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Comment: Re:Assuming ... (Score 1) 150

by TMB (#45913947) Attached to: New Class of "Hypervelocity Stars" Discovered Escaping the Galaxy

Except that if the star was captured by the Milky Way, that already tells you that it was moving at less than the escape velocity, while these are moving faster than the escape velocity.

Still, it would be interesting to see if they share orbital elements with known satellites or streams...


Comment: Re:Can We Compete Against Them? (Score 2) 308

by TMB (#45632523) Attached to: Physicist Peter Higgs: No University Would Employ Me Today

I disagree - being an academic takes all your time, and being an administrator also takes all your time. I'd like my administrators to have enough time to be good administrators!

Now, I think that all administrators ought to have once been academics, otherwise they don't actually understand the problems that they need to deal with, but not that they still are active researchers.

Comment: Re:NSF not writing checks (Score 2) 1144

by TMB (#45058677) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Does the US Gov't Budget Crunch Affect You?

Yes, indeed. Impacts on me:
    - My wife works for an organization that operates a federal facility on behalf of the NSF. She is on furlough. (actually, even worse - she has to work on a project that's deemed essential, but she's not going to get paid this month if the money from the NSF doesn't flow before payday. Yes, she will probably get back-pay, but that doesn't help when this month's bills are due!).
    - ...and lives in housing that is owned and operated by the agency. So there is no trash collection, and if anything goes wrong she's SOL.
    - Oh, and our daughter's daycare is also on-site. It is being run privately out of someone's house during the shutdown.
    - Processing of my green card application is on pause until after the department of labor is up and running again.
    - I am hiring a researcher with funds that are partly coming from NASA. Some of the money is in my account, but the next payment is expected in a week. Fortunately, some of the money for that position is coming from another source, so I can pay him for about 6 months before I need the NASA money, but if that weren't true it would be about 1 month.
    - I have grant proposals under review from both the NSF and NASA. The review process is on pause and no one knows how long it'll take before we know whether we can do research next year...
    - When I teach, I regularly make use of things on NASA websites, which are not running so my students have to listen to me instead of seeing examples.

So, yes, this is hitting my very directly in a lot of ways.


Comment: Re:They were greedy (Score 2) 320

by TMB (#44985197) Attached to: Two Years In Prison For Using Infrared Contact Lenses To Cheat At Poker

Casinos sell a product - entertainment. In particular, the thrill that you might win some (a lot) of money. People go and pay to experience that thrill. If you want to be entertained by something different, that's fine, but it's not stupid to like a little thrill and be willing to pay a little for it.

Comment: Re:Moo (Score 1) 273

by TMB (#44845437) Attached to: Study Shows Professors With Tenure Are Worse Teachers

That's certainly true, but some fraction of them will be good teachers innately or from additional training. Given the current job market, where there are far more highly qualified candidates than you can even short-list for any tenure-track faculty position at even non-prestigious research universities, departments can afford to be picky when they hire. In other words, don't expect to get hired today if you're only a good researcher but not a good teacher, because someone else who applied for the job will both be a good researcher *and* a good teacher.

As a consequence, the past 5 years of tenure-track hires at pretty much any university are, on average, much better teachers than average hires have been before.

Comment: Re:Simple solution? (Score 2) 361

by TMB (#44380631) Attached to: Study Questions H-1B Policies

This would be horrible - the need the organization has for the employee and the rate they pay are only loosely connected depending on what the employee does and what other organizations pay someone equivalent.

For example, I am on H1B status. I am a professor of astrophysics at a state university. If I were a early-career software developer, I would make more than I currently do, and therefore would be more eligible to be here under your plan. But the university needs me as a professor with my particular skills more than it needs a random early-career software developer - but the prevailing wage for software developers is higher because they are also hired by companies who can afford to pay higher salaries.

(of course, I wouldn't object to the "pay professors more" solution, but because a significant fraction of the university's budget comes from the state, it is more limited and is much less sensitive to market pressures than the companies who hire software developers. Not that I think that's necessarily a good thing, but it's also not going to change any time soon)

Comment: Re:But now people in the US try to avoid it (Score 1) 270

by TMB (#44367597) Attached to: US Gained a Decade of Flynn-Effect IQ Points After Adding Iodine To Salt

Salt is an ingredient whose apparent strength depends strongly on how acclimated you are to it. So if you don't use much salt, it doesn't take much for food to taste like nothing but salt, but if you use a fair bit then you need a fair bit or food tastes bland.

"There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum." --Arthur C. Clarke