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Long Distance Tech Support

If you’ve had to spend hours on the phone with a technical support center to solve a problem with a computer or other electronics products–and who hasn’t, these days–then you can sympathize with the engineers at JPL who had to…
February 15, 2004

If you’ve had to spend hours on the phone with a technical support center to solve a problem with a computer or other electronics products–and who hasn’t, these days–then you can sympathize with the engineers at JPL who had to deal with the faulty computer problem on the Mars rover Spirit a few weeks ago. As this Associated Press article points out, the engineers dealing with Spirit’s computer glitch had the additional issues of remotely diagnosing a problem with a computer that was, along with the nearest human tech support, nearly 200 million kilometers away. They were aided by the fact that the operating system the rover’s computer was using, VxWorks, was not only flight tested on previous missions, it was in widespread commercial use here on Earth in everything from aircraft to pacemakers. The problem with Spirit’s computer–too many files on the rover’s flash memory taking up space in RAM when the computer tried to boot up–was eventually diagnosed and solved. It was something engineers admit they overlooked on the ground in testing before launch, but given tight schedules they didn’t have the time to perform all the tests they wanted. Fortunately for the rover it had a good tech support hotline to call.

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution

As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.

lucid dreaming concept
lucid dreaming concept

I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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