A librarian chimes in on course packets

Great opinion piece [“Copyright concerns,” Oct. 18]!

Making a copy for yourself is not a violation of copyright. However, making copies for someone else is, hence the restrictions on course packets.

Available anywhere from any computer? Yes, if your library has electronic reserves, or can provide links to the online articles. That’s what course reserves are for. And with so many electronic journals and books available, you may be able to find it online outside of reserves, to download or print. Ask a librarian.

And finally, why should you pay the bookstore or the professor or your institution for copies that you can make yourself, sometimes more cheaply. Or better yet, read it in the library, take notes, and learn it better.

Gretchen Pearson
Syracuse, New York

[Ed. Note: the column referenced is an opinion column, which does not reflect the views of the Vanguard editorial staff.]


Hydrogen will be viable in five years

I have recently returned from a three-day hydrogen conference in Singapore at which I spoke to a number of people who gave presentations and some of those people are directly involved in research and development of hydrogen-economy technologies [“Hydrogen dreams,” Nov. 8].

Be assured that the problems to which you refer are being addressed and solutions are much closer in time than your article suggests.

Presentations were made on solid hydrogen storage and more efficient production methods of "Green" hydrogen. On both those crucial matters, it was quite evident that progress was ahead of what has been reported in the general media – some results were mentioned that had not been made public because the tests were ongoing, but the preliminary data was very encouraging.

You accurately commented that there are losses in each stage of hydrogen production.

A very, very important point about those losses is that, when using Renewable Energy ("RE") sources (wind, solar, water, etc.), those energy sources, while being intermittent, are effectively free when they are actually available. The costs of hydrogen production using RE are associated with amortization of the relevant hardware and minimal running costs.

Energy losses, though they are currently appreciable, are much less relevant than you infer, unless you are using energy generated from the use of non-renewable resources.

I know of two companies, and there must be many more of which I am unaware, which are directly involved in the research and development of electrolyser and fuel cell (FC) membranes.

One of those companies is well on the way to reducing the cost of membranes. Membranes are the most expensive part of a FC, to the point at which FCs will be affordable and the time frame is not decades, but less than five years.

Capital costs will be dramatically reduced for both electrolysers and FCs.

The conclusion to be drawn from that is that when the capital costs of hardware come down, so do amortization costs, which results in cheaper hydrogen – a very important point.

Alternative Renewable Energy carriers, such as ethanol, are also a part of the energy mix needed to mitigate the possible effects of peak oil and greenhouse gas emissions, but, in the medium to long term, hydrogen will be the energy carrier used on this planet.

Read this message in five years time!


Anthony Hine
Queenstown, New Zealand

[Ed. Note: the column referenced is an opinion column, which does not reflect the views of the Vanguard editorial staff.]


Checks and balances in student government

The proposed amendment that would grant the senate veto power over any one group’s budget is absolutely ridiculous, and most likely illegal. Viewpoint neutrality is the essence of student fee allocations. While it may not always have been observed in the SFC in the past and few have the confidence that it will be this year, giving the senate line-item veto power renders the SFC completely unnecessary. The SFC has training and financial advisers to see them through the fee process. They are elected with the understanding that their function is to distribute mandatory incidental fees in a viewpoint neutral fashion, as dictated by the Supreme Court of the United States. The senate serves a completely different purpose. The senate is an intentionally partisan group. Senators are allowed to advocate as loudly as they want for one position or group over another – in fact, they are expected to. It isn’t uncommon to see coordinators and leaders of student groups sitting in on the senate. So my question is this: How would viewpoint neutrality ever be observed in the senate? There are no policies in place to ensure that a senator who is the coordinator or intern of a specific group wouldn’t vote on their budget. There’s nothing to keep the senate from cutting funding of a group purely based on the fact that they don’t like the members.

What it comes down to is that the current student government wants to find a way to give themselves more power. All through campaigning last year, all we heard was buzzwords about "accountability" and "representation." I don’t see either of those things coming out of our current administration. This amendment would take all accountability out of the fee allocation process. Currently, the senate is the check on the SFC. If they feel that a program has been evaluated in a manner that is not viewpoint neutral, they can refer the budget to the Judicial Board. But who would check the senate if this amendment were to pass? No one.

Lindsey Craven
PSU Student