Google and Gates-Backed Khan Academy Introduces "Grit"-Based Classroom Funding

Slashdot - 1 hour 25 min ago
theodp writes: Their intentions are no doubt good, but some will be troubled by Google and Khan Academy's recently-concluded LearnStorm initiative, which pitted kids-against-kids, schools-against-schools, and cities-against-cities in a 3-month learning challenge for prizes based not only on students' mastery of math skills on Khan Academy, but also their perceived 'hustle' (aka 'grit'). "Points are earned by mastering math skills and also for taking on challenging new concepts and persevering," explained a Khan Academy FAQ. A blog entry further explained, "They've earned points and prizes not only for mastering math skills but also for showing 'hustle,' a metric we created to measure grit, perseverance, and growth. They competed over 200,000 hours of learning and 13.6 million standards-aligned math problems. In addition, thanks to the generosity of Google.org, DonorsChoose.org, and Comcast's Internet Essentials, 34 underserved schools unlocked new devices for their classrooms and free home internet service for eligible families, increasing student access to online learning tools like Khan Academy." Apparently funded by a $2 million Google grant, the Google, Khan Academy, and DonorsChoose grit-based classroom funding comes on the heels of the same organizations' gender-based classroom funding initiative. Supported by some of the world's wealthiest individuals and corporations, Khan Academy's Board members include a Google Board member (Diane Green), spouse of a Google Board member (Ann Doerr), and the Managing Partner of Bill Gates' bgC3 (Larry Cohen); former Board members include Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

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Categories: Science

Best Space Stories of the Week – May 24, 2015

Space.com - 2 hours 27 min ago
The U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane launched on another mystery mission, Russia's Proton rocket failed during a satellite launch and astronomers found the most luminous galaxy in the universe. Here's a look at Space.com's top stories of the week.
Categories: Science

<em>A Beautiful Mind</em> Mathematician John F. Nash Jr. Dies

Slashdot - 2 hours 31 min ago
Rick Zeman writes: John F. Nash Jr. revolutionized the mathematical field of game theory and was given a mind that was unique and deeply troubled. He became known to most people by the movie about his life, A Beautiful Mind. Dr. Nash died, along with his wife, May 24 in a two-car accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. The Washington Post reports: "In 1994, when Dr. Nash received the Nobel Prize in economics, the award marked not only an intellectual triumph but also a personal one. More than four decades earlier, as a Princeton University graduate student, he had produced a 27-page thesis on game theory — in essence, the applied mathematical study of decision-making in situations of conflict — that would become one of the most celebrated works in the field. Before the academic world could fully recognize his achievement, Dr. Nash descended into a condition eventually diagnosed as schizophrenia. For the better part of 20 years, his once supremely rational mind was beset by delusions and hallucinations. By the time Dr. Nash emerged from his disturbed state, his ideas had influenced economics, foreign affairs, politics, biology — virtually every sphere of life fueled by competition. But he been absent from professional life for so long that some scholars assumed he was dead."

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Categories: Science

Soft Sensors Map Skin Mechanics

Slashdot - 3 hours 38 min ago
MTorrice writes: An international research team has built electronic, flexible patches that can measure the mechanical properties of skin and other biological tissue. The sensors consist of nanoribbons of a piezoelectric material, lead zirconate titanate, which deforms when jolted with electrical energy and, conversely, produces electricity when it's deformed. The researchers mapped the skin elasticity of dozens of patients in the clinic, building up quantitative data on healthy and damaged tissue. The information could help doctors better assess conditions such as dermatitis and skin cancer. The team believes that similar sensors could be implanted inside the body to monitor blood vessels and other soft tissue for damage or dysfunction.

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Categories: Science

Universe's Dark Ages May Not Be Invisible After All

Slashdot - 4 hours 44 min ago
StartsWithABang writes: The Universe had two periods where light was abundant, separated by the cosmic dark ages. The first came at the moment of the hot Big Bang, as the Universe was flooded with (among the matter, antimatter and everything else imaginable) a sea of high-energy photons, including a large amount of visible light. As the Universe expanded and cooled, eventually the cosmic microwave background was emitted, leaving behind the barely visible, cooling photons. It took between 50 and 100 million years for the first stars to turn on, so in between these two epochs of the Universe being flooded with light, we had the dark ages. Yet the dark ages may not be totally invisible, as the forbidden spin-flip-transition of hydrogen may illuminate this time period after all.

