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Comment Re:NASA's mission (Score 3, Interesting) 237

Not sure how any serious engineer or scientist works at NASA these days.

I work at a NASA research lab, and find it a rewarding way to spend my time... I've seen exoplanets through the eyes of space telescopes. I've invented AI algorithms and then flown them on smart satellites. My code has run on a rover traversing the surface of Mars. I agree that commercial enterprise has a role to play - but for all its imperfections, NASA is still a pretty remarkable institution at this particular moment in human history.

Comment Re:Take that flaky humans! (Score 2, Insightful) 147

Point taken, but if science is our goal then our performance metric should be discoveries achieved per dollar spent.

The Mars Exploration Rover mission cost less than $1 billion total. In contemporary dollars the Apollo program cost $150-200 billion (and going to Mars would be WAY tougher than the Moon). Imagine - the price of a human mission we could fill the solar system with squadrons of rovers. The numbers are rough, but they suggest that we can get more science for our buck with robots.
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - An eBay for Money

friedo writes: "After launching about a year ago and growing primarily through word-of-mouth, the web-based lending site has caught the eye of the mainstream media. So far, Prosper has originated more than $36 million in loans, with interest payments (and risk) going directly to users who bid as little as $50 on individual loans in a reverse Dutch-auction for the lowest interest rate. Any US resident can be a lender, and bid based on the borrowers' Experian credit history and personal story."

Submission + - Google Phone: Fact Or Fiction?

An anonymous reader writes: As if it wasn't frustrating enough to wait for the iPhone, now Google are apparently at it too. The Google phone will feature a large colour touchscreen, access to online applications and a built-in GPS receiver. Is this for real or is this a real case of vaporware? "So the game continues and we play second fiddle to the brave men and women who actually manage to sneak out real photos of prototype products. As for the Photoshoppers, who knows? Maybe it's your stuff that ends up inspiring companies to make those products, so even though it pains me when you're wrong, keep it coming."

Submission + - Starbucks Interests Us More than the Climate, Why?

Prof. Goose writes: "

The debate on the realities of both climate change and Peak Oil has moved from 'are they real?' to questions concerning timing, magnitude and impact. At the same time, expanding research in 'temporal discounting' in economics (called 'impulsivity' in psychology), is shedding light on how steeply we value the present over the future, a trait that has ancient origins.

Knowing this tendency, how can we expect factual updates on peak oil and climate change to behaviorally compete with Starbucks, sex, slot machines, and ski trips?

Science is rapidly increasing our knowledge about the planet. To affect change however, we must become equally knowledgeable about ourselves. The time has come to integrate ecological science with insight about human behavior derived from new findings in anthropology, hunter gatherer studies, evolutionary psychology and the neurosciences. Below the fold is an overview on human discount rates, their evolutionary origins, and their relevance to the mitigation and adaptation to climate change and peak oil.

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