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Snap Observations: NASA Puts Kibosh on Kistler, Comcast’s Bandwidth Bias, Watson Suspended

Rocketplane KistlerRocketplane Kistler

MSNBC’s Cosmic Log reports that NASA has disowned Rocketplane Kistler, the private company that, along with SpaceX, was the co-winner of NASA’s rocket competition in August of 2006. The effort was part of NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation System program. COTS was designed to encourage private companies to devise low-cost ways of resupplying the international space station. Rocketplane Kistler was eligible for up to $500 million dollars, to be handed over in increments as they met certain financial and technical benchmarks. They fell short of fund raising goals and NASA put them on notice a month ago. As of now, $174.4 million of the prize is still up for grabs and Kistler is still allowed to re-enter the competition.

Comcast, the nation’s largest cable TV operator and second-largest Internet provider, has been intentionally and covertly slowing down traffic on P2P file-sharing services such as BitTorrent and Gnutella, as confirmed by the AP through nationwide tests. The AP reports that P2P file-sharing takes up anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of overall internet traffic. The bandwidth control raises the issue of how to balance the need for Net Neutrality with the right of companies to manage traffic for their customers. Much of the content consumers exchange using these services, and BitTorrent in particular, is is legal and does not violate copyright law.

Science Progress blogged yesterday on the damage of James Watson’s inaccurate and inflammatory remarks about race and intelligence. He has since been suspended by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, NY, “pending further deliberation by the board.” Watson “apologize[d] unreservedly,” maintaining that the Times, which published his remarks, did not report them in a way that accurately conveyed his position. J. Craig Venter weighed in on the issue with the BBC.

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