Tag Archive

When Close Isn’t Good Enough

By Sharad Goel

For a lot of engineering problems, “almost right” isn’t good enough. Remember the Mars Climate Orbiter? Traveling through space for nearly a year, and covering 700 million kilometers, the Orbiter disintegrated after entering the Martian atmosphere at an altitude just one-hundred kilometers lower than planned. That’s like a $100 million dart exploding when you miss... »

Sounds of Silence

By Sharad Goel

When I was a kid we had a small black & white television that never quite worked right. If you positioned the rabbit ears just so---and no one turned on the kitchen blender---the signal to snow ratio would be just barely high enough to make it through an episode of "The Cosby Show." Humans are... »

Out With the New, In With the Old

By Kelly Savage

When the avant-garde jazz group The Bad Plus first covered Nirvana’s "Smells Like Teen Spirit” almost ten years ago, they inspired heated controversy for their supposedly non-traditional approach to jazz. But when John Coltrane first recorded his now classic 1960 performance of the show tune “My... »