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Comment: Re:Yes, for any mission (Score 5, Insightful) 307

by Defenestrar (#46650249) Attached to: Should NASA Send Astronauts On Voluntary One-Way Missions?

I disagree, at least in the extent to which survival at the end of the trip (be it one way or not) is not a reasonable probability. It's not as simple as "do you want to take that risk?" Risk implies probability, but planning for a one-way trip is a certainty.

An organization does not have the ethical right to ask for this certainty, especially when there is no chance that the asking could be done without some form of coercion (i.e. implicit do it for your country/honor/science/show you're not a coward/etc...). We don't even ask this of our armed forces. When people join, they know there's a risk (i.e. probability) that they may die - and in fact that they may later be ordered into a very bad situation - but those are situations (often in the heat) where plans went very wrong, or situations involving the kind of math where you spend infinity to gain infinity. And even in that example, the action was voluntary by situation, not by designed plan. We have no such pressing desperation in scientific exploration.

We can design exploration plans that allow for something other than suffocation or starvation as an end point. I would say that exploration with pioneering and settlement are ethically reasonable places to solicit volunteers. Even sustained exploration where limited resources are not an assurance of death (i.e. "an ongoing mission to seek out...") could be reasonable. But I think any mission which involves planting a flag, running a few experiments, and then opening one's helmet is ethically flawed - especially when patience will let us solve the intrinsic survival problems.

Comment: Re:Depends on what they are doing (Score 1) 153

Nah - there's a process called a hazard analysis that should reveal the potential hazards of what somebody is doing. Why these aren't performed at an academic institution is a separate problem. The problem in academic institutions which doesn't exist in either corporate or government research labs is a lack of line management responsibility. The university culture generally allows for throwing a professor (or even a department) under the bus when something goes wrong and OSHA has allowed them to get away with it. In other areas it's been pretty clearly demonstrated that line management is responsible for safety.

For example look at NIST Boulder's plutonium incident - the director of the entire facility is who lost the job because it was his responsibility to have a lab safety program that was sufficient and effective. What is only just starting to wake up academic institutions is the fatal UCLA lab fire which the university was able to plead out of criminal charges, but the professor in charge has not. While the university had some pretty stiff penalties as part of the plea bargain - all of the accountability has come down on the professor and not the university management chain (i.e. with the criminal charges against the university, it should have landed at least at the VP level). I don't think universities will actually foster a safety culture until core administration accepts that the responsibility for doing so is theirs - and this is not likely to happen as long as a professor can be thrown under the bus (whether or not he or she deserves it) and administration escapes major personal (as opposed to institutional) penalties.

+ - Ask Slashdot: Automatically Logging Non-Computerized Equipment Use

Submitted by Defenestrar
Defenestrar (1773808) writes "I've recently taken a job at a large state university where I manage the laboratories for a couple of departments. We have a good system to pro-rate costs for shared use of big ticket items, but don't have anything in place for small to medium expense pieces which don't require software control (i.e.AD user authentication logs). It is much more efficient to designate a common room for things like water purifiers and centrifuges. but log books have a history of poor compliance. Also, abuse or neglect of communal property has been an issue in the past (similar to the tragedy of the commons).

Do any of you know of good automatic systems to record user/group equipment usage which would allow for easy data processing down the line (i.e. I don't want to go through webcam archives). Systems which promote accountability and care are a bonus, but for safety reasons we don't want the room's door locked (i.e. no pin/badged access). Most of these systems also require continuous power — so electrical interlocks are not a good option either.

I call on you my fellow Slashdotters to your best and get quickly sidetracked while still including the occasional gem in the comments."

+ - Do NDAs trump the law? Florida cops say it does when using their stingray->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Police in Florida have offered a startling excuse for having used a controversial “stingray” cell phone tracking gadget 200 times without ever telling a judge: the device’s manufacturer made them sign a non-disclosure agreement that they say prevented them from telling the courts.

The shocking revelation, uncovered by the American Civil Liberties Union, came during an appeal over a 2008 sexual battery case in Tallahassee in which the suspect also stole the victim’s cell phone. Using the stingray — which simulates a cell phone tower in order to trick nearby mobile devices into connecting to it and revealing their location — police were able to track him to an apartment."

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Comment: Re:Lifers? (Score 1) 597

by Defenestrar (#46247877) Attached to: Financing College With a Tax On All Graduates

Hmm... I think the most important part of funding education in this manner is to link programs or schools (possibly even the college level) to the degree taxed. This would have the intrinsic effect for limiting the degree program to the employment base that will be able to utilize those jobs. The reciprocal funding should then be able to manage gradual changes in employment demand - and large demand shifts could be funded through government or corporate "scholarships" which would be in effect a future tax credit. You could also allow for traditional payment for those who wish to make it through school without future tax burdens (i.e. I had zero debt at the end of my degrees - a combination of scholarship and work).

As a more critical immediate reform for education funding/loans, I think there should be a loan cap based on some multiple of the average yearly income expected for that degree (and that multiple shouldn't necessarily be greater than one). I think it's borderline criminal to allow young kids to pursue a degree while simultaneously loaning them money that you know will be many times their expected annual income - and then making sure that there's no way out of that debt - not even bankruptcy.

+ - Nasa Finds Clues that there's Flowing Water on Mars ->

Submitted by bobstreo
bobstreo (1320787) writes "There’s no definitive answer yet, but astronomers examining the question have honed in on ”recurring slope lineae” or RSL for short. These are dark lines that are observed moving down the slopes of some Martian mountains as temperatures on the surface rise. Some scientists studying Mars have suggested that these flows might be caused by saltwater containing a iron sulfate solution to keep it from freezing in Martian temperatures.
Mars Orbiter Snaps Pic Of Dramatic Crater Blast Zone Brid-Aine Parnell Brid-Aine Parnell Contributor
Mars May Have Had A Habitable Lake Billions Of Years Ago Alex Knapp Alex Knapp Forbes Staff

Now new images taken by the http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/ have shown new clues that yes, these RSL do in fact contain flowing water. This comes from two new reports that focused on the minerals left behind by the RSL. While the images didn’t find any signs of salt or water, they did find iron-containing minerals that weren’t found on mountains without RSL."

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+ - Why P-values cannot tell you if a hypothesis is correct ->

Submitted by ananyo
ananyo (2519492) writes "P values, the 'gold standard' of statistical validity, are not as reliable as many scientists assume. Critically, they cannot tell you the odds that a hypothesis is correct. A feature in Nature looks at why, if a result looks too good to be true, it probably is, despite an impressive-seeming P value."
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