What are the best-kept secrets about startups?

Answer on @Quora by @auren to What are the best-kept secrets about startups? – Xochielt Sanchez

Answer by Auren Hoffman:

Clarity of strategy and the product vision is very, very underestimated.

Everyone in the company (including board members and key vendors) should:
1. have a deep understanding of the product
2. know the product strategy for the next 18 month
3. know the company strategy in the next 18 months. 

Strategy needs to be really, really clear and everyone needs to understand it.

The strategy does not need to completely baked and it can change often … but the key thing is that everyone in the company needs to be on the same page as to what the current company strategy is.  If the strategy changes (and that happens a lot in start-ups), everyone needs to buy into that change, understand it, and (of course) be aware of it. 

If strategy is not clear, micro-management by the CEO (or a few core executives) is necessary.  If only a few people really understand the company, they must manage everything.  You see this playing out a lot in start-ups that spend a lot of time hiring amazing people and then proceed to micromanage them because of a lack of clarity of strategy.  This is a waste of really talented people. 

An even worse case scenario is what happens at some larger companies: when many of the top execs (and, by extension, the employees) have differing views of the strategic direction and the product strategy.  This can be really bad because sometimes you will see the same company pursuing two opposing strategies. 

Boats move much faster when everyone is rowing in the same direction.

What are the best-kept secrets about startups?


What’s a week in the life of an astronaut on the ISS like?

Answer on @Quora by @RobertFrost01 to What's a week in the life of an astronaut on the ISS like? – Xochielt Sanchez

Answer by Robert Frost:

The smiling is just a cultural thing – people smile when someone holds up a camera.

Food and other supplies arrives via cargo vehicle, such as the SpaceX Dragon, Orbital Cygnus, Japanese HTV, or Russian Progress.

Urine is collected and sent through the Urine Processing Assembly (UPA) and Water Processing Assembly (WPA) through which it is turned back into drinking water (as astronaut Don Pettit has said, “Today’s coffee becomes tomorrow’s coffee.”  A byproduct of the processing called brine is collected and put into portable Russian tanks called EDV.  When the EDV is full, it is taken to a visiting vehicle and connected to the water tanks of that vehicle and offloaded.

Solid waste is collected in a Russian Solid Waste Container (KTO).  Full KTO are placed in a cargo vehicle that will burn up in the atmosphere during reentry.

The seven day week consists of five and half days schedule for working nominal tasks and a contiguous 1.5 days off.  That doesn't necessarily mean the crew do no work during that 1.5 days, just that they aren't scheduled for tasks other than mandatory things like exercise.

A 24 hour day is composed of 8.5 hours allotted for sleep. 6.5 hours allotted to scheduled work tasks, 2.5 hours schedule for required exercise, 1 hour scheduled for lunch.  There is also time allotted for daily planning conferences with the ground, work preparation time (time to read procedures and gather tools), and plan familiarization time (time to review the day's schedule).  And then pre-sleep and post-sleep time during which hygiene activities, dinner, and breakfast are completed.

Here are two typical daily plans for an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS):

0600 GMT  wake up  personal time

07:30 Discuss today's work with the ground
07:45 Daily tasks – maintenance, payloads etc.
09:45 Exercise on Bike 1hr

10:45 Exercise rope strength training 1 hr (Medical)
11:45 Strength training 1:20m

13:00 Lunch

14:00 EVA Suit maintenance

14:30 Prep for a PAO
14:40 PAO (Public Affairs activities) 20m

15:00 ATV transfer operations

16:30 PMC (Private Medical Conference with the ground)
17:10 PPC (Private Psychological Conference)
17:40 ATV transfer operations
18:35 prep for next day
19:05 Discuss day's work with the ground
19:30 personal time before sleep

21:30 Sleep

06:00 GMT  wake up  personal time
07:30 Discuss today's work with the ground
08:15 Install Alignment Guides for Flammable Liquids Cabinet
08:25 ATV Transfer
09:50 Spinal Elongation Microgravity Experiment
11:30 Load Platform Serial Network Flow Monitor Scientific Hardware Cabinet
11:45 Switch Load Scientific Experiment
12:00 Binary Colloidal Alloy Experiment

12:20 Conference with ground about storage of supplies
12:40 Switch Load Biological Research System Experiment
12:55 Lunch

13:55 ATV Transfer
15:15 Strength Training
16:45 ATV Transfer
16:55 Treadmill Exercise

18:15 Prepare for Next Day's Work
18:45 Discuss today's work with ground
19:10 Prepare for Next Day's Work
19:30 Personal time before going to sleep

21:20 Spinal Elongation Experiment
21:25 Binary Colloidal Alloy Experiment
21:30 Sleep

The crew's timelines for each day can be seen at this site: ISS live!

