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R.I.P. Qian Xuesen, “Father Of Chinese Rocketry”

November 3rd, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Qian Xuesen (Tsien Hsue-shen), a pioneer of both the U.S. and Chinese missile and space programs, died in Beijing on October 31, 2009. He was 97 years-old.

qian xuesen father of chinese rocketry

The engineer was born in China, received his Master’s at MIT and his doctorate at Caltech in the 30′s, and was one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He developed missiles for the Army, consulted for the Air Force–earning a temporary rank of Colonel–and designed a space plane that served as an inspiration for the Space Shuttle.

He was obviously brillz, but also a victim of his time. After applying for U.S. citizenship in 1949, when the country was caught up in the Red Scare, he was accused of having Communist sympathies, falsely imprisoned, and put under house arrest for 5 years. Caltech rallied around Qian and appointed attorney Grant Cooper to defend him. Despite their efforts, Qian, his wife, and their two American-born children were deported in 1955 by the U.S. government back to China, where Qian went on to start the Chinese space program and where he’s regarded as a hero.

Cooper who would later say of the gross mistreatment of his client:

“That the government permitted this genius, this scientific genius, to be sent to Communist China to pick his brains is one of the tragedies of this century.”

Irony of all ironies, Qian eventually joined the Communist Party in 1958.

[via Wired]

[Wikipedia: Qian Xuesen]

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Introducing the LOLrioKart, aka The Shopping Cart Car

July 2nd, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Some clever kids at MIT have invented the LOLrioKart, an electric vehicle made out of a shopping cart, that reaches speeds up to 45 mph. It’s like a DIY Segway with way more charm and charisma. Here’s a video from one of the LOLrioKart’s first road tests (we added the music to drown out that awful sound of clattering metal):

To learn more about the shopping cart car, click here.

[via TrendHunter]

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DISGRASIAN OF THE WEAK! "21" and Sony Pictures

March 28th, 2008 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

The movie 21 opens today in theaters, and a lot of you are already familiar with the controversy surrounding it. It’s based on the true story of a group of MIT students who learned to count cards and make off with millions in Vegas. [insert obligatory "baby"]. The team in real life was led by two Asian-American men, but in the movie, these characters are essentially played by Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe) and Kate Bosworth (Orlando Bloom’s ex-girlfriend). For two quality takes on these dubious casting decisions, check out Racialicious and Angry Asian Man.

The Boston Herald reported today on the hubbub, and Ben Mezrich, who wrote the nonfiction bestseller Bringing Down the House about the MIT students, was quoted as saying:

“Sony looked at hundreds and hundreds of actors – from all ethnicities – to play the lead character, and I am sure if they found a hot 21-year-old Asian actor, they would have hired him. But they didn’t. They found Jim.”

Now, we’re not really card players, nor are we particularly good with numbers (sorry, Dad), but this afternoon, we easily “found” 21 hot Asian (and mostly Asian-American) actors on the internetz:


So either Sony’s casting people really really suck at their jobs or the studio really really doesn’t believe that Asians can open a movie. We’re betting it’s the latter.


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