chat

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stackexchange highlights/ sessions/ talks/ conversations/ dialogs/ discussion/ brainstorming/ debates/ teaching/ tutoring/ advising/ coaching/ mentoring/ study groups/ challenges/ projects/ peer reviews/ teamwork/ teams/ chatter/ peanut galleries/ mutual admiration societies/ meetings/ seminars/ conferences/ collaborations/ research/ (open) science/ adventures

overview

stackexchange has built up a very sophisticated web-based, public, auto-archived chat system (FAQ). for new “se” users, it requires 20 rep pts earned across any se sites to participate in any chat room. that rep score is obtainable from eg 4 question upvotes or 2 answer upvotes.

the chat has very nice formatting features such as hyperlinking, different fonts, inlining (images, se Q/A, wikipedia articles, amazon books, tweets) easily accessed user profiles, and there is even a way to display latex formatting (MathJax), and although while somewhat familiar to those who use wikis, it can take some learning to master the syntax. the chat rooms are largely underutilized in general with significant potential eg for scientific uses eg polymath-like and open science projects.

outside of a few highly active chat rooms, they tend to be dormant for long periods and have occasional rapid bursts of activity. se also has a mechanism where inactive rooms are “frozen” after 2wk. there is a “sandbox” for learning/ experimenting with the chat features.

it is easy for users to create their own chat rooms for miscellaneous purposes, “invite” other arbitrary users, and moderators generally take a very hands-off, even near lassaiz faire attitude. no direct reputation score changes are involved in chat although indirect routes are possible (eg chat users notice specific Q/A identified in chat & act/ vote on it).

the web-based concept of chat is not quite like other cyber chats because with the se mechanisms, they can be used for extended dialogues lasting over hours, days, weeks, or even months in some cases. these can lead to and support either very synchronous or asynchronous type dialogs. either multiple users (resembling nonlinear brainstorming sessions verging on parties) or 1-1 exchanges.

there are occasional planned/ advertised/ announced chat meetings.

pseudonymity is allowed. users can reveal as much or as little of their backgrounds as they wish. despite some criticism and/ or minor unfamiliarity, “its a [privacy] feature, not a bug.”

therefore overall the architecture is uniquely suited to all kinds of conversations and dialog from the trivial to the momentous. (eg even topics that can trigger major commotion or are verbotten elsewhere on se, eg amateur results/ papers, P vs NP proofs, etc, wink!)

it also works for certain informal types of questions/ topics that may be highly frowned on as “official” se Q/A such as what areas of CS are of special interest (aka “hot”) to participants eg for projects or research. or eg, say CS in pop culture, like movies, tv, cartoons, etc. there are even occasional flashes/ glimpses of advisor/ student interchanges except in an informal/ casual way. also captures misc very revealing “behind the scenes” se dynamics such as mod decisionmaking/ chatter.

via participation here, my ultimate dream is to build up substantial attacks on significant open problems or even advance research programs in the field via all these elements, harnessing collaborative team dynamics and open science approaches. despite the sheer ambition of that ulterior agenda, one can occasionally see brief glimpses/ flashes of it in play, realized.

theres really nothing quite like it anywhere in cyberspace! se chat rooms combine the informality of cyber chat with highly educated, dedicated, intelligent participants which can be disorienting at times and seriously empowering at others.

since early ~2013 have had many engaging and sometimes fascinating dialogs. its also useful for participating in extended discussions of papers or blog pages with unusually enthusiastic commenters. here are some highlights. (see also volunteer).

an outstanding recent movie portraying the game-changing aspects possible of chat, see Fifth estate profiling Wikileaks/ Assange, starring Cummerbatch (who seems now to have definitive cyber/ geek tastes/ inclinations!)

another neat and meticulously researched book outlining the significant/ major possibilities and influence of an informal scientific study group, see How the hippies saved physics by Kaiser (official site with interviews etc).

