I was ultimately saddened by the prospect of robots eventually caring for our elderly and baby-sitting our children ["Birth of a Robot"]. I strongly encourage the furthering of science and technology but not at the expense of our integrity. In the end, will robots be more like humans or humans more like robots?
Fiction to Fact
"Birth of a Robot" was excellent. Robots have come a long way and they will keep evolving. Everything we have read in science fiction books about cyborgs, androids and robots likely will become a reality one day. They will be as intelligent as we are and they will want and demand the same rights as human beings.
Paul Dale Roberts
Elk Grove, California
Wave of the Future
In "Catching a Wave," electrical engineer Annette von Jouanne is quoted as saying she wanted to find or improve upon a useful source of energy that was not "scarce or fleeting or unpredictable or dirty." Nuclear power, anyone?
Gregory D. Fitzpatrick
San Diego, California
I was one of those fortunate enough to be on hand the day the SR-71 Blackbird was flown to Dulles International Airport to be turned over to the Smithsonian Institution ["Stealth Machine"]. The pilot made a low pass in front of the tower and turned on the afterburners as he passed, spewing out flames 10 to 15 feet behind the engines and leaving the crowd in awe of this incredibly powerful match of man and machine. The SR-71 program came to its end amid much controversy, evident in the many teary-eyed supporters present, including those from Lockheed, the CIA and the Defense Department. There is no doubt the program served its purpose well and is a credit to all involved.
How could we not enjoy William Ecenbarger's take on Washington's political discourse ["There Oughta Be a Law"]? Excellent piece, even to a couple of ol' Yeller Dog Democrats down here in LBJ and Sam Rayburn Texas.
Joe and Bobbi Schott
"There Oughta Be a Law" is aptly titled. There should be a law mandating that every politician in and out of Washington read this (not to mention all cliché-prone college English students).
Arline and William Spindell
Laguna Woods, California
Chinese Soldiers in U.S.
I especially enjoyed "On the March," the story about the thousands of terra cotta soldiers uncovered in 1974 in China. Some years ago in Katy, Texas, at a museum called Forbidden Gardens, I saw a one-third-scale replica of the emperor's tomb and army, as well as a model of China's Forbidden City. Created to help promote knowledge in the United States of ancient Chinese history and culture, the museum contains our country's only large-scale replicas of the first emperor of China's army. Apparently, Katy was chosen as the museum's location because of its proximity to Houston, which boasts a large Asian population.
"On the March" says that ancient Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huangdi is estimated to have used 720,000 workers to construct numerous palaces as well as the terra cotta warriors, horses and other figures in his great tomb complex. Now that's what I call a stimulus package!
"Stealth Machine" states that the titanium used to make the SR-71 was purchased from the Soviet Union. In fact, although the raw material for the titanium originated in the Soviet Union, the actual titanium products used to make the spy plane were produced in the United States. We also misstated the nature of the one in-flight fatality involving the SR-71. It occurred when the plane broke apart after refueling. We regret the errors.