Saying goodbye at Galileo’s pyre

Galileo wasn’t burned on a pyre, you argue. True, but the Galileo Orbiter, coming to the end of its mission exploring the Jovian satellites, will be de-orbited on September 21st and sent plunging into Jupiter’s atmosphere. Slashdot has the usual geek chorus commenting on a thorough story in The New Yorker. (Sample level of detail: Galileo is being deliberately de-orbited and burnt up so that any microbes it may be carrying won’t contaminate Europa, its likely crash site, whose enormous frozen ocean may prove a fertile breeding ground for invading microbes.) Popular Science has a brief mention and a pointer to the crash countdown at JPL, which also hosts links to dozens of other facts gathered by Galileo in its epochal mission.

Computer literacy and (not) going paperless

My mother-in-law has always been an avid learner, keeping her computer current (she’s now on her second iMac—the “Luxo Jr.” G4 plus LCD display model) and using email and the Web for all her organizational activities. She’s running into some problems now doing some of her work, in that some people to whom she sends attachments can’t open them.

I remember the same thing happening in some musical organizations that I was in. They tried to move to a model where the rehearsal schedules, driving directions, and other necessary bits of information were distributed via email and kept on websites, but inevitably there would be two or three (or five or six) members who couldn’t get to their email, who claimed that the director always sent mail to “their other account,” who couldn’t open the file format that was sent around, who couldn’t figure out how to use the Yahoo! group site to get the attachments. Result: the inexorable paper coming around at rehearsals again.

Can the death of paper only be achieved when all those who grew up without bits have passed on, too? Or will we always have information redundancy—storage on inefficient atoms created from living resources?