University hosts town hall to discuss changes to residential life

first_imgUniversity President Fr. John Jenkins and vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding hosted a town hall–style information session Wednesday regarding the recently-announced changes to residential life at Notre Dame.Jenkins said these changes — to be implemented starting with the class of 2022 — arose as a way to provide “an education of the mind and heart” at the University.“When we talk to graduating students about their Notre Dame experience … one thing that stands out, dramatically stands out, is that at Notre Dame there is just a stronger sense of community,” he said. “That’s what students tell us, that the school has a strong sense of being part of something more than yourself. Not just you and the school, but you and the community. And … we think the residence halls are a critical part of contributing to that and strengthening that and deepening it.” Rosie LoVoi | The Observer Vice president of student affairs Erin Hoffman Harding speaks at a town hall event on Wednesday evening to address community concerns related to the changes in residential life announced yesterday.Hoffmann Harding said the most controversial change requiring all students live on campus for at least six semesters will, in reality, not affect most students.“Actually the predominant norm, the super majority of almost all is the experience for our sophomores and juniors on campus already matches what we’re asking for the new classes going forward in terms of sophomores or juniors living on campus,” she said. “So we are solidifying a trend that already exists and has been quite stable over time.”The timing in applying the changes, Hoffmann Harding said, both allows students who have already made off-campus housing plans to keep those commitments and allows potential students to make informed decisions about attending Notre Dame with the new policy in mind.“What we wanted to make sure is that we held current students harmless knowing the trend that we have heard students about signing leases early,” she said. “And we didn’t want to put any student in a difficult position — who is here — in a position to have to change plans due to a change in policy for the University. So that’s the rationale behind the timing, but we wanted to signal, for new classes and new students, that this is an important value that the University holds as we go forward.”When asked whether or not she believed this new regulation would deter potential students from considering Notre Dame, Hoffmann Harding said the new policy only differs slightly from what the admissions office tells applicants about residential life now.“It’s something we at least partially looked into,” she said. “So what we did is consulted our colleagues in the enrollment management division and actually sat down with the folks who admit students and actually go on the road to high schools and meet with them. … What at least our admissions experts shared with us is that the most typical question they tend to get from prospective students and family is, ‘Is there enough room for me?’”Hoffmann Harding recognized that the six semester requirement may not be the best situation for some members of the community.“You saw, I hope, in some of the materials that we may have good work to do in terms of what and how might exceptions be good for our students and good for our communities in some of these situations,” Hoffmann Harding said. “We’re happy to hear and learn examples of when you think that might not make sense … how we manage and implement that and think through that, in terms of different policies and procedures for a potential waiver process, is still very much to be determined.”Multiple students pointed out that one potential reason to request a waiver to move off campus would be if a survivor of sexual assault wanted to be farther away from his or her attacker, something Hoffmann Harding said she welcomed discussion about.“I think in general, my overall reaction would be, gosh that’s a conversation I would love to know about in terms of before making that decision,’” she said. “‘What didn’t make you feel safe about campus? How can we make that better?’ And if that’s a distinction between one community versus another to be able to share that information with us, and certainly I don’t have a definitive answer of what would qualify, but … our first and foremost care is for all of you as students to try to help you have a wonderful experience. And that’s the objective here.”While some students voiced frustration over paying the same amount for room and board despite varying quality of facilities, Hoffmann Harding said varying the price of housing would create unwelcome divides in the community.“Would that cause an unnatural and unhelpful and ultimately potentially unhealthy segmentation of choices of where students would live that wouldn’t provide the integrated community that we hope to be?” she said. “ … So that’s been part of our rationale for not charging differently, because we didn’t want to create socioeconomic challenges and benefits for the community that would not be helpful to the integrated communities we hope to build.”Upon one student pointing out that certain aspects of residential life — such as dorm Masses and parietals — do not appeal to every student at Notre Dame, Jenkins said Notre Dame is a University that remains true to its identity rather than striving to please everyone.“I think it would be a mistake for Notre Dame to say, ‘We want to be everything to everybody, Notre Dame is for everybody.’ And it’s not,” Jenkins said. “We want to be Notre Dame … we want to be a place that prizes community in every way, and we’re a place of faith. We make no apologies about that, no one should come here with any confusion about that. And that’s why we’re delaying any requirement until the next year’s class comes in. People should take a look, and if that’s what they want they should come here, but if that’s not what they want there are many other places — great places — to go to. So really it seems to me what we want to be is what we are in a clear way, in a way that emphasizes the kind of education we want to give.”Although the changes to residential life were largely prompted by a desire to convince more students to stay on campus for their senior year, Hoffmann Harding said the incentives to attract seniors are still to be determined.“That was necessarily a bit vague in what we shared because it’s still to be worked out,” she said. “And what we wanted to do is open up the conversation to the extent that some of those things cost money. I actually have to ask through the division of student affairs through the University’s regular budget process … to see if some of those would be possible. And so there’s this very funny sense of get it out so that we can have further conversation about it, and I think you’re right, though, that we’d love to have more specifics.”These incentives, Hoffmann Harding said, are vital to the University’s plan. Without the incentives, she said, the new requirement could actually end up driving seniors to move off campus for their final year at Notre Dame instead of achieving the intended goal.“It’s probably our most significant worry about it,” Hoffmann Harding said. “Which is why I think as we’ve thought about it, it has to be dually and creatively and — we hope — actively paired with senior incentives. … But it’s number one on top of my worry list, is that it would have the opposite effect if we can’t get the senior incentives right, which is why we need more help and more work on that.”Tags: Erin Hoffmann Harding, Fr. John Jenkins, Notre Dame Housing, off-campus housing, residential life, six-term requirementlast_img read more

