouldn’t it be nice if your name were a unique identifier and nobody else had the same name as you? Unfortunately, most of us share our names with a number of other people, most of whom we have never met and never will. But we have all probably experienced the challenge and frustration of trying to find a specific person from a list of people with the same name. Remember when we used phone books? Trying to pick out the person you needed from a listing of multiple names? Actually, searching the internet doesn’t make this process any easier.