Education

The Education Visionary

Khan Academy founder Salman Khan on the future of learning

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“There’s a lot more demand for people who want to just improve themselves than anyone would have guessed,” says Salman Khan, founder of the wildly popular free educational video series that bears his name and author of the new book The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined (Twelve).

Khan, a 36-year-old Bangladeshi American, first put together a couple of video tutorials in 2004 to help his young cousins learn math. The videos proved so popular on YouTube that two years later he launched the nonprofit Khan Academy to offer free online lectures and tutorials that are now used by more than 6 million students each month. More than 3,000 individual videos, covering mathematics, physics, history, economics, and other subjects, have drawn more than 200 million views, generating significant funding from both the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Google. Khan Academy is one of the best-known names in online education and has grown to include not just tutorials but complete course syllabi and a platform to track student progress.

Reason TV Editor in Chief Nick Gillespie sat down with Khan in October to discuss how American education can be radically transformed, why technology is so widely misused in K?12, and how massive amounts of taxpayer money never make it inside conventional public classrooms.

reason: Talk a little bit about the videos and the enormous growth in their audience during the last few years. 

Salman Khan: People who look at the videos will see someone writing on a digital blackboard. And you’ll hear a voice. For a lot of the videos it’ll be my voice, working through things, thinking through thingsâ€"very conversational. It started with me making it for my cousins. It soon became clear that people who were not my cousins were watching them. They just kind of took on a life of their own. 

Many things have surprised me over the last several years. The biggest thing is that when I made these things I assumed these were for my cousins; they were pretty motivated students. I made them for what I would have wanted if I were 12 years old or 13 or 18 years old. I said: Well, maybe this will be for the subset of people who are really motivated, whatever that means. They’ll actually seek out knowledge on the Internet, and then they’ll find it useful. 

It didn’t take long to realize that the feedback we were getting was from people who were not the traditionally motivated: kids who were about to fail classes, kids who were thinking about dropping out, people who were going back to school. And they were saying [the videos] make me understand the intuition, the big picture, and I’m starting to get excited about math. So the big realization isâ€"and I think this surprised frankly everybodyâ€"there’s a lot more demand from people who just want to improve themselves than anyone would have guessed. 

reason: In the book you mention that New York state spends about $18,000 per public school student per year. Clearly New York state is not known for great schools or great outcomes. We’re spending $18,000 a year for flat results over the past 40 years for public schools. What’s wrong with the status quo?

Khan: The reason I highlighted that in the book is that a
lot of times people make it sound like it’s a money issue. The problem is you can never say you’re spending too much on education. It’s such an important thing; if you can get a dollar of value in education, it’s worth it. 

reason: Although that’s not what’s been happening. 

Khan: Exactly. And when you look at the $18,000 number (or even in the lower districts that spend less, $8,000 or $9,000), and you multiply that by how many students are in a classroomâ€"someplace between 20 and 30â€"you get a fairly large number. You get something [in the range of] $300,000, $400,000, $500,000. When you do that very simple back-of-the-envelope calculation, you realize how little of that money is actually touching the student. Very little of that is going to the teacher. Very little is going directly for the facilities. Most of that is going for layers of administration. We can actually professionalize teachers as they are, turn it into a career that pays as well as doctors. The money is there. There just has to be major restructuring in how you spend that money. 

(Interview continues below video.)

reason: Is there any reason to believe that if we tripled what we pay teachers we would have teachers that are 200 percent better?

Khan: I don’t know. I think the general sense is that there’s a lot of lip service being given to teachers: Oh, we need to respect you. We want the best of the best to be doing this. But society’s not sending that economic signal. In engineering I used to say: How come more people are going into finance than engineering? Well, look at the salaries, and you get a very clear picture of why. Now that’s actually changing in engineering. Engineers can do just as well as or better than people in finance. I think that has to happen in teaching. 

We are already getting a lot of great talent in teaching, but we’ll get even more people who aspire to do this. And it will change the dynamic in the classroom to where the students say, I wish I had a chance of becoming that person who I have the privilege to be with in this room. That completely changes the dynamic of the classroom. I think that’s possible. 

A lot of the excusesâ€"oh, we can’t have technology; it’s too expensiveâ€"those are a round-off error compared to the amount of money that’s being spent even on things like textbooks and whatever else. 

reason: One of the things you emphasize is that there are multiple ways and multiple sites of education. Talk a bit about how we have to start reimagining education so it’s not something that happens eight-and-a-half months a year in a brick building with bad air conditioning. 