Joe Mantello Boards New Sondheim Musical Bunuel

first_img View Comments Tony-winning director Joe Mantello is at the helm of the new Stephen Sondheim and David Ives musical based on two movies by surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel, according to The New York Post. Following a reading earlier this year, their new project is poised to continue its development at the Public Theater and beyond.A full workshop presentation of Buñuel is set to take place in March 2017, with a potential off-Broadway production scheduled at the Public that fall. The Post also reported that mega-producer Scott Rudin is attached to the title, indicating that Broadway could be on the horizon for the musical, which is inspired by Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Exterminating Angel.A private reading at the Public in August featured Brian Stokes Mitchell, Shuler Hensley, Sierra Boggess, Nancy Opel and Marc Kudisch. At that time, the Public said in a statement, “We are happily developing the Buñuel project with Stephen Sondheim and hope to present it in the near future, but no set date has been confirmed.” Joe Mantello(Photo: Bruce Glikas)last_img read more

Threats and Challenges to Human Security in the 21st Century

first_imgBy Dialogo March 19, 2013 Several opinion polls performed by different public and private agencies measuring current levels of perception of security for Brazilian citizens, show that between 55% and 70% of the Brazilian population do not feel safe, stating that they are conditioned to the change of habits and customs as a way of prevention and protection. In the last chapter, the reader will understand the reasons why Woloszyn uses Baltasar Gracian’s reflection in the beginning of the book. To see the entire criminal network and the actors who are part of it is a true puzzle and it requires an extremely complex task for strategists from the Public Security Forces to put an end to the myopia that blinds the governments all over the world and that exposes them to criminal organizations that emerge each day. “Not all who see have opened their eyes, nor all who look, see. To realize something too late brings no relief, only sorrow. Some start to see when there is nothing left to see.” It is with this reflection from 17th Century Spanish philosopher Baltasar Gracian that André Luís Woloszyn, former analyst for the Strategic Affairs Secretariat of Brazil’s Office of the President, opens the recently published “Threats and Challenges to Human Security in the 21st Century”, to be officially released on April 10, 2013, by “Cultura do Bourbon” Shopping Country bookstore, in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil. About the author – André Luís Woloszyn holds a degree in Strategic Intelligence by the War College for Strategic Intelligence, holds degrees in Criminal Science and Public Security Politics Management, and has published dozens of articles on sites and specialized magazines in Brazil as well as internationally. He is a consultant for international organizations on terrorism and conflicts of low and medium intensity affairs and he is also the author of “Global Terrorism”, a book published by the Brazilian Army’s library, BIBLIEX. He regularly writes for Defesanet, a portal specialized in defense, strategy, intelligence, and security. Based on his nearly 20 years of experience with Public Security, the author states that, “The analysis of issues such as drug, weapons, human trafficking, criminal organizations, money laundering, regional gangs, chemical and biological weapons, cyber-attacks, and other emerging subjects, show the trends and estimates, especially for Brazil, that have reached global visibility in the political and economic world. All these subjects are considered sensitive, some characterized as crimes. Because of their nature, their characteristics, and the extent of support networks, they result in serious implications on the governability of many countries, compromising the progress and the regional development, and challenging the government policies and international organizations.” Woloszyn is emphatic in stating that the current trends are giving rise to these phenomena, which is becoming a serious threat to the security and development of many countries, and justifies a reason for concern to government authorities.” He also believes that Brazil may suffer terrorist attacks during the World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. The final pages discuss human trafficking and the challenges in combating this type of crime, a reality currently seen in Brazilian soap opera “Salve Jorge”, about the drama that women who are invited to Turkey to be models undergo when they become victims of prostitution. Through this viewpoint, Woloszyn’s work shows that public security and its facets seems to be a difficult task for governments from all over the world in the midst of cyberspace advancement, especially for those who are short-sighted, or have already been blinded by the criminal organizations that arose in the years following the Cold War. After the official release, the book will be available for purchase at bookstores throughout Brazil, including “Cultura Livraria” bookstores. Those who wish to do so may also purchase a copy directly from Schoba Press from: The English version will be released in July 2013. The book has 212 pages with some pictures, diagrams, and maps, and it will be released by Schoba Press. It presents a general overview on Brazil’s national public security and criminal organizations involved in cybercspace and clearly and objectively introduces the main characteristics of groups such as the FARC, in Colombia; and the Mara Salvatrucha (or MS-13) gang from Central and North America, , the largest and most violent organization linked to drug trafficking and many other crimes. The book includes chapters on terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering, and the destruction power of chemical and biological weapons. last_img read more

