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Comment: This Hospital is in No Way Unique (Score 5, Insightful) 463

by Egg Sniper (#48149333) Attached to: Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker

The failures of this hospital in dealing with a novel and gravely serious situation are in no way indicative of remarkably incompetent individuals or sub-standard hospital policies.

Even the most complete training cannot provide experience. Day to day work in a hospital is boring and routine, and when faced with the unknown people are going to fall back on that routine, not what they were trained to do briefly and long ago. Nurses who haven't dealt much with explosive diarrhea or projectile vomiting won't have practice being meticulous about preventing splatter on every part of their skin or porous clothing. Simply telling someone to be careful and then sending them off unsupervised and unaided isn't terribly effective.

Hospitals cannot afford to maintain a full wardrobe of gear to deal with even one Ebola patient throughout the course of treatment, nor are they set up to dispose of that gear at the rate it piles up after use. Adequate supplies will need to be provided on a reactive (not proactive) basis. Protocols, however, simply assume that the gear is there and ready to be used by people well versed in their use. It doesn't do any good to have well thought out procedures in place if it isn't possible or practical to implement them.

People who blame the nurses, or the hospital, or the patient are holding them up to an unreasonable standard. These people are not special. They're not clowns and they're not villains. They're just normal folk reacting the way normal folk will, and neither the CDC nor anyone else has some magic wand to wave to prevent this exact same scenario from playing out the next time. It's unfortunate, but it is manageable and we should focus on making sure the right lessons are learned from it.

Some interesting viewing, somewhat related:

Comment: Nuance (Score 1) 578

by Egg Sniper (#48116631) Attached to: FBI Says It Will Hire No One Who Lies About Illegal Downloading
Of course, a brief, public overview is going to lean towards zero tolerance. There are plenty of legal grey areas, and most folk aren't fully versed in copyright law nor would they knowingly violate such laws even if they might casually do so unknowingly. People in law enforcement know full well that absolute purity in the eyes of the law is very rare, and also strange. If they have a large enough applicant pool that they can take the rare ones who are both exceptionally qualified and squeaky clean, that's great, but otherwise I'm sure they'll bend a bit.

Comment: Re:Something More Modest (Score 1) 269

by Egg Sniper (#48103791) Attached to: MIT Study Finds Fault With Mars One Colony Concept
In terms of contributions to science I was thinking more of the near future. Certainly if both worlds were the same distance away, and the same size, Mars would be the clear choice. Mars is, indeed, a much better candidate for terraforming, although the effort needed to do so makes initial human habitation seem trivial. Also see quantaman's post below.

Comment: Something More Modest (Score 5, Insightful) 269

by Egg Sniper (#48101465) Attached to: MIT Study Finds Fault With Mars One Colony Concept
You know, the Moon's right there (*looking around briefly*), somewhere. The same template could be applied to establishing an observatory on either of the poles in one of those nice, permanently shady craters. It would be a lot cheaper, a lot safer and arguably add a great deal more to science. Is the Moon no longer sexy enough to capture people's imagination?

Comment: Been there (Score 1) 265

by Egg Sniper (#40433763) Attached to: Teaching Natural Sciences To Social Science Students?

I've got an engineering background and have taught computer aided design and programming in the past. I've taught statistics to classes largely composed of psychology students a few times as well.

Know what they are expected to know: the prerequisites for the course I've taught are very minimal so I can fully expect some students to struggle with basic algebra. While the majority do seem to be able to 'plug and chug' reasonably well, their ability to actually understand what the equations they're using mean conceptually is severely lacking.

Focus on what the math is saying: the first couple times I was able to cram a lot of different statistical analyses into a semester, and the students were largely able to keep up with the math and work out the solutions correctly. Unfortunately some of the really basic concepts still sounded foreign to them because they had spent all their time doing math problems.

Think small: If you start with probability and normal distributions it's a stretch to even progress through Z and t tests into the analysis of variance (if that's the sort of route you're taking) in a single semester. I think it's better that students more fully understand a couple, extremely basic types of statistical analysis instead of quickly being 'exposed to' several in the course of a semester. If one fully understands the logic and mathematical relationships behind a simple Z test on a sample mean they should be able to fairly quickly understand the more complex analyses.

If it is germane to the course, focusing on the non-math concepts like experimental design is also important, and generally more useful for students heading toward graduate school.