Khan: That’s what a lot of people don’t realize. We all grew up in this education system. The education system looks fairly similar anywhere you go in the world. All of us just assume this is what school is. What I write a lot about in the book is that no, this is actually a 200-year-old artifact. It comes from the Prussians;
they don’t exist anymore, but they were kind of the cornerstone of Germany now. They said: We want to have public education, which is a very egalitarian idea. But how do you do that in a scalable way, in a mass way? Well, it’s the beginnings of the industrial revolution. How do we do anything in scale? We put things in batches. 

In schools, [the batches are] age-based cohorts. We have a bell ringing every shift. They go at a set pace; at every station you try to apply something to it and at some point you sift the product: “This is the good product. This is the bad product. That’s destined for the supermarket. That orange is going to be juiced.” There’s the exact same thing with kids. 

The U.S., in the middle of the 1800s, said: We want to do public education too. They said: Well, the Prussians have got a model and we’re going to do the exact same thing. That’s how we’re going to scale. In 1892 a few people realized you had this Prussian model already all over the country, but it wasn’t standardized. In Massachusetts it would be different from what’s happening in Georgia. So you had this committee of 10 that literally sat down, headed by the president of Harvard, and decided physics will be their last year of high school, chemistry the year before. You’re going to do two to three years of foreign languages. You’re going to do geometry. It hasn’t changed since 1892. 

reason: Education is one of the last places to experience the revolt against the industrial revolution mind-set of standardized parts and processes. Why is personalization so late in coming to education? 

Khan: Hopefully in the whole sweep of history it won’t seem like it’s come so late. Almost everything I write about in the book, they’re ideas that have been around a long time: mastery-based, self-based learning. There are examples of this being experimented with in the 1920s and in the 1970s, and they actually saw really good results. They were studied, and [two things] made them very difficult to scale: Everyone else was indoctrinated in something else, and they just assumed that that’s what education was. The other thing is that in 1920 or in 1970 to do this type of thing, where every student is learning at their own pace and mastering concepts, was a huge effort on the part of the teacher to just coordinate. Hey, you’re doing something different [from what] they’re doing; how do I keep track of it? They would have to run around with a worksheet and print out things and grade 30 times more things that they would have otherwise had to do. 

Now you have informational technologyâ€"which has been around for 20 years, so you could say it’s late, but 20 years isn’t that long in the whole sweep of historyâ€"that can now coordinate information. That, coupled with the idea that the barriers to consuming the information have gone to pretty much zero and the barriers to producing the information have gone close to zero. 

Before, if someone like me wanted to go out and make lessons for kids in schools, I would have to go pitch some publishing company. Then we’d go through some process, pitch it to some top-down bureaucracy. Eventually, maybe, I’d have to argue it with people. “Are you teaching it the right way? Are you not?” What gets down to the students would be this weird, watered-down thing. 

Now you can go straight to students. You can go straight to teachers. You can go to parents. All of these things have come together. 

reason: Some of the ideas that you talk about, like flipping the school day, are not even things that would require any real change other than a change in attitude. 

Khan: I write a lot about this, and we’ve become somewhat associated with this notion of flipping the classroom. One thing I point out is that it’s not my idea; it’s not Khan Academy’s idea. In 2007, 2008, teachers starting emailing saying: Hey, you made some reasonable videos on completing the square or factoring polynomials. I don’t think the most valuable use of my time as a teacher is to give lectures anymore. I can have students do that at their own time and pace. And then in class we’ll make it interactive. We’ll do the problem solving. What used to be homework is now in class. What used to be classwork, or lectures, is now at home. 

reason: The idea is that teachers can help kids work through problems and explain to the whole class, and then later in the day when they’re at home or whatever, students can soak in the lectures at their own pace. 

Khan: That’s right. That’s one model which gets closer to the right idea. But then you can keep running with that. You don’t have to say it has to happen at home or it has to happen in schoolâ€"you can do problem solving wherever. But you should have some point in the day where humans do get together, where they can help each other. It gives the teacher real-time information on how the kids are doing. And it allows you to go to the next level. Any time you’re lecturing, it has to be one pace fits all. Now everyone can learn at their own pace, learn the stuff that matters, and you can start leveraging peer to peer.

reason: One of the worst things that happens now is when people say, “OK, we’ve got $1 million. Let’s throw iPads at everybody.” What’s the difference between a stupid use of technology and an enlightened use?

Khan: The stupid use of technologyâ€"I use a more euphemistic, more polite way of referring to itâ€"has been around since technology has been around. Every time a new device comes out people say, “Oh, we’ll just use it in the classroom.” When I was a kid, [it was] PCs. The computer lab was empty, and we’d go in there and play video games and then leave. Or we’d learn how to put in a diskette or whatever. It wasn’t really integrated with the curriculum. You see the same thing happening now. An administrator gets excited about an iPad; all of a sudden we’ve got to get iPads in the classroom. And they get them there, but what are the kids doing? They’re maybe playing games, checking their email, who knows? 

