theodp writes "Bill Gates already called dibbs on polio, so British Airways had to settle for tackling the 'global misalignment of talent' problem, putting '100 of the most forward-thinking founders, CEOs, venture capitalists, and Silicon Valley game-changers' on a flight from San Francisco to London to 'innovate and collaborate to find an effective solution to this growing global challenge.' UnGroundedThinking.com showcases the winning concepts, which include Advisher (an online community to help foster women in STEM), INIT ('nutritional labels' to disclose products' 'STEM ingredients'), DGTL (rewards young women with fashionable clothes for completing coding challenges), Beacons in a Backpack (solar powered backpacks pre-loaded with videos, multimedia content, and game-powered educational tools that also serve as mobile hotspots for rural/remote areas), Tech21 (STEM education program aimed at 21-years-and-older post-college grads in the workforce), Certify.me (allows STEM talent from across the globe to audition for potential employers via standardized-quality assessments), and STEAM Truck (a mobile dance lab where STEM art installations teach kids that science is fun and valuable). 'This has the feel of Southby [SXSW],' gushed a Google Ventures general partner. "It's a serendipitous occasion. It's about time we presented engineers to kids as role models — not just firefighters, cops, doctors, detectives. Who knows? Maybe The Internship changes that.'"
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kkleiner writes "A self-described think tank of engineers and inventors called Two Bit Circus have completed a successful crowdfunding campaign to launch a high tech reinvention of carnivals from yesteryear. The campaign raised over $100k to launch the STEAM Carnival (as in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) to take place in Los Angeles and San Francisco next year. Showcasing robots, fire, and lasers, the goal of the carnival is to inspire young people into science and technology through these entertaining and educational events."
Freshly Exhumed writes "Dave Siever always fancied himself as something of a musician, but also realized he did not necessarily sing or play in perfect key. Then he strapped on the electrodes of a device made by his Edmonton company, and zapped his brain's auditory cortex with a mild dose of electricity. The result, he claims, was a dramatic improvement in his ability to hear pitch, including the sour notes he produced himself. 'Now I tune everything and I practise my singing over and over and over again, because I'm more sensitive to it.' Mr. Siever was not under the supervision of a doctor or psychologist, and nor is he one himself. He is part of an extraordinary trend that has amateur enthusiasts excited, and some scientists deeply nervous: do-it-yourself brain stimulation." With studies suggesting that small doses of electricity can: increase your memory, help you learn new tasks, make you better at math, turn you into a sniper in minutes, and most importantly make the ugly seem attractive, we can expect a lot of brain zapping in the next few years.
oxide7 writes "A Texas banker with a knack for numbers has offered $1 million for anyone who can solve a complex math equation that has stumped mathematicians since the 1980s. The Beal Conjecture states that the only solutions to the equation A^x + B^y = C^z, when A, B and C are positive integers, and x, y and z are positive integers greater than two, are those in which A, B and C have a common factor. Like most number theories, it's "easy to say but extremely difficult to prove.""
An anonymous reader writes "Asteroid 1998 QE2 has an estimated diameter of 2.7 km. This asteroid will have a close approach with Earth at about 15.2 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.0392 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers) at 2059 UT on 2013 May 31 and it will reach the peak magnitude ~10.8 on May 31 around 2300 UT." Radar images of the asteroid taken Wednesday show that 1998 QE2 has its own tiny moon, about 600 meters wide. Phil Plait explained how the images were taken, and what further information we gleaned from them. 'The very presence of the moon is a good thing. By measuring how long it takes to go around the primary, the mass of the primary can be found using math known for centuries (the more massive the big asteroid, the faster the moon will go around it at a given distance). We also know the size of the primary, so that means we can find its density, and therefore what it’s made of (probably mostly rock).'
