5 Years: A New Plan (at least for a while)

We began this blog five years ago, in July 2010 (HERE is the initial plan we laid out). Over the last five years, we have never missed a Wednesday post, and we’ve often posted beyond the regular Wednesday edition. To celebrate this five-year mark for Lofty Ambitions and to shake things up a bit here, we’ve decided to post lists of five things, at least … Continue reading 5 Years: A New Plan (at least for a while)

Five French Scientists (Part Deux)

Last week, we posted about five French scientists who made important discoveries and adavances. Last week, we were standing under the Eiffel Tower, on which the names of 72 French scientists and engineers are engraved. These names are engraved around the first level, which makes them easy to read from ground level. Each side boasts 18 names. None are names of women. Yesterday marked the … Continue reading Five French Scientists (Part Deux)

Five French Scientists

We’re in Paris for a week. See last week’s post for information about the A380 we flew. Here are five French scientists we’d like to meet while we’re in France, if only they were still alive. These scientists represent the kind of thinking we appreciate, thinking outside the box and searching for novel connections. Marie Curie (1867-1934) Okay, she was a naturalized French citizen, but … Continue reading Five French Scientists

Irish Scientists

This coming Saturday marks St. Patrick’s Day, a cultural and religious holiday and general celebration of Ireland with which we grew up. In fact, more than 34 million (some say 41 million) Americans claim Irish heritage, which is roughly nine times the population of Ireland and, somehow, reason enough itself for a party. What better way for Lofty Ambitions to celebrate this week than to … Continue reading Irish Scientists

Beautiful Science

Last week, we wrote about a temporary exhibit at the Huntington Library. Today is the anniversary of Kelly Johnson’s death. We mentioned several of Kelly Johnson’s written pieces in last week’s blog because he was a central figure in Southern California’s aviation history. Read about “Blue Sky Metropolis” HERE. Past that exhibit is an ongoing display called “Beautiful Science.” Most science museums, while relatively aesthetically inviting … Continue reading Beautiful Science

Interview: Fred Gregory

Frederick D. Gregory is a three-time space shuttle astronaut and a Washington, DC, native. His first shuttle flight (STS-51B) was the second Spacelab flight. On his second flight (STS-33), he became the first African-American to command a space flight. His last flight (STS-44) was in 1991, and he continued to work for NASA until 2005. All three missions ended at Edwards Air Force Base in California. … Continue reading Interview: Fred Gregory

Interview: Mike Coats

This video launches our NEW INTERVIEW FEATURE, which will appear every 2nd and 4th Monday of the month. To mark the end of the space shuttle program this year, we’ll begin with a series of interviews we’ve done with astronauts in that program. We have a lot more in store, including interviews with Apollo astronauts Charlie Duke and Walt Cunningham as well as with the … Continue reading Interview: Mike Coats

Measurement and Scale

On March 11, 2011, just off the east coast of Japan, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake occurred. When we talk about an earthquake having magnitude, we attempt to understand its seismic energy. That number is a notch on the Moment Magnitude Scale (MMS), which, in the 1970s, replaced the colloquial Richter scale that had held sway since the 1930s. Since 1990, just one other quake of … Continue reading Measurement and Scale

Pie with Einstein

We’re working on our regular post for Wednesday, thinking about scale in the wake of the earthquake in Japan, and wishing things were better than they are there. For now, we’ve distracted ourselves because today is Pi Day. The shorthand for today’s date is 3/14, and that’s the start of the numerical representation of the mathematical constant pi: 3.14. A circle’s circumference is always its … Continue reading Pie with Einstein

Measuring the Unthinkable

In the spring of 1989, a couple of Midwestern college students might have been forgiven for believing that the Cold War was still being waged with all of its chillingly vibrant madness. The newly minted 41st President seemed in no hurry to break precedent with the velvet-concealing-hammer rhetoric of his predecessor. The fall of Die Berliner Mauer and the election of Václav Havel—and the later … Continue reading Measuring the Unthinkable