The key is: How do you leverage that thing so that it actually can affect learning? And not only affect learning but also transform what the classroom is all about. Right now when people talk about improving education, they keep trying to stuff more things in there; they keep adding more structure on it. And then they bring this technology, but it’s just going to be used superficially: “OK, maybe I’ll do a little exercise on this thing.” 

What we say is: No, now that you have the technology, now that you can keep track of students in terms of what they know, what they don’t know, let’s completely rethink the model from scratch. Class time should be about interaction, self-paced. Do we have to separate classrooms anymore? Do we have to separate physics from calculus from chemistry? Do we have to separate Ms. Green’s class from Mr. Smith’s class? Can we have them happening together, and now Ms. Green and Mr. Smith can tag-team teach? They can teach to each other’s strengths, and they can mentor each other. That’s what I would call the more enlightened use of technology: actually rethinking the model.

reason: What happens to credentialing in your system? Completing K?12 is signaling to the next level of education that you’ve made the cut. College even more so. Where are your degrees from? They’re not from rinky-dink schools.

Khan: I have several degrees from MIT and another one from Harvard Business School. 

reason: So what happens to credentials down the line when we get into a more individualized, personalized educational experience?

Khan: College is a confusing, muddled concept. There’s a learning part, a socialization part, and a credentialing part. The students and parents appreciate the experiential, the socialization parts, but they are paying that significant amount, if you really ask them, for the credential. If you went to students graduating at Harvard and said: “Look, I’ll refund all your tuitionâ€"you get all the experiences, all the friendships, all the learningâ€"but you can never tell anyone that you went to Harvard University.” Would they do it? I suspect most will not do it. Which tells you that they were paying for the credential. The experience was kind of gravy on top of that. The universities think that the credential is nice but the main thing they’re giving is this experience. So that’s a huge transactionâ€"a huge part of someone’s total lifetime incomeâ€"where the person buying is buying something different from what the person selling [thinks he is selling]. 

What I believe should happen, and what I believe is happening, is you’re going to have decoupling of the learning experience from the credentials. So regardless of whether you went to Harvard or whether you went to the local community college, if you feel like you know something you could go to a third partyâ€"well-established, rigorous assessment, better than what happens at any schoolâ€"and prove that you know that thing. And you might have learned it on the job, at community college, on Khan Academy, on EdEx, who knows what it might be. 

If you do that, it also clarifies things for the university. You won’t have the strange thing where kids are trying to make sure they get an A+ in a philosophy class so that they can get an interview at Goldman Sachs or at McKinsey or Facebook. They’ll be there to learn. If they really care about [getting a] job, there’s another route that’s somewhat orthogonal to the first one. 

reason: Change is coming to the educational establishment. The conventional public school monopoly is clearly breaking down. Charter schools are breaking out all over the place. People are opting out of the system. They’re doing homeschooling. What are the main impediments to increasing the pace of change? To what extent do they reside in the formal structures of school, and to what extent are they shackles in the minds of students and parents?

Khan: I think they are primarily in the mind. There are structural things too. I’ve talked to teachers, administrators who believe everything I say. They believe it’s the way. They look at other schools that are self-paced. But they’re like, “I got a state assessment test on this. And I got this calendar that the state has told me to do.” So they have to do this in-between thing, this
little dance where they pay lip service to the state, but they recognize that the kids have to learn at their own pace. 

It’s this weird transition state. I’ve actually found very few people disagree with the principles. They say, “This is common sense. This isn’t really even under debate.” There’s a lot of cynicism about change. And there’s a lot of inertia and bureaucracy and all of that. But I actually think it’s happening far, far faster than people realize. In five or 10 years, it’s going to be completely mainstream. And for something as systemically important as education, I think that’s shockingly fast.  

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  1. KHAAAAAAAAAAAANN!

    There, had to get that out of the way.

    1. Clearly, he is superior… to public school teachers & administrators.

      1. He offered the world HOMEWORK!!!

        1. Education is a dish best served cold!

          1. Children, children…save your strength. These lesson plans were prepared two hundred years before you were born. Do you mean the teaching assistant never told you the tale? To amuse your principal, no?

            1. I never even met Superintendent Kirk.

              1. THIS is Regional Education District Five!!!

                1. Khan, you chalk sucker, you’re going to have to do your own curriculum now. Do you hear me? DO YOU?

                  1. There he is! There he is! Ah…not so tardy as we were led to believe. So much the better!

                2. Hall Monitors, the last indigenous life form still alive.

            2. I’ll chase him around the homeroom, and round the cafeteria, and round the basketball court before I give him up!

              1. These TAs have pledged their lives to me.

                1. You have the internet torpedo, you have a web server. We can go anywhere we want!

                  1. I’ll do far worse than fail you. I’ve suspended you. And I wish to go on… suspending you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her. Marooned for all eternity, in the center of a dead study hall… detentioned alive. Detentioned alive.