stackexchange profile tips

  • fill out stackexchange profile. ofc stackexchange does not require divulging any personal information and one can avoid any areas one personally does not wish to share, but too much secrecy can get in the way of a chat, which is open and better based on details.
  • most people do not and it means its more like random strangers meeting (with all the awkward silence). the more details in the profile, the more others can talk to you about your own interests and avoid asking the same typical questions (eg what someone might ask you anyway on approaching you at a party etc).
  • try to list something different/ special about you that others might remark on or you might like to chat about
  • give geographic location, more specific the better. europe, US, state. others can relate to you on that if they live nearby, but even those that live far away may have some better picture of your local environment or even culture etc.
  • if at a school, please name it. please indicate your year. this helps to tune the communication. eg a university senior has a different situation/ outlook than a freshman etc.
  • did you do any postgraduate work? please list it. if you have a masters degree or Phd please name/ cite the thesis online if possible. these are public information anyway.
  • what is your job?
  • do you work on any projects outside of work?
  • for technical/ scientific chat rooms, try to describe anything youre particularly adept or even expert at.
  • not many people have blogs, but even a small blog, intermittently/ infrequently updated can tell others a lot about you and your interests. there is absolutely no shame in a sparse blog with only a few entries. all blogs are “works in progress”. please cite it on your profile. please cite any links that are related to your interests or personal life. eg clubs, topics, etc
  • do you have any agenda in joining the site, any particular motivation, any personal area of focus?

cool chatting session tips

  • when you show up in chat, try to help carry the conversation, if you know what that means. long pauses distract from the flow. imagine talking on the telephone and the other end goes silent. that happens on chat all the time.
  • maybe somewhat surprisingly/ uniquely, on stackexchange chats, it is not necessary to have a synchronous conversation, it can be asynchronous ie people write back and forth over different periods. however for this type of chat, one must write a little more than single lines and try to anticipate the flow of conversation more and freely/ proactively volunteer more info.
  • if someone asks you specific questions, or more than 1, ofc youre not obligated to respond but try to specifically answer them, each of them. try not to be evasive and avoid/ ignore questions/ interest. if you dont want to answer, maybe say why not if possible.
  • favorite popular media, recent room related events/ news or people related to the topic can be a chat focus. also something to put in profile. eg movies, books, tv shows, celebrities, etc
  • everyone is a volunteer. dont be demanding or impatient. nobody is required to help you or pay any attention. the main site has a specific purpose of answering questions but chat rooms are freeform and there is no such expectation or default. stackexchange users tend to be very helpful in general but some people are there just to have fun, “blow off steam”, procrastinate from their “real” jobs, etc. be appreciative of any help you receive, no uptight attitude etc
  • if you have to leave, and youve been talking awhile, its polite to say so rather than just disappearing.
  • scan recent or even older chat transcripts to see what people are talking about, and respond if you have something to say/ add. dont feel like you missed the conversation. the conversation on certain topics may be evolving/ ongoing, sometimes goes over hours, days, weeks, or even months.
  • familiarize yourself and use the chat reply feature as much as possible esp when reraising prior topics. you can also quote prior chat messages. and the message starring is a nice feature but please dont gratuitously star stuff that doesnt deserve it.
  • try to visit at least intermittently and say something, anything!
  • a sad/ regretful situation is someone who was once very lively/ engaged in chat (or stackexchange in general), but then stopped visiting entirely, not even rarely. they may be missed by more than one, or many. try to be flexible/ openminded/ friendly as possible. those that permanently leave may have personality conflicts with regulars, unresolvable complaints, endless grudges, etc.
  • if you have a longrunning conversation with 1 or more people you can create a separate chat room and invite all your cyberfriends. these are uncommonly created but maybe some regulars might wish that some longrunning conversations might go on elsewhere esp those unrelated to the general room topic/ focus.
  • links, links, links! leverage/ maximize cyberspace to your advantage. use oneboxing feature. SE Q/A are automatically oneboxed. please be as specific as possible. if you talk about a book, name it along with the author, give a section or page, better yet a link to Amazon or the toc somewhere on the web, etc., if you go to a university youre talking about include a link, etc; youtube videos, papers/ PDFs etc
  • you might think that chatting is time consuming, or verging on a waste of time at times, and it can be, but it doesnt have to be, and can be far more. chat is what you make it. there are some highly intelligent/ accomplished participants, and even more may show up in the middle of lively sessions. dont assume that people there dont have another major life/ responsibilities/ job etc going on. ofc a long conversation takes time (and thats part of the unique pleasure), but continuing/ adding to a thread of conversation can take only a few minutes a day.
  • pay particular attention to regulars, site moderators and room owners, and give them some respect esp about preferences/ good boundaries of discussion. definitely avoid testing/ pushing their boundaries. some of them have “seen it all” and have to deal with unruly users, and certainly dont need any more of that, and may quite justifiably have little time or patience for it. have some sensitivity and emotional intelligence.