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Categories: Science

The Next Roomba May Recognize All Your Crap

Wired News - 6 hours 10 min ago

iRobot CEO Colin Angle says his company will bring a home-mapping robot to market by the end of the year.

The post The Next Roomba May Recognize All Your Crap appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

At Last, Classy Parisian Lady Types Get Their Own Gadgets

Wired News - 6 hours 10 min ago

The collection is undeniably feminine yet manages to avoid the cheap “girly” marketing tricks.

The post At Last, Classy Parisian Lady Types Get Their Own Gadgets appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

Here Are Your WIRED Star Wars Challenges for Week 4

Wired News - 6 hours 10 min ago

Only 208 days remain until the new 'Star Wars' movie. We have a few ideas for how you can pass the time.

The post Here Are Your WIRED Star Wars Challenges for Week 4 appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

Shocker: Americans Don’t Think Their Data Can Stay Private

Wired News - 6 hours 11 min ago

So many hacks, so few days in the week to write alarming stories about every one.

The post Shocker: Americans Don’t Think Their Data Can Stay Private appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

Nerve Cells Made From Blood Cells

Slashdot - 7 hours 40 min ago
BarbaraHudson writes: CBC reports that Canadian scientists are turning blood into nerve cells. They do so by manipulating stem cells that have been taken from a patient's blood, eventually switching them into neural stem cells (abstract). These can then give rise to multiple different nerve cells suitable for use in the rest of the body. Team leader Mick Bhatia said, "We can actually take a patient's blood sample, as routinely performed in a doctor's office, and with it we can produce one million sensory neurons. We can also make central nervous system cells." They're working on turning the neural stem cells into motor neurons for treatment of diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

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Categories: Science

Thanks, OpenTable, But I Like Being an Anonymous Diner

Wired News - 7 hours 55 min ago

Paying your tab with an app is hassle-free, but the convenience comes at a cost.

The post Thanks, OpenTable, But I Like Being an Anonymous Diner appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

Turns Out There a Lot of Academics Studying Photo Filters

Wired News - 8 hours 1 min ago

There's way, way more behind why we use filters and love to look at them than you thought.

The post Turns Out There a Lot of Academics Studying Photo Filters appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

Software Patch Fixes Mars Curiosity Rover's Auto-focus Glitch

Slashdot - 10 hours 51 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory have successfully uploaded and applied a software patch to NASA's Curiosity Rover on Mars. The patch fixes a focusing problem that cropped up in November when the laser that helps to focus one of its cameras failed. "Without this laser rangefinder, the ChemCam instrument was somewhat blind," said Roger Wiens, ChemCam principal investigator at Los Alamos. "The main laser that creates flashes of plasma when it analyzes rocks and soils up to 25 feet [7.6 meters] from the rover was not affected, but the laser analyses only work when the telescope projecting the laser light to the target is in focus." Before the fix, scientists had to shoot images at nine different focus settings to distill a decent set of data. Now, they say the new software results in better images in a single shot than even before the laser broke down. The program that runs the instrument is only 40 kilobytes in size.

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Categories: Science

Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK

Slashdot - 13 hours 55 min ago
Mark Wilson sends word that Amazon will begin paying corporate taxes on profits made in the UK. The company had previously been recording most of its UK sales as being in Luxembourg, which let them avoid the higher taxes in the UK. But at the end of last year, UK regulators decided they were losing too much tax revenue because of this practice, so they began implementing legislation that would impose a 25% tax on corporations routing their profits elsewhere. Amazon is the first large corporation to make the change, and it's expected to put pressure on Google, Microsoft, Apple, and others to do the same.