              2. Late to the party, but okay: This is Principle James Kirk. We tried it once your way Khan, are you game for a rematch? Khan, I’m laughing, laughing at the ‘superior educator’.

                1. Although your abilities intrigue me, you are quite honestly inferior. Mentally, physically.

                  1. Open your lesson plan. Will you open your lesson plan? I intend to take this school. Do you agree?

                2. You are in a position to turn in nothing. I, on the other hand, am in a position to grade nothing.

                  1. But I caution you: Such men dare teach what they want.

                    1. But I caution you: Such men dare teach what they want.

                      Never cross the streams!

                    2. What do you mean? That’s from “Space Seed.”

            3. Episiarch starts this shit and then just walks aways whistling like it didn’t turn into an atrocity.

              1. He didn’t start it. Kirk did, when he marooned Khan on Ceti Alpha VI.

                1. V…you are herby fired.

              2. Why do you think I walked away?

  2. Khan: I don’t know. I think the general sense is that there’s a lot of lip service being given to teachers: Oh, we need to respect you. We want the best of the best to be doing this. But society’s not sending that economic signal.

    Science H. Logic! This is utter horseshit. Socialist school teachers are paid more than their private counterparts. Instead of teaching the basics in 7 or 8 years, they stretch it out to 14, now, with negligible results. Why? Just like other bureaucrats they are interested in nothing but their cushy jobs. If they can pull it off, they will convince the idiot voters to make it 14+4 of college for everyone. Why in fuck do they deserve to have 3 months a year paid vacation? Oh, that’s right. When you spend other people’s money you don’t have to give a shit about either price or quality.

    I consider socialist school teachers to be evil. All of their salaries come from coerced funds. Wealth redistribution, even under the guise of “education” is evil.

    1. And who says you need to best and brightest teaching? Do you want someone who is a true engineering genius out inventing and building shit or do you want him teaching Calculus to board undergraduates?

      Those who can’t do teach is not just a chiche. It is a blueprint for an efficient society.

      1. It is a blueprint for an efficient society.

        Are you into central planning or something?

        1. Are you unable to get a joke?

          1. you two need to get a room. Since MNG left John has been boyfriendless.

            1. Holy shit, I didn’t notice that turd doesn’t post any more. Good riddance. We can have enough debate without douchebags like him and Tony.

      2. The best teachers I ever had could do what they taught.

        1. True. But they don’t have to be and probably shouldn’t be the best and the brightest. That is a total misnomer.

          1. Agreed

            But at some point, the best and the brightest need really good teachers too.

            The biggest issue is that most of the people associated in any way with educational institution believe that “best and brightest” means most advanced level of accredidation in “education”.

            1. The true geniuses grow beyond their teachers pretty quickly.

        2. With one exception my CS teachers were so deep into the theory side of things that they wouldn’t have been very useful for anything practical.

          1. In college, I had many very bright instructors that were totally incapable of instructing anyone in anything, but they knew the material inside and out.

            1. I guess I was lucky. The department only had a couple crappy instructors who were easily avoided.

        3. Mine too. I had a great physics and math teacher in HS who was a nuclear engineer in the Navy.

    2. “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
      — Bastiat

      1. I just got through reading Essays on Political Economy and was surprised at Bastiat’s clear denunciation of “universal education” and progressive taxation.

        I think that the socialist schools indoctrinate, now, more than they educate. The OWS crowd is a shinning example of people being taught things that are simply untrue.

        1. Willie: i’ll use the shinning.
          Bart: you mean shining?
          Willie: shh! you want to get sued?!

        2. Yep,

          A lot of kids come out of college dumber than when they went in.

    3. I consider socialist school teachers to be evil. All of their salaries come from coerced funds. Wealth redistribution, even under the guise of “education” is evil.

      I had a volunteer-working relationship with this guy who started to get all political about a bunch of stuff to do with the venture, and I basically told him that I thought he was being really inappropriate about the whole thing and injecting personal opinions into an apolitical corporate project. To his credit, he admitted that some of his social media messaging was out of line and I was right, but he was also like, “Even if you are an anarchist, you must agree…blah blah blah…my partner, for example, is a public school teacher, blah blah blah.” It was all I could do not to tell him that as far as I was concerned, his partner was a prison guard for innocent children (and I only didn’t tell him that because for outside reasons it was inexpedient for us to be completely hostile to each other).

      1. You let a bridge go unburned? I am ashamed of you. Call him up right now and tell him his mom’s a cunt.

        1. Nicole’s a “moderate”.

        2. My boyfriend had to work with him at the time.

          1. hand over your glibertarian card

            1. nicole can’t have one of those, they’re for men only. Come on, dude, you know this. Chicks can’t be glib, they can only be bitchy.

