Hubble: A mirror up to (human) nature

Robert W. Smith

One of my most vivid recollections of following the Hubble Space Telescope program for several years is a briefing by a Perkin-Elmer representative. The briefer was smoothly flipping his chart and, as usual, we were hearing how well things were going. At one point, however, a member of the audience rather sheepishly questioned a claim that a component "exceeded specification." Surely, the real meaning of the chart was that the component failed specification? "That's right," the briefer asserted, "it exceeds specification in a negative direction." And he pressed confidently along.

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