Key ‘analytics interventions’ that drive effective credit card strategy

first_imgIf you want to boggle your mind, think for a moment about consumer credit card usage.Every second, over 10,000 credit card transactions happen around the world.In 2018, there were 41 billion credit card transactions in the U.S. alone.There are more than 180 million credit card holders in the U.S. – approximately 7 out of 10 adult Americans.The average credit card holder has four different cards.Since the Diner’s Club became the first multipurpose charge card in 1950, credit cards have worked their way into the wallets of hundreds of millions of American consumers. With a market this big, it is surprising that nearly 40% of U.S. credit unions either don’t have a credit card portfolio – or have sold or outsourced it years ago. Of credit unions that do, 75% have a credit card penetration well below 20%. The data is clear: credit cards are a source of major untapped potential for credit unions, and the multi-faceted rewards for a good card strategy are many.A strong credit card portfolio helps to drive growth, profitability, loyalty and deeper relationships. Credit cards are one of the most dynamic and engaging products a CU can offer, and those with greater credit card penetration enjoy higher return on assets than most other loan products.Credit unions that want to get serious about a credit card strategy should start first with their data. Here are three key ways analytics will make your efforts far more effective.First, understand who is most likely to respond to a credit card offer. While it’s true that most adults use credit cards, blanketing your membership with the same credit card offer isn’t the best approach. First, start with a predictive analysis that can tell you which members are the most likely to respond.Mining transaction data will show you which members are currently making payments to other credit card issuers – this is a great place to start. Many credit unions are then able to make very competitive offers with better rates, fewer fees, and attractive rewards to get high response rates. (The most savvy CUs use their member data to know exactly what types of rewards and promotions to offer – more on that later!)Implement data-driven credit card communication strategies from day one – and never stop. Getting a great response rate to your credit card offers isn’t the end-game – in fact, it’s just the beginning of what can be a long and mutually rewarding product relationship. Once the card is in their wallet, members that activate the card within 10 to 30 days are much more active throughout the life cycle. Enable smart triggers and equip your staff with strategies that get 90% of your cards activated within 30 days – within the first week is optimum based on our analysis.After six months, reanalyze your data sets to segment and determine go-forward marketing communications. Look at behavioral, demographic, transactional, and spend data for the most relevant reward and promotional strategies. A member with high grocery spend should be offered increased rewards on food category purchases to consolidate their spending to your card. A member with a middle-tier credit profile that is using a store-branded credit card is likely paying high interest rates. Target them with a balance transfer offer that provides valuable cost-savings.“Re-evaluate and readjust” according to data analysis should become a regular, ongoing practice. This is where we’ve seen many credit unions lose their way, particularly when it comes to lifecycle upgrades. A lot of credit unions still have members in their 40s with inactive student credit cards. Evaluate and extend offers that graduate them through card tiers, progressively unlocking new benefits that provide the right incentives.Practice proactive and efficient risk management and mitigation. Looking at consumer data from the end of 2019, many were well-positioned with historically low debt levels. But just months later came the rapid and unexpected rise of unemployment, and it’s still unclear how long we’ll remain in the enhanced risk environment.  In our current circumstances and for the foreseeable future, data analytics can provide a more sophisticated understanding and approach to card risk mitigation.Early delinquency detection and action is a first line of defense. Analytical models can synthesize hundreds or thousands of data points to establish the triggers that predict an impending risk increase. Early interventions can then extend help before problems become more serious. Many of the major card issuers have announced plans to assist cardholders during COVID-19. With help from your data analytics, you can tailor the assistance to a member’s individual situation.Card collections can be handled with greater efficiency by using data analysis to focus efforts where they will have the most impact, as a California credit union recently did to successfully manage a heavy collection volume. By analyzing hundreds of data points, they were able to determine which accounts had the highest propensity to “roll forward,” – or fall deeper past-due by two or more cycles. They built an ongoing process to track and manage cardholders with the highest roll-forward propensity. This not only reduced the collection queue by 25%, but lowered their losses by focusing on the highest-risk cardholders.When it comes to credit cards (and actually, every area of a CU) “Analyze and Act” should become a mantra and a habit. A well-managed credit card program will create deep and lasting value for members – and help your card earn its place at the top of their wallet. To learn more on how to drive your card strategies for 2020 using analytics, check out our webinar. 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Karan Bhalla Karan Bhalla is the CEO of CU Rise Analytics and who has almost two decades of financial services and data analytics experience. CU Rise Analytics is a global CUSO helping … Web: Detailslast_img read more