              1. vagitarian?
                bitchitarian?

                if she doesn’t have a decoder ring then HOW CAN SHE UNDERSTAND WHAT WE ARE SAYING RIGHT NOW?

                Ha, take that Epi.

              2. We can also be shrill, dude.

                1. shrilitarian?

                2. And passive aggressive too, it seems.

                  1. My nonresponse? Meh. I had to count to ten before answering. And then again. And again. And again every time I open it up.

              3. Chicks can’t be glib, they can only be bitchy.

                Don’t tell my wife that, she’ll chew your head off.

      2. Even if you are an anarchist, you must agree

        I always love those arguments, you can almost immediately tune them out.

        for outside reasons it was inexpedient for us to be completely hostile to each other

        What are you, a Utilitarian?

      3. Don’t feel bad. If I told everyone at work what I thought of them in the detail they deserve, it’d be torches and pitchforks right after sundown.

        Silent hate, Nicky Diamond.

        1. NutraSweet, the Frankenstein of the library world. It’s fitting.

          1. Was the diabeetus built in as a control mechanism, or was it just a first run failure?

            1. ABNORMAL PANCREAS
              DO NOT USE THIS PANCREAS!

              1. Abby someone? Abby Normal?

                1. You mean to tell me I put an abnormal pancreas into a libertarian librarian.

            2. Well, it was from a dead body, so you do the math. Lightning can only do so much.

                1. When did the ‘c’ in ‘crap’ become silent?

                  1. That joke is precisely why they started calling it “hip-hop.”

                    1. Who’s joking?

                    2. Well technically speaking hip hop and rap are seperate but related genres and if I had to pick between the two I’d probably pick rap as there were actually a couple of decent rap songs

                  2. If you can’t understand why Back That Ass Up is a good motto for most things in life, there’s nothing we can do for you.

                    Another slogan I like to use in as many contexts as possible is Move, Bitch, Get Out The Way.

                    1. I’m’a ruin you, cunt.

                    2. This is what I’m saying. A person ought to have a creed.

                    3. A person ought to have a creed.

                      I believe in swordfish!

                    4. I just can’t get into the style. My loss I guess.

        2. SugarFree’s a “moderate”.

        3. Silent hate, Nicky Diamond.

          He reactivated my hatred recently, too, by trying to be cute and telling me that I was a “better-than-average writer” while trying to get me to do some shit for him. I think I’ve let that email sit unresponded to for like a month now. Urgh!

          1. Don’t you understand that “negging” is a totally good idea and you are definitely going to sleep with him now?

            1. As semi-autistic as he may be, he’s married.

              1. So then you get the satisfaction of ruining his marriage

              2. You could always just sleep your way to the top like Barbara Stanwyck in Baby Face.

          2. “better-than-average writer”?

            Whoa, whoa… slow down, sweet talker.

            1. I had to show it to multiple people who knew our history to determine if it was a purposeful insult or just social retardation. They thought he probably thought it was “cute.” I’m still not so sure.

              1. I’m sick of all the leeway we give the socially awkward. Their “accidental” insulting cheapens the work of people like me who know exactly what we are doing.

                1. Preach on, Sug, you disgusting writer you!

      4. Noooo – let go your feelings, Luke, er…nicole. Let the truth flow. If he objects, cut him in half with a light-saber.

    4. While I readily admit that most teachers today are highly overpaid this complaint is not as accurate as it seems…

      “Why in fuck do they deserve to have 3 months a year paid vacation?”

      As a general rule public school teachers work less than typical full time private sector employees, on average they work around 1750 and 1800 hours a year where a typical private sector employee works about 1950 – 2000 hours a year. This is only about 10% fewer hours than private sector workers, not the 25% that a “3 month vacation” sounds like.

      Thats said, while todays teachers are overpaid, I’m not so sure that teaching in general as a profession is overpaid, we probably really should be paying higher hourly wages to teachers but have fewer of them and have kids spend less time sitting in classes with a completely different demographic and skillset for those teachers.

      1. I agree with this. Smarter, more accountable (i.e. easy to fire) teachers and less classroom time would be a good start.

        And get the basics out of the way by the time students are 16 or so and then let them specialize. Not everyone needs college prep.

    5. With regards to your thoughts about vacation time and public schooling, I don’t disagree. However, with regard to Kahn’s comment on economic signals, I agree entirely.

      A K-12 teacher (public or private school) makes a comfortable living, but most don’t make six figures. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, podiatrists make on average $50k more than teachers.

      Yet commentators blather endlessly about how teachers have the future of the country in their hands… MOST EMPORTANT JOBZ EVAR!!!!!. Nobody says that about podiatrists.

