discovery.jpgSure, Silicon Valley has its issues, but here’s a small counter-ode to valley, based on a few things this week that reminded us of what makes the place great. For readers in their late teens or early 20s, this is one more reason to get a science degree and make this place your playground.

–The story about Dan Leiser (these stories require free registration), the engineer at NASA/Ames Research Center, who helped invent the ceramic-fiber cloth that fills the gaps between the thermal tiles on the space shuttle Discovery — which faced problems this week. Leiser was just one of the dozens of shuttle experts in Mountain View who helped solve some of the problems by guiding astronaut Steven Robinson’s repairs.

–There’s the story of Steven Robinson himself, who grew up in Moraga and earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, and made history by dropping over Discovery’s side to perform the first in-space shuttle repair ever attempted.

–By the way, here’s the latest on the shuttle. Again Mountain View is helping guide the action. We wish them a safe return.

mummy.jpg–And there’s the other daily stuff that happens all over the valley, we can’t keep up with. Here’s a story the Mercury News ran yesterday about the child mummy in Egypt (picture by Patrick Tehan):

Flash forward about 2,000 years, and shift your gaze from the lower Nile Valley to Stanford Medical Center where, on May 6, a team of scientists using the latest scanning technology took 60,000 images of the child mummy, now in the collection of the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose.

Those images were turned into a breathtaking visualization of the little girl, unveiled Wednesday at SGI in Mountain View, that demonstrated with amazing clarity what the past looks like when illuminated by the technology of the present.

The project brought together experts from the fields of Egyptology, radiology, computing, plastic surgery, orthopedics, anthropology — even a Berkeley alchemist and perfumer, who determined that the scents applied at the funeral were frankinscence and myrrh.