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From The Editor

By Edvard A. Hemmingsen

This is an expanded version of the newsletter. We had some extra material which was of general interest and which we deemed important to publish. This also is the last issue of Volume 4 and the last one before the big change in the numbering of the calendar that most of us in the Western world use -- and the predicted commotion arising from the Y2K computer "problem".

We had considered giving some space to both issues, but decided that they were non-issues. If we are to celebrate the end of the present millennium we should at least wait until December 31, 2001, because this particular calendar started with year one (the monk in charge made a mistake). But then, what would be celebrated? Certainly not the birth of Jesus. Historians generally agree that he was born several years earlier than the present counting; some biblical scholars have fixed the date to April 6, B.C.E. Also, most people appear to forget or are not aware of all the many changes and adjustments that have been made to this calendar over time. For example, to correct deficiencies, Pope Gregory XIII ordered one of the most remarkable disappearing acts of all time by eliminating the days between October 4th and 15th in 1582. This brought the calendar more in tune with the earth's orbit of the sun, but caused a problem for the people who always became a bit short of age on their birthdays.

The Y2K computer problem is a molehill made into a mountain. Although the date change may produce some glitches, the bigger concern is that some people will whip others into a frenzy as, indeed, has happened to some degree already. Such overblown concern may cause more problems than the computer glitches.

One matter of focus in this issue is SDARI's participation in the Science and Engineering Fair held every Spring in San Diego -- and nation-wide. We floated the idea that SDARI offer prizes for the best Junior and Senior projects last year in this space, but had little response from our members. Now, however, the Board of Directors with the support of some members have decided to go forward, as described on p. 7. It is important that the winners of the SDARI awards receive significant prizes besides the recognition. Kids like that! Thus, the fund raising for the prizes becomes important. I urge you to make a contribution, small or large. And I urge you to volunteer to help with this project; we need it.

If you are not familiar with this event, be assured that it is an exciting event for a large number of students and many adults as well. This year, 810 projects were selected from more than 90 middle schools, junior and senior high schools in the greater San Diego area. The best projects went on to compete at the State level and the International Science Fair. The projects are on display to the public and usually visited by thousands of people. Try to visit the Fair next April; you likely will be impressed by the ingenuity and the efforts of the students.

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The Editor can be reached by E-mail at ehemming@san.rr.com or by FAX at 858-454-1158.