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What is the First Day in a University Lab Like?
Lab work is not always glamorous. Correction: lab work is almost never glamorous. Generating real, publishable results is a long, slow, often boring process. Actually getting those results, though, can be immensely rewarding. As the parent post said, keep an open mind, do a good job at whatever you're asked to do, and keep an eye open for places where you can contribute without being asked.
A Gateway for Hackers
odyaws (943577) writes "The Washington Post is carrying a story about an unintended consequence of Congress allowing telecommunications surveillance without even a FISA warrant if one party is outside the United States: the infrastructure required could provide a juicy target for foreign intelligence agencies and rogue hackers. By making it possible for the NSA to listen in (particularly since they need to be able to listen in only on conversations including a party outside the US), it could also be possible for others to access our phone calls. The author points out that this threat is not just theoretical, citing specific attacks in Greece and the US. While it's natural to be suspicious of any government wiretapping program, have we been missing the larger threat of the security hole it opens?"
odyaws (943577) writes "The New York Times is carrying a long article on the up-and-coming methodology of using techniques from neuroscience, particularly fMRI, in criminal cases. As defendants are winning trials or gaining leniency based on brain abnormalities ("the tumor made me do it"), it brings to light difficult questions of legal culpability for criminals with neurological problems, a natural extension of the insanity defense. Particularly chilling is the speculation on the future use of brain scans to determine likelihood of future criminal activity in potential parolees and others such as terrorism suspects."
odyaws writes "The New York Times has an article about the history department at Middlebury College banning Wikipedia citations as a research source, which came after a professor noticed half a dozen students making the same factual error on an exam. I'm as big a fan of Wikipedia as anyone, but as an academic I find the notion of citing it absurd. Does anyone think Wikipedia (or any encyclopedia) suitable for anything but casual information gathering or as a place to find links to source material?"
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