Big-hitting agents cash in on good times

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

Red Bank Cops Start New Year With Fitness Goals

first_imgBy John BurtonRED BANK – “Our job goes from zero to 60 all the time,” said Red Bank Police Patrolman Jorge Torres about his work and the need for a police officer to stay in shape.Police Chief Darren McConnell has long agreed. Now he’s instituted a program to help make it a little easier for his officers to get a little gym time.The idea that first came to him back when the borough enacted its Mayor’s Wellness Campaign a few years ago to encourage municipal employees to pursue healthy lifestyles, involving regular exercise and good diets, and offering modest incentives as encouragements. Healthier employees take less sick time, are more productive and can help keep publicly paid health insurance costs in check, officials believe. And of course, there is the improvement in their quality of life.Running with that idea and with information he’s gotten from a certified public managers’ class, McConnell initiated his own take on encouraging officers to exercise more.The program started in November and so far 26 of the department’s 40 officers are participating. “It’s gotten a pretty good reception,” he said.The initiative allows department members to take as many as six hours a month – an hour either at the start of their tour or at the end – and they can spend that hour at a local gym, such as the Community YMCA or Work Out World, in the borough, and where it can be verified that the officer had gone and used the time; or they can use the running track at Count Basie Fields, and clock in some laps. “And they’re encouraged, obviously, to go while they’re off duty,” too, McConnell added. “The idea being to promote cardiac health and physical fitness among the officers.”To that end, officers must have a medical physical exam to make sure they are in good enough condition to begin with and plans call for a twice- a-year physical fitness test, involving sprints, a 1 1⁄2-mile run and push-ups and sit-ups, to monitor progress. The first test will be held in April.“It also has the effect of building camaraderie,” McConnell said. “It should be a fun thing, hopefully.”Red Bank Police Patrolman Garry Falco does some laps as part of an initiative his department has instituted to help get officers into shape. Photo courtesy of G. FalcoGarry Falco is a five-year veteran patrolman who works out as often as he can in what time he can spare. With a young family and work responsibilities, there is not a lot of time. “So getting to the gym on days off can be difficult,” he said.“Now that we have the opportunity to do it while at work it’s a benefit to everybody,” he said.“Considering the dynamics of the job and the potential situations you could be in, you could be in a foot pursuit or a fight at a bar closing,” said Falco.“The lifestyle doesn’t necessarily always lead itself to the healthiest places,” McConnell said, explaining officers can go for extended sedentary work periods, in a patrol vehicle or at a desk, with too often meal breaks of pizza or fast food and then “bursts of activity with no warning.” Police officers nationally have a very high rate of cardiovascular disease. According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which published a study in 2013, heart attacks are in the top two of the three leading causes of death for in-the-line-of-duty deaths and an officer is 25 times more likely to suffer death or disability from heart disease than from the violent action of a suspect.In years past the Red Bank department had seen two of its long-serving officers lose their lives from heart ailments.