      1. Does that comparison to a podiatrist factor in the fringe benefits? $20k/year gold plated medical insurance, retire with 90% of your pay at 55 and extended vacations?

        I bet it doesn’t

  3. Yellow pants? Really?

    1. I think it is pretty cool that he can run an online education empire and be on the hit comedy “Big Bang Theory” yellow pants and all.

      1. As usual I have no idea of what you are talking about.

        1. Like you don’t watch that show.

          1. Nope. I can’t remember the last time I watched a network sitcom.

            1. Not since they cancelled Will & Grace, certainly.

                1. S N A P

            2. I actually tried to watch that show because I fancied the flat-chested ginger, but I just couldn’t get into it. Then when I discovered she was married I lost all interest.

              1. She? I thought that was a gay man.

  4. I don’t think there is any question I needed to answer or problem I needed to solve in the last 15 years or so that I couldn’t get the information I needed from Google and Google Book Search.

  5. My favorite (one of) pub-ed experiences was my HS geology teacher…the son of a geologist is going to be trouble for you…I basically was told to not speak in class after the second day.

    1. I had a history teacher like that. I got a C on the Roman history exam because I argued that one of the big reasons Rome fell was the influx of non Roman populations who had less loyalty to Rome. I was pretty much dead right. But that was not what was in the text book.

      1. So, Rome was destroyed by illegal immigrants? Shit, is no horror they aren’t responsible for?

        1. If you want to call invading tribes who moved in and took over “illegal immigrants”. Rome was pretty good at absorbing and paying off invaders. But everything has a limit.

        2. Dey took oar jerbs!

      2. A fanatical new cult, barbarian hordes, and an increasingly worthless despotic government will bring down an empire every time.

        1. And lead pipes! Mad as hatters! And Christianity–it’s right there in Gibbon.

          And all the weird food.

        2. A fanatical new cult,

          A four hundred year old cult is ‘new’.

  6. Bullshit? Who knows:

    “The Eagleworks team has discovered that the energy requirements are much lower than previously thought. If they optimize the warp bubble thickness and “oscillate its intensity to reduce the stiffness of space time,” they would be able to reduce the amount of fuel to manageable amount: instead of a Jupiter-sized ball of exotic matter, you will only need 500 kilograms to “send a 10-meter bubble (32.8 feet) at an effective velocity of 10c.”

    http://gizmodo.com/5942634/nas…..warp-drive

    1. A velocity of 10C? That would mean travel to the nearest stars in months. That is real star trek shit there.

      1. See what math can do?
        Of course if you think Fracking upsets people just wait till you try to warp spacetime.

        1. I wonder how an outside observer would perceive a ship leaving the solar system by this method. Would it just disappear?

          1. At that speed? I would think so. Plus, the warped space time around the ship would probably fuck with any light trying to reflect back to the observer’s eyes, resulting in anything from a black spot to a shiny ellipsoid or something.

            1. The other weird thing would be that we would send out a probe to say Alpha Centari and either wait for a couple of years to hear from it or if it had the fuel wait for it to just return. Radio communication would be slower than travel.

              1. It would probably be far faster to send two ships, with one coming back for communication after arriving.

                1. There is a classic RPG game called Traveler. In the world, you have these ships that travel faster than the speed of light but still take weeks or months to get places. No radio communication. So the world is kind of like a medieval world of independent fiefdoms called an “empire”.

                    1. Me too Pro. I really wish someone would do a computer version of it.

                    2. Still out there in various versions. But the nerds who own the copyright have never bothered to have someone do a computer game.

                    3. It was British, I think. Spelled “Traveller”, right? Gotta be British.

                    4. There was a Traveller computer game. It was during the MegaTraveller incarnation when GDW owned the rights.

                  1. Traveller. Isn’t that the shitty character who molested Wesley Crusher?

                    1. No, that’s the Traveler. Not British.

                2. Sending a TB hard drive can have a higher average bandwidth than via TCP/IP. Lots of large scientific and industrial datasets are transmitted this way still.

                  1. Yes, we move our databases this way because sending a 3/4 terabyte drive over TC/IP makes no sense, but what does that have to do with communication from a warp destination?

                    1. * 3/4 terabyte database *

                    2. If lightspeed comms travel at 1c, and have a bandwidth limited by the sensitivity of the receiver and the power of the transmitter and an attenuation over distance, and your ship travels at 10c, there’s a point at which the curves cross and it makes sense to send back a small automated unit that just carries a data storage system, than try ti send it back on a beam. The bandwidth isn’t only limited by the speed of light. That’s why the effective bandwidth of space probes reduces the further they get from the earth and the lower their power source goes.

                    3. I was initially going to propose communication drones like that, but I figured I’d hold off on the assumption that they could make the drive that small. But yeah, communications would be far faster by transfer by warp drive than they ever would be in normal space, limited to 1c.