advanced/ graduate/ Phd theoretical computer science

  • Stasys Jukna (home page) Phd, highly published and prolific, many papers, world class expert and author of the book Boolean function complexity/ Advances and Frontiers, incl mass coverage of circuit theory. wideranging discussion on monotone circuits, his book, etc. (now frozen)
  • another dialog on the lower bound complexity of bellman-ford algorithm for “all pairs shortest paths problem” based on SJ question/ conjecture on site (frozen)
  • cstheory salon, opened by me, long active, many diverse participants, although few site regulars. intermittent interesting discussions on cstheory. used as a microblogging/tweet-like platform. some brief cameos by highrep cstheory users including founder/ mod suresh, mod kaveh, mod Artem Kaznatcheev, power user marzio (blog at game theory). conversations with realz slaw, some codegolfers
  • Raphaël Clifford (home page). reader at Dept CS, U Bristol, UK, theory & algorithms group. co/author of over a dozen papers on arxiv and many also listed on DBLP. active on cstheory and mathoverflow stackexchanges. specializiing in lower bounds in online and streaming algorithms & Hamming/ edit distance.
  • Thomas Klimpel (blog1, blog2) has a masters in mathematics and works on circuit photolithography for a European chip manufacturing corporation. he has studied physics and quantum mechanics extensively. he is interested in the Neumaier interpretation of QM involving semiclassical analogies (re also this paper) and probability interpretations/ philosophy. an extended dialog on toy models of QM looking at foundations of QM, semiclassical/ “superclassical”/ “emergent” QM theory, bells thm & local hidden variable theories, etc.
  • Michael Wehar, Phd student (home page), winner of ICALP2014 best student paper award linking NL=?P question with the complexity of FSM intersection algorithm bounds. Hardness results for intersection nonemptiness, advisor Manuel Blum (Turing award winner!)
  • Rahul Mehta (home page), Max flow. A new push relabel algorithm for max flow problem. advisor Janos Simon. analysis of the complexity of the 2048 game, ECCC. Intel talent search finalist.
  • SJ mentioned Junichiro Fukuyamas proof. same earlier room (monotone circuits), invited JF, Phd discussed his very large/ ambitious proof attack/ attempt separating NP vs P/poly. JF created a wordpress web site to document it and was very responsive to discussing it.
  • Scott Aaronson (home page, blog) is a high profile, very accomplished young tenured professor at MIT specializing in quantum computation and has recently published a new book; his blog is very high trafficked and he is sought after around the world as a knowledgeable/ colorful/ understandable speaker/ presenter. while its generally frowned on and to be avoided, occasionally significant dialogs can occur in se comment threads. debated him about his stiff position/ opposition against a research direction/ program known as Applicability of Church-Turing thesis to interactive models of computation, playing gadfly or devils advocate, but solely in this case ofc, wink. his writing can be quite wideranging. he is published in scientific american magazine and is also a rare computer scientist writing about CS/ computational complexity philosophical implications. an early blog here dissects/ counters his opposition to soliton particle theory.
  • b_jonas is a mathematician interested in parsing theory such as CFLs and some problems in it which contains many subtleties & is researching/ reviewing books on CS language/ parsing theory.
  • phil (blog) with a BS in mathematics & a very respectable 2K cstheory rep is interested in P vs NP, Baker-Gill-Solovay result, relativization, etc.
  • Dave has a masters in CS and is interested in automata theory, automated theorem proving, and termination analysis.
  • Martin Seymour, Phd has worked in Descriptive Complexity area, attended conference in it, has conversed with leaders in the field, pursuing circuit complexity theory.
  • Mary Star, graduate student in CS in Greece. undergraduate degree in applied math. chose lecture topic & prepared lecture on Ackermann’s function and computability theory eg proof of its primitive recursive property.
  • halirutan, mathematica stackexchange expert, collatz conjecture fan & dabbler, attended collatz lecture, feels “all CS graduates should be familiar with it,” visualization expert, works in medical field & writing Phd thesis on ocular computational models
  • Daniel Sank, Phd physicist working at Google/ Martinis group quantum computing laboratory in Santa Barbara CA and high fidelity qubit theory/ implementations. principal author of eg Fast Scalable State Measurement with Superconducting Qubits
  • Marzio De Biasi, (home pg), high rep cstheory stackexchange user, nominated as moderator by outgoing moderator, wrote paper on Travelling Salesman Problem/ coNP recognized by experts, studies complexity of games, interested in 2-counter automata/ collatz problem via codegolf challenge problems.
  • discretelizard, CS graduate Eindhoven university. Dijkstra fan & interested in computational geometry. working on mathematics masters degree.