“Our heart has to be in great shape,” said Torres, who regularly works out on his off-duty hours. “And that running on the treadmill for 45 minutes or a half-hour really that the job is allowing us to do would help our cardiovascular health – and that’s what we really need in this job.”The Manalapan department has adopted a similar program and Howell is considering it, too, according to McConnell.“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Falco said, hoping other departments follow suit.last_img read more

Ice cools off Greater Vancouver Canadians

first_imgBy Bruce Fuhr,The Nelson Daily SportsIf this keeps up the movers and shakers at B.C. Hockey headquarters will want to break up the Kootenay Ice.The Ice shocked one of the top teams in the entire B.C. Major Midget Hockey League, third-place Greater Vancouver Canadians, stealing three of four points during a weekend series at the NDCC Arena.Jesse Knowler of Castlegar scored twice to lead Kootenay to a surprising 5-2 victory over the Greater Vancouver Saturday.Sunday, the Ice came close to bringing out the brooms as the teams played to a 3-3 tie.Greater Vancouver needed a third period marker by Garrett Forster to grab the point.“This team plays like that every weekend but we always seem to find a way to lose,” Wheeldon told The Nelson Daily. “This weekend we found a way to win.”Knowler gave the Ice a 2-0 lead after one period. Greater Vancouver rallied for a pair of second period goals before Dryden Hunt of Nelson, who finished the weekend with five points, scored the eventual game winner with a minute to play in the middle stanza. With Kootenay clinging to the one-goal lead, Luke Bertolucci of Trail snapped a wrist shot past Brodie Burdney in the Greater Vancouver net with just over three minutes left in the game to secure the win.Darren Medeiros of Castlegar added an empty net goal to complete the scoring. Christian Pickles of Langley faced 29 shots to register the win in goal.Sunday, Jarrod Schamerhorn of Kelowna faced 46 shots to power the Ice to the point.Kootenay held period leads of 2-0 and led 3-2 in the third before the Canadians scored to tie the contest. Cranbrook’s Derek Georgopolus scored twice and Hunt added a single to lead the Ice.“Sunday our goalie (Jarrod Schamerhorn) played outstanding,” Wheeldon said, impressed by the improved play of the Ice. Despite having fewer players to choose from to select a team from the Kootenays, Wheeldon would not want to change spots with any of the teams in the league.“I’ll put this team up against any other team in the league,” he said. “Despite our record, they work hard every game.”Kootenay still remains near the bottom of the 11-team league in 10th spot with a record of 3-13-4.Kootenay, idle this weekend, is back on the ice Saturday, December 11 at 5 p.m. in Castlegar when the team faces the North Island Silvertips. The second game of the series goes Sunday also in Castlegar at 10 a.m.ICE CHIPS: Luke Bertolucci is having a season for the Ice, sitting 12th overall in BCMML scoring. The Trail Minor Hockey star is only three points out of fifth spot. . . .Kootenay has been playing most of the season with only five defencemen after Will Lightfoot of Cranbrook injured his leg. [email protected]last_img read more

