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Oxford student shortlisted for Mars mission

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first_imgAn Oxford University student is one of five Britons to be shortlisted to take part in the Mars One project.Ryan MacDonald, 21, from Derby, is a Masters student in physics at University College. He is also one of five people from the UK to have reached a shortlist of 100 to take part in this mission to the red planet.The project plans to send humans on a one way trip to Mars in order to set up a permanent human settlement on the planet by 2024, at an estimated cost of $6bn for the Dutch non-profit organisers.Ryan Macdonald told the Huffington Post, “I would like to go to Mars for a dream. Humanity’s greatest strength is our ability to dream of a better world, to imagine a future and to inspire a generation to bring it to life.”The Oxford physicist, who can recall 90 digits of the mathematical entity pi, also commented to The Guardian, “The most important thing to do in life is to leave a legacy. A lot of people do that by having a child, having a family. For me this would be my legacy.“Hundreds of years down the line, who is going to know who was the President of the United States? Everyone will remember who were the first four people who stepped onto Mars.”The four other Britons among the final 100 candidates for the mission include Durham University PhD astronomy student Hannah Earnshaw, University of Birmigham astrophysics PhD student Dr Maggie Lieu, Alison Rigby, 35, a science laboratory technician who is from Beckenham, Kent, and Clare Weedon, 27, a systems integration manager for Virgin Media.These five candidates form part of a total of 50 men and 50 women who have been shortlisted from all over the world; 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, seven from Africa and seven from Oceania.They were picked from a pool of 660 candidates who participated in online interviews with the mission’s chief medical officer Norbert Kraft, in which they were tested on their understanding of the risks involved, team spirit, and their motivation behind taking part in the expedition. Initially, over 200,000 people applied to take part in the controversial privately funded mission, which could be filmed for a reality television series. It’s not over yet for those candidates who were not selected either; they’ll have the chance to re-apply in a new application round opening in 2015.Other Oxford students were both excited and perplexed by the controversial project and the concept of a one-way trip.Alex Shickell, a fellow student at Univ, commented, “I think it’s a great idea and that it will help humanity explore the boundaries of our existence. Nonetheless, it’s a very daunting project and you’d have to be one very brave and perhaps slightly unhinged person.”Worcester fresher Charlotte Dowling also stressed the downsides of participating in Mars One. She said, “I think it’s an interesting idea; expansion into the stars is like something out of a sci-fi film. However, I’d question whether we have the right to settle there. It’s a little bit like colonisation. Just because it is not owned by anybody doesn’t mean we have the right to take it.”Exeter undergraduate Flora Hudson added, “In my opinion it could be a new imperialism. We don’t own space. What right do we have to settle there? More importantly, it seems to me like a suicide mission. That in itself is a very frightening prospect.”All of the shortlisted candidates will now be tested in groups to assess their responses to stressful situations in order to decide who will make the final list of 24 actually selected for the mission. Part of their training will then take place in a simulated Martian environment.Before the Mars Project can go ahead, the Dutch organisation will have to amass funds to send a robotic lander, as well as a communications satellite, to the planet.If this goes as planned, they will then have to send an ‘intelligent’ rover in order to scope out a landing spot for habitation modules and life support systems which will be sent up on rockets before the first humans arrive there.The project has not been without scepticism, as researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggested in a report last year that any manned mission to Mars would result in the crew dying after 68 days.last_img read more

Extend consumer choice to branch service

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first_img 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Chad Davis Chad Davis is Industry Sr Solutions Marketing Manger, F5 Networks, which is the leader in app security and multi-cloud management. He can be reached at [email protected] Web: https://www.f5.com Details Consumers have a wealth of choices today about how they interact with their financial service providers—in every channel except the branch. They can go online from their computers to access their finances, open new accounts, or apply for loans. They can perform many of the same transactions from the mobile app on their smartphones or by phoning the call center. Remote channel access has revolutionized service delivery, but many consumers still prefer to stop by a branch for more complex matters. These often involve important decisions, and they appreciate the opportunity to talk through their options with a helpful financial professional. What they don’t appreciate is having to wait for that consultation. As much as the customer experience has been transformed in other delivery channels, it remains much the same in many branches—sometimes depressingly so. Put yourself in the shoes of an accountholder who stops by a branch with a question about a new deposit account. You are directed by the greeter to the waiting area, where four other people are already seated. Does that mean you’re fifth in line? Or is some combination of those already-waiting accountholders together? And are they there for a quick question or an hourlong interaction? Should you continue to wait or cut your losses and head out now? You could leave and come back later, but there’s no guarantee the line will be any shorter when you return. Wait time is a thoroughly researched aspect of customer service: how people react to it (most perceive it to be even longer than it is), how to reduce it or at least make it more tolerable (give people something to do), even how to engineer the queue to move people to the front of the line in a way that minimizes their dissatisfaction (several shorter lines vs. a longer, more serpentine queue).There’s a reason why wait time gets so much attention: Time is a valuable commodity for many busy people, and they want to feel in control about how they spend it. In the example of waiting in the lobby to speak to a financial professional, you don’t have much control or information to help decide whether to stay or go. And every minute you wait, you likely are thinking about what else you could be doing with your time. That experience multiplied across dozens of accountholders on a weekly basis can add up for financial institutions. A 2006 study by McKinsey & Co. of bank frontline service found that 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they are being treated. Given that the branch experience for many accountholders hasn’t changed much since then, these findings remain relevant, and so does this question: Does the experience your branches provide treat your accountholders like VIPs? Other business research shared in the American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer found that 78 percent of customers have bailed on an intended transaction because of a poor experience. When accountholders leave your branch lobby rather than continue to wait for who knows how long, you can chalk that up as a poor experience—and a lost sales opportunity.That’s unfortunate and unnecessary. Just as technology has transformed other delivery channels, it can improve branch service by giving your accountholders more control and choice. Compare our previous example to the experience of walking into a branch equipped with customer connection software. You register at a kiosk that lets you know where you are in the queue, how many people are in front of you, and how long your wait will likely be. And if you don’t want to wait that long, you have the option to make an appointment at the kiosk (or your mobile device) to come back later in the day or on another date. Giving accountholders choices and control are two fundamental aspects of improving the customer experience. Armed with information about approximate wait time and the option to schedule an appointment, people can make the decision that works best for them.Customer connection solutions can also enhance branch management and service delivery by providing valuable data to guide staff scheduling and alerting managers about the need to divert staff to frontline duty during busy times. Deploying these tools can bolster the level of personal service that your accountholders expect and value—and offering them options can help ensure that your financial institution remains their go-to choice. last_img read more