“the pickets were clearly farceurs,” 1965

The detonated groundbreaking for the Space Science building also included a band of student picketers. There are quite a few photos of them, all carefully “X”ed out on the contact sheet, I suppose so no one would accidentally use them in some public relations material. Here’s an example:

I think the Thresher’s recounting of the incident is pitch perfect, with every participant maintaining character from beginning to end. Farces always work best when one party doesn’t quite appreciate the gag. I laughed hard. I can’t help myself.

I also agree that it would have been a lot cooler if there had been a bigger explosion. Probably too risky, though.


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4 Responses to “the pickets were clearly farceurs,” 1965

  1. Bill Peebles, Hanszen '70 says:

    Farceur? That word sent me to the dictionary.

  2. I wonder what went into the new “high speed computer center”.

    • Michael Ross says:

      The October 8, 1964, issue of the Thresher (Vol. 52, No. 4) said: “Computer facilities on the Rice campus will be greatly increased in March, upon the arrival of an IBM 7040 high-speed digital computer. Eventually the machine will be housed in the Space Science building, but until that structure is built the 7040 will be located in the southwest wing of Abercrombie Laboratory, which has been refurbished to accommodate it.” (https://scholarship.rice.edu/bitstream/handle/1911/45849/29.pdf)

    • almadenmike says:

      That Oct. 8, 1964, Thresher article also included a rundown of the computer environment at Rice:

      > > >
      For several years some Rice men have journeyed to College Station to use a Texas A&M computer, according to the report of Mr Walter Orverahl, the acting director of the Rice computer project. Others just used the small machines on campus or the computer which was built here between 1957 and 1960.

      The Physics Department has a 1401 which it uses for processing its data; acces to the 1620 is open to all and in fact is used by engineering undergraduates as a tool for doing homework.

      “The IBM 1620 is several hundred times slower than the 7040 and has a more limited diagnostics Fortran language,” Dr. Ratchford pointed out. (ED: Dr Henry H. Ratchford was Chairman of the Computer Committee and also a Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science.) The home-built Rice computer would take perhaps three times as long to solve simultaneous equations as the IBM 7040, but its command structure was designed for other purposes in addition to regular function: computer science research can be conducted on the custom-made machine by altering the circuitry.

      Dean of Engineering F. R. Brotzen acknowledged that the Rice computer has a relatively small memory and in fact not much more can be held in its 8,000-word storage unit. Plans are now being made to add more 8,000-word blanks; “eventually we would like to have a storage for 32,000 words — that would make the Rice computer quite a respectable University computer.”

      At the same time that Rice is upgrading its computer facilities, A&M is doing the same in making its 709 into a 7094. “Before we get ours fixed up they will have a more powerful machine by a factor of five or six,” Dr. Ratchford observed. “Our facilities will be good but if we are loaded and someone has a big program he might want to take it to A&M.”
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