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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Khan Academy Buys Children’s App Developer, Duck Duck Moose, For $1 | EdSurge

Photo: Tony Wan
"Like many parents, Sal Khan has bought Itsy Bitsy Spider, Park Math and other educational apps created by Duck Duck Moose, a San Mateo, Calif.-based startup." reports Tony Wan, Managing Editor at EdSurge.

But the Khan Academy founder just scored what sure looks like a bargain: getting the company’s entire product suite, along with its development team, for less than what he paid for those apps.

Photo: Khan Academy

On Aug. 25, Duck Duck Moose announced that it has “donated” its intellectual property and become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Khan Academy. Khan says his team paid $1—a legal formality required for asset transfers.

“We’ve always viewed early learning as part our mission,” he tells EdSurge in an interview, “but we didn’t have the capacity.” With the acquisition, Khan says his team now has the resources to “create products that prepare kids, from the moment they’re ready to use a mobile device, for kindergarten.”

As part of the deal, Duck Duck Moose’s nine full-time employee will join the nonprofit, and all 21 of its apps will be made available for free.
Read more...

Source: EdSurge


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Marcus Co-Edits Book on the Philosophy of Math

Photo: Russell Marcus
Assistant Professor of Philosophy Russell Marcus was the co-editor of An Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Mathematics, published by Bloomsbury.

A comprehensive collection of historical readings in the philosophy of mathematics and a selection of influential contemporary work, this much-needed introduction reveals the rich history of the subject.

An Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Mathematics:
A Reader

An Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Mathematics brings together an impressive collection of primary sources from ancient and modern philosophy. Arranged chronologically and featuring introductory overviews explaining technical terms, this accessible reader is easy-to-follow and unrivaled in its historical scope. With selections from key thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume and Kant, it connects the major ideas of the ancients with contemporary thinkers. A selection of recent texts from philosophers including Quine, Putnam, Field and Maddy offering insights into the current state of the discipline clearly illustrates the development of the subject. 

Source: Hamilton College News


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Why do we sleep? Scientists uncover how late nights can physically change the brain | Wired.co.uk

Follow on Twitter as @ameliax1
"Sleep deprivation can lead to increased synaptic strength in the brain but decreased memory power." notes Amelia Heathman, digital intern at wired.co.uk.

Photo: iLexx/iStock

We all sleep – some of us less than others – and yet the exact role sleeping plays on our bodies and minds has largely remained elusive.

By focusing on the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain, scientists now believe sleep is needed in order to ensure brain function stays on track, and to prevent connectivity changes.

Christoph Nissen and his team from the University Medical Center Freiburg, in Germany, compared the brain activity of 20 participants. The first study was done after a full night's sleep while the second study was carried out after a night of sleep deprivation, a total of 24 hours without any sleep.

During both experiments, the scientists applied magnetic pulses to the motor cortex, the area of the brain responsible for controlling movement, in order to activate neurons in the participants' brains.

From this, the team discovered that sleep deprivation causes significant, so-called 'connectivity changes' to occur. In particular, it was found that in sleep-deprived applicants the strength of the pulse needed to produce a muscle response in the left hand was much lower for the sleep deprived participants, suggesting brain excitability was higher after lack of sleep.

Brain excitability refers to the strength of reactions of the brain to a given stimulus or irritation. It is believed that brain excitability reflects the overall strength of connectivity in the area of the brain it is targeting, therefore when it is affected by something like sleep deprivation, excitability changes meaning in a way that causes the strength of synapses in the brain to change.

This explains why people feel less alert and unable to complete simple tasks when they're sleep deprived. Although this sounds obvious, it is the first time a direct link between the two has been visualised in this way. 
Read more... 

Source: Wired.co.uk


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Silence is an underrated tool in the arsenal of parenting | Livemint

Follow on Twitter as @ShobaNarayan
"When I don’t snap to judgement or bark out orders, it gives my kids the space to choose, decide and make mistakes." summarizes Shoba Narayan.

Photo: iStock

I am trying something that is extraordinarily difficult for every parent. I plan to cease and desist from all parental instructions; or at least reduce their volume and frequency quite significantly.
 
