Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Fall 2012 - (Page 5)
Future of Computing Is Here
t the end of the article on the Watson computer system (“One Giant Step for Computing,” Spring 2012), there is a quote from all-time Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings: “I for one welcome our new computer overlords.” In 1982, I heard IBM fellow James Martin speak at a computer conference about the future of computing. He made several predictions that have since come true. In his conclusions, he said that by 2025 humans would have trouble arguing with machine decisions. Ken Jennings doesn’t know how right he is. BOB STURM ’68 Oakland, Calif. Concrete Argument hank you for the great article on Fenway Park. Having grown up in southeastern New England, I’ve been a Red Sox fan for years. I did find a small issue to take, though; that of the use of the word “cement” in at least three places when referring to “concrete.” This is common in consumer publications, but should not have found its way into print in an engineering journal. The third instance actually said the engineer’s daughter was checking on “cement drying.” I doubt that she used that term, and if so, it should have been in quotes. Concrete does not dry, it cures. I think all engineers understand that, and that cement is only a component of the structural material concrete. My family has always known
that distinction, as well as the other “thorn in my side,” the use of the term “tin foil” in place of “aluminum foil.” I believe there was very little tin foil manufactured after the start of World War II, as tin was a critical material for the war effort. The aluminum industry employed me during all my work since graduation from RPI, and is presently a large factor in supporting me in my retirement. ALBERT PARKER ’64, P (RET.) .E. New Bern, N.C. Polybahn West? t’s always a joy to read a new issue of Rensselaer. This time, the letter from Paul Shatsoff (“Connecting Campus to Downtown”)—suggesting a funicular railway from downtown Troy to the RPI campus—immediately caught my interest. I don’t know whether there’s room for a funicular in present-day Troy—certainly it wouldn’t do to replace the beautiful Louis Rubin Memorial Approach—but Mr. Shatsoff’s idea reminded me of a funicular in Zurich, Switzerland, called the UBS Polybahn. In a few minutes’ time, it whisks passengers from a streetcar junction point named Central up to the ETH Zurich, the renowned technical institute from which Albert Einstein graduated in 1900. Wikipedia has more about the UBS Polybahn. Polybahn: What a great name
oped the launch/arrival strategy; performed interplanetary navigation accuracy studies; and analyzed options for critical data communications during the Mars atmospheric entry, descent, and landing phase of the mission. Previously, I was the navigation team chief for the Mars Exploration Rover mission that landed the twin Spirit and Opportunity rovers on Mars and the deputy navigation team chief and mission design manager for the Galileo mission to Jupiter. for a funicular to Rensselaer Poly! Troy might call its funicular Polybahn West. Perhaps a proposal for such would be a worthy thesis for a Rensselaer student majoring in civil, mechanical, or electrical engineering, or even a team of students pursuing those majors. STEVEN SMITH ’50 Camden, Maine Mars Rover Connections Continue his is in regards to the Alumni Connections article in the Spring 2012 issue (“Mars Rover Has Ties to Rensselaer”). The article lists Rensselaer alumni who have been involved in the Mars Science Laboratory mission to send the Curiosity rover to Mars. I was the mission design and navigation manager for the Curiosity rover mission. I managed a team of 10 people at the NASA/ Jet Propulsion Laboratory that performed trajectory design for the Earth launch, interplanetary transfer, and Mars atmospheric entry phases of the mission; develLOUIS D’AMARIO ’68 Providence, R.I. Thanks for the Memory hile reading the 1949 Class Notes (Spring 2012), I was surprised and delighted to see my father’s name mentioned by Christopher MacDermot. My dad was Bill Bahr. I was deeply touched to see my father’s name and read Mr. MacDermot’s kind words. RPI and the friends he made there meant a lot to my dad. It is wonderful to know that he has not been forgotten by his friends from RPI. Thank you, Mr. MacDermot.
ALISON BAHR TAYLOR Ann Arbor, Mich. We’d love to hear from you! To provide space for as many letters as possible, we often must edit them for length. Address correspondence to: Rensselaer Magazine, Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180; email to email@example.com; or call (518) 276-6531.
RENSSELAER/FALL 2012 5
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Fall 2012
Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Fall 2012
Lighting Up the Aviation Industry
Energy and the Environment
One Last Thing
Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Fall 2012