Stop disrespecting water consumers in Region 5

first_imgDear Editor,For the past two plus years, since I have been residing in Cotton Tree, West Coast Berbice in Region Five, consumers have been suffering from water stoppages at least twice daily, from between 12 noon and 13:00h every day for a few hours, then the water cuts off from about 20:30h every night for the entire night until 05:00h the next day.Once I was told that water had to be conserved during the dry season. But we have not had a dry season here for a very long time; and even during the rainy season, Guyana Water Inc (GWI) still cuts off water to consumers during critical hours of the day. In addition, every time we have a blackout, which is often, the water is cut off until the power returns.This is totally unaccepted. I just called Customer Service at Onverwagt, and the young lady who answered the phone was very much in the dark. She was not aware of any water stoppage in the area. She took my phone number and promised to return my call.I then called the only manager listed for Region Five on the GWI’s website, Mr Loiden Henry. He was on his way to the office and was not aware that water was cut off from consumers in the Cotton Tree area. He said he would have to check with the GWI engineer and call me back. When asked why it is necessary to deny consumers the use of water twice daily, he apologetically explained that GWI is now working to provide a 24-hour service in Region Five similar to what was done recently in New Amsterdam. After a few minutes, he returned my call and explained that GWI was experiencing power outages from GPL, and that they were using their own generators to pump water back into the tanks.Editor, Guyana is a country where the annual rainfall averages 200 centimetres in the Berbice area. Other than incompetence and mismanagement, There are no other reasons why the residents of Region 5 should not be getting 24-hour access to potable water from GWI.The quality of service provided by the Guyana Water Inc in Region Five is very poor, and the Customer Service at Onverwagt is beyond lousy; it is simply nonexistent. If there is a problem in the field, as is the case here, the engineer needs to inform customer service, so that a proper explanation could be given to the paying consumers whenever they call in. If the customer service representative is not armed with this information and therefore cannot satisfy the consumer with a proper explanation of the problem, it not only exposes the incompetence of the system, but it also restricts the functions of that employee to answering incoming telephone calls only.On Saturday, February 10, the water was turned off since 09:30h. I’m still awaiting a return call from the Customer Service representative at Onverwagt.Sincerely,Harry GillPPP/C Memberof Parliamentlast_img read more


