Silly Mars Society…

For whatever reason, my email address still works; normally the university shuts it down a few months after graduation, but not mine. I don’t know why. It still works for me.

That allows me to get gems such as the following email from the Mars Society:


Agh! Loud noises! The person that sent this email clearly subscribes to the school of ALL CAPS MEANS THAT I AM REALLY REALLY SAYING SOMETHING IMPORTANT LISTEN TO ME.

Memo: Mars is not under attack.

I joined the Mars Society for one year (2003) as a university student. I’m not sure what’s been going on in Mars Society lately, but they’ve been sending out emails about current/past members registering for the Mars Society Yahoo Group. Probably they’re out of money, and the best way to get more is to suddenly act interested in people. These three emails are probably equal to the total number that I received as a member that year.

Not everyone from the Mars Society is totally nuts. I have some “normal” friends that are stationed at the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) in northern nowhere, Canada. OK, maybe I’m taking the liberty of calling someone from Quebec–my fellow ISU SSP06 classmate Simon–normal. Also good to see Ryan and Mel up there–met them in Toronto at the 2005 International Lunar Conference where they were reviving SEDS Canada, thanks, as always, to Bob Richards.

SGAC + money = …

Why does this make me uneasy? Actually, maybe uneasy isn’t the precise word — maybe I feel bad, or sorry, or something like that. Maybe it’s because I know Chris Boshuizen is asking his friends — past SGAC folks: the names on that list — to donate to SGAC, which in turn goes to pay his own salary. $_Jessy + $_Robbie + $_Mark + $_Julia ~= MonthSalary_Chris. And I hope that the mystery donation isn’t like the last mystery donation we received in SGAC, which was something that we are expected to pay back; sounds more like a loan than a donation.

I wouldn’t want to be in his position, certainly — effectively asking my friends to donate money for my salary. It would feel weird. If you ask me, having a paid executive director might be better suited for a foundation that is built for taking money and turning it around to pay for overhead costs. SGAC isn’t the right format for that. (This is why I enjoy working on the server, adding information to the wiki, advising students, etc. — I don’t get paid for it. In fact, I can’t get paid for it, and that’s the way I like it. Thus my hobby is only a burden on myself… and maybe Ryan McLinko of SEDS-USA who deals with a lot of my emails.)

Mo’ money: how much does the Space Generation Congress cost? 305 euros for students and 370 euros for non-students. How much does the similarly-timed and -placed SEDS International Conference cost? (sorry, you have to open a .pdf brochure to verify) INR 500 for Indian students, INR 750 for foreign students, INR 1500 for Indian non-students, and INR 2000 for foreign non-students.


Student (euros) 305 euros 9.23 euros (Indian)
13.85 euros (Foreign)
Non-student (euros) 370 euros 27.69 euros (Indian)
36.92 euros (Foreign)
Student (INR) INR 16,525 INR 500 (Indian)
INR 750 (Foreign)
Non-student (INR) INR 20,046 INR 1500 (Indian)
INR 2000 (Foreign)

Conversions done via

Now, the exception: if you pay after today (and there is probably some leeway with this — SGAC is not evil), the prices change to 355 euros for students and 420 euros for non-students.

Student (euros) 355 euros 9.23 euros (Indian)

13.85 euros (Foreign)

Non-student (euros) 420 euros 27.69 euros (Indian)

36.92 euros (Foreign)

Student (INR) INR 19,235 INR 500 (Indian)
INR 750 (Foreign)
Non-student (INR) INR 22,757 INR 1500 (Indian)
INR 2000 (Foreign)

Also, I have a suspicion that Rs. 16,000 is a lot more for an Indian than, say, someone from the US or Western Europe. That might mean pricing out the local population, which isn’t a good play because for us foreigners, it costs quite a lot to even get to India — between $1200 and $1500 from DC. (Not to mention the unintentional disrespect: no Indian keynote speakers) We’ll see what happens. Best of luck to the SGC organizers — I think they’ll do something good — but I won’t be there to see it; instead of paying 370 euros/$495 (!), I’ll be down in Vellore with the SEDSIC people, helping.

September will be a judgment call for SGAC. They’ve signed up for their SGC venue, throwing in their bet for this game. They’ve tied their organizational debts/expenses to the SGC costs… at least I hope so, how else could it cost 370 euros for a three-day young professional and student conference? The five-day International Astronautical Congress — the larger conference that SGC tags along with — costs 250 euros for young professionals and 100 euros for students.

We’ll see.

U of Illinois joins Google Book Search digitization project

Illinois, CIC Join Google Book Search Project

The Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) — the Big11Ten plus University of Chicago, formerly of the Big Ten — are scanning books for Google. Good to see Illinois in this project.

Paula Kaufman, UIUC University Librarian:

“Now, we can search every word in every
volume and make connections across works that would’ve taken weeks or
years to make in the past.

Update: On a roll: Illinois unverifiable excellent statistic engineering love: ARWU/Engineering

Tell el-Amarna

I have a fascination with maps that is probably better classified as an obsession…

Doing a little bit of searching in Google Earth — the finest “drug” I know — I found the location of Tell el-Amarna, which I learned about in this article in LiveScience: Ancient Egyptian City Spotted From Space. Here is Tell el-Amarna — at least, as shown in the satellite image in the article — in Google Maps.