AvailableNickname writes "I am currently pursuing a bachelor's in CompSci and I just spent three hours working on a few differential equations for homework. It is very frustrating because I just don't grok advanced math. I can sort of understand a little bit, but I really don't grok anything beyond long division. But I love computers, and am very good at them. However, nobody in the workforce is even going to glance at my direction without a BSc. And to punish me for going into a field originally developed by mathematicians I need to learn all this crap. If I had understood what I was doing, maybe I wouldn't mind so much. But the double frustration of not understanding it and not understanding why the heck I need to do it is too much. So, how important is it?"
sciencehabit writes "If you are one of the 20% of healthy adults who struggle with basic arithmetic, simple tasks like splitting the dinner bill can be excruciating. Now, a new study suggests that a gentle, painless electrical current applied to the brain can boost math performance for up to 6 months. Researchers don't fully understand how it works, however, and there could be side effects." We've covered various other potential benefits to having your brain shocked.
davecb writes "The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) has recently published two notices for patent examiners relating to patent interpretation, and in particular computer-related/business method type patents saying: 'for example, what appears on its face to be a claim for an "art" or a "process" may, on a proper construction, be a claim for a mathematical formula and therefore not patentable subject matter.'"
ananyo writes "Researchers hoping to get '2' as the answer for a long-sought proof involving pairs of prime numbers are celebrating the fact that a mathematician has wrestled the value down from infinity to 70 million. That goal is the proof to a conjecture concerning prime numbers. Primes abound among smaller numbers, but they become less and less frequent as one goes towards larger numbers. But exceptions exist: the 'twin primes,' which are pairs of prime numbers that differ in value by 2. The twin prime conjecture says that there is an infinite number of such twin pairs. Some attribute the conjecture to the Greek mathematician Euclid of Alexandria, which would make it one of the oldest open problems in mathematics. The new result, from Yitang Zhang of the University of New Hampshire in Durham, finds that there are infinitely many pairs of primes that are less than 70 million units apart. He presented his research on 13 May to an audience of a few dozen at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Although 70 million seems like a very large number, the existence of any finite bound, no matter how large, means that that the gaps between consecutive numbers don't keep growing forever."
itwbennett writes "Researchers from the University of Edinburgh set out to test the long-held assumption that kids who performed well in school at a young age carried that early success through to adulthood. And prove it they did! Specifically, 'Math and reading ability at age 7 may be linked with socioeconomic status several decades later.' Early success even correlates 'over and above associations with intelligence, education, and socioeconomic status in childhood.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Frédéric Wang, an engineer at the MathJax project, reports that the latest nightly build of Firefox now passes the MathML Acid2 test. Screenshots in his post show a comparison with the latest nightly Chrome Canary, and it's not pretty. He writes 'Google developers forked Webkit and decided to remove from Blink all the code (including MathML) on which they don't plan to work in the short term.'"
waderoush writes "Consumer Reports calls extended warranties 'money down the drain,' and as a tech journalist and owner of myriad gadgets — none of which have ever conked out or cracked up during the original warranty period — that was always my attitude too. But when I met recently with Steve Abernethy, CEO of San Francisco-based warranty provider SquareTrade, I tried to keep an open mind, and I came away thinking that the industry might be changing. In a nutshell, Abernethy says he's aware of the extended-warranty industry's dreadful reputation, but he says SquareTrade is working to salvage it through a combination of lower prices, broader coverage, and better service. On top of that, he made some persuasive points – which don't seem to figure into Consumer Reports' argument – about the way the 'risk vs. severity' math has changed since the beginning of the smartphone and tablet era. One-third of smartphone owners will lose their devices to drops or spills within the first three years of purchase, the company's data shows. If you belong to certain categories — like people in big households, or motorcycle owners, or homeowners with hardwood floors — your risk is even higher. So, in the end, the decision about buying an extended warranty boils down to whether you think you can defy the odds, and whether you can afford to buy a new device at full price if you're one of the unlucky ones."
mikejuk writes with news of an advancement for homomorphic encryption and open source: "To be fully homomorphic the code has to be such that a third party can add and multiply numbers that it contains without needing to decrypt it. In other words they can change the data by working with just the encrypted version. This may sound like magic but a fully homomorphic scheme was invented in 2009 by Craig Gentry. This was a step in the right direction but the problem was that it is very inefficient and computationally intensive. Since then there have been a number of improvements that make the scheme practical in the right situations Now Victor Shoup and Shai Halevi of the IBM T J Watson Research Center have released an open source (GPL) C++ library, HElib, as a Github project. The code is said to incorporate many optimizations to make the encryption run faster. Homomorphic encryption has the potential to revolutionize security by allowing operations on data without the need to decrypt it."
