Author Archives: Alan Tatourian

Political History of the Space Shuttle

This is a lecture 4 of the Systems Engineering curriculum from MIT and edX, Engineering the Space Shuttle. Links to the lectures: Origins of the Space Shuttle or The Making of a new Program Development of the Space Shuttle Bureaucratic Space War Political History of the Space Shuttle This lecture gives incredible insight into what […]

If you were to design a brain, where would you start?

Purdue University created a new research initiative called the Center for Brain-inspired Computing Enabling Autonomous Intelligence, or C-BRIC with the mission to deliver key advances in cognitive computing, with the goal of enabling a new generation of autonomous intelligent systems such as self-flying drones and interactive personal robots. The center intends to develop the next […]

Bureaucratic Space War

This is a lecture 3 of the Systems Engineering curriculum from MIT and edX, Engineering the Space Shuttle. Links to the lectures: Origins of the Space Shuttle or The Making of a new Program Development of the Space Shuttle Bureaucratic Space War Political History of the Space Shuttle Robert Seamans raises a very important point […]

Why a brain is not a Turing machine

Or a corollary to the title: Why a computer will never function intelligently. Mihai Nadin wrote a brilliant paper titled: Machine intelligence: a chimera. It can be accessed and read here on Springer. Nadin, M. AI & Soc (2019) 34: 215. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00146-018-0842-8 Abstract The notion of computation has changed the world more than any previous […]

Development of the Space Shuttle

This is lecture 2 of the Systems Engineering curriculum from MIT and edX, Engineering the Space Shuttle. Links to the lectures: Origins of the Space Shuttle or The Making of a new Program Development of the Space Shuttle Bureaucratic Space War Political History of the Space Shuttle This lecture has a very strong focus on […]

Career Advice

Control Engineering magazine just published a survey where respondents offered career advice. I extracted some that I thought was the most valuable. You can read entire report in the magazine. I love this quote: Set goals, work to accomplish goals, and don’t worry about anything. Here’s my advice: Dare mighty things! Refuse to do work […]

Origins of the Space Shuttle or The Making of a new Program

I always think that system engineering is about the people who work together having really good communication. And it’s that kind of communication that does good system engineering, tools or not! A little more on solid versus liquid. Solids could be shipped by rail. To say it another way, the diameter of the solids is […]

Think about trust, not threats

A conversation arose today about threat analysis and I responded that I am against this practice of doing threat analysis. I thought that others will benefit from reminding them about design goals and how security fits in them. Threat – countermeasure is easy to explain to a novice but produces very ugly and inefficient systems. […]

Thermodynamics or computation

Cells compute. In each cell in you right now most of the energy burn is going to translation. That is, in the ribosomes where your DNA basically is turned into protein. The ribosomes operate within two orders of magnitude of the thermodynamic optimum which makes them about 10 to the fifth times better than all […]

What the Moon has taught us

If something works, it’s obsolete ‒ 2010: Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke The reason for the huge successful NASA perhaps to this day is Jim Webb. He was at NASA only for six or seven years and he shaped it. When he became the first NASA administrator, James Webb collected all NASA managers and said: […]