undergraduate computer science

cs chat room, long active. SE graduation announced summer 2015 with election chat. dialogs with “regulars”/ notable users:

  • realz slaw, long dialogs. se master. CS undergraduate experience. expert on NP completeness and game theory. earned major CS pts rapidly in a huge burst of effort/ activity. interested in promoting stack exchange sites and establishing and participating in cyber peer review systems, open/ collaborative/ experimental science, teaching, P vs NP eg wrt amateur papers/ proofs, standardized testing quality issues/ metrics in schools/ academia. accomplished expert in LaTeX and TikZ graphing. tutored undergraduate student in chat on travelling salesman problem, NP completeness, and factoring→SAT conversion/ reduction. re games/ NP completeness see eg Dominosa as NP complete 1/2
  • Wandering logic, Matthew Frank, intel employee, PhD from MIT, working on thread libraries and compiler tools. worked in academia as a professor with many publications. interested in se site promotion, hardware, etc., major dialog on “lessons learned,” brainstorming/ improving area51 new site creation dynamics/ politics.
  • Juho Lauri, high rep graduate/masters student at Tampere University of Technology, Finland, also visitor to Michigan Technical University. undergrad research into SAT/SMT/CSP. masters research on rainbow coloring and k-shortest paths problems, best masters thesis 2014! (Rainbow coloring and connectivity problems on families of perfect graphs) (also awarded to Linus Torvalds!). GPU/ CUDA implementations of theoretical algorithms. co/author of Computing Minimum Rainbow and Strong Rainbow Colorings of Block Graphs and Further Hardness Results on Rainbow and Strong Rainbow Connectivity. considering Phd.
  • Neurofuzzy, (David Moore) working on computational physics and physics degree. author of many different physics simulations in several languages (eg mathematica, c++, python) and many advanced research areas (eg quantum mechanics, Ising spins, Lorentz attractor, cellular automata, n-body gravity motion/ dynamics, relativistic transforms, etc). exercises based on eg Statistical Mechanics, Algorithms & Computations / Krauth and A 1st course in computational physics/ DeVries. also works on video games.
  • Abhishek, young facebook applicant from india to Silicon Valley lab (blog). sharing/ asking about interview coding exercise. javascript code review. web/ mobile developer in eg python/ javascript. impressive resume at young age.
  • hftf, undergraduate CS major also studied physics. (La)TeX adept. interested in quizbowl, analyzed/ researched question/ packet ordering “feng shui”, wrote 2p paper & 10v cs.se challenge problem on it with 50pt bounty & has done statistical analysis of competitions in mathematica with graphs.
  • rotia, Oscar Temprano, young spanish community college student learning about NP reductions via game theory and tetris and via advanced theoretical papers eg by Erik Demaine, PhD faculty from MIT. wrote scientific paper on tetris reduction. peer reviewed paper in chat. published on arxiv, Complexity of Tetris variant. has worked on node.js business project.
  • Abdulrhman, CS undergraduate student in india. working on ambitious 30p paper on cellular automata theory and TM completeness/ reductions/ conversions with cohorts. planning to submit to Automata conference 2016/ Switzerland. posted youtube videos on CA dynamics.
  • jake, undergraduate research assistant for a formal methods and programming languages group and student at Kansas State University. active with machine learning group at K-State eg genetic programming. working in formal methods, computability, type theory, logic, and functional programming languages.