Avantare writes "The first sci-fi novel I read was A Wrinkle in Time; the next was Dune. Why don't more people read these extraordinarily imaginative books? Delegate Ray Canterbury, who represents Greenbrier County in southern WV, wants to help with that. Canterbury introduced House Bill 2983, which reads, 'To stimulate interest in math and science among students in the public schools of this state, the State Board of Education shall prescribe minimum standards by which samples of grade-appropriate science fiction literature are integrated into the curriculum of existing reading, literature or other required courses for middle school and high school students.' For decades, walking around with a paperback sci-fi novel in your back pocket at school was the quickest way to find yourself permanently excluded from the cool-kid clique. But what if it wasn't just the geeks who read Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke? What if science fiction was mandatory reading for all students?"
An anonymous reader writes "A study released Wednesday by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute reinforces what a number of researchers have come to believe: that the STEM worker shortage is a myth. The EPI study found that the United States has 'more than a sufficient supply of workers available to work in STEM occupations.' Basic dynamics of supply and demand would dictate that if there were a domestic labor shortage, wages should have risen. Instead, researchers found, they've been flat, with many Americans holding STEM degrees unable to enter the field and a sharply higher share of foreign workers taking jobs in the information technology industry. (IT jobs make up 59 percent of the STEM workforce, according to the study.)"
new submitter heybiff writes "It is the time of year where students are scrambling for extra credit assignments to boost grades. As a middle school science teacher, I want to accommodate them, while still keeping science involved; and book reports are a popular activity in my school. Unfortunately, I have only been able to come up with a short list of science related books that a 11-14 year old would or could read in their free time: Ender's Game, Hitchhiker's Guide. What books would you recommend as a good read for an extra credit book report, that would still involve a strong science twist or inspire a student's interest in science? The book must be in print, science related, fiction or non-fiction, and not be overtly objectionable or outright banned. I look forward to the submissions." "Outright banned" actually seems a rich vein on which to draw; note that not even Ender's Game is safe.
Shipud writes "E.O. Wilson is the renowned father of sociobiology, a professor (emeritus) at Harvard, two time pulitzer prize winner, and a popularizer of science. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Wilson provides controversial advice to aspiring young scientists. Wilson claims that math literacy is not essential, and that scientific models in biology, intuitively generated, can later be formalized by a specialized statistician. One blogger calls out Wilson on his article, arguing that knowing mathematics is essential to generating models, and that lacking what Darwin called the "extra sense" is essentially limiting to any scientist."
alostpacket writes "The New York times reports that statistical scoring by the standardized testing company Pearson incorrectly disqualified over 4700 students from a chance to enter gifted / advanced programs in New York City schools. Only students who score in the 90th percentile or above are eligible for these programs. Those in the 97th or above are eligible for 5 of the best programs. 'According to Pearson, three mistakes were made. Students' ages, which are used to calculate their percentile ranking against students of similar age, were recorded in years and months, but should also have counted days to be precise. Incorrect scoring tables were used. And the formula used to combine the two test parts into one percentile ranking contained an error.' No mention of enlisting the help of the gifted children was made in the Times article, but it also contained a now-corrected error. This submission likely also contains an erro"
Famous for his work in math, astronomy, nuclear engineering, and theoretical physics, Freeman Dyson has left his mark on almost every scientific discipline. He's won countless awards, and written numerous books on a wide range of topics both scientific and philosophical. One of his biggest contributions to science was the unification of the three versions of quantum electrodynamics invented by Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga. 10 years after moving to the U.S. he started working on the Orion Project, which sought to create a spacecraft with a nuclear propulsion system. STNG exposed the idea of a Dyson sphere to the masses, and his hypothetical plan for making a comet habitable with the help of genetically-engineered plants is a personal favorite. Mr. Dyson has graciously agreed give us a bit of his time in order to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.