I am what I would call an involved parent. My kids have another pithy word to describe my modus operandi: nagging. Completely untrue, I might add.
 
While I don’t consider myself opinionated, I have thought through things and developed views about how to do things—the right way and the wrong way. I am also a champion of the teachable moment, which could be, if you think about it, every waking moment that your child is with you.
 
When we walk to school, I point out trees and talk about networking and the tree of life. When we are stuck in traffic, I tell them about how meditation can help them unwind and spark creativity. When we go to the grocery store, I “discuss” nutrition and food choices.
 
As my daughter says, “It is exhausting.” In return, I ask: what does she have to be exhausted about? 
 
After all, I am the one coming up with sprightly thoughts and sensible advice. All she does is roll her eyes, with yellow earphone wires snaking out of her ears.
 
So far, I saw nothing wrong with this maximalist approach. After all, our children are in our purview for just 18 or so years. Doesn’t it behoove every good parent to pack in all the advice?
 
But a funny thing has happened now that both my daughters are teenagers. I find that their eyes glaze over when I begin talking. Worse, they say what I am about to say and not in an admiring-imitation fashion either. They have grown positively grumpy. Grumpy voice and glassy eyes. That’s the thanks I get for all these years of advice.
 
This year, I made a vow. I would stop advising them. Heck, I would stop speaking altogether. Those morning chants of “wake up, wake up, wake up”? Gone.
 
The incessant orders masked as questions? “When are you going to start your homework?” “Have you had your bath yet?” Gone.
 
I will be as silent as a monk on a mountaintop till my kids beg me to dispense my pearls of wisdom. That’s the plan anyway.
 
Silence is an underrated tool in the arsenal of parenting. So far, I have only used it to give the silent treatment to erring pre-teens. This is a different approach. It involves pausing before every uttered instruction, quickly figuring out if I really need to utter that instruction, and hopefully not saying anything at all.
 
Basically, I plan to do what every married man learns to do fairly quickly: listen, nod and remain silent.
 
Silence is the latest practice to hit the spectrum of thought exercises that began with meditation, mindfulness and then moved on to gratitude, loving-kindness meditation, cognitive behavioural therapy and self-compassion. The goal of all these is to soften and shape the mind as if it were a clay sculpture.
 
Silence is both a late-comer to this party, as well as being one of the oldest. From Vedic rishis to Benedictine monks, from Sufi saints to Buddhist teachers, every faith has used silence as a way to access spirituality, compassion and centering of the mind.
 
And yet, silence—like mothers, I might add—has been under appreciated in the modern arsenal of mind-body practices. Until now.
 
Amazon is building a giant nature preserve to encourage creative thinking among its employees. The idea is that its employees will walk in silence amid this enclosed nature preserve and come up with world-changing ideas.
 
Bengaluru-based data analytics firm Mu Sigma has asked its employees to “go quiet for an hour every day”, as Mint reported. Companies are scrambling for ways to empower and encourage employees, not just to be more productive but also to think brilliantly and not burn out. Silence is the practice du jour.

Source: Livemint


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The Knowledge Exchange: 23 Years of cultivating lifelong learners | The Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle

"Something remarkable has been happening for the past 23 years in the South Suburbs." inform Margaret Brady. 

Photo: The Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle

The Knowledge Exchange (TKE), often referred to as a “hidden gem,” starts its 24th year of learning when its fall session opens Sept. 16 at Governors State University (GSU). 



The program brings adults together on Fridays to learn about a myriad of subjects — everything from history and literature to film studies, science, philosophy, the law and art appreciation. The course teachers, or “leaders,” are all volunteers; the students, or “participants,” are mostly retired or semi-retired individuals.

There are no grades; there is no homework, papers or tests. The courses offer no credits. There is simply the utter joy of learning — a steady pursuit of knowledge for its own sake and an ongoing, free-flowing exchange of opinions and ideas.


Conceived in 1992, The Knowledge Exchange (formerly known as The Adult Learning Exchange, or TALE) has been offering courses in the Southland every year since the summer of 1993. It operated formerly under the auspices of the Anita M. Stone Jewish Community Center. Currently, TKE is based out of the School of Extended Learning at GSU in University Park.

