Tool Time for the Engineering Set

Westec '98, co-sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, is coming to town this week. Metalworking technologies and systems will be the hot topics of the advanced manufacturing exposition, held today through Thursday at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Attendees will be able to check out more than 600 demonstrations for the technologies and tools that "improve quality and cut lead times." Westec is also the site of a job fair and technical conference.

SME is an international source of knowledge and learning for the manufacturing engineering community. For more information, call (800) 733-4763 or point your browser to


* The Great One: Composer Ludwig van Beethoven died March 26, 1827, in Vienna. Wonder what his final days were like, or anything else about him? Your first stop should be Beethoven the Immortal ( The site has a detailed account of the composer's life; listings and information on his works; images and music clips that may be downloaded; and links.

Also online is the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San Jose State ( Brilliant donated his collection of 75 first editions of Beethoven's music to the university. The site offers a fact sheet on the Guevara Lock of Beethoven's hair, which was purchased at auction by Dr. Alfredo Guevara and other members of the American Beethoven Society in 1994. The lock contained 582 strands of hair; 422 strands were donated to the center, and Guevara still has 160.

* Saluting Sam: Uncle Sam has become such an everyday symbol of the United States that you have probably never thought about where it came from. Now's the time, because old Uncle Sam is celebrating something of a birthday this month. In 1852, Uncle Sam debuted as a cartoon character in a newspaper called the New York Lantern. Legend has it the character was based on Samuel Wilson, a meatpacker in Troy, N.Y., whose nickname was "Uncle Sam." More on this story can be found at the Uncle Sam Image Gallery (

* Cyber Chat: In March 1933, President Roosevelt took to the radio waves to deliver the first of his "fireside chats" to inform citizens about what was being done to deal with the nation's economic crisis. "I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking," Roosevelt said in his first address. The full text of this fireside chat, as well as links to others, can be found at

* Planet Watch: Sir William Herschel discovered Uranus this month in 1781, though the name Uranus didn't come into common use until 1850. Herschel called it Georgium Sidus in honor of his patron, King George III of England, and others called it Herschel. It was an astronomer named Johann Elert Bode who suggested conforming it with other planetary names from classical mythology. For more trivia, check out NASA's profile, with lots of facts and figures, is at


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