  • Joshua Herman. BS, CS, University of Chicago at Illinois. use of mathematica/ machine learning to classify knots based on training with invariants. work on lambda calculus. 5 yr private tutoring by professor in knot theory/ combinatorics. interested in product R&D/ consulting startup.
  • Fahad Mortuza aka jim, undergraduate CS student from Bangladesh at East West University, interested in and researching/ analyzing theory/ algorithms/ complexity for graph isomorphism problem eg wrt (strongly) regular graphs, open science attack in chat room, latex adept & has written up draft idea eg A Graph Isomorphism Algorithm for a Restricted Class of Graph. extended conversation with TK on graph isomorphism.
  • shashi456, CS student, familiar with c++, Manipal University, India.
  • overexchange, works in QA/ bugfixing at Computer Associates in hyderabad, india. BS in CS. studying US university CS programs via open courseware. studying python, java, etc. aspires to move to & work at a more western country such as New Zealand (or US/ CA) etc. also worked at IBM Bangalore for 3 yrs for a AT&T Canada project. several years of C/ socket programming.
  • eviljs, educated in psychology, in Poland. has worked with EEG analysis and robotics. interested in collatz problem. has worked in C and javascript.
  • Niclas Jonsson, bachelor student at Linköping University, Sweden. c++ developer, attempted to implement complex tree width algorithms by Boedlander in chat.
  • mdxn, Michael Dixon, home page. self-study/ taught/ undergraduate research into complexity theory, logic, and descriptive complexity theory with Scott Aaronson and Andreas Blass. University of Michigan.
  • Bernard Muerer, entering college, used C, c++, lua, python. code of advanced factorial calculations by Peter Luschny (fast factorial functions)
  • henry akpo, math undergraduate student, France. interested in cellular automata, cryptography, P vs NP, working in c++
  • El’endia Starman/ Lee Burnette (home pg). graduated BS applied mathematics, Rochester Institute of Technology. SE mod. interested in group theory. project euler and codegolf participant, game developer. python, web, java, ruby.
  • quintopia/ blog. active on codegolf & chat room. inventor of the CASTLE CA specification language.
  • Ilya_Gazman aka “babibu” has earned significant points on stackoverflow and has been involved in many long chats in the CS room about eg P vs NP, travelling salesman problem and converting factoring to SAT, and apparently succeeded in the later ambitious project after many/ long chat tutoring sessions by realz slaw. Ilya has worked on many web technologies/ platforms including mobile/ android, java, flash, javascript. he has built his own mobile gaming API for use by other developers. also active on the codegolf site.
  • Craig Feinstein is a semifamous, near-legendary figure dating from old days of the Usenet bulletin board system and has made brief appearances in se chat rooms. he is listed 7 times on the Woeginger P vs NP “unverified claims” page. others can say lots about him but he has solid LaTeX skills and 7 published papers on arxiv, much more than many other se users who are academically trained (eg grad/ Phd students), many of whom list no references at all. he’s also made youtube videos on the subject. he has spurred some meta discussion/ debate on cstheory about reference and appropriate/ acceptable policy wrt so-called “cranks”.
  • gilles, cs Moderator. very active across many se sites and very high rep earned on stackexchange. extraordinary dedication. one of the highest rep users across all of se. very conversant with overall se culture and quality aspects.
  • raphael, masters degree/ Phd student, cs Moderator, blog/ bio, home pg with pubs. raspberry pi enthusiast/ hacker. exacting and detail-oriented. keeps all the newbies in line. author of research paper Efficient Algorithms for Envy-Free Stick Division With Fewest Cuts. university pg at TU Kaiserslautern.