first_imgBREAKING NEWS: BY MARIE DUFFY: A woman who lives beside Sarah Jessica Parker’s holiday home in Co Donegal tonight won the star’s famous handbag in a charity raffle!Brid Mc Shane from Kilcar is the envy of all the women of the world after winning one of the most coveted handbags in fashion history.She was the winner of the iconic Paco Rabanne le69 handbag donated by the Hollywood actress to the Killybegs women’s group. The bag attracted worldwide media attention after the ‘Sex in the City’ star kindly donated it to the group to raffle as the star prize in their ‘bags of style’ night.The actress has a holiday home with her husband Matthew Broderick in nearby Kilcar.The raffle was a great success with almost 2,000 tickets being sold with many hoping to get their hands on the handbag worth around €2,000.Carol McClean spokeswoman for the Killybegs women’s group said that the night was a ‘huge success’ and that she was delighted that a local woman had won the handbag. “Brid is from the same townland that Sarah Jessica Parker’s holidays in, and its lovely that a local person won the bag”, she said.“The whole night was a wonderful success and a great example of what women can achieve when they come together.“Although the handbag was the star of the night, we also wanted to highlight to others the importance of women coming together and volunteering in their community to make it a better place. The whole event was hard work, but entirely worth it.”BREAKING NEWS: YOU COULDN’T MAKE IT UP! KILCAR WOMAN WINS SJP’S €2,000 HANDBAG! was last modified: July 16th, 2011 by gregShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:handbag winnerkilcarKillybegssarah jessica parkerlast_img read more

Can SETI Be Quantified?

first_imgWhat is the probability of finding intelligent life on other planets?  In 1960, Frank Drake attempted to quantify that question with his famous Drake Equation (see MSNBC and NOVA, which allows you to estimate the probability with an interactive meter).  Trouble is, Stanley Miller and Leslie Orgel of primordial soup fame thought it was meaningless.  In The Origins of Life on Earth (Prentice-Hall, 1974), p. 214, they displayed a table showing conservative and optimistic answers using the equation, ranging over 11 orders of magnitude.  Then they joked, “Also included in the table is space for the reader to put in his own numbers.  These can be considered as reliable as the other two estimates.”    Alan Boyle wrote in his Cosmic Log today at MSNBC that astrobiologists are trying to come up with a new equation.  This one will be more conservative than Drake’s, because it will not go the distance to speculate on intelligent life – just the probability of habitable planets.  Still, it has SETI implications: “The exercise could help future generations figure out where to look for aliens – or where to settle down.”  Even that question is daunting.  “To be honest, it’s really difficult to find a way forward here,” said Axel Hagermann (The Open University, Britain) at the European Planetary Science Congress this week in Potsdam, Germany.  Whatever they arrive at will probably just specify the necessary conditions, not sufficient ones.  In other words, it will rule out unlikely habitats – not find aliens.  Water, energy and chemicals that allow for complex combinations are usually considered prerequisites.  The hard part is putting numbers to the separate factors and assigning meaning to resultant probabilities.  I.e., If a planet gets a probability of 0.001 for habitability, what does that mean?  The problem is “getting more and more complicated, and more and more interesting,” Hagermann said.    Here’s what SETI Institute Director Seth Shostak thinks about these exercises.  “It’s a good thing to try to do, and if nothing else, it confronts you with the difficulty of doing it.  Which tells you something.”  The now-elderly Frank Drake also weighed in on the discussion: “Once we learn more, we can start to do this seriously.  Right now, our information is so incomplete that we can’t do a good job of coming up with something like a habitability index.” Drake told Boyle this statement that wins the coveted SEQTW prize: “Any planet that’s like Earth is going to produce it.  There are so many pathways to the origin of life that it’s going to happen. … If you knew a system had planets with bodies of water on them, that would be a habitability index of 1.”You can play this game with anything you know nothing about.  Remember how we speculated about the probability of gnomes? (09/17/2008 and 04/21/2008 commentaries).  Does it make the speculation better to invent jargon like “gnomic index”?  If one tries to argue that gnomes are mythical but aliens are not, ask on what basis that is true.  We know nothing about aliens.  SETI researchers often speculate that they could be built on an entirely different chemistry.  They might even be creatures made of pure energy, some of them say.  At least gnomes breathe the same air and drink the same water as we do on this one-and-only known habitat for life.    Frank Drake has had 50 years to try to start to get ready to begin to commence to do this seriously.  By his own admission, he and all the others have failed to even “come up with something.”  This can only be construed to mean they are not doing it seriously.  What’s the opposite of serious?  Foolish.  Alan Boyle should therefore title his article, “Comic Log.”(Visited 19 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more