                    4. Here’s the other thing though: if the warp drive truly compresses and dilates space, then the average speed of light should vary with that compression, right? So a drone might not be necessary. Just create a warp pipe timed to coincide with your aimed signal beam and the beam should enjoy the benefits of the pipe. And it might take less energy to make a micron-wide pipe for a beam than a meters-wide warp field for a ship. Just thinking. I don’t really know if the theory says that the energy to create the warp bubble/pipe is proportional to the mass or volume of the object or particle to be moved.

                    5. That’s an interesting idea, though extending the warp field far enough might be tough. It would probably be easiest to send small unmanned drones with a data payload as fast as you could get them going.

                    6. It’s over your head, Tim. Go back to your video games and your penny socials and your Kanye albums and let the big brains talk.

                    7. So, Epi, now that we’ve dispensed with the little minds, on to more weighty matters. Star Destroyer vs Enterprise. Go.

                    8. It’s simple: photon torpedoes FTW. Star Destroyers don’t have shields.

                    9. I thought those water towers on the bridge were shield generators.

            2. No, it’s been pretty well established by movies physics that lots of pretty colors will be seen by all observers.

              1. That’s more like it.

          2. More importantly, how would you get the ship to slow down on command when you reach your destination?

            1. That is a good question.

            2. The pilot does it?

              What perception of time would a passenger have, anyway? This is faster than light, so I’m not sure they’d experience time dilation the way someone traveling near the speed of light would.

              1. What perception of time would a passenger have, anyway?

                Did you RTFA?

                By creating one of these warp bubbles, the spaceship’s engine will compress the space ahead and expand the space behind, moving it to another place without actually moving, and carrying none of the adverse effects of other travel methods. According to Dr. White, “by harnessing the physics of cosmic inflation, future spaceships crafted to satisfy the laws of these mathematical equations may actually be able to get somewhere unthinkably fast?and without adverse effects.”

                He says that, if everything is confirmed in these practical experiments, we would be able to create an engine that will get us to Alpha Centauri “in two weeks as measured by clocks here on Earth.” The time will be the same in the spaceship and on Earth, he claims, and there will not be “tidal forces inside the bubble, no undue issues, and the proper acceleration is zero. When you turn the field on, everybody doesn’t go slamming against the bulkhead, which would be a very short and sad trip.”

                1. I read it four months ago when it came out that NASA was pursuing this.

              2. The people inside the bubble would not notice anything except that the entire universe just got red/blue shifted to gamma rays or infrared.

                The basic idea is that nothing inside the bubble “realizes” it is moving because relative to the space inside of the bubble it is not. It is the bubble itself that does the moving.

                As a practical matter you probably would not want to use one of these drives anywhere near the galactic core because you’d have a REALLY hard time not slamming into anything in front of you, out here in the spiral arms the stars are far enough apart that it isn’t a realistic worry.

                There is also an apparent difficulty that photons will leak inside of the bubble and when the bubble is turned off will pretty much instantly explode into gamma rays in theory tearing the ship apart or at least cooking everything inside it. That said if we had the tech to build the warp drive I’m sure that some enterprising engineer could find a way to deal with those stray photons.

                1. I’d phase modulate everything to compensate.

                2. The radiation will fry everything before they get anywhere to Alpha Centauri.

                  The Microwave background will turn into gamma rays. The protons hanging out in interstellar space will turn into high energy particles that bombard the craft (or better yet fuse in the bow wave).

                  My guess is that the humans get a fatal dose before getting 100 AU’s out, and the electronics are fried maybe 1 light year out.

                  1. So we need to improve the species?

                  2. I don’t know about that. Since the warp bubble stretches space, wouldn’t any wave crossing the threshold of the bubble simply travel at the same speed relative to the warped space? Otherwise, anything crossing the warp threshold would have to instantaneously gain energy from nowhere in violation of the Second Law. It may not be correct to think in terms of a threshold as a barrier that creates a step function. There are warps in space all over the universe (think really massive and dense objects like black holes) and their effects merely bend the effective path of light. Any particle/wave entering a warp field would do so across a gradient that might protect objects within the warp. Or am I misurderstanding something basic?

                  3. Again, if we have the technology to warp space on that scale on demand I am reasonably certain that we can figure a way out to shield from the radiation.

                3. Sort of a …photon…torpedo? A devastating weapon!

    2. You’re way late on this, Tim. Is that a result of time dilation?

      1. Posting by book, hours would seem like days.

          1. He exaggerated.

    3. an effective velocity of 10c

      Meh. That’s only like warp factor 3.

      Wake me up when those pointy-eared bastards get here.

      1. One of the criticisms that’s been lodged is that this might create a wave front that would annihilate life at your destination.

