Redmond, WA. James Doohan, affectionately known as "Scotty" to millions of Trekkies and Engineers the world over, died quietly at his home near the Microsoft campus on Wednesday.
Flags flew at half-mast at Engineering companies, campuses, and above all the NASA facilities around the U.S.
The death of Mr. Doohan sent shock waves through the NASA administration. "The timing was especially bad, when you consider the latest round of problems we've had with the Shuttle Discovery," said Michael Griffin, the Administrator of NASA. "You know, with this latest problem, we've been scratching our heads, trying to figure out this fuel sensor thing-a-majiggy. ‘Is it a real problem or just a bad sensor' is what I keep hearing. Finally I suggested that they get Scotty. If anyone can figure it out, he can."
Wayne Hale, NASA's deputy assistant manager of finding things, was charged with contacting Scotty-and begging for help. "I could swear someone told me that he was in our Outlook address book-but I looked under Scotty, you know, with a ‘C', then with a ‘K' and then with two ‘T's but nothing seemed to work. I'm not sure he had e-mail. In fact I'm not real sure he had a computer. He was kind of an old-timer-none of these new fangled computer things for him. Finally I found a phone number for him-I spoke with his wife. She kept telling me he wasn't really an engineer-he just played one on TV-but I think she's pretty old, you know. Maybe a couple wires short of a full bundle, know what I mean? Anyway she wasn't of much help. Finally I had to hang up on her. Only later did I find out Scotty had died. I almost called her back-to apologize-but I guess I kind of flaked on that. After all, she didn't even mention it, you know?"
Ironically, Scotty's death seemed to inspire the NASA engineers charged with fixing the faulty fuel sensor. Shortly after all NASA employees observed a minute of silence in honor of Scotty on Wednesday, the trouble was found.
"I remember distinctly how Mr. Scott and Mr. Spock would always take a flashlight and some kind of fancy soldering iron and then they'd crawl through those cylindrical tubes in the Enterprise, you know, the ones that held all the wiring and piping and so forth," said E.A. Poage, an Engineer assigned to Shuttle work at the Cape. "So I decided to try it myself. I took a light, and a rubber mallet, and a little radio shack soldering gun, and I proceeded to crawl through every cylindrical tube in that thing. I yanked and banged on every connector and finally we found it! Had to pull an extension cord in after the fact so I could use the soldering iron though. Kind of forgot that when I started crawling around in the belly of that beast."
Engineers at NASA were not the only ones feeling the loss of their beloved Scotty.
"I could have put Microsoft anywhere in the U.S. or the World, for that matter," said Bill Gates, the Chief Software Architect for Microsoft. "I just felt inspired here. To be in his presence-at least to be in the same town-meant a lot to me and many of the original Microsoft Millionaires. I'm thinking now-don't quote me on this ‘cause I may change my mind-that ‘Vista' is a dumb name after all. ‘Scotty'-now that has a nice ring to it."