WhiteBoardness - 4/1/97
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 97 14:54:01 -0800
Subject: WhiteBoardness - 4/1/97
Excerpted-from: WhiteBoard News for Monday, March 31, 1997
Pioneer 10 is The Little Spaceship That Could. And did. And still does.
And will keep on doing it, even after they cut it loose this week to coast
through interstellar space forever.
Now 25 years old, the hardy little explorer was supposed to function for
only two years. But it's still out there, powered by no more energy than
illuminates a bedroom night light, valiantly communicating with scientists
who have grown to love it.
The space agency will officially end the project Monday, but no one has the
heart to actually pull the plug on Pioneer 10. It will keep calling home to
Earth, even if no one answers its beep beep beeps.
"What a remarkable feat for this spacecraft to still be operating," said
Larry Lasher, the project's current director. "Pioneer 10 retired three
project managers. I'm the fourth."
Now 6.2 billion miles away, Pioneer already is the most distant human
artifact in the cosmos -- and the most evocative. It carries a "golden
greeting card," a plaque intended to enlighten any extraterrestrials who
stumble upon it during the next couple of million years.
Among Pioneer 10's other accomplishments: It was the first spacecraft to
travel through the asteroid belt, the first to visit and photograph the
outer planets, the first to exploit a planet's gravity to change course,
the first to leave our solar system.
Alas, Pioneer is growing feeble, so the space agency is cutting off its
funding and reassigning the few scientists who have been monitoring it. But
the craft's faint signal will still serve as a radio beacon for technicians
who fine-tune deep space tracking devices.
Lasher, though reassigned himself, will keep an eye on his favorite little
spaceship. It seems only right. "I personally will still remain as a point
of contact for Pioneer 10," he said.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida:
Artist Krandel Lee Newton has found the newest niche market.
Most artists draw faces, but Newton distinguishes himself by specializing
in butts. You know, derrieres. Behinds. Back sides. Whatever.
Newton lives in Dallas, Texas, but travels around the country, drawing
full-length butt portraits -- sometimes in as little as two and half minutes
-- at conventions.
Last week he entertained here in Fort Lauderdale, where the National Air
Transportation Association convention was holding meetings.
As usual, someone asked: "Why not do faces?"
Newton answered: "Then I'd be like every other artist."
Conference organizers pay Newton 225 to 250 dollars an hour to draw behinds.
D.J. Warmke, 33, worried that "You might make my butt wider than it is."
To which Newton answered, "I draw it as I see it."
For Warmke those were not reassuring words. "That's what I'm afraid of."
She won the school district science fair trophy for her project on condom
reliability - but Shari Lo was disqualified from a regional contest because
school officials said she went against their sex-education policy promoting
"Because it is on condom reliability, it basically encourages safe sex. Our
philosophy is abstinence, not safe sex," said Colleen Gaynes, superintendent
of the Coachella Valley Unified School District.
Ms. Lo, 15, said at first she was confused - but now she's upset and plans
to appeal the decision.
"I'm disappointed that my project was judged scientifically and scored well
but didn't score well with some people's opinions," she said.
Ms. Lo bought six brands of condoms, put them through strength, endurance,
and temperature tests and rated them. No human trials were involved.
The student at Coachella Valley High School, about 130 miles southeast of
Los Angeles, said she conducted the experiment because she was concerned
about teen pregnancy and AIDS.
© 1997 Peter Langston