mathematics se

for the se math site with great talent which is relatively young but very active with tens of thousands of questions built up quickly. shows how much raw talent/ intelligence can be found in cyberspace worldwide and sometimes harnessed by collaborative/ user generated content platforms such as stackexchange. also newly has an excellent/ well-curated community blog. moderator David Duda aka “mixedmath” (blog) is an expert on number theory sieve algorithms wrt the recent Zhang proof breakthrough with a detailed survey paper.

  • math.se community blog ongoing management (active/ ongoing). for blog contributors, math mods, editors, blog ideas and feedback. some conversation with highrep user Jyrki Lahtonen, Phd
  • math.se community blog launch feasibility discussion room (frozen) Gracenote, misc highrep math users
  • math.se number theory chat room. ongoing dialog with balarka sen, met as 14yr old number theory prodigy from india. highly knowledgeable on riemann hypothesis, group theory, Abel’s thm, and other various highly advanced math. LaTeX expert, with various writeups on subject eg What is Riemann Hypothesis incl links to his other writing, posted on the math help boards, where he is very active and has earned trophies and awards.
  • also in the math.se number theory chat room, Mats Granvik (blog) is an expert on the Riemann zeta function, interrelations to the Moebius function, and Fourier analysis and has used Mathematica and visualization techniques extensively to study/ investigate it, and posted various questions on related research.

other notable cstheory historical dialogs

  • intrinsic parallelism in QM computing (frozen), brief debate with nicholas mancuso and sasho nikolov on a common misconception and/ or cutting edge research area
  • CSTheory town hall Jan 2011 (frozen) founders Suresh, Kaveh / Dave Clark (mod alumni), Lev Reyzin (current mod), se admin rebecca chernoff, Tsuyoshi Ito, Aaron Sterling
  • computer science theory cafe (frozen) older chat room for cstheory apparently dating to earliest area51 proposal and beta period. brief appearances by highrep users including suresh, kaveh, tsuyoshi ito, some info on original elections, community blog, town hall meeting with Chernoff 7/2011
  • cstheory election shootout early 2014. elections are held intermittently. two moderators Kaveh and Dave Clarke announced their stepping down and there was a lot of commotion & even sparks/ fireworks esp in cstheory meta with 4 new candidates for the 2 open positions. shows rare se social dynamics. participants included se management gracenote, shog9, candidate sasho nikolov, candidate artem kaznatcheev, wildcard dilworth who caused some surprising challenge/ upset. a remarkable case of the very wideranging flexibility of free speech in chat (boundary-pushing!) in questioning/ challenging moderators, se management etc… as long as nobody is listening!

other misc active chat rooms touching on CS

  • Asimovs corner for Robotics stackexchange. user3073656, indian CS undergraduate student at National Institute of Calicut studying controllers and robotics. working with/ leading 6-person team to enter challenging Robosub international autonomous robotics competition cosponsored by US Office of Naval Research. member school robotics interest group.
  • Nineteenth byte for Codegolf stackexchange. this site and highly active chat room has some great and very dedicated talent, eg many young hackers, some have occasionally visited (T)CS chat rooms. some are Boy Scouts, which has some newer CS related aspects in its program. high rep site mod/ regular user doorknob runs a tight ship. a great resource for language/ coding education/ practice. one impressive case study in major collaboration is a 90v genetic algorithm challenge and a very busy associated chat room with over ~6wk activity.
  • Bitcoin Lounge, bitcoin stackexchange. moderator/ regular murch is a CS grad student, very friendly, likes to chat & is interested in building up chat and site participation, and regularly visits bitcoin conventions. Nick ODell is another mod interested in bitcoin (international) adoption and other topics.
  • H Bar for physics stackexchange. regular user Kyle Kanos, Phd specializes in computational astrophysics, simulations, and numerical methods. there is some possibility for major CS-physics tiein via certain areas such as quantum computation, NP complete phase transitions, supercomputing/ simulation etc, and there are some physics se tags that relate to computation and computer science, etc. slereah (Samuel Lereah) has a MS in physics and has worked in robotics and web GUI design. MS thesis. DavidZ (blog), Phd physics is a physics.SE moderator and works on particle physics in China. data analysis in C/C++/Python. studies parton saturation. barry carter, retired, has worked as quant in currency trading and options. blog/ github prjs.

7 thoughts on “chat

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  3. Michael Wehar

    Hi VZN, I’m flattered that you listed me on your list of people. One correction: I know Manuel well and he was on my undergraduate thesis committee, but he wasn’t my advisor. He would have been an awesome advisor though. 🙂

    Reply
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  7. The Apprentice

    vzn,
    If you will watch the movie “Incredibles”, you will see what harm was caused to the world by Mr. Incredible scorning his young apprentice. Is it scorn, or is it something else? Did you burn your supersuit, or is it in mothballs in your attic? Are you ashamed of the past, or has the prudence of an aging relic squashed his sense of justice? Did they lobotomize the oversized ethics sector of your brain?
    It is one thing to be fearful of the consequences of Truth, but another to play along with the lies. I don’t ask you to return to your past glory, for that is perhaps an impossible thing for any man to achieve. But the world needs more from you than just mindless scientific blather. The world won’t be around long enough for your Star Trek dreams to become reality. It is going down in flames, and soon. Why not focus on what’s important – the TRUTH!

    Reply

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