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Ask Slashdot: Advice For Summer Before Ph.D. Program?

DeanPentcheff Fishery Observer Program in the Bering Sea (228 comments)

NOAA runs the National Observer Program that puts Fisheries observers on commercial fishing vessels at sea. Being an observer on ships in the Pacific Northwest was, for me, an amazing education in applied biology. http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/observer-home/index

It also pays you a salary while you don't need to pay rent (you're on a ship). I'm specifically recommending Pacific Northwest because it's an amazing piece of ocean to spend some time in: you train in Seattle, fly to Alaska, then get on a ship where it can snow on you in July.

You'll have some good stories when you get back.

about 2 years ago

Where To Start With DIY Home Security?

DeanPentcheff Homeowner's (renter's) insurance (825 comments)


Any security system, starting with a locked door, is simply a polite request to have your things left alone. Someone who chooses not to will not.

If you're techie enough to have real data (including music, etc.), then make sure you have daily offsite backup. The hardware is trivial to replace (given money), but getting your information back requires an offsite backup.

Anything else and you're basically wasting your time.

more than 4 years ago

NASA Space Habitat Research Goes Undersea

DeanPentcheff Re:Your awfully short sighted. (55 comments)

You will want to Google "saturation diving". After a day at 65 feet you do not come to the surface without extensive decompression or you'll be very very ill/dead.

In Aquarius, the drill is that you are essentially cave-diving -- you can't come up if things go wrong. You swim with redundant equipment, there are air "shelters" available at depth for emergencies. The surface is not your friend after the first day.

And NASA has been doing exactly this kind of astronaut training with Aquarius for, oh, about 10 years (why this is a news story today is unclear). Apparently their experience is that it is a good use of training time and money. It's actually fairly cheap: very roughly US$10,000/day to run (yes, that is cheap on the scale of major agency expenses).

more than 4 years ago

Permanent Undersea Homes Soon; Temporary Ones Now

DeanPentcheff Aquarius habitat has been doing this for decades (122 comments)

It's very peculiar that nowhere in the discussion here or Chamberland's video does anyone mention NOAA's Aquarius habitat, in operation since 1988: http://www.uncw.edu/aquarius/ . Aquarius has been in operation as a civilian research station underwater off Key Largo for years. Before that it was in the Virgin Islands. It is operated by NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for marine biology research and NASA training. It's an amazing place where researchers get to do 10-day research projects that would be difficult or impossible to run from the surface.

But what's not mentioned by Chamberland or anyone involved in his little promo piece is that living underwater is grueling. You're in a single-wide trailer equivalent with multiple other people. Going outside is wonderfully liberating, but y'know, it's cold. Even in Florida, once you've been in the water for a few hours, you're cold. Then you do it again. And again. It's humid and pretty much everyone gets skin problems after a few days.

And you can't come up. You've saturated to 55-foot depth after a day, so you'd get the bends if you surfaced. So all your diving is done with cave-diving rigs that are designed for diving where there's no surface to go to. If you get in trouble, you have to get back to the habitat, not the surface. Oh, you'd probably survive if you had to surface, but it wouldn't be healthy or pretty. At the end of the 10-day mission it takes 18 hours to decompress to surface pressure.

That said, it is really truly astounding to live underwater for a while. Looking out through the window at dinner at the fish, and realizing that they're looking at you: you're the one in the aquarium. It's a trip.

But it's an incredibly resource-intensive thing to do. Rough estimates I recall from my Aquarius trips were that it cost about US$10,000 per day to support four researchers in the habitat. That's not sustainable for daily life.

As far as I can tell, Dennis Chamberland wants to set up some sort of high-end hotel-like underwater facility. More power to him. But don't pretend that we're all going to have the chance to go live under the ocean.

more than 4 years ago

How Do You Keep Track of Your Web-Based Research?

DeanPentcheff Re:Errrr (150 comments)

In theory, Beagle does this for you. To quote: "Beagle is a Linux desktop-independent service which transparently and unobtrusively indexes your data in real-time."

In practice, when I tried it out (quite some time ago, though), I found the indexing to be a bit quirky and inconsistent. There's been lots of time for improvement since then, so I'd recommend giving it a try.

more than 7 years ago


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