Comment: Images stabilized on the retina (Score 2) 129

by Egg Sniper (#38903045) Attached to: DARPA Works On Virtual Reality Contact Lenses

Images stabilized on the retina (say, for example any opaque elements on a contact lens) quickly become invisible. Our visual system relies on very rapid, continuous, small eye movements that constantly change the position of the image of the external world on the retina. A contact lens display, on top of every other technical hurtle, would have to compensate for this in a way that the visual system could readily interpret. It would also take a lot of practice to get used to display elements displaced from the exact center of your vision that you could never move your eye to focus on (like trying to get a better look at a 'floater' in your eye that keeps moving away).

And of course there's also, "CEASE FIRE! CEASE FIRE! . . NOBODY MOVE, I LOST A LENS"

Comment: Re:This is terrible (Score 5, Insightful) 907

by Egg Sniper (#38783223) Attached to: Indonesian Man Faces Five Years For Atheist Facebook Post

It's one thing persecuting people for their religion but persecuting atheists is going too far.

A small minority of 'different' people in your community often makes people uncomfortable when part of the culture is professing just how right and good it is to agree and identify with the majority. When that minority attempts to become vocal they are by definition wrong and therefore it is justifiable to punish them. If all you have to prove that you're living your life correctly is the assertion by yourself and those around you that it is so any argument against what you believe is dangerous. Certainly authority figures (from politicians to parents) won't allow dissenting opinions to spread, like some horrible disease.

People aren't persecuted for their religion. They are persecuted because their religion (or ethnicity or social status or etc.) is different from the majority of those around them. Group-think and ignorance will attack what it doesn't understand or can't control in whatever form it takes.

One could argue that, historically, atheism is the most persecuted belief system still in practice. It would explain the relatively small proportion of the population that atheism makes up, as well as why that small proportion is spread throughout the world with no great central region to call home.

Comment: Re:Open versus pay journals (Score 1) 237

by Egg Sniper (#38660150) Attached to: US Research Open Access In Peril
There's definitely a continuum between the two extremes I mentioned. Fortunately there are some general purpose open journals, though one could argue a sacrifice of impact shying away from more focused journals. One can only hope that the more an author pays the less the subscribers pay (assuming the cost to edit, format, host/print etc. is comparable across journals).

Comment: Open versus pay journals (Score 3, Informative) 237

by Egg Sniper (#38658530) Attached to: US Research Open Access In Peril
Choosing to publish in a journal that charges subscription fees has the advantage that it doesn't cost you anything to publish your work and the disadvantage that a restricted audience has access to your work (with the usual excuse being that most in research/academic settings can use institutional subscriptions and who else would be interested anyway?).

Choosing to publish in a journal that is free to all has the disadvantage that it can cost quite a bit (thousands of dollars for the last one I did) to publish your work and the advantage that anyone with a computer and internet access has access to your work.

Having said that, any grant funded project likely has money marked specifically for publication (dissemination) costs (personally I think publication costs are a better investment then conference presentations but that's just me). If you know you want to have your work freely available AND you are funded by an NIH grant there's no good reason why it can't be done without publishing in a subscription based journal that's going to bitch about letting everyone see your article for free after a year.

Leave the subscription journals for the poor SOBs that don't have grant money coming in (another problem).

Comment: What about fMRI? (Score 1) 115

by Egg Sniper (#37914456) Attached to: New Algorithm Could Substantially Speed Up MRI Scans
I'd be more interested to know whether this will speed up acquisition of BOLD (blood oxygen level dependent) signals during fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging). The temporal resolution (time between frames) of fMRI has been a huge limiting factor in research. Increasing the rate even by a modest factor of 3 would go a long way to towards making fMRI competitive with EEG (electroencephalogram) (which can collect data in real time but with very little spatial resolution). While you're wikiing, check out DTI (diffuse tensor imaging).

+ - NASA wants solar-powered spacecraft propulsion->

Submitted by
coondoggie writes "NASA today said it picked five companies to begin exploring the feasibility of using solar electric propulsion to power future spacecraft.
According to NASA, multiple studies have shown the advantages of using solar electric propulsion to transport heavy payloads from low Earth orbit to higher orbits. The idea would be that traditional chemical rockets could deliver payloads to low Earth orbit and solar electric propulsion could then power a spacecraft to higher energy orbits."

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IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.