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March 2 2015 7:21 AM

What Are Cultural Faux Pas When Working at Star Trek’s Starfleet?

Answer by Anne K. Halsall, lifelong Trekkie:

Having a relationship with a holographic image of a real person.

If that cute ship's counselor won't give you the time of day, why not just recreate her in the holodeck? It must be tempting, but it can go horribly wrong if the objects of your “recreational” programs find out what you've been up to.

Who does it: Lt. Barclay in “Holly Pursuits,” Star Trek: The Next Generation; Geordi LaForge in “Booby Trap,” Star Trek: The Next Generation; Quark in “Meridian,” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; countless other people.

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March 1 2015 7:23 AM

What Happens When You Copy or Scan a Mirror?

Answer by Archie D'Cruz, editor, designer, writer:

Let’s find out, shall we?

I took this fairly large round mirror and scanned it using my Canon flatbed. The result was, let’s say, not very mirrorlike at all. In fact, the glass area was almost black.

Feb. 27 2015 8:03 AM

How Does a Betta Fish Know When Food Is in Its Aquarium?

Answer by Kirk Janowiak, wildlife biologist, fish-fancier for more than 50 years:

Your fish has some cool adaptations that allow it to know when you put food into the aquarium.

Bettas have good eyes for short distances. They have pretty good color vision and see shapes really well. They are, however, a bit near-sighted.

Feb. 26 2015 7:22 AM

Was Elvis Presley a Better Musician Than the Beatles?

 

Answer by David Stewart:

 

 

Better in what way?

 

 

Vocally: Elvis had a great voice, and few could touch him. His rock ’n’ roll numbers were electrifying, and his slower ballads were beautiful. His ability to command a song was just fantastic. The Beatles all had good voices (except Ringo Starr, obviously), but they couldn't touch Elvis for vocal ability.

 

Feb. 25 2015 7:20 AM

Why Is Poetry So Difficult to Understand?

Answer by Stephanie Vardavas, student of human frailty:

The main obstacle to understanding poetry, whether you are talking about Keats or Shelley or Whitman or even Leonard Cohen, is our ingrained tendency to be very literal in communication. We often speak and write in extremely literal terms, because we want to make sure we are understood. So when communication is incoming, we look at it the same way and try to extract its literal meaning.

Feb. 24 2015 7:47 AM

What Is the Philosophical Perspective of Star Trek?

Answer by Robert Frost, engineer/instructor at NASA, hardcore Star Trek fan since I was 2:

Humanism. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the original series, was an ardent humanist and imbued the show with those ideas, sometimes to the show's success, sometimes to its detriment. Humanism is defined as “an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.”

Feb. 23 2015 7:39 AM

If Magneto and Graviton Would Battle, Who Would Win?

Answer by Frank Heile, Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University:

I have to put a vote in for Graviton. Assuming the laws of physics still apply to the world of Magneto and Graviton, then Magneto has to still respect Maxwell's equations, and Graviton has to respect the equations of general relativity.

Feb. 22 2015 7:42 AM

How Can You Distinguish a Good Tattoo Artist From a Bad One?

Answer by Kevin “Jack” Allaire, licensed freelance tattoo artist:

This is easy and difficult at the same time. The first thing you have to do is look through the portfolio of the artist. As with a lot of things, a person's previous work speaks volumes. Make sure there is a large variety of different work in the portfolio: color, black and gray, traditional, realism. If a portfolio is filled with pieces of flash art (small, common, money-making pieces picked from off the wall), I would call that person a tattooist and not a tattoo artist.

Feb. 19 2015 7:26 AM

What Can I Do to Help My Daughter Become an Astronaut?

This question originally appeared on Quora, the best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Answer by Robert Frost, instructor and engineer in the flight operations directorate:

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The most important thing is to support and feed her interest without taking control of her interest. You have to be constantly ready to offer up something, but she has to feel that she is in charge of her own future. So your job is to find resources and opportunities for her.

To Inspire and Motivate Her

Least expensive options: There’s a lot of great information available for free on the Internet. Visit the NASA Kids Club to find puzzles, games, and other activities for kids of varying ages. NASA’s Space Place is also a good site to find information, activities, games, puzzles, and quizzes. NASA has designed its website so that it can easily be filtered for kids based on grade level: grades K-4grades 5-8grades 9-12.

NASA’s astronaut biographies can help her learn about past and future astronauts and can be very inspiring. It's a great way for you to help her see that although it involves a lot of hard work, it is certainly a feasible path for a young girl. Maybe give her a biography a week to read. She can learn about people like Sally Ride, Ellen Ochoa, Peggy Whitson, and Tracy Caldwell Dyson. For a young girl, you might also find inspiration on the NASA women of STEM site.

Use Quora. You and your child can have some great conversations that will feed her interest and help her learn. Come to Quora and look up space-related questions. Or if she has a question and you don't know the answer, come here and ask it. People like me will be happy to answer it for you.

If your TV provider offers NASA TV, check it out. If they don't, you can view it online.

Most expensive options: NASA has an initiative called Passport to Explore Space. It’s a program through which kids complete a passport by visiting all 14 NASA visitor centers and space shuttle museum exhibits. They are scattered all over the country, from California to New York, so this could be an expensive endeavor. I know it’s not something my parents could have afforded when I was a child. If you decide to visit a NASA visitor center, be sure to look online first to see if there are scheduled activities. You might be able to have lunch with an astronaut.

There are also great Space Camp programs at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. Kids of all ages can participate in day or week or longer programs that give them hands-on experience.

To Prepare Her

Most of the rest you and she won't need to worry about until she is in high school.

To help your child grow into a great candidate for the astronaut program is a holistic effort. She’ll need to build both her mind and body. NASA looks for well-rounded applicants. She will need to do well in all her school subjects and should engage in athletics too. Cross-country running is very popular among many astronauts.

Astronauts come from many backgrounds, so she has a lot of options. The three most common are engineer, pilot, or medical doctor. But NASA has selected chemists, Navy SEALs, and more. She should choose a path that she could live with, because she will have to live with it for a while. Being an astronaut is not a first career—it is a second career. Her priority should be to excel at that first career, because the astronaut selection panel isn't impressed by average.

What types of selections NASA makes for each class depends on its needs at the time. Sometimes it needs to backfill pilots who have left. Sometimes it needs to beef up the mission specialist ranks.

The safest path is probably to combine engineering and being a pilot. Apply to a university with a decent aerospace engineering department and ROTC program. Get that bachelor’s in engineering, go into the military, and train to be a pilot. Excel as a pilot, and in her spare time allow the government to pay for her master’s degree.

Education and career achievement are not the only things she needs to be working on, though. Do things: scuba dive, learn to fly, teach classes, volunteer for charities, be a scout leader, travel, learn to speak Russian, engage in competitive sports. The selection panel is looking for dynamic, self-motivated individuals who can learn quickly, handle stress, take orders, and communicate well with the public.

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Feb. 18 2015 7:09 AM

Why Is Art So Expensive?

I recently went to a gallery and saw pieces of broken glass selling for $1,000 per shard. Why?

Answer by Michelle Gaugy, art gallery owner, author, art consultant:

Money is a medium of exchange. We exchange it for something we either need or want. We have to give it up in amounts based on “values” that are set by a multitude of factors. Although there are those who assert that art may have “intrinsic value,” I'm not certain there is anything in this world today that is priced at its “intrinsic value.” What would that be? Construction materials plus some preset labor cost plus an agreed-upon “fair” profit margin? I don't believe even our food is priced like that these days. If Chile can raise the price on cherries in the winter, you'd better believe they will.

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