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I have just learned that our university 'offers' Fire Safety Training to students. Saturday morning, three hour duration, costs £100. To be paid by the student.

Thats for those students who do silly things on campus or in student residences. Stealing extinguishers, taping over smoke detectors to have a cigarette, that kind of thing.

We are apparently the only uni in the UK doing that. Parents seem to be full on board.
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The ESA has signed a 12-month contract with the rocket maker ArianeGroup to study the possibility of a Moon mining mission. According to ArianeGroup, the aim of the mission will be to extract regolith, which is a mixture of clays, minerals, glass fragments, and chemical compounds. The Moon's regolith covers the surface up to a depth of at least 12 feet. Many scientists believe that Moon's regolith may serve as a source of oxygen, water and fuel for astronauts on future Moon missions.

(Illustration totally misleading: this is supposed to be a robotic mission.)
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The University of Birmingham is feeling a bit racist these days.

This week, the university issued guidelines stating that non-EU staff will be required to “record their attendance in the new system each day, by completing a time card. At the end of the week their line manager, will be required to validate the time card.”

The new monitoring regime covers both long-term and temporary non-EU staff sponsored by the university in order to work in the UK, who are on tier 2 and tier 5 visas respectively. The HR briefing states that it is being introduced in order to comply with the university’s sponsor duties.

(Hint: the last statement is a lie. No other UK university pulls this shit. Sussex tried, and got kicked in the shin.)
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So this apparently happened:

PhD student A: "You sure you want Fliege as your PhD examiner?"

PhD student B: "Sure. My supervisor says its OK."

PhD student A: "Fliege is known to actually read the thesis he examines!"
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Good points about the (in)famous butterfly effect:

(1) It mostly isn't. And if is, its hard to identify, a priori. Most systems are actually reasonable stable, or chaotic only for a short time, or chaotic only in small parts of the parameter space. If you are not there, you won't have butterflies.

(2) You can't use butterflies to nudge the system in certain directions. No matter how often this is taught in business schools. (Possible exception: you want to nudge a stable system into general instability and don't care for the direction of travel.)

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“Volatile, icy materials are abundant on these comets, and change phase rapidly when they’re exposed to sunlight. Ultima Thule is currently rotating and tumbling in a similar fashion to these known, close-in comets. The only difference? It’s still incredibly distant from the Sun, causing its ices to remain intact. Ultima Thule looks just like a typical cometary nucleus, marking the first time we’ve imaged one in its place of origin: the Kuiper belt.”

Whenever you do something new and unprecedented, you have to be prepared for surprises. You might have expectations for what you’ll find, but that’s no substitute for doing the experiment. In the case of comets, we’ve thought for a long time that they originate from far beyond Neptune, with the majority of the best-known ones being periodic and sourced from the Kuiper belt. Many of them have simple, single-object nuclei, while others appear to be contact binaries. When we visited our first comet-sized world still in the Kuiper belt, one that had never closely approached the Sun, what would we find?

That’s what 2014 MU69, also known as Ultima Thule, actually is. Here’s what New Horizons has taught us so far!
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Facebook Inc. is endowing a new institute devoted to the ethics of artificial intelligence at the Technical University of Munich, in Germany.

The new center, which Facebook is funding with an initial grant of $7.5 million over five years, will investigate issues around AI safety, fairness, privacy and transparency, Joaquin Quinonero Candela, Facebook’s director of applied machine learning, said in a blog post.

I have so many questions.
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"School is learning things you don't want to know, surrounded by people you wish you didn't know, while working toward a future you don't know will ever come."

Dave Kellett
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Perfection.
Behind on that #ML paper submission? Use this handy "Abstract Mad Libs" via #PHDcomics #happyfriday #machinelearning #ai
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The snags of Plan S, the ambitious open access initiative.

Abstract: Much of the debate on Plan S seems to concentrate on how to make toll access journals open access, taking for granted that existing open access journals are Plan S compliant. We suspected this was not so, and set out to explore this using DOAJ's journal metadata. We conclude that an overwhelmingly large majority of open access journals are not Plan S compliant, and that it is small HSS publishers not charging APCs that are least compliant and will face major challenges with becoming compliant. Plan S need to give special considerations to smaller publishers and/or non-APC-based journals.
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