So let’s everyone cross fingers for the success of this amazing piece of science: After 3 Billion Miles, Craft Returns Sunday Bearing Cosmic Dust Older Than the Sun – New York Times

This little project is fascinating, brilliant, and cheap. It’s the kind of thing we could do a lot of if we could let go, perhaps for about a century, of the romantic, expensive, and pointless idea of physically putting people into space, keeping them alive there, and getting them back. The military had a terrible time letting go of what appears to be some sort of macho “sit right on the horse” cavalry instinct–note the pilot hostility to RPV’s (remotely piloted vehicles) registered here— but a generation of videogame-savvy young men may eventually turn this around.

Actually, a fair number of useful things, like earthmoving on steep slopes or below unstable banks are better done, and often with a better view of the work, by radio control than by sitting in the device itself. Remote control poses a tradeoff between the personal satisfaction of a pilot/astronaut or operating engineer, for whom it is certainly more fun to control a vehicle from inside it, and the interests of the enterprise.

Caution: people who should know better have inexcusably inferred from these sound principles governing aviation and earthmoving that teaching might be better done by remote means, broadcasting (for example) the best sessions by the best teachers to very large classes. The implications for employment in my business make it clear to any fool what a despicable and dangerous folly this would be.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.