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What a World!

With this post I achieve two ends with one stroke: I boast about my son, Thomas, while pointing to further evidence of the continuing innovation that keeps the material wealth of ordinary Americans growing.

A few moments ago Thomas gave a short presentation at Johns Hopkins’s Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) on research that he and his mentor there, Dr. Scott Fleming, are doing on locating celestial objects called “hot subdwarfs” in (very far) outer space.  (Thomas has a two-month-long internship at STScI.)

I watched and listened to Thomas’s presentation, live, on my computer in Fairfax.  And I took this photo of it with my telephone GetAttachmentThumbnail-3 – the same phone that I just used to text Thomas to congratulate him on his poised, smooth, and impressive delivery, and that I’ll use later today to talk to him on his drive back to Fairfax from Baltimore.  (I confess that 98 percent of the astrophysics and computer-science talk zooms well over my head, but judging from the audience’s questions and reaction afterward, Thomas’s talk was successful.)

No ordinary American in the mid-1970s – that halcyon time when ordinary Americans’ living standards allegedly peaked, never to rise again – had a laptop computer, cellphone (much less a smartphone), or a device that took pictures that could be shared instantly with dozens or hundreds or millions of people around the world.  No ordinary – or even superrich – American’s college-age children were using PowerPoint to aid their presentations.  And no ordinary Americans were tuning in live – at zero-marginal-monetary cost, I add – to watch non-broadcast, streamed events.