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Categories: Science

Study: Science Still Seen As a Male Profession

Slashdot - 17 hours 7 min ago
sciencehabit sends news of a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology which found that science is still perceived as a predominantly male profession across the world. The results were broken out by country, and while the overall trend stayed consistent throughout (PDF), there were variations in perception. For explicit bias: "Countries where this association was strongest included South Africa and Japan. The United States ranked in the middle, with a score similar to Austria, Mexico, and Brazil. Portugal, Spain, and Canada were among the countries where the explicit bias was weakest." For implicit bias: "Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, and Sweden were among the countries with the highest implicit bias scores. The United States again came in at the middle of the pack, scoring similarly to Singapore. Portugal, Spain, and Mexico had among the lowest implicit bias scores, though the respondents still associated science more with men than with women."

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Categories: Science

The Hoverboard Flies Closer To Reality

Slashdot - Sat, 23/05/2015 - 11:01pm
Dave Knott writes: Fans of 1980s cinema were disappointed when the year 2015 arrived without a practical version Marty McFly's hoverboard. Now, a Montréal-based man has brought it closer to reality by setting a new record for longest "flight" by hoverboard. In a filmed test recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records, Catalin Alexandru Duru pilots his somewhat cumbersome looking rig for 250 meters — five times the previous record — at a height of five meters above Quebec's Lake Ouareau. Duru and his business partner "hope to have a new prototype finished by the end of the year and then have hoverboards available for purchase across the country. He wouldn't say how much the prototype cost to build, but said that the first generation of the machine will likely be 'quite expensive.'" "This thing is still quite dangerous," he added, explaining that the pilot uses only his or her feet to fly the contraption. The commercial version's software will limit it to flying below a height of about one-and-a-half meters above the ground.

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Categories: Science

Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things

Slashdot - Sat, 23/05/2015 - 9:59pm
An anonymous reader writes: A new report from The Information (paywalled) says Google is working on an operating system called "Brillo" that would be a platform for Internet-of-things devices. It's supposedly a lightweight version of Android, capable of running on devices with extremely limited hardware — as little as 32 MB of RAM, for example. The company is expected to launch the code for Brillo at its I/O event next week. This is particularly relevant now that Google has acquired Nest, Dropcam, and Revolv — a trio of "smart home" companies whose devices could potentially by unified by Brillo.

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Categories: Science

Oculus Founder Hit With Lawsuit

Slashdot - Sat, 23/05/2015 - 8:53pm
An anonymous reader writes: Palmer Luckey, founder of VR headset-maker Oculus, has been sued by a company accusing him of taking their confidential information and passing it off as his own. Total Recall Technologies, based in Hawaii, claims it hired Luckey in 2011 to build a head-mounted display. Part of that employment involved Luckey signing a confidentiality agreement. In August, 2012, Luckey launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Oculus Rift headset, and Facebook bought his company last year for $2 billion. TRT is seeking compensatory and punitive damages (PDF).

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Categories: Science

Ireland Votes Yes To Same-Sex Marriage

Slashdot - Sat, 23/05/2015 - 7:45pm
BarbaraHudson writes: Reuters is reporting that the citizens of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to legalize same-sex marriages. While it's also legal in 19 other countries, Ireland was the first to decide this by putting the question to the citizens. "This has really touched a nerve in Ireland," Equality Minister Aodhan O'Riordain said at the main count center in Dublin. "It's a very strong message to every LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) young person in Ireland and every LGBT young person in the world." Observers say the loss of moral authority of the Catholic church after a series of sex scandals was a strong contributing factor, with priests limiting their appeals to the people sitting in their pews. In contrast, the "Yes" side dominated social media.

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Categories: Science

Ask Slashdot: Can SaaS Be Both Open Source and Economically Viable?

Slashdot - Sat, 23/05/2015 - 6:49pm
An anonymous reader writes: The CTO behind Lucidchart, an online diagramming app, recently cited the open source rbush project as an invaluable tool for helping implement an "in-memory spatial index" that "increased spatial search performance by a factor of over 1,000 for large documents." My question is this: what risks does a SaaS company like Lucidchart face in making most of their own code public, like Google's recent move with Chrome for Android, and what benefits might be gained by doing so? Wouldn't sharing the code just generate more users and interest? Even if competitors did copy it, they'd always be a step behind the latest developments.

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Categories: Science