        1. That sounds incredibly specious. Without whatever energy is applied to maintain the warp, how will the wavefront propagate?

          1. Also, just set your arrival vector to…not fucking point directly at anything. What a stupid criticism.

            1. Also, if they’re right, the amount of energy released may be tremendous and not limited in direction.

              1. Massive planet scorching doomsday weapons are another staple of science fiction.

                1. Even though it’d be much simpler to just throw a big rock at a planet and let kinetic energy do its thing.

              2. seems like the area behind you would not have any issues. So I can see a full-half-sphere in front of you getting blasted (dropping of sinusoidaly as you approach any angle perpindicular to your travel direction?). So aiming high or low and going past the target seems like the right strategy to me. But I’m not actually a Warp drive Engineer.

          2. Dunno whether it’s right or not, but here’s a statement of the criticism.

            1. It’s kind of weak. It feels like the usual “amazing invention might have world destroying consequences” stupidity, like the people who thought setting off an atom bomb might set fire to the entire atmosphere of the Earth. I mean, fuck, dude, come on. Supervolcanoes and meteor impacts didn’t do that, but a paltry atom bomb will?

              1. From the guy who thinks we can’t go to Mars. You’re not allowed to talk about warp drive.

                I think it’s likely bullshit, too. Otherwise, we’d observe it.

              2. God created supervolcanoes, man created the atom bomb. Progressives always fall back on God. Ever notice that?

                Genetically modified crops “messes with nature!”

              3. Sort of like that TNG episode where Picard discovers that warp drive causes global subspace warming or some dumb shit and decides to turn the engines off.
                Of course the writers had to clean that pious mess up in the next episode by declaring clean engines were suddenly invented. Bah.

                1. Did they actually close that gap? I don’t remember that.

                  Is warp drive actually fast enough for the distances traveled in Star Trek?

                  1. IIRC from reading The World of Star Trek as a wee lad, warp 8 is 512C.

                    1. Is that old warp 8 or new warp 8?

                    2. Yes, they recalculated it, didn’t they, to justify the stupid warp 10 limit and the distances that had to be covered.

                    3. That was in the original series, in TNG they had Transwarp drives that were so much faster they had to adjust the warp scale, So where Warp 8 is 512c in TOS in TNG it is closer to 1024c and speed increases asymtopically as you approach warp 10 so that apparently in one episode of Voyager they specifically stated they were going at more than 20,000c

                  2. Not that I recall.

                    iirc for about half a season it was an issue that warp speeds above warp 4 were tearing the fabric of spacetime apart so they had to stop going so fast, then next season the issue was just ignored without an explaination as it never happened (or maybe they did explain it and I just missed that episode)

                  3. Phil Plait described/defined the warp factor as that which allows the Enterprise to show up in the nick of time.

    4. That’s pretty cool. Even if not practical, it is at least some sort of idea about what might be practically done with what we learn from high energy physics experiments like the LHC.

  7. http://www.wired.com/wiredscie…..hter-died/

    Top shelf white girls being poisoned in Thailand. How has Nancy Grace missed this story?

    1. The ladyboys are mean. Don’t be stealing their customers and a bitch won’t get poisoned.

      1. Every time I have traveled abroad, I have been amazed at how stupid, irresponsible and naive young, American women are. I have seen them falling down drunk, alone in neighborhoods that were nothing but run down red light districts.

        1. Traveling “abroad” literally means traveling with a woman who you are having sexual relations with.

          1. Thank you for making this comment. Everytime someone uses “abroad” I just… yeah, I remember this radio show I used to listen to in El Paso TX, where the DJ had a segment called “News from abroad” and some Princess Di imitator would come on and make stupid comments.

            1. This is why there are no female libertarians.

              1. You mean libertarian broads?

        2. They have no sense that things may not be the same as they are at home.

        3. I find it troubling that John is stalking drunk girls in third world shitholes.

          1. So seeing them on the street is now “stalking”? What is this Jezebel?

            1. Did you look at them? If so, you are guilty.

              1. NO MAN IS ENTITLED TO SEX

                1. A TV jock says Miss Alabama is beautiful and he gets nailed by the PC’ers. Kathy Griffin goes down on an unwilling gay man and it’s just fine.

                  We. Are. Fucked.

                2. My right hand begs to differ

            2. John my brother, the first step is to admit you have a problem…

    2. What’s with all the second person silliness. Should you only care about this if you have a daughter?

    3. The first comment on that article is interesting.

  8. The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined

    Just a little change and it could be Hillary’s next book title: The One World Schoohouse: Re-Education Reimagined.

    1. Not It Takes Some Pillage? Or, in the alternative, It Takes the Village?

      1. A license to Illage.

        1. Adequate School Funding: The Requirement for Infinite Millage.

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