What's a week in the life of an astronaut on the ISS like?

What are some really cool ways animals defend themselves?

Answer on @Quora by @DomhnallOH to What are some really cool ways animals defend themselves? – Xochielt Sanchez

Answer by Domhnall O'Huigin:

Easily one of the most disgusting, coolest and most scientifically interesting methods an animal defends itself with is also one of the most ancient.

The hagfish is a living fossil, pretty much unchanged for 300 million years.
That's because there isn't really a whole lot to change. Visually reminiscent of a lamprey (debate continues about how closely the two are related) it is basically a tube-like, primitive fish with a face only a mother could love:

Image: WIRED

So far, so disgusting. However the hagfish has a super power that lampreys and other primitive fish lack: the power of slime.

Hagfish have one, highly effective strategy whenever they are attacked.

They can exude copious quantities of a milky and fibrous slime or mucus from some 100 glands or invaginations running along its flanks.[4]The typical species Myxine glutinosa was named for this slime. When captured and held, e.g., by the tail, they secrete the microfibrous slime, which expands into up to 20 litres (5¼ gallons) of sticky gelatinous material when combined with water.[5] If they remain captured, they can tie themselves in an overhand knot which works its way from the head to the tail of the animal, scraping off the slime as it goes and freeing them from their captor, as well as the slime.  – Wikipedia, ibid.

The disgustingness of this slime cannot be underestimated. It clogs up gills, chokes air-breathing animals and generally just uggs the place up considerable.

Image: WIRED

Oh, and: "it smells like dirty seawater and has the consistency of snot"[Discovery News].

The science though, the science is mental and has materials scientists and biologists alike scrambling to understand how the hagfish can produce so much slime so quickly and what benefits this understanding could bring us:

The other–the really interesting one for materials scientists–produces entirely remarkable threads. These are 6 inches long, intricately coiled into a single cell that’s just four-thousandths of an inch long. That, quite frankly, is insane. As a loose metaphor, it’s like packing 10,000 years’ worth of clothes into one suitcase that you’ll then, uh, break open and throw at something that’s attacking you. – Wired, ibid.

Potentially the – presently unidentified – gluing compound contained in the slime could be used as a natural replacement for artificial polymers:

One startup company for example, Benthic Labs*, turned to the Hagfish with the ultimate goal of developing a biodegradable polymer made out of components of the slime itself. They think the slime could be used in everything from protective clothing to food packaging, bungee cords to bandages. That’s because hagfish slime threads have some impressive properties; they might be 100 times thinner than human hair, but they’re 10 times stronger than nylon. – Hagfish Slime: Biomaterial Of The Future?

And there you have it: an incredibly disgusting, incredibly cool – and potentially incredibly useful – way an ancient animal uses to defend itself.

* coolest name ever.

What are some really cool ways animals defend themselves?

Since humans are slower and weaker than some predators, why has no animal evolved to prey on humans?

Answer on @Quora by @AdrianaHeguy to Since humans are slower and weaker than some predators…. – Xochielt Sanchez

Answer by Adriana Heguy:

An animal in fact evolved who specializes in killing humans: Homo sapiens.

We are a top predator. Top predators rarely have predators that specialize in killing them for the purpose of eating them. Lions are not prey items for other carnivores, unless we are talking about the occasional cub killed by a hyena. The threat for lions is not other predators, but rather, the scarcity of prey.

We may be weak and slow, but we evolved as social animals with the protection that the social group or tribe affords. Also, our ancestors developed a complex form of intelligence that allowed them to find ways to fend off predators using weapons, for example.

Of course, a predator that catches a human unaware and far from the group will kill and eat the human as it would any other prey. Tigers for example do this in India and Bangladesh. Pumas and jaguars occasionally kill and eat humans. If babies are left unattended, a wild animal such as a bear can carry the baby away and eat him (unfortunately, this has happened).

But there are no predators who would target a human group as prey, unless we are talking about a very small group of humans with no weapons.

Since humans are slower and weaker than some predators, why has no animal evolved to prey on humans?

How many windows are on the International Space Station?

Answer on @Quora by @RobertFrost01 to How many windows are on the International Space Station? – Xochielt Sanchez

Answer by Robert Frost:

There are several windows throughout the ISS, including the Lab nadir window (WORF), the seven windows in the cupola, the window in the Japanese Kibo module, thirteen windows in the Russian Service Module, two in the Russian docking module, and a window in each Soyuz.

How many windows are on the International Space Station?