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Space School (at The University of Tokyo, Komaba)

Space School was held at the University of Tokyo, Komaba on February 9. It fell on the same day as the Opening of the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games, but enjoyed an average of over 200 participants. Rearranging the line-up from the Space School held at Sagamihara, Dr. Naruo in place of Dr. Sasaki was the lecturer and Dr. Hirabayashi took the role of principal in place of Dr. Kunieda this time.

The first period was on Exploration Planning by Dr. Yoshikawa and on Living Creatures by Dr. Kurotani. Although these two topics seemed unrelated to each other, they shared and managed the period all right. However, the last question made by a kindergartener was excellent in terms of relating orbit to a living creature: "Uh, what happens" (Yes), "if an eft" (Huh?), "falls into a black hole?" (Uh...)

The second period was on Reusable Space Transportation Aircrafts by Dr. Sawai and Solar Power Satellites by Dr. Naruo. As Dr. Sawai is doing research on winged aircrafts and Dr. Naruo on vertical and landing aircrafts, both words flew back and forth. Such topics as reusable flight, manned flight and solar power satellite missions, however, require a national debate considering their economic efficiency and political concerns. At any rate, the second period was a unique experience for all of us. The last question posed was on DASH. Following answers from Dr. Sawai and Principal, Dr. Matokawa wrapped it up with a careful and detailed explanation of what really happened, while the audience listened to him in attentive silence.

The third period was on Black Holes by Dr. Maeda and on Infrared Observations by Dr. Yamamura. Surprisingly, during the whole period, black holes had the upper hand of infrared observation. Dr. Maeda was desperate about so many questions, prompting Dr. Yamamura and Principal to come out to help him. "Where will we be when we come out of a black hole? It's also OK to think we could just stay in there. We sometimes wonder what happens if someone we love dies. We tend to comfort ourselves thinking that there is some "soul" left that we can always relate to." Sounds like a totally incomprehensible preaching by a high priest!

April 24, 2002