Serving as a vivacious and energetic administrator of TKE today is Suzanne Patterson of Homewood, whose full-time job is continuing education community coordinator in GSU’s School of Extended Learning.

Patterson stepped into her administrative role for TKE in 2012. However, she’s quick to note that she walked into a “fully-loaded and already thriving” program, thanks to the efforts of people like her “mentor” Kathy Kemp of Chicago Heights, one of the group’s original team members. Kemp — along with others like Bob Wolf, the late Bill Dodd (Flossmoor) and Cil Rockwell — helped make TKE what it is today.

TKE’s early architects patterned their program somewhat after Northwestern University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Read more...

Source: The Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle


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Monday, August 22, 2016

153 Conservative Academics Come Out Of The Closet | The Federalist

"Conservatives are less well-represented in the American professoriate than all current targets of affirmative action. A new book tells stories of conservative academics ‘coming out.’" according to Joseph Larsen, journalist based in Tbilisi, Georgia. 

Photo U.S. Navy / Wikimedia


Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University” by John A. Shields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr. is a short book surveying the experiences of right-wing social science and humanities professors in the United States. Conservative discomfort with the American academy and its leftward biases has been a fixture of American politics at least since the 1950s. However, research shows that leftward bias within the university system has grown significantly since the 1980s.

Passing on the Right:
Conservative Professors in the Progressive University
Shields, a professor at Claremont McKenna College, and Dunn, a professor at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, engage with this growing political homogeneity. Their book documents the experiences of 153 right-leaning professors in the social sciences and humanities (spoiler: they find conservatives getting less than a fair shake).
Read more...

Source: The Federalist


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Is It OK to Teach Grown-Ups? | Chronicle of Higher Education


Check Emily Toth Ms. Mentor out, who never leaves her ivory tower, channels her mail via Emily Toth at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge below.
 
Photo: Tim Foley for The Chronicle Review

Question (from "Daisy"): After a tough swim through sharks, I finally got tenure at "Jekyll Community College." I’ve now been offered another opportunity — or at least I think it’s one. The college’s Golden Adult Enrichment Program has invited me to teach a course in my specialty, modern American history, for students over 50. The program’s letter was so full of praise that for awhile I thought my mother wrote it.
 
I’m a very good teacher of traditional-age college students, but am I — at 35 — too young to teach a room full of adults over 50? And will teaching in the noncredit Golden Program mean I’ll be giving up my chances ever to find a job at a research-oriented university?

Answer: First, Ms. Mentor cheers and whoops. In our barbarous times, talented teachers are so rarely lauded and wooed. What a splendid moment.

And now it’s your chance to be selfish. What will the Golden Program do for you?

You’re obviously a classroom star at Jekyll, and the good word has gotten around town ("Psst! Take Daisy’s courses!"). Now that you have tenure, it’s the moment to ask existential questions — like "What is the meaning of life?" and "What do I hate?"

Most newly tenured faculty members are exhausted. They’re like successful job seekers, who want to rejoice but are often overwhelmed with post-victory depression and survivor’s guilt. Academe is supposed to be about the lofty life of the mind, but most academicians also have big, burbling emotions. (You’re supposed to pretend they don’t exist.) So in between taking long naps (you’ve earned them), let your psyche tote up all of the things you’ve learned that you didn’t know a few years ago, when you got on the tenure track.

For instance, you know much more about teaching now. You know how to create a syllabus to cover assignments, contingencies, late papers, and plagiarism. You know about having a hook — an opening gambit that starts the class. You know how to organize lecture notes and slides. You know how to grade tests and papers fast, and how to structure questions that are gradable. You’ve learned to establish authority in class and to speak loudly enough to reach the last row. You know how to encourage the eager puppies and how to cajole the unmotivated who want only to text or sleep.

Evidently you project warmth — the major quality students look for when evaluating women as teachers (see RateMyProfessors, which will probably depress you). And you know much, much more about modern American history than you ever knew in grad school, because you’ve had to teach it to people who often, well, couldn’t care less.
 
A lot of that will change in the Golden Program, should you decide to take that mission.
 
