Quote of the Day: Noam Chomsky

American decline is real, though the apocalyptic vision reflects the familiar ruling class perception that anything short of total control amounts to total disaster. Despite the piteous laments, the United States remains the world dominant power by a large margin, and no competitor is in sight…

— Noam Chomsky (MIT)

Tell the Jury, in Your Expert Opinion…

You may have noticed that I’ve been the only one writing on Trading 8s lately. Most of our contributors keep moving to bigger and better things, leaving less time to write. (They grow up so fast.) Alex Nakahara, as you’ll read, has been studying and researching at the world epicenter of his field. In an age where climate change and evolution are always in the news and increasingly important in our everyday lives, the importance of Alex’s message cannot be understated. — AWO

by Alex Nakahara

This fall, I started studying for my Master’s degree in Aeronautics at MIT. One of the first things we had to do when we arrived was to take the Technical Writing Exam. I was obviously extremely excited to write two essays on a presumably dry and pointless topic, remembering how much fun the GRE and SAT were. However, the topic turned out to be something very relevant to an incoming class of engineers, and especially the Aeronautics/Astronautics students: the debate between manned and unmanned space exploration, which I touched on in an earlier post.

We read two articles, one for manned space exploration and one against, and had to write a summary of the two articles as well as an analysis of what further questions would need to be answered in order to make an informed choice on the issue. In no time at all, pencils were scribbling away at paper.

While the topic was interesting, it was the structure of the test that made the most impact on me. It was not until halfway through the first essay that I noticed that in my supposedly impartial summary of the two articles I was in fact writing my personal opinions on the subject. I went back and removed my opinions (hopefully), and continued to write while focusing more on trying to be neutral on the subject. It was much harder than I expected.   Continue reading “Tell the Jury, in Your Expert Opinion…”

Up, Up, and Away

by Alex Nakahara

For many, balloons are an anachronism. In days where jets carry us across the country in hours and rockets carry people into orbit, balloons appear useless. I can sit at  my desk and look at the Philadelphia Zoo Balloon, a mere amusement park ride for visitors, going slowly up and down all day, never going anywhere. At least their lighter-than-air fellows, the blimps, get to float above sporting events every weekend. Balloons are stuck as tourist attractions or the playthings of devoted hobbyists. However, balloons are enjoying a minor renaissance in an unexpected area: space.

Continue reading “Up, Up, and Away”