Tuesday, August 02, 2005

HubbleSite - NewsCenter

One word: Awesome (I was going to use the word awful, then I realised that I was thinking of its 19th Century meaning of awe inspiring.)

So here's the pop quiz of the day, in what way is the Hubble Telescope related to patents? It might or might not surprise you.

The Hubble Telescope is situated in space and is thereby different (duh) from your land/earth based telescopes. Coupled with the fact that it is freaking sensitive (powerful) and not susceptible to the sort of interference that being earthbound telescopes are, makes its data particularly valuable. And obviously then people want to use it. The problem of course is that it is one telescope and given that it is a finite valuable resource, demand exceeds supply.

So like any governmental project (or the utilisation of government resources as anyone working with the civil service would know) you need to write a report in excrutiating detail, explaining why you deserve time on the Hubble. Amongst the pesky questions asked is how the research cannot be done on earthbound telescopes, but there you go in the government's bid to ensure the best returns on taxpayers' money.

Thus as should be painfully and blatently evident by now, time on the Hubble is a very valuable resource that must be preceded by time taken off to write that report. Such time as could have been used for other research. So the trade-off exists, time now for research or trading it off for the possibility of Hubble time later (which should sound familiar to students of economics).

Thus in order to be fair to such people who have taken time off to write that report and to prevent others from having a free lunch (by not having to write the research proposal and getting the info and potentially drawing the right conclusions first), the proposing group gets exclusive rights to such data for a year, after which it will become public domain.

Cool huh? Peace.


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