You won’t have students with youthful energy, twitching and trying to divert you from noticing that they’re not quite prepared for class. Adult students are, well, more adult. Now they want to learn bigger stuff.
Read more...

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education


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Friday, August 19, 2016

National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) Launches "Significant Figures," New Math Series for Seniors Designed to Keep the Mind Active and Alert

"New MoMath Program to Keep Seniors' Mind Agile inform PR Web

Free Admission for Grandparents who Bring a Grandchild Along

In Celebration of National Grandparents Day
During The Weekend of Saturday, September 10th & Sunday, September 11th



The National Museum of Mathematics, (MoMath), the only museum in North America dedicated to math, has announced a new initiative to bring math – and all its wonders – to older adults. First, MoMath celebrates the special relationship of grandparent to grandchild in recognition of Grandparents’ Weekend – Saturday, September 10 and Sunday, September 11th. During this special weekend, any grandparent who brings a grandchild to the Museum is welcome to attend the Museum free of charge; each grandparent can bring up to two grandchildren free of charge.

Visitors to the museum during Grandparent Weekend are also welcome to attend a sneak preview of Significant Figures – a new series designed to engage the mind with creative and entertaining mathematical activities. Led by MoMath’s education staff, this unique weekend session is aimed at seniors and can be enjoyed together with grandchildren. Sessions will be held at 11:30 am and 2 pm on both Saturday and Sunday; advance registration is required; $8/person session fee. Space is limited. Registrants will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please visit grandparents.momath.org.

Grandparents Weekend is followed by the debut of Significant Figures, a series of weekly educator-led workshops offered to seniors on Wednesday afternoons from September 2016 through December 2016. Significant Figures will include different puzzle activities, word play, and state-of-the art interactive exhibits to stimulate brains, minds, and in some cases, even the bodies of older adults. Workshops are held from 3:45 to 4:45 pm each Wednesday. On the first Wednesday of each month, full-session registrants are invited to enjoy reserved priority seating for the series, Math Encounters with a special opportunity to meet the presenter just before the program begins.

Kicking off Significant Figures on Wednesday, September 14 at 3:45 pm will be special guest, Will Shortz, New York Times crossword puzzle editor. For more information, see significantfigures.momath.org.

“Since the launch of the Museum almost four years ago, we have been thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive response we’ve received from students, teachers, kids, and families.” stated Cindy Lawrence, Executive Director and CEO of MoMath. “By expanding our programs with engaging math content directed at seniors, we can help keep their minds agile, sharp, and fresh, building upon our mission to make math exciting, fun, and accessible to young and old alike. Each week we will present new and innovative ways for the older adult population to not only experience the wonders of math, but to also take part in mental health exercises for their brains.”

About the National Museum of Mathematics
The National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) strives to enhance public understanding and perception of mathematics in daily life. Since it opened in December 2012, more than 500,000 New Yorkers and visitors from around the world have come to the Museum. Another 500,000 have experienced MoMath exhibitions and content in seven countries, including the United States, Singapore, Brazil, Germany, Russia, Spain, and Sweden.

The only math museum in North America, MoMath fulfills an incredible demand for hands-on math programming, creating a space where those who are math-challenged – as well as math enthusiasts of all backgrounds and levels of understanding – can revel in their own personal realm of the infinite world of mathematics through more than 37 state-of-the-art interactive exhibits. MoMath was awarded the bronze 2013 MUSE Award for Education and Outreach by the American Alliance of Museums.

Location:
MoMath is located at 11 E. 26th on the north side of popular Madison Square Park in Manhattan.


Hours:
Open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, visit momath.org.

Source: PR Web (press release)


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The Mysterious History of the Ellipsis, From Medieval Subpuncting to Irrational Numbers | Slate Magazine (blog)


Photo: Cameron Hunt McNabb
Cameron Hunt McNabb, assistant professor at Southeastern University, where she specializes in medieval and early modern literature summarizes, "The punctuation mark of the ellipsis is perhaps the most unusual mark in the English language, for punctuation marks are designed to convey meaning by indicating relationships between ideas, but the ellipsis does the exact opposite." 

