The Challenger

#1
Did anyone else see this the other night? Then Open University has a few pages that relate to this programme and the issues it covered.

OU on the BBC: The Challenger - OpenLearn - Open University

Of particular interest: Evidence, oversight and regulation - not to be messed with? - OpenLearn - Open University

Failures, oversight and regulation

Faced with such threats many people – probably the vast majority – inevitably feel they have little choice but to respond in a certain way: 'cutting corners', 'turning a blind eye', 'looking the other way', and 'covering up' are all behaviours that many of us will be familiar with, even if not directly.

For reasons that are pretty obvious, this type of behaviour and the risks and failures that inevitably go with it are found most frequently where large sums of money are at stake: a government IT system that fails to operate as planned and is years behind schedule; a new aircraft that’s significantly over budget and behind its delivery schedule; an oil rig that fails to start producing when expected; railway repair and safety procedures that aren’t carried out properly; and NHS hospitals where the death rate is higher than the accepted norm.

In all these cases and many more there are important aspects of the findings of the inquiry into the Challenger (and Columbia) disaster that still have currency today. The one I’d highlight here is the crucial importance of truly independent and well resourced systems for regulation and oversight. This applies to almost any field of human activity, as recent and not so recent events in areas as diverse as banking and cycling have demonstrated.

Unfortunately in the UK and elsewhere this course of action is anathema to many people, who instead reduce all such suggestions to arguments about ‘too much red tape’, or something similar. And yet the evidence of many costly events – in money, lives and livelihoods - stretching back over many, many, decades is that independent regulation and oversight, combined with transparency and openness, provide essential protection against potentially catastrophic and costly events such as Challenger. As Feynman may have said, ‘we mess with that evidence at our peril’.
The NASA report is here: Report of the PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident
 
#2
If every council in the UK were required to have 1 snowplough & 1 gritter vehicle per thousand head of population in their area. Nobody would ever be late for work due to snow again.
 
#3
If every council in the UK were required to have 1 snowplough & 1 gritter vehicle per thousand head of population in their area. Nobody would ever be late for work due to snow again.
Hmm.
Case A: 1000 people live in a 4 inner-city tower blocks, most work at most 2 miles from where they live on < 40 miles total road length.
Case B: 1000 people live in 5 remote, widely dispersed villages and those who work travel an average of 50 miles each over a road network of total length > 200 miles total road length.

Discuss the relationship between population density, road length and snow clearance / gritting rate per vehicle.
 
#4
Hmm.
Case A: 1000 people live in a 4 inner-city tower blocks, most work at most 2 miles from where they live on < 40 miles total road length.
Case B: 1000 people live in 5 remote, widely dispersed villages and those who work travel an average of 50 miles each over a road network of total length > 200 miles total road length.

Discuss the relationship between population density, road length and snow clearance / gritting rate per vehicle.
Okay, I'll take a go: inner city unemployment would be eradicated because everyone could be fully employed servicing driving and filling snow ploughs? Oh - and the two trains would meet at Kettering.

Do I win £5?
 
#5
Not the type of response I expected. I hoped for a discussion of technological concerns being pushed aside by political and PR pressures.
 
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