In medieval manuscripts, we find a mark—sometimes called subpuncting or underdotting—that is used to indicate the omission of a word or phrase.
Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

It simply indicates that something has been omitted. Sometimes, this omission is poignant, as in J. Alfred Prufrock’s lament “I grow old...I grow old…” which invites the reader to imagine what has happened to the him in the spaces between him growing old. Sometimes, it is simply a placeholder, as happens when a fellow messager is typing on the other end of the line. (Personally, my favorite example of the ellipsis is Seinfeld’s infamous “yada yada yada,” but I digress.)

But where did the ellipsis come from and how did it end up being so unusual? The Guardian’s article on the history of the ellipsis draws on Anne Toner’s fascinating book Ellipsis in English Literature: Signs of Omission to explore ellipses all the way back to the drama of the 16th century. Both the article and the book do an excellent job of analyzing these earliest print records of the modern ellipsis.

But that story may not be the whole story, for the dot dot dot of an ellipsis was no stranger to English texts before the plays of Shakespeare and Jonson. It might have just been serving a slightly different function.

In medieval manuscripts, we find a mark—sometimes called subpuncting or underdotting—that is used to indicate the omission of a word or phrase, usually when that word or phrase has been copied erroneously. This omission mark involves placing a series of dots under the word that is to be omitted. The image below shows an erroneous word, blotted out and subpuncted:

The British Library Board, Harley MS 6258 fol. 45r
 A scholar of medieval manuscripts, David Wakelin, conducted a study on how popular various methods of omission and correction were based on a sample of 9,000 manuscripts at the Huntington Library. He found that “crossing out, subpuncting, or erasure” accounted for 25% of the corrections he found. He does not provide a percentage of subpuncting alone, but it does occur in a variety of manuscripts, particularly those in the 14th and 15th centuries. Wakelin notes that subpuncting begins to die out in the early 16th century, and Toner picks up on the rise of the ellipsis in the late 16th century.
Read more...

Source: Slate Magazine (blog)


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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Don't call me a prodigy: the rising stars of European mathematics | Sci-Tech

Follow on Twitter as @helenakaschel
"Scientists from 80 countries flocked to Berlin this week to attend the European Congress of Mathematics. One main takeaway: some of the continent's leading mathematicians are surprisingly young - and very down-to-earth." inform Helena Kaschel, Berlin.

Photo: Peter Scholze

Time is a precious resource for Peter Scholze (pictured above). Despite his constant lack of it, he's agreed to a short interview on the steps near the main auditorium at Berlin's Technical University. Scholze is polite, but you can tell he's more comfortable speaking to an audience of mathematicians than an audio recorder.

Since the 28-year-old became Germany's youngest professor at the age of 24 and the youngest ever Leibniz laureate at 27, both the academic and the media world have taken notice of him.

Now, five years on, the European Mathematical Society (EMS) has honored Scholze for his groundbreaking research in the field of arithmetic algebraic geometry. With two key lectures, he's one of the heavy weights at this year's European Congress of Mathematics, which saw 1,300 mathematicians from all around the world attend.

'I don't believe you always have to understand everything in mathematics'
"I can't even make mathematicians understand what I'm currently working on," Scholze laughs. After finishing his lecture on the opening day, he tells me, quite a few colleagues told him that they had given up trying to follow his trail of thought halfway through the lecture. Does this bother him? Scholze shrugs. "I don't believe you always have to understand everything in mathematics," he says.

"Gerd Faltings, the only German to have been awarded the Fields Medal, regularly holds a lecture on arithmetic geometry at Bonn University. I used to go there as a student and I would never understand anything. But in hindsight I feel like I learned so much during that time. There's this misconception that certain parts of lectures are pointless if you don't get it straight away."...

'There are just some things I would like to understand'
 It's Monday, the first day of the congress. Peter Scholze strides across the stage of the packed main auditorium, clutching a laser pointer, his dark curls tied back like a professional soccer player. He explains the connection between his recent findings and the 1968 Fontaine-Winterberger theorem.
Read more...

Additional resources
Peter Scholze - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Peter Scholze and the Future of Arithmetic Geometry | Quanta Magazine

Source: Deutsche Welle


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